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February 2014

Beet this! Red Velvet Cake smoothie

Red velvet cake smoothie labeled
There's beets in them thar smoothie!

I was sent a bottle of Pines beet juice powder recently and I was eager to try it because I've heard great things about beets and fitness. It can improve blood and oxygen flow to muscles and prompts the muscles to use that oxygen more efficiently.

I'm an Eastern European-by-way-of-Chicago chick, so I'm quite familar with beets. A bottle of Manischewitz borscht was a staple in our house growing up. A cold bowl of borscht with a dollop of sour cream -- we're talkin' childhood comfort food.

Preworkout drinkI've added a spoonful of beet powder to my pre-workout cocktail of Emergen-C and Naturally Calm magnesium powder. It comes out tasting like a lemony beet soda -- don't gag laugh, it's good!

I also threw a couple teaspoons of it into a smoothie the other day, which I'm calling my Red Velvet Cake smoothie. Red Velvet cake is basically chocolate cake with a bottle of food coloring thrown in right? (I don't eat it because the thought of all that food dye grosses me out.)

It was really great, and would make a great breakfast smoothie before heading to the gym. There's plenty of protein and some heartiness from a packet of instant oatmeal, which you can omit if you want, but I found it added that little bit of "cakiness" to the smoothie.

Red Velvet Cake Smoothie

  • 1 cup Silk coconut milk (or whatever milk or milk substitute you like)
  • 1 scoop chocolate protein powder (I used Purfit vegan protein powder; they're new in town, check 'em out)
  • 1 cup frozen strawberries
  • 2 teaspoons Pines beet juice powder
  • 1 packet plain instant oatmeal
  • Ice (if there's still room in the blender cup; I play fast and loose with that "max capacity" line on the Ninja cups)

Blend and enjoy!

Makes 1 serving. Calorie count depends on the type of milk and protein powder used. This particular smoothie weighed in at 390 calories, so it's definitely a meal. It also packed in a bunch of fiber to boot.

And if you're not familiar with what happens the day after you eat beets, don't freak out in the bathroom

I'm guessing that the beet powder would also work well in a real red velvet cake recipe, too -- better than a bottle of dye!

I need to take something to the next level (but what is it?)

Color me frustrated.

(What color is frustrated? Gray? Purple?)

Frustration face

(Yeah, this kinda sums things up.)

That one pound that I wanted to lose seemed so within my grasp last week has turned into 2 pounds.

I delved into the stats on my Withings scale and here's what I saw:

Muscle up fat down weight same

Since I started adding regular strength training to my exercise, my fat mass has gone down and my lean mass has gone up, but as you can see, my weight is kind of flatlining with a very slight drop. 

While that's encouraging, that change in body composition has stabilized the past few weeks. I need to take things to the next level to progress, but I don't know what to change.

I recently switched up my cardio/strength ratio -- instead of 2 days of strength training and 3 days of cardio, I'm now doing 3 days of strength training and 2 days of cardio. (I also do about a mile of warm-up on a bike or treadmill before I strength train.)

Exercise is not my issue. I'm really enjoying the gym (like I LOVE it) and I've long enjoyed my neighborhood walks/jogs.

Food is what's freaking me out right now. And when I mean freaking me out, I mean when I wake up in the morning, I go to the kitchen and don't know what to do. I stand, frozen, in front of the pantry or the fridge, trying to figure out what to eat for breakfast.

Do I eat carbs? Make a smoothie? Eggs? Oatmeal? What will start my day off on the right foot? What will ruin my day.

These are the things that are spinning in my head whenever meal time rolls around.

It's exhausting.

And it's also frustrating the people in my "weight loss/health care circle." Do I reduce calories? I really don't want to get into that cycle because I'll only be cutting and cutting until I'm freaking starving all the time instead of, like now, sometimes. 

Here's where it gets infuriating. I get a LOT of books sent to me and lately it's a ratio of 33-33-33 of "not all calories are created equal and don't cut back on the good ones" to "I'm a famous trainer/chef/celebrity/nutritionist/doctor and here's my really low calorie diet that will work for everyone" to "cut out all these bad foods and weight will miraculously drop off."

I tend to lean toward the "eat the good calories" trend of weight loss science. Last week I got wrapped up in one of those "cut out all your favorite foods for no really good reason" books and I lasted half a day. 

CalorieMythI just started reading "The Calorie Myth" by Jonathan Bailor. I listen to his Smarter Science of Slim podcasts all the time (actually, a few of my pals have been on his show -- I'm looking at you, Brandi, Jenn and Lisa!). I talked at length with Lisa a couple years ago at BlogHer about her experience with Bailor's theories and it has taken me until now to finally give them a try myself.

His way of eating is "paleo-ish," which, I discovered, agrees with me, as Dr. Mark Hyman's Blood Sugar Solution 10-Day Detox Diet is a similar way of eating. Bailor's approach is very science based, which I dig because I'm a bit of a geek.

Preworkout drinkSo, off to the gym for the teenager and I! I came up with a new pre-workout drink, which involves a teaspoon each of Naturally Calm magnesium powder, Pines Beet Juice Powder and a packet of Emergen-C. I figure the B vitamins, magnesium and beet juice will help with energy, stamina, focus and oxygen uptake, which everyone needs at the gym.

And I have a great smoothie recipe I made with the beet juice powder, which I'll share tomorrow.  Think red velvet cake ...

Tunes for Tuesday: Ain't It Fun, by Paramore

Every now and then when I'm doing a "grownup thing," like driving, paying bills or doing laundry (y'know, the fun stuff!), I stop for a moment.

This is hard to put into words because it seems silly, but I think to myself "Wow, I can drive a car like it's second nature," thinking back to driver's ed class in high school when I had no idea what I was doing. I thought I would never get the hang of it. I remember the first bill I paid -- a subscription to "Rolling Stone" magazine. It was also the first check I wrote, right before I went away to college. 

I think it's because I have a teenager who is just starting to learn the "grownup things" in life, which brings me to today's song, which I heard yesterday on the way back from the gym -- the "grownup" way to get activity, unlike swinging on monkey bars or something.

I love the fun energy of the song and the lyrics, which poke fun at "living in the real world."

(Oh, did I mention that I'm the mayor of my Planet Fitness? I've never been the mayor of anything on Foursquare, let alone a GYM.)

Itching to get this pound off

Checking in really quick because I wasted nearly the entire day at the car dealer diagnosing a "check engine" light -- bad gas cap!

That pound didn't come off today but I'm trying a new tack because lately I've been itchy as heck, inside and out.

I do have a raft of allergies and sensitivities (my nose stuffs up in hotel rooms that haven't allowed smoking in decades because I can still smell smoke from 1979). 

So right now, something is making me itch. It's not any supplement or laundry detergent or shower gel. It's gotta be food.

I had recently completed a Blood Sugar Solution 10-day detox plan and was feeling great but I think I reintroduced some foods too quickly and my body sent out its histamine monsters.

The planAccording to the book "The Plan" by Lyn-Genet Recitas, some foods are more reactive than others and they can cause all the symptoms I'm having now, plus weight gain. I don't know how much I buy into her theories but I'm going to cut out a few things that I think are causing problems and see what happens. One of the foods that I think is giving me issues has me kinda sad because I think it's corn. Every time I eat popcorn, the next day I have a "popcorn hangover" with bloating, headaches and general crappy feeling. And I love popcorn, and my favorite cereal -- Kashi organic Simply Maize. And I've been using a lot of corn products lately so that might be the culprit.


But if it means I feel better, then I'll cut the corn for awhile and perhaps lose this pound.

I'm not really into woo-woo elimination-type diets, but I'm hoping that I figure out what is making me itchy and perhaps the pound will go with it.

The yin and yang of muscles and massage

I really 'kneaded' that massage. Ha, ha.

"I'm going to gouge a hole in your massage table," I said as my toes dug into the table while my IT band was kneaded like pizza dough.

Today was massage day, and no, I don't go for that namby-pamby luxury spa stuff. I'm looking for results -- even if that means making noises like I'm being strangled.

I've been doing strength training twice a week for about a month now, so my monthly massage at Massage Envy is more important than ever. I've been going for years because my neck is an absolute mess and monthly massage keeps me out of the operating room (and keeps me able to turn my head). 

But it's also important for fitness. 

Massage helps loosen up tendons, relax tight muscles and works out the giant knots in my shoulders. (Seriously, I have some crazy knots in my traps -- they make thumping noises when they're kneaded.)

I just wish the post-massage looseness would last longer!

So the strength training. 

Now that I've been doing it regularly for about a month, I'm going to switch things up next week. I talked with the personal trainer at Planet Fitness (included in membership, which is great) and he suggested that instead of doing cardio Monday-Wednesday-Friday and strength training Tuesday-Thursday, I should flip things around for awhile, just so my body doesn't start adapting to the status quo.

And I'm looking forward to it. I hadn't done strength training on a regular basis in quite awhile and I really, really like pushing myself. (I pushed myself so hard on the overhead press yesterday that I actually moved the machine! Good thing I didn't set off the Lunk Alarm.)

Strength training is especially important for women over a certain (ahem, 50ish) age because muscle mass declines unless you really work at it.  

But I also noticed another great side effect to strength training -- the more I do it, the less achy and sore I feel day in and day out. 

One little downside -- I think it's making me hungrier, so I'm combatting that with more produce. Apples and baby carrots have been my nighttime go-to snacks when I feel particularly peckish. The sweet crunchiness of the carrots and apples (what am I, a horse?) go a long way in satisfying my hunger.

And as for that pound? I am pretty darn sure it'll be gone by Monday. I weighed myself after breakfast and lunch today (why???) and I was basically the same as Monday, if I subtracted the weight of the food and beverages I ate today. 

OK, pound, you're going down!

One pound. That's all that separates me from busting through The Big Plateau. 

image from
(image from

Not my usual 235 or 238 plateau -- this one is the Big One. The one that I feel will propel me into the home stretch. Can't really say I can see a finish line because I don't know where it is, but I can see mileposts coming into view.

I was 235 when I got pregnant back in 1997. I was 185 when I got married in 1992. And I was nowhere near as active as I am today, so I really and truly don't know how much I "should" weigh, so my goal, so to speak, is "anything below 200." And I'm getting close.

I was 233 for about 5 minutes back in October, then zipped back up. I'm back there today and instead of zipping back up, to quote Fallout Boy, sugar, we're going down.

I can feel it this time. It will be gone this week.

Every other time I've gotten down this low I've gotten in a celebratory mood or took my eye off the road (hands off the steering wheel ... pick your metaphor). 

So I'm not going to do that. I'm not, I'm not, I'm not.

Today on my walk, instead of listening to a running mix or a dieting podcast, I started the audiobook version of Dr. Ian Smith's book "Happy: Simple Steps to Get the Most Out of Life." I've been feeling super motivated, super healthy and super happy and I figured that I would focus my attention on something other than food and workouts, giving my brain some "comfort food." 

For and against the grain: A detox postmortem

Grains world

That picture above? That was basically me 10 seconds after my Blood Sugar Solution 10-Day Detox was over. 

Pasta? Sure! Popcorn? You bet? Handfuls of cereal? Bring it on!

Headache and 3-pound overnight weight gain? Yep!

I grabbed back the steering wheel this morning.

And I learned that grains and I have a tricky relationship. 

OK, so I did lose 3 pounds and took 2 inches off my waist. My stomach never felt better, I had tons of energy and wasn't craving anything. The plan is great -- I highly recommend it for breaking any addictions to sugar and starches. 

I don't recommend giving yourself permission to go medieval on starches when the 10 days are over.

Lesson learned, huh?

I'm not worried about those 3 pounds -- as quickly as they came on, they'll come back off. Today I had one serving of gluten-free granola at breakfast and the rest of the day has been grainless. I had one of the plan's big salads with lots of veggies, clean protein and healthy fats and felt fab again.

Dinner tonight will also be loaded with veg and protein because my stomach is still making huge weird noises from yesterday's starch fest.

As for added sugar, I haven't really added that back in and I really don't feel like doing so, which is a HUGE win. Yes, the granola had some but aside from that and a few apple slices that's been the extent of my sweetness for the day.

But that grain thing. It seems like when I do add it back in, I'll save it for once or twice a day and early in the day.

Tunes for Tuesday: Blissful Beats, by Rock My Run

Oooh, have I got a treat for you (and me): I put together some of my fave current songs and sent them off to the musical geniuses at Rock My Run, where they turned it into the 36-minute Blissful Beats mix. I've been a member of Rock My Run since it first started, and my iPod is loaded with great mixes at all lengths, genres and occasions.

This mix is pretty energetic and I was dancing around the living room last night when I got the email that the mix was ready. So it's good for dancing, too!

(No, this is not a sponsored post -- I just love this site, which can be used from the Web to download to your iPod or as a phone app for Apple or Android.)

The mix is full of upbeat, happy songs, including "Happy" by Pharrell Williams, "Lightning Bolt" by Jake Bugg, and, yes, "Pom Poms" by the Jonas Brothers.

I think I've featured every one of these songs before here, so in honor of his Super Bowl halftime show, here's "Treasure":