Accomplished first lifting goal and supplements redux

Most people, when setting goals for a lifting program, tend to set a max weight that they want to be able to lift. I on the other hand, have trouble just sticking to a routine! After I finish tomorrow's session, I will have completed 2nd week of the 12 week StrongLift program and, if you read a previous blog post, I will have completed my first goal - hooray for me! Time to make my next goal which will be another 2 weeks. Taking baby steps, I believe, is the answer for completing long term goals for myself.

Right now these are my lifting stats:

Squats: 5x5 @ 75 lbs
Bench press: 5x5 @ 65 lbs
Barbell row: 5x5 @ 85 lbs
Overhead press: 5x5 @ 50 lbs
Deadlift: 1x5 @ 105 lbs

I've also added a pull-up to my routine because I've always wanted to be able to do 10 in a row (and thus, emulate Linda Hamilton in Terminator!). Right now I can't even do one unassisted. Yesterday I completed 5x5 with a 20 lbs assist.

I think I mentioned on Facebook or maybe on a blog post that I ordered some compression sleeves for my calves/chins. Well, I've been wearing them for 5 days now and I have to say, they are awesome!! For anyone with Raynaud's Syndrome as part of their lupus symptoms you definitely need to give these a try. No matter how much I get my heart pumping at the gym, my feet are usually not stiff or cold but, how do I explain it, just there, just appendages to my legs, just cool, without a whole lot of feeling to them. When I started working out with the sleeves, my feet actually got warm, warm and fuzzy in fact! This maybe a weird comparison but it's the best one I can think of. You know that comfortable, warm and fuzzy feeling you got right after the epidural kicked in in the middle of labour? That's what my feet felt like! My ankles felt fluid, like water or greased some how. Instead of feeling, really, nothing, they felt fantastic! I ordered these. They are cheap and not fancy, but they are working great!

So, supplements. I did a post a while ago on the ones that I used regularly. This has changed a bit so I thought I would update you on what I'm taking now. I tend to switch it up every now and again to ensure that what I'm taking has an effect on my overall health and trying new things that may help as well. You don't want to be taking supplements and spending a ton of money if they actually don't have much of an effect on your health. I've found that as my diet gets cleaner, some supplements just aren't necessary because I'm getting enough from what I eat everyday. Also, as your gut heals, nutrients become more bio available because a healthy gut can pull more nutrients out of the food you ingest.

Fish oil - I quit the Costco brand and switched to Carlson's Elite Omega 3 gems. The quality is so much better. They are more expensive on the surface but I used to take 6 Kirkland Softgels per day and now I only need to take 2 Carlson's daily.

Turmeric - I started taking Organic India Turmeric to add an extra anti-inflammatory to my diet. I take 2 caps a day.

Magnesium - Totally helps with my sleep. I have never had such deep sleeps until I started supplementing with magnesium. I definitely was not getting enough through my diet. I take Doctor's Best High Absorption Magnesium

Fermented cod liver oil - I take one Green Pasture Blue Ice cap a day



How to make chicken bone broth

I drink bone broth, chicken or beef, everyday. It makes me feel nourished. It makes me feel strong and it makes me feel good immediately. It's chalk full of minerals and, if you make it just right, gelatin. Here's how I make it.

Chicken broth

1 organic chicken carcass (I throw skin and neck in too - preferably a pastured hen but if you can just get organic that will suffice, conventionally raised hens/grocery store regulars are fed arsenic to speed growth, which in humans, is stored in most tissues especially bone marrow, so it's not that much of a stretch to think it's stored in the marrow of other animals as well and may leech into the broth and I don't want that in my soup but it's your choice, I'm just here to inform)
2 trotters (these are pigs feet - they ensure that the broth gels but if you can't find them don't worry about it but I can't tell you how hit or miss it is without them. If you can get your broth to gel everytime without them please let me know, I'll kiss your feet if you tell me your secret!!)
4-5 stalks of celery chopped roughly
4-5 carrots chopped roughly
2 onions you guessed it, chopped roughly
4 garlic cloves (don't bother dicing or anything as you will be straining the broth later)
5-6 whole peppercorns
herb mixture (I use a tea ball and add about 2 tsps each of dried thyme, rosemary, oregano - you could also get fancy and make a bouquet garni)
2 tbsps raw apple cider vinegar (the acid really breaks down the bones so more minerals are available in the liquid)

Now the hard part, throw everything into a pressure cooker, a crockpot/slow cooker or stock pot on the stove. Fill up with water just past the height of the bones. If you have a crockpot, slow cooker or are cooking it on the stove, turn it on low (high on the stove and then low once boiled) and leave it for ohhhh, somewhere between 12 to 24 hours. Seriously. I used to do this every week or so until I discovered the miracle of a pressure cooker. An electric one mind you, I'm not stupid enough to trust myself with utilizing a stove top model, especially since I need to stay alive enough to see my grandkids have babies. If, however, if you have a pressure cooker you can press the soup button, set the time for 90 minutes and your done! This is the pressure cooker that I have and adore!!

Strain the broth through a fine meshed strainer and voila, you have a gorgeous golden elixir. I cannot tell you how awesome it is to be able to drink broth the same day you prepare it. Add salt to taste later because you may just want to sip on it or you may want to use it for soup and your salt preference may differ. Also the more you simmer it, the saltier it will get so I never salt until I'm ready to use it.

Drink daily for health!

I'll follow up in the next few days with my recipe for beef bone broth. I find that chicken broth tastes better to me but beef broth has a greater impact on my health.



Lifting routine Day 1.....again!

So, I started the Stronglifts 12 week program again. I first began it near the beginning of the year but kids, summer, excuses and more excuses got in the way. One of my biggest weaknesses is starting things and never finishing them. I get motivated, have great intentions and then, well, I move onto something else, or nothing else. It's not that I'm lazy, mostly I just get bored and do something else. I probably need some kind of therapy! Take the laundry for instance, I have no problem washing and drying and folding - it's the putting away that seems to rarely happen. With that said, it's a 12 week program, I am not going to say that I'm going to do it this time. For me, 12 weeks is a long time. I'm going to set my first goal at completing 2 weeks. Then, I'll set another when I reach that point.

I'm not going to go into much detail but Stronglifts 5x5 is a program developed by a guy named Mehdi, I think he's from Denmark. I am not compensated at all for any mention of this program. In fact, the entire program, including the iphone app (which is really awesome) are totally free! He just wants people to get stronger. His website is http://stronglifts.com/ if you're interested.

For the sake of posterity:

Day 1

Squats - 5 sets of 5 reps (5x5) @ 55 lbs
Bench press - 5x5 @ 55 lbs
Barbell row - 5x5 @ 75 lbs

I was almost maxed out with the row so we'll see what happens in 4 days. The great thing about the phone app is that it automatically increases the weight increments based on your previous performance. I just have to go to the gym and push the weight. No planning ahead with excel spreadsheets to figure out what I'm supposed to do.

Today I am sore, not crazy sore but it took a little maneuvering to put on my underwear this morning, that kind of sore. Unless, you've been unable to get out of bed because you had so much joint pain, stiffness and swelling, you will never understand how awesome it feels to be sore of your own volition. To be sore because you worked hard and strengthened your body is such a gift compared to begin sore knowing your body is sick. While I'm not running marathons or entering triathlons, I am going to be strengthening my body to the point where I'll be in various stages of soreness so I ordered myself some compression sleeves for my calves/shins. I'll let you know if they truly help with recovery.

Now let's see if my kidsos will lay down and take a nap at the same time....


Summer is over

I had an incredibly busy and hectic summer and it's over way too soon! But it always feels this way doesn't it? My oldest just started the 1st grade last week and getting used to an "all day, everyday" schedule it's taking some adjustment (kindergarten was 2 full days and 3 full days every other week). My kids have never slept in so getting up and going in the mornings is not a problem but my daughter has been so exhausted the last few days. She's getting lots of sleep and is eating well so I hope her body will figure out these longer days quickly!

My health over the summer has been good. There was one week a few weeks ago when I wasn't feeling my best, sort of crummy, a little sore. I'm not sure if that was lupus or exercise or due to diet. I haven't been as diligent diet-wise over the summer (nothing crazy, just not what I practice the rest of the year). It's easier to be strict when my kids have an external schedule to maintain because I get a little lazy. I know I have to have the fridge stocked on Sunday in order to feed them in a timely manner the rest of the week. I also started HIIT training and I think I over did it a little which contributed to my overall lethargy. I'm pretty sure I can only really do an all out interval session once per week.

This week I'm beginning a new program that I put together. I'm going to start StrongLifts once again. I kind of let it slide because I started a kettlebell class session which is now over.  So, Mondays - HIIT, Tuesdays - SL, Wednesday - yoga, Thursday - SL, Friday - yoga. And then going for walks and playground activities with the kids whenever. Sounds busy but HIIT is 20 min max. and SL session takes be about 30 minutes.

I also got myself a Fitbit Flex and I'm loving it! It tracks my daily activity, calories burned, food intake, and also my sleep patterns. I'm the type of person who will use something for a few days and get bored and never use it again and I've had this on for months now! It's so useful.

My big goal this school year is to come up with fantastic lunches for my kids. My 3 year old is starting preschool in September (so yay for 5 hours a week with only one kid!! Yes!!) so I'll have 2 lunches to pack 2 days per week. I made these awesome coconut jellies last night for lunches and desserts and the girls love them! Here's what I did, they were so easy. Next time I'm going to add mashed strawberries or raspberries to make them pink. Blended kale would make them green.....anyways, easy peasy. They are full of gelatin which is such a vital protein to strengthen bones, joints, and fingernails. It packed with collagen. Some purport faster recovery post exercise, reduction in joint pain and stiffness and here's the big one ladies....it has been reported to reduce cellulite and fine wrinkles! Mmmmm, gelatin!

Coconut Jellies

7 oz of coconut butter (also called creamed coconut) - I use Artisana or Let's Go Organic
1/2 can of full fat coconut milk -  I use Natural Value for their BPA free cans
6 tbsps of unflavoured gelatin - I use Great Lakes because it's from grassfed cows
2 tbsps of raw honey - get mine local

Put the coconut butter, milk and honey in a saucepan over med/low until it comes together than add the gelatin and stir until the gelatin melts into the mixture. Pour into silicon molds. I have a few that I bought to make chocolates and they are a good size for the perfect bite. Put into the fridge for an hour or more. Pop them out and eat or store. I put them in a ziploc bag in the fridge. Enjoy!



Spring is in the air!

I kind of took a little hiatus from the blog. I got really busy with life I guess. It's been 11 months and I'm still trying to get the hang of having 3 kids!! Especially now that my baby is cruising and crawling everywhere, I feel like I have no time for much of anything. I had family stay (I'm Canadian so when family visits, it's usually a couple of weeks). I am really in need of revamping my schedule and reorganizing my endless list of stuff to do. With spring and summer approaching, there will be even less time as there will be soccer, softball, swimming, skating, not to mention the large garden that needs to be planted, tended, watered and weeded that my friend and I are partnering up on this year! So, like I said, I'm regrouping and rescheduling. My goal for the rest of the year is to do at least one blog post per week.

Follow up to the 21 Day Detox Diet - I made it 10 days. I'm not ashamed of that, in fact, I think I did a pretty good job. For me though, nursing and extremely low carb does not mix. I was becoming miserable by the day and exhausted. At day 11 I starting eating a lot more fruit and sweet potatoes. So, detox over - happy Robyn! I do plan on doing it again once my babe is weaned but until then...

I'm so excited about the garden! I'm going to chronicle our project from first planting to our harvests on the blog. We're getting together tomorrow to plant our first seeds. Every year I usually only plant some herbs, tomatoes and peppers. But this year we are going all out - lettuces, spinach, sweet potatoes, cauliflower, broccoli, kale, herbs, eggplant, squash, melons, etc. Stay tuned, abundance or famine, who's taking bets??

No real subject matter to this post, just checking in to let you all know I'm still alive and kicking! Lupus symptoms are still non-existent! I'm feeling better by the day as the weather has been beautiful the past couple of days. The sun has actually felt warm on my face. I'm so happy spring is coming!

I was recently interviewed for the blog phoenixhelix.com and shared my story of how lupus has effected my life. Give it a read here.



21 day sugar detox - Day 2

Today was good. I still didn't have any carb craving until later in the evening and my banana with almond butter came to the rescue again! I was super busy all day and really wasn't all that hungry today. This is what I had:

2 organic free-range eggs
2 pieces of bacon

homemade organic beef jerky

Baked chicken thigh
Kale chips
2 helpings of roasted spaghetti squash with marinara

1 green tipped banana
almond butter
herbal tea with gelatin

And that's it, I've been really satisfied all day!



21 day sugar detox - Day 1

I decided to document this latest adventure for two reasons. The first is an accountability thing because I'm a little nervous (but excited) to do this. I need a little pressure to keep me on track. Second, I want to have a written and photographic account of this detox so if others are interested in doing it, they will have a little more knowledge with a first hand account of the process. I'm doing the balancedbites.com 21 day sugar detox.


So, first up, breakfast. I'm feeling pretty crappy with a cold so my wonderful husband made me bacon and eggs this morning. And, with perfect cold-induced mind fog, I forgot to take a picture!! It's a pretty standard meal so I'm sure everyone can visualize it!

3 organic free-range eggs (cooked in a tbsp of grassfed butter)
4 pieces of bacon
12 oz. kombucha
1 glass water
3 1000mg fish oil pills (900mg DHA/EPA)
1 500mg fermented cod liver oil pill
5000IU vitamin D
200mg chelated magnesium
500mg vitamin c (only because I'm sick)

Leftover pot roast
1/3 cup almonds

Lobster with grassfed butter
kale chips
green beans with grassfed butter

green-tipped banana with almond butter for dipping
organic carrots
herbal tea with grassfed gelatin
3 1000mg fish oil pills (900mg DHA/EPA)
1 500mg fermented cod liver oil pill

So as you can see, I had a ton of food and feel very satisfied. After the kids went to bed, I started having a sugar craving as this is typically when I'll have a glass of wine or have some dark chocolate. Tonight however, I had my banana with almond butter which totally did the trick! I didn't really eat a whole lot of veggies today so I'll have to increase that in the next few days. I'm sick with a cold and veggies are usually the last thing I eat unless I have some soup. So that's it!


Remission, now what?

I typically post about diet and exercise and how you can alleviate lupus/autoimmune symptoms through those means. Looking back over emails and comments that I have received over the past year, I see that many have found this information helpful. I'm so glad that I have had an impact on or helped at least one person!

While my disease is completely under control, I have never talked about the other problems related to lupus that I still have trouble with despite my remission.

My lupus markers are still positive. I still test positive for antinuclear antibodies (ANA) and I still test positive for anti-double stranded DNA antibodies (anti dsDNA). I still test positive for Sjogren's syndrome. I don't know if those will ever change, I hope that one day they will and I'll be rid of any evidence of ever having lupus. These markers don't give me any physical problems as they are just measures of antibody presence but it is a reminder that my body doesn't forget easily and is still armed to attack my own dna, tissues and organs.

My immune system is an all or nothing kind of defense system. When I am in a flare, it works overtime, overproducing white cells and antibodies that literally destroy my body from the inside out. But when I'm in remission, as I am now, it pretty much goes on vacation, only to react to really serious things like flu (in a very untimely fashion). My 'normal' white cell counts are incredibly low when I'm healthy/lupus symptom free. This means I'm at the mercy of colds and flus, especially in winter. I have felt really well 4 days the entire month of December. This year is pretty bad because I have 3 kids under the age of 5. So, between kindergarten, playgroups and childcare at the gym, I really don't stand a chance! I do not get a flu shot because I instantly get the flu or some other nasty sinus thing. While this sounds awful; compared to taking meds and chronic pain, I'll take a month or 2 of this anytime!! I am weary of taking any supplementation that boosts your immune system like echinacea, etc. I avoid them altogether because I'm afraid of triggering an immune response that gets out of control.

Finally, I still have a teensy, tiny voice in the back of my head that wonders every night before I fall asleep if I'm going to be able to get out of bed the next day. Everyday that I get up symptom-free, that voice gets smaller. I wonder how long it will be there?