I’m Back!

It’s been a while since I provided you an update on my postpartum progress…or since I posted anything.  Let me explain…

Since we last checked in, I am happy to report that many of the issues I had been facing since giving birth to baby Oliver have been resolved.  I got back into working out, shed another few pounds, and was starting to feel better about myself…

…until I started to have pain in my right foot.  X-rays revealed inflammation around the two small bones in the ball of my foot.  After a number of treatments and finally, a minor surgical procedure, my foot is now back to normal.  My podiatrist said that the problems were a result of being on my feet too much.  A mom with two young boys on her feet too much?!  🙂

In addition to this setback, I have been suffering from a bit of postpartum depression.  Despite being physically on the mend, I have many moments of feeling alone, lost, and disappointed in myself when I fail to balance everything in my life with a smile.  Over the last few months in particular, this feeling had been intensifying, so in addition to regularly communicating with my doctor, I knew I needed to think more about my body in order to put my mind at ease…literally.

Working out helps to improve my mood immensely.  Prior to my foot complications, I was getting up nearly every single morning, no matter how early or how tired, and getting moving before the rest of my family awoke.  Thankfully, my podiatrist cleared me to start back up again!  Sometimes I go for a jog, other times I complete a circuit on an app that I love, SWORKIT.  I heard about SWORKIT on an episode of Shark Tank.  It’s free, customizable, and contains a variety of workouts in different categories (Strength, Cardio, etc.).  I choose how long I have to work out and can easily achieve a good sweat in just fifteen to twenty minutes.

Sworkit

As you know, working out is only part of the equation.  I have found that following a plant-based diet and incorporating exercise into daily life (i.e. walking to the store instead of driving, etc.), I don’t have to work out for long or with an expensive program or gym membership to see results.  I also don’t need to count calories or worry about food portions.

You also know that I am a big proponent of consuming a diet composed of primarily raw plants.  I am truly happier and more energetic when I chow down a fruit salad or drink a green a smoothie.  I’ve noticed that on the mornings I work out after having a heavy cooked dinner the night before, my routine is more difficult and I have to stop for breaks more often.

With that said, increased physical activity comes with a need for more calories, at least for me!  So, I’ve been adding a healthy, dense, cooked protein to many of my raw salads or as a side to something else I’m eating:  I am currently obsessed with shelled edamame.

Yea, I know, word on the street is you’re not supposed to have too much soy.  Remember, my sister lives in Japan, where I’ve seen more tofu, soy sauce, miso, and tempeh in one place than I could ever eat in my lifetime and the Japanese are living long healthy lives, so I’m not going to obsess over it.  In Japan, cancer rates are lower and life expectancy is greater…something is clearly going very well over there!  Lately, I’ve been consuming roughly a half cup of shelled edamame a day, a few days a week.  I’m certain I am ok.  🙂  (Just a reminder that I am not a health care professional.  If you’re unsure about consuming soy—or any food, for that matter—ask your doctor.)

Why is this an amazing plant-based snack or meal add-on?  For one, edamame is truly a heart-healthy super food.  It is loaded with protein, fiber, manganese, copper, and vitamin K.  In addition, it is neutral in flavor, so it is adaptable in endless applications.  I throw it into salads and wraps containing both fruits and vegetables all the time.  It fills me up and provides me with the extra energy I need for increased working out as I continue to tone up my post-baby bod.  When I add it to raw plant foods, it’s just what I need to feel a little fuller with more calories to pound through my workout.

So, that’s what I’ve been up to for the past few months:  healing, focusing on being happy, working out more, and eating edamame!  Oh, and raising those two crazy little boys I have, too.  🙂  Check out these adorable jars of plant-based goodness for Baby Oliver!

Baby Food

Recipe/formula posts (for non-babies!) to return this week!

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Progress Report and How to Build a Salad

The results are in: I’m down another three pounds and just one pound shy of my pre-pregnancy weight! My one-week raw food challenge yielded exactly the results I expected. Honestly, despite all of the raw produce I eat on a regular basis (and my success this past week), going 90% raw was more difficult than I anticipated. It wasn’t until a few days in that I really got into a groove with snacks and small meals that kept me satisfied.

I found myself eating roughly 40% each raw fruits and veggies, 10% raw nuts, seeds, and butters, and 10% “other” (cooked items, oils/vinegars to dress salads, etc.). I experienced increased energy levels, which is essential these days with a newborn waking several times throughout the night. I found it easy to lose a little bit more weight even though working out did not go as planned.

In my last post, I was beaming about our new B.O.B. jogging stroller and getting back to running again. Well, I tried, and let’s just say I experienced some healing setbacks that I didn’t expect. I thought I was ready for a low-impact jog, but my mind and body had different plans. I did, however, keep with regular outdoor walks, began doing arm exercises with two-pound hand weights, and even got down on the floor for some good ‘ole ab toning. I’m feeling really great and look forward to trying jogging again soon.

DSC_2594

So, how did I consume all of that raw produce in order to feel satiated and energized and achieve the results I was looking for? Mostly, salad! No, we are not talking iceberg lettuce with shredded carrots…I mean big, hearty, versatile salads with flavorful low-sodium/fat/sugar homemade dressings.

Here’s how I build the perfect salad:

Start with a nutrient-rich leafy green base. While there is certainly nothing wrong with iceberg or romaine lettuces, you’ll get more out of a salad with kale or spinach. Leafier greens tend to be more fibrous, so chop them small and/or massage your dressing onto the leaves to make them more palatable. Also, consider greens that you may not have realized you could eat. Travis and I consume the tops of beets and carrots, for instance, either in salads or smoothies.

salad at home

Mix a variety of fruits and vegetables. Fruits and veggies pair well together, allowing you to balance sweetness and freshness. I prefer hard, crunchy fruits like apples or pears in my salads, but there’s obviously no limit to the combinations. This salad—surprisingly, from Chili’s—includes pineapple. Berries make for a delicious addition, too. As for veggies? Really anything goes. I prefer veggies that are palatable in a raw state, but you could even prepare a butternut squash and slice it thinly. Play around with combinations that maximize flavor and nutrition.

Chili's salad

Kick it up with a crunch. Raw nuts and seeds do the job nicely. Whenever possible, opt for those without added oil, salt, or sugar, of course. Even nuts that aren’t necessarily tasty raw—walnuts, in my opinion—take on a whole new life when paired with the right produce and dressing. I will eat a whole bowl full of kale with just nuts/seeds and am totally satisfied.

Make your own dressing. ALWAYS. There are many a tasty option out there in the world of premade dressings, but an abundance of them contain animal products, preservatives, and/or an excess of oil, salt, or sugar. It is simple and fast to make your own dressing. A vinaigrette comes together by mixing acid (mustard, citrus juice, vinegar, etc.) and a touch of oil and/or sweetener, plus salt, pepper, herbs, and spices to taste. Love ranch? Caesar? You can still have creamy dressings using a nut or seed butter as the base. This extra effort is worth it for a healthier salad. Ranch might make veggies tastier, but it takes over whatever health benefits you were gleaning from them without it…

Add cooked elements to make it extra filling. Lastly, your salad will keep you fuller longer if you add cooked beans, lentils, tofu, or whole grains. I especially love to do this when I’m making a burrito bowl. 🙂 Remember, though, that cooked items contain more calories than raw, if you’re trying to watch your weight. Point is, if you’re aiming to eat more raw produce, that is what should be the star. (You can’t go wrong, however, with my multi-grain salad, bean salad, or potato salad for a filling fix that is highly nutritious!)

Salad with beans

During my one-week raw food challenge, I was comfortable eating a lot of salad. In my ordinary plant-based life (60-70% raw produce), I typically eat at least one salad a day, either on its own or in a wrap. If the thought daunts you but you’re trying to eat more produce, start small: carrot sticks and dip (homemade, of course!), apples and peanut butter, etc. Once you find yourself having more energy, you’ll be chowing down on fresh fruits and veggies on the regular in no time!