Friday, August 24, 2012

Day 62: Losing It!

In the last week, I've been getting up early and going to the gym.  My workouts are part of a new method I'm trying called circuit training.  This involves training your body differently every time you work out.  The eight-week work out I'm working on has me pumping iron three days a week.  On Mondays, I do a set of exercises in a moving circuit.  In other words, I perform a set of one exercise, then move on to the next.  Once I've completed all of the exercises (which work the whole body), I go through each set again, then repeat one more time.  I do three sets of each exercise in rotation.


Above is an example of a circuit training routine.

On Wednesday, the exercises change and so does the pattern.  I go through the first set of exercises doing one set at about half the weight as I would normally do to warm up my muscles.  Then, I go through the entire set again at max weight, but increase the repetitions from 10 to 15.  Finally, I do about 15 minutes of hard cardio.

On Fridays, the exercises change again, as well as the pattern.  This time, I do all three sets of an exercise (10 repetitions) before moving onto the next, resting only for a couple of minutes between sets to keep my heart rate up.  

This type of rotating circuit training accomplishes several things.  First, it turns on the fat-burning mode to get that unwanted fat off the body.  Next, it challenges the body to adapt to different exercises using different muscles every time.  This way the body doesn't get used to a specific stagnant routine.  Finally, it maximizes the amount of work your body gets in less time.  So, there are less excuses to not hit the gym or park.

So, has this been working for me?  Well, with the diet changes and consistent exercise, I have noted that my clothes are getting looser.  So, this morning I decided to get on the scale.  I haven't done that in a couple of weeks, because I was staying stagnant at around 253 pounds.  This morning I was 246.  Since I started my 90-day challenge, I've lost almost 15 pounds.  My total weight loss since last year is about 40 pounds, which means I'm nearly halfway to my goal of 85 pounds.

The lesson here: Stick with a program as long as it's working.  Once it stops working, don't be afraid to change it up.  The most important thing to remember, though, is to get out there and exercise.  Of course, always try to eat the most optimal food ever.  Be healthy!

Mystic Merman

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Day 60: Why Organic?

Tonight, I attended a talk at a vegan restaurant that happens every week.  We discuss issues about healthy living, like a plant-based diet, detoxification, exercise, etc.  Tonight, the subject was mostly about the importance of eating organic food and avoiding foods with GMOs (genetically modified organisms).  Because this is so important to me and to the planet, I would like to discuss some ideas we tossed around tonight.


Food that has been grown conventionally creates problems on many levels.  First, from a health view, it contains chemicals that build up in the body, suppress the immune system, create disease from allergies to cancer and rob the body of important nutrients.

Second, conventional farming practices pour massive amounts of poisons onto the plants and ground.  This gets into the food chain, contaminates our water supply, has devastating effects on pollinators like bees and butterflies and ruins the soil.

Third, many crops are now contaminated with GMOs, especially corn, soy and wheat.  These foods are found in almost all of the boxed, canned, frozen, and prepared foods that so many of us eat.  Foods from fast food restaurants, commercial grocery stores, coffee shops like Starbucks and virtually everywhere else contain at least some ingredients that have GMOs.  Research about the effects of GMOs on our bodies and the environment is inconclusive and already starting to show negative results.  Please educate yourself about this important subject and try to eat organic food as much as possible.

Eating organic food that is grown in good soil with love means that you are creating greater health for yourself, the planet and all living things.  As much as possible try to make a commitment to eat as close to 100% organic food as you can.  Eat local.  Grow your own food.  Stop supporting companies that sell contaminated food.  Be healthy.

Mystic Merman

Friday, August 17, 2012

Day 55: Still at it

Well, I haven't been blogging as much about my 90-day challenge, but that doesn't mean that I'm not up for it.  I'm still rocking it.  I'm spending more time outdoors and trying to stay away from the computer, which is having a great impact on my waistline.  Today, I fit into a size 38" waist, which is a great accomplishment.  A year ago, I was a size 44.


The last week has been a bit more challenging with my workouts because my hours at work changed.  I'm staying later which makes it more difficult to go to the gym when the place is mobbed.  I'm reading about fat-burning workouts, so I plan on incorporating some new weight-lifting routines and I'm switching to the mornings before work.

My cardio workouts are going well.  On Tuesday, my friend Jay and I went to a grassy park and did some interval training.  It was a combination of sprinting for 30 seconds, burpees for 30 seconds, and jumping jacks.  The burpees really suck, but I impressed myself that I could keep up to a full sprint for 30 seconds.  We did a total of 10 explosive intervals, so I was hurting a bit the next day.  We have plans to meet again tomorrow afternoon for another hardcore workout.

I continue to refine my diet by eating less, juicing, making smoothies and eating small, light snacks.  Planning is so important when it comes to eating right.  If I don't have healthy food around, it becomes easier to get hungry and grab something less than optimal.  My goals for this next week include planning my shopping and diet ahead of time.

Well, I'm off to the gym.  Hopefully, the scale will reflect the same good news as my new pair of 38" shorts!

Be Healthy!

Mystic Merman

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Day 46: Just over the halfway mark

Yesterday marked the halfway point on my 90-day challenge.  It feels less like a challenge every day and more like a lifestyle, which is the main reason I took this on.  As discussed in the last post, the momentum keeps going in the direction we choose to go.  The more we pour into positive choices, the better results we get.  

As it's getting kind of late, I just wanted to post a quick update.  I haven't posted in about seven days because I had family in town over the weekend, and I'm still playing catch up at work after a week off.  Also, it's been very warm here, so I've chosen to be outside more, especially at the beach.  

Last week, I had a great week because I juiced every night for dinner and ate a smoothie for breakfast.  My diet was almost completely liquid, with an occasional tomato or sliced radishes.  This week, I've included more solid food.  Today, I ate my superfood smoothie for breakfast, had a simple salad for lunch, and a nice raw meal for dinner at a restaurant where I've been co-hosting talks on raw food and nutrition.  Because it's really heating up here, I'd like to spend the rest of the week eating high-water content food, juicing and blended greens.  

My workout routine is still strong, but I need to focus on my strength training.  I tend to do the same routines at the gym, which is not as challenging and I'm not getting results as fast.  I have some great books on workouts which I plan to look over and come up with a really challenging routine.  I'll probably work on that this week and implement it over the weekend.  The cardio workouts are still great, so I'll stick with them and try to get in the ocean several times a week.

That's it for now.  By healthy!
Mystic Merman

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Day 40: The momentum is unstoppable

Today is the 40th day of my 90-day challenge.  What's amazing is that the more I support good habits, the greater the momentum gets.  Every day, it gets easier to make green juice or a superfood smoothie instead of filling up on starches, grains and fats.  Every day it gets easier to go straight to the gym, the stairs or the beach after work instead of heading home to do more sitting on my ass.


As I discussed in a previous post, whatever we feed grows.  If we continue to feed habits that we know are bad for us, it becomes harder and harder to break away from them.  The same goes for the opposite.  The more we feed our good habits, the easier it becomes to continue these good habits and the bad ones begin to fall away.  

While I still have a lot of work to do, I'd like to make a list of the positive habits I'm forming right now:

1.  Eating a whole, plant-based diet every day that is free of processed grains, chemicals, bad fats, and overly cooked food.

2.  Taking the time out of every day to make one green juice to clean out my body, nourish my cells and lose weight.

3.  Reducing the amount of cooked food I eat to be no more than 10% of my diet.

4.  Spending three days a week at the gym in strength training to increase muscle mass, protect my infrastructure and bone health, and burn unneeded fat.

5.  Spending 30 or 40 minutes, three days a week on interval/cardio training to increase my metabolism, strengthen my lungs and heart, and create stamina and endurance.  

6.  Creating a more positive image of myself in my mind to attain my goals and continue to be good to myself.

I could probably list more, but these are the main part of my focus.  I'm so grateful to be where I am now and look forward to a healthier, happier me.  By healthy!

Mystic Merman

Monday, July 30, 2012

Day 36: Back to the routine

After a week at a kid's camp in the mountains, I'm back to my regular routine.  The camp was amazing, and allowed me to stick to my challenge as much as possible.  Exercise was not what I have been doing at home, but it certainly was a lot.  My cabin was situated at the top of the hill, so I got a great cardio/leg workout about six or seven times a day.  Also, I took the kids canoeing, swimming, hiking, and helped run team games.  There was rarely a moment of rest, so it's hardly a wonder that I lost another 5 pounds.



Food was a bit challenging, but fortunately there were other vegans and kids with gluten and dairy allergies.  I was able to find something to eat at every meal and always had a big salad.  I also brought some superfoods to snack on during the day.

Yesterday was my first day back at home.  My roommate and I went to Encinitas for the day, spending the better half of the morning swimming in the ocean and walking around the cool city in the afternoon.  Today, I started my day with a smoothie, had a liquid lunch and a salad for dinner.  I actually felt really good having liquids, so I might consider doing only liquids for the rest of the week to get a fresh start and continue the weight loss.  35 pounds lost, 50 more to go.  I'm doing it!

Mystic Merman

Friday, July 20, 2012

Day 26: Juice Therapy

Well, the first 26 days have gone by so quickly.  On Tuesday, I'll be 1/3 of the way through my 90-day challenge.  While I committed to doing more juicing, it got off to a rough start.  I found myself too busy in the evenings to pull out the Green Star, so I stuck with salads, quinoa, or other meals.  Last weekend, I decided to stop making excuses and set aside time every night to juice.  So far, I've juiced six days in a row.


Tonight's green juice (I'm drinking it as I write this) contains the following ingredients:

Celery
Dinosaur Kale
Carrots
Cabbage
Green Apple
Mixed Spring Greens
Red Onion
Garlic

Now that will clean you out!  Another thing I've been doing every night is following my green juice with a coffee enema.  If you don't know anything about these, you can read about it here.  This is a really fantastic way to stimulate the kidneys and liver to release toxins into the bowels and get them out of your body.  There is nothing better than a clean body.  Green juice and coffee enemas are one of the best combinations to do just that.

Well, for the next week, I won't be blogging or posting on my Facebook page.  I've taken on the responsibility of a camp counselor at a kid's camp.  I choose the vegan option for food, but who knows what that is going to look like.  I'm actually going prepared with a lot of superfoods, so I can stick with my diet.  Exercise won't be a problem, since they'll be 50 kids to run around after and activities planned for every moment.  I will give a report when I'm back.  Until then, be healthy!

Mystic Merman

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Day 24: Progress Report

Only six more days and I'll be one third of the way through my 90-day challenge.  I just wanted to give a progress report on where I'm at.  Things are going well.  I'm being good to myself, learning a lot about my habits and what triggers them.  One thing that is really important for me right now is to focus on the positive.  If I make a little mistake (like eat something oily or sweet), I have in the past completely blown that up and ignored all the great things I've been doing.  Remember, whatever we focus on grows.  So, I've allowed myself a couple of moments of relapse, but then moved on.  I am really focusing on all of the positive things I'm doing for myself, and that is making all the difference in the world.


Diet:


My diet is getting better by the day.  I'm sticking to my protein/superfood smoothie in the morning, a salad for lunch, and usually green juice for dinner (although I allow myself to have something solid every three days or so).  One of the issues I've been having is snacking too much between meals, especially later in the day.  This week, I've allowed myself to snack a little bit in the day, but cut it out at night.  This actually isn't very hard since I'm more active in the evening.  Also, if I'm hungry or feeling munchy, I try to drink water or tea, which can do the trick.

Exercise:


This is an area that I'm really excelling.  I've been working out at least 5 days a week.  On Monday, Wednesday and Friday, I continue my weight training.  This is mostly large muscle group activities like assisted pull ups and dips, as well as ab work.  The weight I am using to assist me keeps going down, so I'm gaining strength and losing weight.  Today, I weighed in at 252, which means I've lost 7 pounds since I started and a total of 33 pounds (possibly 40 in fat).  On Tuesday, I continue to run up the stairs and on Thursday, I plan on going back to Boot Camp.  Woo Hoo!

One thing that happened this week is that I was able to fit into a shirt that wouldn't fit before.  My mother sent me some nice Hawaiian shirts from the islands about a year ago, but they were XL, instead of 2XL.  They were very tight and uncomfortable and put them aside.  Earlier this week, I tried one on and it fit perfectly.  Fitting into an XL is great news, because I've been wearing 2XL for several years now.

This is all amazing!  It's so awesome what can happen to our health and our attitude with just a few changes in our lifestyle.  The more little things we do, the more great things happen.  Be healthy!

Mystic Merman

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Day 21: Raising the intensity

Today marks the end of my third week on my 90-day challenge.  I've done really well so far, although I'm a little surprised at the results.  I've only lost about 5 pounds, even though my clothes are getting looser and my body feels stronger.  By BMI has come down a little bit, so I must still be gaining muscle.  With the kick-ass exercises I've been doing, I'd better be gaining muscle.

On Thursday, I agreed to go with a friend and coworker to Boot Camp at my gym.


This intense, full-body workout proved to be one of the hardest hours of exercise so far.  After a "warm up" (which was not easy), there were five stations set up around the room.  Some had weights; some had steps; and one was open floor.  At each station, each participant was asked to perform an activity for 60 seconds.  Then, you'd move on to the next activity for sixty seconds until everyone had done all five.  After a break, we did it all over again, this time for 45 seconds.  Then, we started a second set of rounds with totally new activities.

Some of the exercise activities were putting a barbell on your shoulders and doing lunges, squatting and then leaping onto a step, running sideways, burpees, shoulder lifts, and more.  We ended the class with about 10 minutes of abdominal work.

Although the class was very intense, I felt like I really got a lot out of it.  Boot Camp mixes interval, cardio and strength training all in one class.  I'm not intimidated; I'm going back.  Be healthy!

Mystic Merman

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Day 17: Writing It Down

One of the well-known habits of successful people is that they write everything down.  They write down their goals.  They scribble down thoughts and ideas.  They take notes at meetings.  They schedule their days, weeks, months and even years.  And they keep track of their progress.


This is one habit that I haven't developed.  I've done it for short periods and then given up.  Certainly, it takes commitment and discipline.  However, so does everything that leads to success in any area of our lives.  If sitting on the beach all day drinking led to great success, wouldn't we all be doing it?  I'm sure nearly everyone has seen what people who sit on the beach or in a park drinking all day have to show for their lives.  Success takes work.

The main reason I am doing this 90-day challenge is to develop new habits.  However, if I don't know what direction I'm going, how will I know what steps to take and how to get there?  So, I'm committing to taking 10 to15 minutes every day to write down my goals, plan my days and weeks, note my ideas and great thoughts, and keep track of how far I've come.  I can do this.  And I'm committing to doing it every day for the next week.  Then, I'll create a new goal.  Remember to put everything in chunks.

Be healthy!

Mystic Merman

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Day 14: Juice it Loose

It's the end of the weekend and I'm coming into the end of my second week on a 90-day challenge.  It's been great, but there is still a lot of fine-tuning to do.

Where exercise is concerned, I'd like to step it up a bit.   In strength training, I've mostly stuck to doing exercises that work large muscle groups, with some focus on individual muscles (biceps, triceps, etc.).  For the next two weeks, I plan to learn more about strength training and raise it to the next level.  For cardio/interval days, I've definitely been pushing it more.  Today, I stuck with a cross training machine at the gym, because my legs are still a little sore from the stairs last Tuesday.  Hopefully, this Tuesday's stairs will witness a faster recovery.

My diet has also been very good, but I'd like to take that to the next level as well.  I'm reading The Gerson Therapy by Charlotte Gerson at the moment.  In it, she lays down her father's protocol to reverse nearly every ailment suffered by humans.  This book is improving my knowledge of the body and a whole-food, plant-based diet, but it's also inspiring me to do a little more cleansing.  I was going to avoid juicing during this 90-day challenge, mostly because I did 2 juice fasts in the last year and was a bit burned out by it.  However, Charlotte's book has convinced me that there is much more healing and cleansing to be done with juicing.


While I'm not going to go back on a juice fast, I do plan on drinking juice for one of my meals every day (with the exception of the last week in July, when I'll be camping in the mountains).  My focus will be to juice primarily at night.  Eating heavier foods later in the day creates more work on the body and can disturb sleep patterns.

So, for the next two weeks, here is what my diet will essentially look like:

Morning: Protein smoothie (similar to what I've been doing)

Mid-morning: light snack (fruit, nuts, or energy bar)

Lunch: large salad with a variety of veggies or a green smoothie

Pre-workout: Maca blended in water with dates and hemp or other energy booster

Post-workout: Banana, half avocado or other potassium replenishment

Dinner: Green juice (low glycemic, high mineral)

By planning my day and diet, I am creating a better foundation for success.  It helps to write down your goals and make each one very specific so you can envision it and create it.  Be healthy!

Mystic Merman

Friday, July 6, 2012

Day 12: The Magic of Plants

Here it is.  Day 12 of 90 days.  It feels great.  There is no pressure.  Every day, I feel better, stronger, cleaner and healthier.  Keeping to a high raw, plant-based diet is doing wonders for my digestion, mood and energy.

Plants are so amazing.  There is so much to choose from and a variety of them in your diet provides you with everything you need to thrive.


Enjoying plants in their natural state (raw and minimally processed) nourishes the body and extracts toxins from daily modern life.  By adding superfoods like Acai, algae, sea vegetables, hemp, Goji berries, etc., to your diet, you are also insuring that you are getting a full spectrum of macro- and micro-nutrients.

By eliminating animal foods, processed grains, concentrated sweeteners, chemically-laden food, and stimulants, we create less stress for our bodies and enjoy superior health, energy and alertness.  As mentioned in previous posts, this also allows the body to recover more quickly from activity and work-related stress.

I feel very blessed to know this information and share it with others.  I can feel a huge transformation happening in my body that has only just begun.  The next 78 will certainly bring about more changes and magic.  90 days is not a lot to ask of yourself.  Be healthy.

Mystic Merman

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Day 11: Knowing when to rest

Well, after Tuesday's stair-climbing adventure, my legs were pretty sore on Wednesday.  I went to the gym in the morning and worked out my upper body.  Next week, I'll report more on my progress with strength training, since I've been so focused on cardio/interval training.

This morning, I woke up to extremely sore calves and thighs.  What they say about the second day usually being the worse is true.  So, instead of training on the beach today, I need to take a little rest.  When we push a little too hard, it's very important to give the body a rest.

Last night, I had a little 4th of July party at my house, where you can see the fireworks in several locations.  I only had a few friends over and we decided to make it all raw.  I made a wonderful gazpacho soup with tomatoes, cucumbers, red bell peppers, red onions, mangoes, lemon, garlic, olive oil and apple cider vinegar.   It was very light and refreshing and tasted great.

My friends also brought a wonderful salad made completely from their garden, some BBQ-flavored kale chips, raw crackers and chai/coconut cookies.  Then, we had a fabulous dessert that my roommate made.  Check out this masterpiece:


The top layer and bottom layers are mango and coconut, while the center is blackberry.  It's all raw, vegan and purely divine.  It felt great having a small party with healthy friends.  This is what it takes to stay on the path.  Be healthy!

Mystic Merman

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Day 9: Strong Momentum

Today is the 9th day of my 90-day challenge.  The momentum is strong, and I'm feeling better every day.  Eating the right food every day helps me to recover faster from my ever-intensifying workouts.  Bad food choices create more work for our bodies in areas of digestion and assimilation, so there is less energy for the body to repair the stress caused by exercise.  While I fine tune my diet, more energy is being freed up for workouts, so I can add intensity.

Workout:


Since yesterday was a successful strength training day (my assisted pull ups and dips are getting better), I decided to incorporate a new cardio/interval training exercise today.  In San Diego County, we have a famous set of stairs that are great for a workout, because they seem to just keep going.  In fact, there are a total of 245 stairs that are interrupted by two streets as you ascend.  The view from the top is another spectacular view of our amazing county.


My brave friend Jay met me at the La Mesa Secret Stairs (as they are known by those who frequent them) for a grueling workout.  After stretching, we walked up the first couple of flights to get warmed up.  Once the blood was pumping, we ran up the next flight until 30 seconds passed.  Then, after catching our breath, we did it again and again and again.  By the third time, my legs and lungs started burning intensely.  Jay and I had to take longer breaks to prepare for the next round.

After four rounds, we had to start coming down again because we were at the top.  You would think that would be easy, but our legs were like sandbags and felt weak as we descended.  When we got down about halfway, we decided to go for another round.  The fifth and sixth rounds were real killers.  My lungs were burning, my heart was pounding and my legs could take no more.  We wanted to go for eight rounds, but decided to be reasonable.  This was, after all, our first attempt at tackling stairs.  We agreed that this was an awesome first attempt, and that we'd go for eight next time.

Well, my legs are still pretty weak, but I feel like I got a powerful workout in.  My body is getting stronger and more adapted to stress.  The momentum from this keeps me going and the only way is up.

Food:


Just a quick note about my diet.  After three days on 100% raw, I decided to have a little cooked food today.  Breakfast, lunch and snacks were all raw today, as I had a protein shake in the morning and a green smoothie later in the day.  I also snacked on fruit and nuts throughout the day.  For dinner, I soaked some Mung beans for a couple of hours and then cooked them in water for 30 minutes.  At the end of the boil, I added kale, celery, a carrot, broccoli, garlic, dulse, coconut oil, turmeric, cloves, cinnamon, hot pepper powder and some sea salt.  Wow!  That turned out great!  After eating a nice bowl of it, I'm totally satisfied.

So, if you're reading this, just tell yourself that it's okay to get out there and do something about your health.  Once you do one thing, that only adds to the momentum.  After a while, you'll notice that you want to do more things.  And you are so worth it.  Be healthy!

Mystic Merman

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Day 7: Keeping it varied

Just like our diet, exercise can get boring and tedious if you don't change it up.  If you're like me, you may be motivated about something for a couple of months, weeks or even days and then get bored with it, only to give it up.  Staying focused on a goal, for many of us, requires a lot of variety when moving toward that goal.

My cardio/interval days were starting to get a little tedious, because I stayed with what I felt comfortable doing for too long.  Knowing the way I can be, I've been pushing myself to try different things, like sprinting on the beach last Thursday.  This coming week, I have plans to take on some monster stairs here in San Diego that are popular for workouts.  However, today, I went off to the gym with my BFF and another great friend for an hour of Zumba!


Zumba was created by Colombian dancer and choreographer Beto Perez in the 1990s.  A dance/aerobics class, Zumba combines elements from hip-hop, salsa, mambo, and several other types of dance.  Over the last couple of decades, it's become one of the most popular forms of aerobic exercise around the world.

For me, there are a couple of things I really like about Zumba.  First, it's totally fun.  The music is always upbeat and the instructors keep the energy and the smiles going around.  Also, it's a real challenge.  Working every muscle in your body, Zumba is a perfect whole body workout.  Your lungs and heart benefit, and you develop core strength, coordination and flexibility.  Finally, I love what Zumba does for my brain.  Learning new things keeps our brains healthy.  Every time I've taken a Zumba class, I have to learn several new dance moves.  Just as I'm about to get it, the move changes.  But, that's okay; I get better every time.

So, I'm not telling you that you should go out and take a Zumba class (but why not? It's fun!).  My point here is to get up and move.  Find several things that you like to do and rotate them.  Don't get stuck just jogging every day or working out on the Stair Master.  It's good for the body to have some variety.  Be healthy!

Mystic Merman

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Day 6: Going strong

So, here it is.  Day 6.  This is so much easier than a 30-day juice fast.  I think that's mostly because I know this is going to develop into my new lifestyle.  I'm rarely hungry, like on a juice fast, and my energy and focus are strong.

Day 5 was very successful.  On my lunch break, my car almost took me to my favorite Thai restaurant.  The voices in my head made every excuse why this was permissible.  "You've done so well; you deserve a treat."  "Thai food is not bad as long as it's vegan and gluten-free."  And on and on.  But, at the last minute, the will won out and my car headed for the natural food store to pick up some extras for my big salad.

At the market, I was tempted to get a kombucha (something I'm giving up as well), but my hand went for a bottle of coconut kefir instead.  Smart choice.   For dinner, I had a handful of veggies with some red quinoa. A little later, I snacked on a couple of plums.

Day 6 is a sunny, warm day.  I had a bowl of grapes for breakfast and did some house chores.  My lunch was a big salad with romaine lettuce, celery, red cabbage, fennel, dulse, avocado and a lemon/olive oil vinaigrette.  I also drank a lot of water this morning and afternoon.  Because I took the day off from working out yesterday, I'm heading to the gym for some strength training.

Stay tuned this next week for updates on weight loss, measurements and more about food and exercise.  Until then, be healthy!

Mystic Merman

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Day 4: Sprinting to health

Wow!  Day 4 was a very successful day.  I'd like to take you through it.

I jumped out of bed today without hitting the snooze button.  After showering, I could actually take my time instead of rushing out the door to be to work on time.  I drank a big glass of water and looked out on the fabulous view from my house.  Ah!

When I got to work, I drank more water and took some whole food supplements (more on that in a later post).  After working for a bit, I trotted off to the kitchen to make myself a smoothie.  Once again, I had a smoothie with a water base, hemp seeds, flax seeds, Sun Warrior Protein powder, frozen berries, and maca.   I'll have to take a picture of it tomorrow, because it's the most beautiful lavender color and totally delicious.

Going back to work, I was very focused and energetic on the phone.  Around 9 am, I stopped to have a mango (which is one of the best mangoes I've ever had, and I've been to Costa Rica and Hawaii).  I also ate my last two rambutans.

For lunch, I made a huge salad that I had to share.  It had all the great fixings I bought earlier this week.  With a perfectly ripe avocado in it, my salad was delicious.  One of my thoughtful co-workers made some raw, superfood fudge, so I had to take a couple of pieces.  Although I'm giving up cacao during this challenge, I couldn't be rude. ;-)

After finishing work, I headed to the coast.  My friend and co-worker, Elyssa, met me there to get a workout.  We decided to do a short, but intense, workout.  Jogging down the beach for several minutes to warm up, we met the sea and the sun on this beautiful day.  After the warm up, we sprinted at full speed for a full 30 seconds (of course, Elyssa said I was counting too fast, so she took took over the counting).  After catching our breaths, we did it again and again for a total of 8 times.  Although this equates to only four minutes (20 minutes total with a couple minutes to catch your breath in between), the intensity puts the body into high fat-burning mode and builds muscle faster than steady, low intensity cardio.



This was my first time sprinting since probably grade school, so my body is going to feel it tomorrow.  I didn't think I was going to be able to make it through all eight intervals, but I did it.  I had to push myself on the last two, and my heart was really pounding, but it was a successful workout, and I felt great when we finished.  Of course, we jumped into the ocean after our workout.  The ocean was perfectly cool, although we had to fight off some huge pieces of kelp.  After a nice soak, Elyssa and I exfoliated our skin with the fine sand of Ocean Beach.

For dinner, I had another big salad with a raw snack bar (made from nuts, apricots and coconut).  I felt very satisfied and know I'll sleep well tonight.  Thanks for reading.  Be healthy!

Mystic Merman

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Day 3: Carbs Galore

One of my challenges with food is carbohydrates.  While carbs get a bad rap most of the time, they are unavoidable, especially in a plant-based diet.  The trick is to eat the right kind of carbs at the right time.  One of the things that I'm experimenting with from the Thrive book is eating simple carbs (usually very sweet) before working out.  For example, today, I blended coconut water with carob powder, maca and a little agave before hitting the gym.  During my workout, I used up the easily digested simple carbs.  However, in the past, I have tended to eat a lot of sweet things (chocolate smoothies with loads of agave, dried fruit, etc.) and then sit on my ass all day.  This is a recipe for a wide backside.

My goal during this 90-day challenge is to limit the foods I eat that have simple carbs that easily breakdown into glucose, unless I'm going to work out.  Otherwise, complex carbohydrates from low-glycemic food is optimal.  Also, plant-based foods that have a lot of protein and good fat (seeds, nuts, oils, etc.) are a better source of energy during more sedative periods.  Here is a breakdown of the different types of carbohydrates:


In this chart, the starches are something that I am eliminating altogether, except for an occasional sweet potato.  Potatoes, bread, and other grain foods are taxing on the body and usually store as fat.  Of course, sugar of any kind does not make the cut, with the exception of a little agave in a pre-workout drink and that should be minimal.  The focus during normal meals should be complex carbohydrates from vegetables and low-glycemic fruit (pit fruit, berries, apples, etc.).  In the second month of this challenge, I would like to push this even further and eliminate all sweet fruit for 30 days to see what kind of results I get.  

In the next couple of days, I will continue to post about my diet and workouts.  Measurements of weight, body fat and size are coming too.  Be healthy!

Mystic Merman

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Day 2: What? No stimulants?

Hello fellow health seekers!

Today was a great day.  It started off a bit challenging because I had no stimulants.  Over the last couple of years I've been relying on stimulating foods in the morning to "pick me up."  This includes black and green tea, yerba mate, cacao, and on rare occasions, the king of stimulants, coffee.


If you want to read more about the effect of coffee on your health, read my blog here.  Caffeine is a stimulant.  It does not give us real energy, but shocks the body into fight or flight mode.  Of course, there are benefits to teas like green tea and yerba mate, but their caffeine is different than coffee and has less negative effects on the body.  One of my goals in the 90-day challenge, though, is to experience what real energy feels like from excellent health.  I want to create this health by giving my adrenals a chance to recover and heal.  So, I'm giving up all stimulating foods for the next 90 days.  

Here's a quick summary of what I accomplished today:

Food:

For breakfast, I had a smoothie: 16 ounces of purified water, 1 tbsp of hemp seeds, 1 tsp of flax seeds, 2 tbsp of Sun Warrior vegan protein powder, 1 tsp of maca and 1/2 cup of mixed frozen berries.  All organic. Blended into a delicious, creamy shake. 

For a snack, I had a couple pieces of fruit: one plum, one peach and a rambutan.  

For lunch, I had a big salad with lots of greens, radishes, celery, fennel, tomato and a raw ginger/sesame vinaigrette.  

For my afternoon snack, I had a piece of frozen durian (OMG!) and a few olives. 

I did make a quick pre-workout drink which was just water blended with a bit of maca, shilajit, and carob powder.  I did this for the quick-burning carbs and mineral replenishment.

For dinner, I had red quinoa mixed with garlic, ginger, broccoli, mushrooms, and zucchini.  I added a little sea salt and some Amarillo pepper from Peru.  Delicious and satisfying.  

Oh, and I had an avocado right after I got home from working out.  Remember that sweating makes you lose potassium and avocados are a better source of potassium than a banana.

Workout:

After work, I went straight to the gym.  I hopped on the elliptical machine and warmed up for about 20 minutes.  Then I did intervals of 30 seconds at max capacity followed by one and a half minutes at normal speed.  After 20 minutes of this I got off and sat in the dry sauna for 20 minutes.  Then, I headed for the beach and took a twenty minute swim in the cool ocean.  

Stay tuned for more healthy days.  Be healthy!

Mystic Merman

Monday, June 25, 2012

90 Day Challenge

Hi there.  I know, it's been a while.  Without going into a plethora of excuses, I'd like to get started on my new mission: to challenge myself over the next 90 days to lose a maximum amount of fat, gain muscle, increase strength and stamina and cleanse my body.

First an update.  Over the last couple of months, I've been working out on a consistent basis, adding muscle to my body and shedding some fat.  My diet has not been optimal, but I've still done pretty good.  When I started working out seriously about a year ago, I weighed 285, the most ever for me.  Today, I weighed in at 259, which is a loss of about 26 pounds.  I figure I've gained about 10 pounds in muscle, so I've lost around 36 pounds of fat.  Now, my goal is to take it up to the next level.

How am I going to do that?  Well, I've been inspired by the many athletes and bodybuilders online that have achieved phenomenal fitness at any age on a whole food, plant-based diet.  Currently, I am reading Thrive by Brendan Brazier, who maps out a clear plan through exercise and proper diet.  Using this as a guideline, along with my own knowledge and experience, I challenge myself to 90 days of optimal eating, a high-level workout routine, and more studying and blogging about it.

While I don't have the entire 90 days written in stone yet, I want to start immediately.  No more excuses!  So, this is a work in progress.  Here, I will lay down some fundamentals, but will take the first 30 days to fine tune the diet and workout routines.

Also, my good friends at Kale University have agreed to help me document my progress on their website and Facebook page.  Together, we will take a road that many vegan athletes have taken before us, and hopefully pave the way for more.  As I write this, the plan is to post on my blog several times a week and about once every two weeks on Kale University.  This could change, but it's a great start.

So, here's the outline:

Diet:


A plant-based diet, that is high in nutrients and devoid of processed foods.  The meals will be mostly raw, gluten-free, and complimented with superfoods, many of which I have already blogged about.  I will have six meals a day, with three being a small snack.

Breakfast can be a smoothie, fruit, quinoa or amaranth "oatmeal," or other.  Lunch will usually be a mineral-rich salad with home-made raw dressings.  Dinner can be another raw meal or a lightly cooked meal that emphasizes vegetables and ancient grains.  Snacks can be fruit, energy bars (raw, home-made), an energy drink, vegetables or nuts and seeds.  The key here is to make sure I get a good variety of food and macro- and micro-nutrients. I will give examples of my daily food intake in blogs every week.

Exercise:


The plan here is to work out six days a week.  Three days of cardio/interval training will be alternated with three days of strength training.  The seventh day will be a rest day.  Again, the goal is to create variety for the body and mind, but also learn as I go, maximizing each workout without hurting myself.  As this is happening in summer, I plan to do many workouts in the outdoors, but a lot of strength training will likely happen at the gym for the first few weeks.

Goals:


Starting today, I will check my body weight, by BMI, body measurements, and other things I may learn about to make sure that I am making progress.  While I don't want to become obsessive about this, I do want to mark my progress, so I plan to check these things about twice a week.  Right now, my BMI is on the border of what is considered obese, which means a year ago I was considered obese.  Once I lose about 20 more pounds, I will be in the range of just being overweight. Ultimately, my goal is to come into my range for "normal" weight, which means I have about 59 pounds to lose.  Measuring my body fat will fine tune this process, as this is a more accurate indication of how much extra fat I'm carrying, especially if I'm gaining muscle.

So, please join me as I embark on one of the most important journeys of my life. Be healthy!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Superfood Sunday: The 10 Best Common Superfoods

Over the last couple of months, I've talked a lot about superfoods that are not as easy to find in a market or grocery store.  However, there are some common foods that we all eat that have superfood qualities.  Remember, superfoods are any type of food that contains either an abundance of macro- and micro-nutrients or has some sort of powerful healing or therapeutic properties.  So, what (in my opinion) are the ten most powerful superfoods that everyone is likely familiar with?  Here they are:

1.  Avocados.  For most people, avocados bring up thoughts like "fattening" or "high in calories."  But, don't dismay.  Ounce per ounce, avocados have far less fat and calories than nuts or animal products.  The fat in avocados is mostly monounsaturated, which is great for the heart.  They are low in saturated fat and are easily digested.  In fact, the fat is easily used by the body, making them a great metabolism booster.  They are also rich in fiber, one of the best sources of potassium and have B and C vitamins.  Additionally, one avocado gives you more than half of your daily dose of vitamin K.  So, don't be afraid of this rich, tasty fruit.

2.  Blueberries.  You've probably seen this fruit on just about every superfood list out there, and there's a good reason for it.  Blueberries are low in calories, high in fiber and contain an impressive list of minerals and vitamins.  It makes this list though because of the deep purple pigment that gives it its color.  The pigment is actually an antioxidant that helps build the immune system, protect the eyes and fight free radicals.  They also contain other antioxidants like beta-carotene and zeaxanthin. Sure carrots might be good for eyesight, but blueberries are far better.

3.  Cabbage.  The first on this list of two from the Brassica family, cabbage packs a lot of nutrition into its thin leaves.  There are many varieties of cabbage, all of which are highly nutritious.  One of the most studied aspects of cabbage is its ability to fight cancer and heart disease.  There are also compounds that protect the blood sugar levels in the body.  Rich in vitamin C, cabbage helps fight inflammation caused by free radical damage.  If that weren't enough, cabbage is rich in minerals like potassium, magnesium and iron.  Be sure to buy organic, as the nutrition is compromised by poor soil and chemical treatment.


4.  Cacao/Chocolate.  If eaten in the right form, cacao (or cocoa) is one of the densest superfoods on the planet.  Rich in flavonoids that protect the immune system and the eyes, cacao one of the most antioxidant-rich foods you can eat.  It's also one of the best sources of magnesium, which is why many regular consumers report better bone density.  Pure cacao also has healthy fats, iron and many other phytonutrients that are just being explored.  If you have to have a chocolate bar, make sure it's organically grown and is high in cacao (70% or more).  Better yet, buy the raw cacao powder and learn to make your own healthy cacao treats.



5.  Figs.  Some fruits are high in sugar and calories and can cause overeaters to gain weight. Figs contain only about 75 calories per 100 grams and are low on the glycemic index. They are rich in fiber, minerals, several vitamins and contain antioxidants.  Like cabbage, they also help to fight diabetes by regulating the blood sugar.  Figs have a short growing season, so when the fresh ones are gone, try dried, organic figs for a wonderful treat.

6.  Garlic.  What superfood list could be complete without this amazing bulb?  While some of the claims about garlic range from modest to outrageous, even modern science is starting to accept many of the health claims made about garlic.  It's widely accepted that garlic can help lower blood pressure and stabilize cholesterol levels.  It acts as a powerful, natural antibiotic, without the terrible side effects of the drugs.  In case of a cold or flu, garlic can be a wonderful line of defense.  There are also antioxidants to keep the immune system strong.  If the order bothers you or a loved one, try aged garlic, which has all the benefits without the odor.

7.  Kale.  The second food from the Brassica family, this green leafy vegetable contains more nutrition than anything your mother tried to force you to eat off your plate.  Being low in calories and high in minerals, fiber and vitamins, this plant is another welcome addition to any healthy diet.  The protein in kale is easy to digest and higher than most vegetables.  Its antioxidants are great for the eyes, as well as the immune system.  It's also one of the best sources of vitamin K, which promotes healthy blood and bones.  If you're not a fan of the taste, blend it in green smoothie with other greens and fruit.

8.  Lemons.  One of the citrus foods just had to be on this list, and lemons are a great choice.  I don't have to tell you that lemons have a large amount of vitamin C, because it's well known.  What may not be as well known is that lemons actually help to alkalize the blood.  Even though they have a lot of citric acid, they become alkaline during digestion and help immensely with digestion.  Lemons are rich in other antioxidants that protect the skin from free radical damage and may help with severe skin challenges.

9.  Mushrooms.  This is the only superfood on this list that is not from the Plant Kingdom.  Mushrooms are a type of fungus that have just recently been studied extensively for their health benefits.  However, the benefits of these tasty additions to your diet have been known by cultures around the world for hundreds, maybe thousands of years.  The secret to the mushroom is in the carbohydrates.  Beta-glutens and polysaccharides are the long-chained sugars that science is just now discovering the potential of.  It's believed that these components have numerous benefits, including heart benefits, lowering of cholesterol, digestive health, cancer-fighting properties, and much more.  Unlike plants though, fungi have a cellular wall that is very difficult for the human digestive tract to penetrate.  It's best to steam or lightly saute mushrooms to break their cell wall.  Otherwise, they will just pass through the gut without any benefit.

10.  Walnuts.  Deciding which of the nuts to put on this list was not too difficult.  While all nuts have great benefits, walnuts are truly at the top.  The fat in walnuts is rich in monounsaturated fat and essential fatty acids like omega-3.  These oils have been proven to reduce the risk of heart disease and other coronary issues.  Beyond the great fats, walnuts have an impressive list of minerals, vitamins and antioxidants.  They are also used in alternative therapies to kill bacteria and fungus, due to its astringent properties. If you're looking to have better skin, walnuts are a great addition to your diet.

Stay tuned next week for another list of superfoods.  Stay healthy!

Mystic Merman







Saturday, March 17, 2012

Sexy Saturday: The Top Ten Ways to Stay Sexy

Everyone enjoys feeling good about themselves.  We all dress up for special occasions, groom our hair, try to stay fit and even wear makeup.  But, staying sexy comes from the inside out.  It's about having health and a positive attitude. Sure, some people are born with great genes and have to do very little to look good.  However, we can all change the way we look by how we treat ourselves.  Wanting to look great doesn't have to be superficial; it can come from a place of self love and respect.

So, here are the top ten ways to keep your skin looking young and your waistline trim:

1.  Eat a mostly raw, plant-based diet.  This will likely show up on a couple of lists this week, because it's one of the best things you can do for yourself.  Eating 80% or more raw, plant-based foods tremendously affects every aspect of your health.  Whole, raw plants are full of antioxidants that keep your skin young, life-giving water that cleans out your body, and fiber that keeps your waist smaller.  The plant kingdom has a variety of macro- and phytonutrients that have everything to keep you alive and well.  Make sure that any cooked food your eat does not clog you up.  Make smart choices like quinoa, brown rice or miso soup.

2.  Do some form of exercise or activity daily.  A sedentary life wages war on the waistline, the skin and mood.  Nobody really enjoys hanging out with a couch potato.  If you have a desk job, motivate yourself to get outside or to the gym.  Even moderate exercise comes with a range of benefits.  Your skin will look better from sweating; the flab around your middle or backside will start to melt away; and you'll notice a difference in your attitude toward life.  Now that's sexy!

3.  Drink plenty of fresh, clean water.  Water is the catalyst to nearly every function in the body.  Dehydration equals bad skin, poor organ functioning and toxic overload.  Staying hydrated will help push accumulated toxins out of your body and boost your metabolism.  As a result, your skin will glow and you'll move toward your ideal body weight.

4.  Get plenty of rest.  We all know people who don't get enough sleep at night.  Either they have high stress lives, are very unhealthy or they are not disciplined enough to get into bed early.  You may even be one of these people.  But, spending another hour surfing the internet robs you of one of your best allies: beauty sleep.  Yes, that's right, sleep does make you more beautiful.  Getting enough sleep at night helps the body function better and keeps your hormones in balance.  So, say goodbye to the bags under your eyes and hit the sack early!

5.  Keep positive.  Negativity earns a double whammy on our sex appeal.  First, it creates ill health.  Constantly focusing on the negative weighs heavy on the mind and creates stress for the body.  In turn, worriers look worn out and tired, because they are.  Second, negativity repels others.  Most people don't want to hang around complainers and worriers, unless they are guilty of it themselves.  Surround yourself with positive people and keep your thoughts, words and actions in check.  You'll attract positive people and positive things into your life.

6.  Take care of your skin.  Because of all the toxins we are exposed to every day and the poor diets we typically eat, our skin becomes wrinkled, blemished, or poorly colored over time.  An overabundance of free radicals can really damage the skin.  Eating right is key, but there are things we can do from the outside.  Look for skin products that are made with amazing ingredients or find oils that help the skin.  Coconut oil and Shea butter are two of my favorites, as both are therapeutic and moisturizing.  They also protect the skin from sun damage.  Aloe Vera gel is very healing with anti-fungal properties and anti-aging components.  Aloe can be a bit drying, so make sure to moisturize later.

7.  Eat food or take supplements that have a lot of antioxidants.  As previously mentioned, an army of free radicals in the body is your skin's worst enemy.  Free radicals are necessary (they are one of your body's first lines of defense against disease), but modern life creates a surplus that causes all kinds of issues.  Eating food rich in antioxidants is your best bet.  If you read through many of my blogs, I mention a lot of foods that have antioxidants in them.  Go for the deep colors like purple (dark berries), red (cherries and beets), orange (carrots, goldenberries, etc.) and yellow.  If you don't think you are getting enough antioxidants, try a whole-food supplement that has a good spectrum of them.

8.  Avoid the things you know you should avoid.  You know what they are.  Stay away from junk food.  Keep alcohol out of your house and your life (okay, an occasional glass of wine or beer might be okay).  Stop smoking.  Don't overeat.  Throw your television out with the garbage.  Etc. Etc.

9.  Manage your stress.  I've blogged about this many times.  There are so many ways to reduce the stress in your life.  See my article here.  So, learn how to react to situations.  Take a yoga or meditation class.  Breathe into stressful situations.  Eat better.  And Exercise.

10.  Smile.  Nothing is sexier than a smile.  No matter what you think about your personal appearance, smiling can only enhance it.  Research also shows that smiling and laughing sends certain signals to your body that keep your healthier.  Whenever you're feeling depressed or stressed out, stop.  Take a deep breath and think of something that will make you smile.  You'll start to feel sexier immediately.

There you have it.  Ten ways to feel and look great.  Be healthy!

Mystic Merman

Top Ten Series

Follow by blog over the next week, as I plan on presenting a list of top tens for every day of the week.  You'll find the Top Ten Ways to Stay Sexy (coming later today), the Top Ten Superfoods (possible divided up into two separate lists for the next two Superfood Sundays), the Top Ten Stress Melters,  the Top Ten Tasty Treats, the Top Ten Workouts, the Top Ten Therapies, and a special Top Ten for Free Friday.  Stay Healthy.

Mystic Merman

Friday, March 16, 2012

Free Friday: Keeping the body alkaline for health

Many health experts have asserted that most (if not all) diseases are caused by a state of acidity.  Human blood must remain slightly alkaline or the body will go into shock and die.  In order to sustain this pH of between 7.3 and 7.45, the body must gather alkaline minerals (calcium, magnesium, potassium, sodium, etc.) to maintain homeostasis.  If there is not enough reserves or if the body accumulates too much acid from poor diet, overexertion, stress or toxins, the body will draw on minerals from the bones and organs for these life-giving minerals.  This can lead to osteoporosis, cancer, heart disease and a plethora of other diseases.

In order to keep this from happening and remain in a state of good health, it is important to keep the body oxygenated and mineralized.  There are several steps you can take to ensure this happens.

1.  Eat a mostly alkaline, plant-based diet.  Your mother probably told you to eat your vegetables and she was right.  Vegetables, fruits, sprouts, nuts, seeds and other plant-based foods contain alkaline minerals like calcium and magnesium.  They also supply the body with life-giving water and oxygen, especially when consumed in their natural, raw state.  In addition, they help clear out acidic, toxic waste that accumulates from years of eating improperly.  By changing the way you eat, the body has enough minerals to draw on which keeps your bones and organs healthy.

2.  Do some form of exercise daily.  Even just walking helps move the lymph, provides the body with more oxygen, clears out acidic waste and relieves stress.  Cardio workouts burn fat where toxins are stored and provide extra oxygen to the blood which can help to alkalize it.  The pH has to do with oxygen molecules attached to hydrogen molecules.  The higher the pH, the more oxygen there is.

3.  Avoid acid-forming food and food stuff.  Food that depletes the body of minerals and contributes to an acidic condition in the body includes highly-processed food (sugar, white flour, processed oils, fried food, etc.), animal products, boxed and canned food, soda, and many more.  Artificial sweeteners, alcohol, stimulants like coffee, prescription and over-the-counter drugs, party drugs and other poisons heavily contribute to an acid condition and disease.  Moving toward a whole-food, plant-based diet can make a huge difference in one's health.

4.  Drink more pure, clean water.  Drinking good water every day is essential to health.  Water is important for nearly every function in the body, including removal of waste and carrying important minerals to the organs, bones and cells.  If you are dehydrated, you are contributing to an acid condition.  Put down your coffee, soda or glass of beer and drink more water.

5.  Eat mineral-rich superfoods.  Algae, sea vegetables, super berries, dark green powders and other superfoods contain alkaline minerals that support healthy blood, bones and organs.  Some of them also help to remove heavy metals and other toxins.  Find a few that you really like and eat them every day.  Your body will thank you.

6.  Take high-quality, plant-based supplements.  Most of us need a little help in getting to a state of health and alkalinity.  There are some great mineral supplements and concentrated powders that can help with this.  As there is a lot of crap out there, research the company you are using.  I recommend products by SunfoodThe Synergy Company, the raw vitamins line by Vitamin Code, and Health Force.  Also, consider taking an oxygen supplement to add more oxygen to your internal environment.

7.  Reduce the amount of stress in your life.  As I talked about in a previous blog (here), stress is a huge killer.  Read the article and apply some of the ways to reduce stress in your life.  When we are stressed, the body has to respond with chemicals that create more acid in the body.  Beware of this silent killer.

As you can see, there are a number of things we can do to alkalize the body.  For more information on the subject, refer to the book Alkalize or Die by Theodore A. Baroody.  Everything you do here contributes to your health, so do the best you can and keep moving toward a healthy state of being.  Be healthy.

Mystic Merman


Thursday, February 23, 2012

Therapy Thursday: Slippery Elm Bark

Slippery Elm is a species of elm that is native to North America.  Traditionally, the bark has been used as a demulcent, which means it can soothe the mucous membranes.  Uses include dried powder taken in capsule form, tea or as a food thickener.  Native Americans used it as a staple food because of its easily-digested carbohydrates.

Internally, Slippery Elm bark soothes digestive discomforts like ulcers and indigestion, but it's also used as a remedy for sore throat and respiratory issues.  Externally, the powder can be added to natural creams to soothe skin challenges including rashes, hemorrhoids and yeast infections.  It can also help soften the skin.

A friend of mine recently told me that she used Slippery Elm bark when she had an ulcer.  She would add water to it and make a thick pudding that coated her stomach and eventually healed the ulcer.  There are also studies that show it helps people with irritable bowel syndrome.  Mixed with other digestives, this can be a powerful aid in relieving discomfort from these conditions.

If you have any digestion challenges or disorders, eating a clean, mostly-raw, plant-based diet remains your best bet.  However, adding this powerful herb can really help with the healing process.  As always, Mother Nature provides us with many natural solutions to our ailments.  Be healthy!

Mystic Merman

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Workout Wednesday: Full Body Strength Training in Under 30 Minutes

When I was in high school, I enrolled in a strength training class for Physical Education.  At that time, fitness instructors urged their trainees to work on the upper body on a different day than the lower body.  If you wanted to work out the upper and lower body at least twice a week each, you had to practice strength training at least four days a week.  Nowadays, many fitness experts question this and suggest doing a full-body training.  This makes it easier to focus on strength training two or three times a week and practice cardiovascular exercise on off days.

However, working out the entire body in one day can be very time-consuming.  Sometimes, we don't have the time to spend working out for over an hour at the gym.  There is a way to get in a full body workout at home without weights.  The method here centers on major muscle groups.  By doing a few exercises that work the major muscles in the body, we can give all our muscles a conditioning.  This will not isolate small muscles like your biceps or calves, but they will still get worked.

Just four exercises can work your chest, arms, back, abs, and legs.  Depending on your skill and strength level, you can increase the time and intensity to get a better workout.

Push ups: This classic exercise will build your chest, arms and shoulders.  If you can't do at least two push ups, start with your knees on the floor until you build enough strength.

Pull ups: This will build your back and arm muscles.  If you can't do at least two pull ups, use momentum or have someone assist you.  Once you build up enough strength to do them on your own, even doing three or four makes a huge difference.

Squats: Doing these fully and deeply will work out the legs, hips and buttocks.  To increase the intensity, try jumping off the floor from the low squat position, landing on your feet upright.  This burst engages the muscles in your legs, giving them an intense training.

Sit ups: Try different varieties of ab work, like crunches, leg lifts, and planks.  Make sure to work your obliques (the side muscles) as well.

Depending on the time you have, you should go through at least two sets of each exercise, doing as many as you can before moving onto the next.  If you don't do any other form of strength training, fitting these four exercises into your lifestyle at least twice a week can make a huge difference.  Many people experience relief of joint pain, better bone and muscle mass, boosts in energy and mood and weight loss.  Our bodies are designed to move and resist gravity.  You'll feel better if you listen to your body's desire to work.  Be healthy!

Mystic Merman


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Tasty Tuesday: Raw Boats

For most people, spending hours in the kitchen preparing gourmet raw food is not an option.  Our lives are far too busy and complicated.  In this age of fast food and fast information, it helps to have a few easy-to-make recipes in your raw food repertoire.  Something easy, fun and tasty are raw boats.

The boat can be made from several vegetable sources.  Most commonly, raw chefs use long-sliced zucchini or cucumber, romaine lettuce leaves, kale leaves or even celery or carrots.  The idea here is to cut or form the vegetable so that you can fill it with something yummy.  The combinations of boat and filling can be endless with a little imagination.  Play with your food (no matter what your mother told you) and come up with some combinations that you love.

So, what about the filling?  Well, there are some real easy ones.  Nut butters go well with celery and green leaves.  Who doesn't love celery with peanut butter?  Well, you may have to substitute raw almond butter if you can't find a good quality raw peanut butter (Sunfood has one!).  You may also want to explore the wonderful tastes of cashew butter, hemp seed butter, tahini, Brazil nut butter and so many more. Just spread the butter on and make a nutritious, energy-giving snack in minutes.

Other fillings may take a little more time.  Guacamole remains a staple in the raw food diet, especially in California.  Making a spicy salsa from fresh tomatoes, peppers, onions, cilantro, lime and sea salt is also fast and easy.  I like to combine salsa and guacamole on romaine lettuce leaves.  For creamy versions of these fillers, blend cashews or coconut meat with sun-dried tomatoes (creamy tomato sauce), pesto and pine nuts (pesto sauce) or other combinations of food in your fridge.  Like I said, the variety of tastes and textures you can come up with are nearly endless.

Finding creative and easy ways to include raw food in your diet gives you a better edge on being raw.  If we make it too complex, we set ourselves up for failure.  Your health is worth eating right, so make it easy on yourself.  Be healthy!

Mystic Merman

Monday, February 20, 2012

Manic Monday: Fighting Depression with Food

Estimations suggest that nearly 10% of Americans suffer from some sort of depression.  That number continues to rise, even as the amount of people taking anti-depression medications rise.  Obviously, the medication is not working.  One cause of depression that is rarely discussed by mainstream media is diet.  However, even the Mayo Clinic and WebMD.com admit that eating a lot of junk food can contribute to depression.  Many even agree that inflammation caused by certain foods could be a leading cause of depression.

While there are certainly several factors that contribute to depression, nutrition is one of the keys.  Like every organ in the body, proper nutrition feeds the brain and helps the neurotransmitters function at a normal level.  These chemical messengers play a key role in mood and mental health.  Insulin resistance is another factor affected by diet that can have a huge impact on our mental health.

So, what foods are best to eat and not to eat for fighting depression?  First, cutting out grains has been shown to reduce inflammation and increase mood.  Our carbohydrates should come from organic, raw fruits and vegetables, with limited or no grains and starchy vegetables.  Amino acids are precursors to neurotransmitters, so make sure you eat a well-balanced meal with protein from a variety of sources (nuts, seeds, greens, superfoods, etc.).  Foods rich in Vitamins A, B, C and D are also important.  Supplementation may be necessary for some, but you're better off getting most of these nutrients from an array of fruits and vegetables, as well as algae, sea vegetables and sprouts.

Of course, avoiding processed foods like sugar, flour, denatured fats, soda, alcohol, and artificial sweeteners makes a huge difference in how you feel and how your brain functions.  Instead, include natural sweeteners, good fats (flax oil, coconut oil, olive oil), and possibly some ancient grains like quinoa and amaranth.  For most people, switching to a diet of 80% or more raw, organic, plant-based foods creates a better state of being and elevated moods.

Our mental health is one of the best treasures we have.  Protecting it means a happier and more fulfilling life.  Your diet is your best tool to change the chemistry of your brain and nervous system.  Be healthy!

Mystic Merman

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Superfood Sunday: The Power of Garlic

When I think of superfoods, the foods that normally come to mind are nutrient-dense foods that are not usually part of our diets.  In the past, I have focused on these foods.  However, garlic contains enough healing and therapeutic properties to put it in a superfood class.  Used as a culinary flavor enhancer in recipes from around the world, this bulb food (part of the same family as onions and chives, Allium) does a lot more than enhancing the flavor of food.

A native to Central Asia, garlic includes several subspecies, with the most popular varieties being the white and purple cloves.  Several studies confirm that garlic can lower cholesterol, prevent heart disease and fight cancer cells.  In addition, garlic has been established to have anti-fungal, antibacterial and antiviral activity.  It also has a long history in traditional medicine as a remedy for colds, infections, and digestive disorders.  A little known fact about garlic is that it contains a high amount of vitamin C, which supports the immune system and prevents scurvy.

Because it has a high amount of sulfur (like other spicy foods), garlic is considered to be a beauty food.  Sulfur-containing compounds protect the skin from free radical damage and support collagen growth.  In fact, it may be one of the reasons the Mediterranean diet keeps people young and beautiful.  The French and Italians along the Mediterranean are known for using garlic liberally in their food.

The only significant downside to eating garlic is its effect on the breath and body odor.  Eating raw garlic certainly poses this problem for many raw foodists.  There are a couple of things you can do to alleviate this uncomfortable side effect.  First, eating garlic with fresh parsley takes care of the breath problem.  Parsley freshens the breath and also aids in the digestion of parsley.  In fact, many dark greens can help with people who have digestion problems.  Second, aged garlic is becoming more popular and more readily available.  By aging garlic, many of the odor-causing properties are neutralized.  The flavor continues to exist during the aging process, but digestion and assimilation is easier.  Finally, eating garlic with probiotics also seems to curb some or all of these effects.  Adding coconut kefir, raw sauerkraut or other fermented foods is a great way to improve digestion and assimilation.

However you decide to add garlic to your diet, you really don't want to miss out on this versatile superfood.  It's an amazing way to balance flavor, spice up your meal and boost your body's ability to fight disease.  Most recommendations suggest that you can eat up to three or four bulbs of garlic a day.  Enjoy and be healthy!

Mystic Merman

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Workout Wednesday: Healthy Recovery Drinks

When I did a Google search for "after workout recovery drinks," some of the websites that came up suggested Gatorade, chocolate milk and a lot of formulas that are filled with low-quality whey protein and other toxins.  Superficially, these drinks might give a boost or supply some nutrients, but they also create a lot of waste and toxins that the body has to deal with.  After a workout, our bodies need great building material to really thrive.

From the perspective of a raw, plant-based diet, there are so many choices.  After my workout tonight, I decided to blend up a green smoothie.  This versatile drink provides essential minerals and vitamins, protein, antioxidants, electrolytes and so much more.  Make sure your green smoothie contains some dark greens like kale, collard greens and parsley.  In addition, I always add celery, which supplies a natural, organic dose of sodium.  Lemons and apples can help to balance the bitterness of the dark green but also cleanse the body, especially the liver.  Be sure to throw in some berries for their powerful antioxidants.

If you're looking for a concentrated protein after a heavy lifting session, Sun Warrior Protein blows the competition away in my opinion.  This unique raw, vegan protein derives its protein completely from organic rice.  How do they get all the protein out of rice?  Well, the rice is sprouted and then mixed with a culture which metabolizes the carbohydrates, leaving a fine powder that is 75 to 80% protein.  The fact that it's a cultured food means that digestion is aided, making it more bio-available than soy, whey or pea protein.  Many people have allergies to proteins on the market or can't digest them well.  I highly recommend looking into this superior product.

Other great foods to consume after a workout are hemp seeds, fruit, chia, flax seeds, and any type of algae, especially Spirulina which is about 65% protein.  Do yourself and favor and supply your body with the best that Nature has to offer.  You deserve it.  Be healthy.

Mystic Merman

Friday, February 3, 2012

Free Friday: Progress Update 2

Hello.  I thought I'd use Free Friday to catch everyone up on my progress.  After doing another fast, I didn't have the energy or the weight loss of my previous fast.  It felt a little forced, so I think I'm going to hold off on a long fast for a while.  Eating feels very good right now.  In the past couple of weeks, I have been eating a lot of raw food, including salads, smoothies, raw chocolate, raw bars, seaweed, fruit, etc.  My digestion is always excellent after a fast, so my energy is way up.

I feel like I'm losing fat again, but as I continue to gain muscle, it's hard to tell.  My focus this month is to stay raw and continue working out.  I love doing a lot of blended foods, because it's so easy to digest.  I'm starting the book I bought called Raw Foods on a Budget which I will incorporate into my blogs over the next couple of weeks.  I can't wait to start to apply all the things I learn and really start to save money while practicing a raw lifestyle.  Brandi has a wealth of knowledge in her books and lectures.  I highly recommend her online classes and books.

One of the most difficult things about starting and staying on a raw diet is the feeling that we are hungry or not getting enough food.  Over the next couple of weeks, I would also like to give some hints to feeling satiated on a raw diet.  Minerals and fat are so important and are often excluded if we rely too much on fruit and tasty vegetables.  Getting dark greens and good fat as well as adding certain superfoods and supplements can really make a difference.  Have a healthy weekend everybody!

Mystic Merman

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Workout Wednesday: MSM for Your Joints

Whether you do yoga, run, workout at the gym, dance or just walk, you need to take care of your joints.  If you don't, exercise can become painful as you get older.  Even many young people experience joint pain after exercising.  While a proper diet tops the list for keeping the joints healthy, there are natural supplements you can take to help.


After ten years in the natural health industry, one supplement that I've seen have more success in this area than just about anything else is MSM (methyl-sufonyl-methane).  This simple sulfuric compound can be found in almost all plants and animals, as well as soil and rainwater.  It's actually part of the rain cycle, forming when methane evaporates and combines with moisture in the air.  


This bio-available form of sulfur is readily used by the body and has the toxicity level of water, making it one of the most useful yet harmless supplements available.  Sulfur is found in every cell in the body, so its importance cannot be overstated.  Although it is important to hundreds of functions in the body, one of its primary functions is to assist in the creation of collagen in the body.  Collagen gives the cells, skin, tendons, muscles and organs structure, support and flexibility.  Without it, you would literally fall apart.  


Joint flexibility and support rely on this important mineral.  Unfortunately, many of us don't get enough sulfur in our diet. There are many foods that contain good amounts of sulfur, like garlic, onions, tomatoes and avocados, but it's likely that our diets contained a lot more sulfur in the past.  Taking a natural supplement can make all the difference in the world to our health.  

Most MSM is derived from either the natural gas industry (methane) or the lumber industry.  DMSO (a precursor to MSM) is a bi-product of these industries, so it's a bit like recycling.  MSM is formed from distilling or purifying DMSO.  If you find a good company, the product should be 100% pure MSM.  It has a bitter taste, but can be blended into smoothies or juice with little effect to the taste.  It is well known in the natural health industry that MSM works synergistically with vitamin C.  Taking it with citrus juice is recommended, but I usually take it with a powerful vitamin C like Camu Camu.  

If you are suffering from joint pain, I highly recommend talking to your health practitioner about MSM.  It's been very beneficial to my healing process.  Be healthy!

Mystic Merman

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Tasty Tuesday: Raw Tacos

In San Diego, we have a tradition on Tuesdays called Taco Tuesday.  Unfortunately, most tacos are a recipe for ill health and disease.  The shells (likely made from GMO corn) are deep fried then filled with hormone-laden beef, cheese, and other disease-causing ingredients.  When I first went raw, I really missed eating tacos.  I discovered that collard greens can be used as a taco shell, but have soon discovered that Napa cabbage is even better, because it has milder flavor than collard.  Here is a modification to the recipe I used to teach in my raw classes:

Taco Shell:
4 to 6 Napa Cabbage leaves

Taco "Meat" filling:
1 cup of walnuts (soaked and chopped)
1 cup of mushrooms (chopped fine)
1/2 cup of sun-dried tomatoes (blended into a sauce)
1 Tbsp of olive oil
1 tsp of chili powder
1 garlic clove (finely chopped)
1 tsp of sea salt

Mix all ingredients in a bowl and set aside

Raw Salsa:
1 cup of chopped tomatoes (favorite variety or seasonal)
1/2 cup of chopped onions
1 garlic clove (finely chopped)
1/4 cup of cilantro (chopped)
1 Tbsp of olive oil
1 Tbsp of lemon or lime juice
1 tsp of sea salt (optional)

Mix all ingredients in a bowl and set aside.

Raw Sour "Cream":
1 cup of cashews (soaked for 2 to 3 hours)
1 cup of water
1/2 cup of lemon
1 Tbsp of Apple Cider Vinegar
1 tsp of onion powder
1 tsp of sea salt (optional)

Blend all ingredients in a blender or food processor until smooth.

Assembly:
Fold the cabbage leaves in half making a taco shape.  Fill each of the "tacos" with the "meat" so the bottoms are filled nicely.  Add any desired veggies (i.e. marinated mushrooms, shredded cabbage, lettuce or cilantro).  Top with desired amounts of salsa and sour "cream."  Serves two to three people.  Enjoy!

Mystic Merman








Sunday, January 22, 2012

21 Day Fast: Day 21

The last day of the fast was certainly one of the hardest.  I spent most of the day working, so that kept me occupied.  I don't know how people do fasts when they're taking time off.  Personally, I need something to keep me busy and preoccupied.

Going to a potluck certainly didn't help.  There was a lot of great food, but I tried to keep focused on the great company.  Kale University's launch party was amazing.  I sipped my green juice and discussed this great project with some of the 50 or so people that showed up for the party.  At 7 pm, the founders of the university launched the website and discussed the passion, purpose and potential of the project.  What a great resource this is going to be.

So, today I'm eating solid food again.  I started off with an orange and a grapefruit.  Later today, I'm going to the store to pick up some greens for a salad tomorrow.  I'll likely stick with fruit today, but will break the fruit fast tomorrow with a nice salad.  I usually eat an avocado by me second day, which is quite heavy, so I think I'll wait until Tuesday.  I really want to give myself a chance to ease into eating solid again.  Thank you for following me on this healthy journey.  Be healthy!

Mystic Merman

Friday, January 20, 2012

21 Day Fast: Days 19-20

Wow!  I'm getting so close.  I have to say, I'm having a rougher time than I did on my 30-day fast.  I'm really sick of green juice.  Making it a juice feast (with some blended superfoods and aloe) has made it easier, but I think warmer weather makes for a better fast.  I'm really disappointed in my weight loss (12 pounds), but I know that was all fat, because I've been gaining muscle from my workouts.  I also understand that the body's metabolism can slow down during a fast because of the lack of calories.  It may have been too soon after my last fast.

When I start eating solid food again, I'll probably lose weight a lot quicker.  On Sunday, I'll likely break the fast with grapefruit in the morning.  By the evening, I'll probably have other mono fruit and start in with a salad on Monday.  I'm really looking forward to solid food.

Right now, I'm enjoying (sort of) a dark green juice.  My friend Sara from work gave me a huge bag of home grown greens that are really amazing.  I juiced these (celery and kale) with apple, carrots, cucumber, cilantro, parsley, mint, ginger, lemon and red bell pepper.  It's very strong, but super alkalizing.  I know I'm getting a massive amount of nutrition to my cells.  Tomorrow, I plan to have a citrus juice combination blended with Spirulina and fresh aloe.  By the evening, I'll have my large green juice and then head off to the launching party for Kale University (www.kaleuniversity.org).  What a great way to end a juice fast!

So, I'm now off to the gym for a short cardio workout followed by a lifting workout.  My biceps are bigger than they've ever been (which is not saying much)!  Looking forward to stepping out on the beach this summer with a new body.  Be healthy!

Mystic Merman