Greater Is He that Is In Me

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It has been a little over a year since I committed to a 2/week yoga practice. Coming from marathon training and a steady CrossFit schedule, the transition was less than graceful. Thankfully my yoga instructor, Hope, was patient and loving every step of the way.

Physically, I am stronger on a much deeper level. True core strength is very hard to achieve and the ability to balance is a good indication of that strength. While I’ve been more muscular, I’ve never been this strong. My flexibility has also improved dramatically. I’ve never been particularly flexible but running has done a number on my hamstrings. When I started, touching my toes without bending my knees was not  an option. Now, I can wrap my fingers under my toes. There is a reason flexibility is considered one of the foundations of fitness. As we age that reason becomes much more clear.

Yoga is a gift from God. A year of hearing Hope remind me that no two days in yoga are the same (meaning some days I will be able balance on one leg while other days not so much) has been a gentle reminder to cut myself some slack. Living with a chronic illness means that life is even less predictable as it relates to the function of my body. This used to really make me angry. I would respond by pushing harder and then crashing big time. I’m moving away from that mindset. Now I desire to let my body simply BE. I am so grateful for the days when I feel like I can bend like a pretzel or kill a HIIT session. But I also honor the days my body says: “Not today.” Those days (I’ve decided) are days I should listen to what God is saying to me. I try to be more quiet in general and receive.

I know that there are those who stay away from yoga because of the spiritual connection. I have spoken to people who are uncomfortable with the fact that the origins of yoga are in Eastern philosophy and tradition.

I have not had that internal conflict. I was raised Pentecostal Holiness. As a child, I struggled with not being Baptist, Methodist or Episcopalian like my friends.  While I do not consider myself to be religious, I am eternally grateful that my family’s chosen structure of  Faith laid a firm foundation for my relationship with Christ. While many things have put my Faith to the test, I have never wavered in my trust in God. Not once.

“Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.” 1John 4:4

Yoga is an extension of my walk with Christ.

Additional scriptures that serve as a reminder of the nature of my relationship with God.

Luke 17:21 Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.

Matthew 6:33 Seek first the Kingdom of God.

Luke 11:52 Woe to you lawyers! For you have taken away the key of knowledge. You did not enter yourselves, and you hindered those who were entering.

Mark13:37 And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch (Stay Alert)!

I do not debate matters of the spirit. I go where God leads me and I suggest others do the same.

Below is a pic of me and my good friend Gailde after yoga. What a blessing to grow in spirit with a friend.

Me and my good friend Gailde after yoga. What a blessing to grow in spirit with a friend.

Another thing: I’ve been pretty good about sharing a recipe a week. This one was suggested by my friend Sybil.  She got it from Stupid Easy Paleo.  Their exact recipe is below.  Not only was it stupid easy, it was crazy delicious. Lick the bowl yumminess.

Creamy Leek Soup (Dairy-Free)

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups of leeks, dark green ends removed, roughly chopped (~2 large leeks)
  • 1 medium-sized cauliflower, chopped (4-5 cups)
  • 1 cup onion (~1 medium)
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup coconut ghee
  • 1-2 Tablespoons ghee(clarified butter), optional
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions:

  • Wash the leeks well. I usually cut off the root end then slice it down the middle lengthwise. Hold under running water and separate the leaves, rinsing well (especially the outermost leaves). Sandy soup is not delicious. I usually cut off the top 1/3 of the leek and save that for making stock. Chop the leeks roughly. Add to a large soup pot. Cut the tough, dark green leaves off (save for stock). Add to a large soup pot.
  • Cut the core out of the cauliflower and trim off any leaves. Roughly chop it. Add that to the pot.
  • Add the onions, chicken broth, coconut milk and ghee to the pot.
  • Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for about 20 minutes or until all the veggies are tender.
  • Allow to cool, then puree until smooth using a blender (be careful…you may need to do two or more batches so the blender doesn’t overflow).
  • Season with salt and pepper to taste.

P.S. I finally got a chance to hold the drawing! I used randompicker.com this time.  Tearing little sheets of paper and having my daughter pull out of a bag was stressful! lol Here are the winners according to their random picker:

Prize ID Public Info Private Info Random Sorting ID Weight
1: t shirt Robin 157C7626-2456-4ACA-A53B-31732E3BCFAC 1
2: t shirt Veletta 3488072F-BA65-4B9D-8BF8-14CD60D48173 1

Yay!!! Email me your addresses and I will get them right out to you guys!

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For the Love of Beets -part 2 (A CONTEST)

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Today is Valentine’s Day.

We’ve been snowed in with 2 of our kiddos for four days and the thrill is gone.  No longer feeling the love.

But somehow the hubster snuck out into the elements and got me roses.

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They were waiting for me when I woke up. And coffee.  He shows his love for me daily by making my coffee. So although today isn’t the ideal Valentine’s Day, feeling quite happy with the man I love.

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So back to Beets. In the last ESWH Challenge, I shared with the participants my experience with beets. I wanted them to know that I could totally relate to their misgivings about certain foods. I also wanted them to understand that your conditioning is not a good enough reason to avoid foods that are actually good for you.  As a population we are so unfamiliar with how good food taste that we dismiss items that are not overly sweetened, deep fried or salty. Most processed foods do not start with quality ingredients. Therefore highly processed forms of salt, sugar and fat are added to trick our brains into thinking these foods taste good. They actually do not. They actually taste like chemicals.  When we actually taste real food it tastes foreign. My complaint about beets was that they taste like ‘dirt’. I realize now that it was the earthy taste and fibrous texture that I was unfamiliar with. Sad.  My experience with beets was my first step in loving real food.

So now I am on a food campaign. It is part of my Revolution. My Challenge peeps were a little skeptical at first but most followed my lead!  I walked them through introducing beets into their diet. To make it a little easier, I told them about Love Beets. I discovered them at Whole Foods some time ago and they made my transition easier.  Organic (they have organic and non organic varieties) and vacuum sealed, I could cut open the package and plop them in the Vitamix. Remember it took me a while to integrate the entire beet experience into my diet. Love Beets were a huge help! I suggested them to the ladies and they were on a mission to find them in their local store.  I learned from one lady that they are also available at Costco (GET OUT!).  I learned from another participant that Whole Foods has a try it policy. She was able to get a pack for free! The biggest score came when one  reached out to the folks at Love Beets directly. She was unable to locate them in her city and asked for assistance. She took the time to tell them about me and the Challenge. I told you these ladies are ROCK STARS!

Later in the Challenge, I charged them with a chance to win a prize. All they had to do was take a picture of all the fresh produce that had taken over their kitchen. I was thrilled with what I saw! Counters, tabletops  and refrigerators overflowing with REAL FOOD! What they didn’t know is that I, too, had reached out to the kind folks at Love Beets and asked for some free goodies. 🙂 Once Brandon heard my excitement about beets (and his product specifically) he was all over it! He sent me a t-shirt, recipe cards and some promotional  pins for our contest winner.  He also sent me a few others for my lovely blog followers.

So….

We have our very first blog contest!

What do you have to do?

1) “Follow” my blog AND like my Facebook page. Both can be done on this page. Easy peasy.

2) Like the Love Beets page. (By the way, they will give you a $1 coupon for the like!)

3) Submit your favorite beet recipe in the comment section below. You can a link to recipe you’ve tried and loved or you can type out the instructions for your original creation.  That’s it!

On Monday, I will choose three winners randomly from those who enter. You have all weekend to submit your recipe. 🙂

What will you win?

A really  cool t-shirt like this one. (great quality by the way). The hubster was kind enough to model it for me. Out of his comfort zone for sure! But he got a free shirt for his troubles. Happy Valentine’s Day hon!

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I will also throw a few extra goodies including a $5 coupon for Love Beets!  Cool huh?

Seem like a whole lot hoopla over a vegetable?  Well, to me it is that serious. Besides, I love to support companies who make quality products that make life easier.  I am also hoping to encourage those of you out there who are hesitant  to give beets (or kale, or parsnips, or turnips)  a try!

Here is recipe I found and made from the Love Beets Website. It is really, really good.

Tiffany Goodall’s Beet, Asparagus & Smoked Salmon Salad with a Yogurt and Pepper Dressing

Serves:
2
Preparation Time:
5 – 10 mins
Cooking Time:
5 mins

What you’ll need:

  • 1 pack (approx. 4.5 oz.) asparagus tips
  • 5 oz. watercress and lettuce
  • 3.5 oz. smoked salmon
  • 2 cooked beets dipped in vinegar (not pickled), cut into eighths

For the dressing:

  • 3 tbsp. horseradish cream
  • 2 tbsp. organic natural yogurt
  • 1 tsp. white wine vinegar
  • Fresh ground black pepper to season
  • Juice of one lemon

What to do:

  1. Place the asparagus tips into a pan of boiling water and cook for 3-4 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile assemble the lettuce and watercress onto 2 small plates and top with the smoked salmon.
  3. Add the beets. Then drain the asparagus tips and arrange on top of the salad.
  4. Finally, mix the dressing ingredients together and drizzle over the salad. Garnish with plenty of fresh ground black pepper and finish with the lemon juice.

For the Love of Beets

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beetroot-heart

If you would have told me 2 years ago I would ever eat beets I would have called you insane.

If you would have said that I would eat them almost daily I would have suggested you get your head examined.

But here I am, a beet eating (almost loving) fool.

But HOW? And more importantly WHY?

Well, despite the fact that I have been on a focused fitness path for the greater part of my adult life, it has been in the last few years that I have begun to focus in on what I eat. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been what most would consider a good eater for some time. I’ve always loved to cook and I’ve stayed on top of whatever food trends seem to be gaining traction in the fitness world. The thing is, it took my health (not the outward appearance of my body) to force me to shift my relationship with food. As I began to experience autoimmune flares (and eventually find myself hospitalized a few times) I began to research how I could use food to HEAL my body.

I stopped struggling with food; meaning I took my attention off of weight loss and athletic performance. Instead, I focused on fueling my body for optimum health. **SN: when you fuel your body for optimal health, perfect weight and improved athletic performance are natural byproducts** I researched the systems of the body paying particular attention to those that present a challenge for me: digestive, urinary and reproductive. I determined that there is clear evidence (both scientific and anecdotal) that what we eat matters to every cell in our body. If I wanted to heal, I had to listen to my body.

Slowly but surely I stepped away from a dieters mentality. That was hard because our society has conditioned us to ‘diet’. Rather we need it or not! That was the first realization. I did not need to lose weight. I needed to get well. So therefore I needed to eat foods to get me there.  I examined with new eyes how my peers (including those in the fitness world) ate. Generally speaking… we do not eat a lot of  real food.  Protein bars, shakes, goos and gels all acceptable ways to fuel our bodies. In addition, most people don’t enjoy much of  what they eat at all. They see food as serving a purpose; for the dieter the goal is to limit food for the purpose of weight loss for the food addict, food might provide emotional comfort. The bottom line is… very few people eat for health or for true enjoyment.

I considered that fact that despite the fancy packaging and enticing marketing… processed food is not exciting. Nor does it taste good. Walk over to the produce section and now you are talking eye candy! Food that represents the colors of the rainbow; that stand alone. No bells or whistles needed. Just good solid nutrition. Just as God intended.  images

 

First decision: Fall in love with food.  REAL FOOD. Its healing properties and its taste.

Nothing like being sick to make you appreciate your body and the beautiful temple God created it to be.  I LOVED my body for what it had done for me when I needed it to. I was thankful to God for my healing. The least I could do is acknowledge this gift with my food choices.

So what does all of this have to do with Beets?

Well…

I started paying attention to the value of my food and considering how I could increase it. I incorporated juicing, soups and salads… all big bangs for my buck.

I paid attention to what is offered locally and seasonally. To which foods my body needed to function optimally.

This is where beets entered the picture.

As I worked to increase the nutritional value of my food, beets kept coming up.  Beets are known detoxifiers, considered a super antioxidant and have brain boosting properties. The are also a great anti inflammatory food AND aphrodisiac.

Now despite ALLLL of this,  I just ignored them at first. I had never tasted them because the smell alone gave me drive heaves.  I am not a picky eater so I took the revulsion very seriously. I mean apparently my body did not want them, right?

Wrong.

It was just a sign of a lifetime of conditioning.  Once I recognized that, I became determined to overcome my disdain for beets. Like a challenge. We all know how much I like a challenge. 😉

I wanted to see if I could change my own mind about beets.

I had enough sense to realize that I was powerless over my gag reflex so I needed to hide them in my food.  I began making my smoothies with beets. Now because of their rich color (a huge sign that something is good for you by the way) there is not mistaking that beets were in the smoothie. But by juicing with fruits and vegetables with strong flavors (such as pineapple and ginger) I was able to almost completely mask the taste. Every few days I increased the amount of beets in the smoothie and decreased the amount of the other foods. Some days I was  more successful than others but after a few weeks of this, I had no issue with the beets in my smoothie! I continued my beet green smoothies for several months. However,  I rotate my vegetables so I didn’t have them every single day.

This past Fall beets became seasonly available.  My local Whole Foods started offering several dishes that featured beets. I decided to try beets outside of my smoothies and guess what? I didn’t die! No more queasiness. I could handle the smell, I could chew it up and I could swallow. Again and again. Over and over.  For me, this was monumental.  I started getting a side dish containing beets on my weekly trip to the store. Beets with goat cheese… quinoa with beets… beet slaw… I tried it all.

The final frontier was cooking with them.  More about that in part two.  For now, here is my signature smote which contains beets as a star player.  Tell me what you think!

(Pssst… A contest is coming in Part 2!)

Sagdrina's Signature Smoothie

Mobile Office Will Travel (spoiler alert: Cashew Cheese recipe tucked in post!)

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Between Snowmageddon and whatever bug had taken residence in my respiratory system,  I was more than ready to get out of my house on on with life this past week.  I took lots of pictures so let’s do this slide show style. 🙂

My soul-sis and ride or die chick Jamie of ImPerfect Yoga &Coaching was in town and we linked up at Lululemon.  She knew I was sick of being sick so she bought me a grand slam from Arden’s Garden (a local juice bar).  What is a grand slam you might ask? A shot each of lemon, wheatgrass, cranberry, and ginger. Pure and potent stuff. Just what the doctor ordered! Thanks sis!

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Now, I’ll spare you the details but let’s just say that I fought my way into Lulelemon’s  Research and Development program for fitness professionals.  Normally, I might let something like a 15% discount go  (okay that’s not even true) but if you know anything about Lululemon’s prices you know I did what I had to do!  Here is a really cute number that did not make it home with me.Even with the 15% discount I just couldn’t do it.  I felt like Olivia Pope in it y’all!

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I was feeling so good I went straight to the gym and ran 2 miles. Sweet sweat and tears that felt good! The next day I decided to do it again! This time I was running next to  a lovely lady name Phree (pronounced Free..love it!)  She is one month into her goal to lose 40 lbs. I love it when I see folks still in the gym in February! She has a no excuses motto so she was not offended when I hacked up half my lung running next to her. She actually had her own little nostril number going on. That’s called dedication folks!

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I headed into the city for back to back business meetings at R. Thomas (hey- you have your board room and I have mine… don’t judge!).  Three Big Bangs later (not all for me of course) and the Garden Project is picking up steam. More about that later but me and Jan’s plan to get the world to eat their veggies is coming together nicely!

I also discovered cashew cheese. Now I am not big on eating foods that are designed to replace other foods but this was calling me from the menu. Perhaps it is because I went without dairy the entire month of January or  maybe because I am fully committed to humanely processed meat products. Whatever the case, I wanted to try this ‘alternative’. I’ve tried the cheese ‘style’ product Daiya and although the taste was okay, I just could not get past the processed food aspect of it. What I did recognize in the ingredients was not terrible, just not nutritionally dense.  Therefore I couldn’t see it as a long term solution. I decided to see if cashews could pick up where feta left off. Well not exactly. It is distinctly not cheese. BUT is was yummy. Especially with pears! It has the texture of a pimento cheese and a smooth, creamy taste. It was also quite filling.

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I came home, did my research and created my own. This is how I made it:

Ingredients
  • 1 1/2 cup raw cashews (soaked for at least 2 hours prior)
  • ¼ cup filtered water
  • ¼ cup nutritional yeast
  • 2 Tbs. lemon juice
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 Tbs. homemade Kombucha  (you can use 1 Tbs. raw apple cider vinegar or 2Tbs of white wine)
  • 1 Tbs. dijon mustard
  • sea salt and pepper to taste
 Instructions
  1. Added  all ingredients into my  Vitamix until it got thick and creamy. You can let it harden in the fridge for a day for a firm consistency.

Friday was a return to yoga. I hadn’t practiced in two weeks but my body got right back in the flow. I decided to set up shop in Whole Foods after class. Totally busted by my yoga teacher Hope. She snapped this picture on her way out.

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And then I met this gem of a lady who was passing by named Yvonne. Turns out she has been doing yoga and maintaining a healthy lifestyle for many years. At 70 years old her skin is clear and free of wrinkles. Amazing. She told me that when your spirit is pure it shines through. She felt drawn to me… I felt the same way about her! Did I mention she is from Savannah, my hometown? I almost guessed it when she sat down. Something about us girls from the C-Port!

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Here is one for the road.

Jamie (said soul sis above) and I did silly selfies of ourselves in our Lululemon wear while I “worked” and she got ready to teach  yoga. Good times.

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