Tag Archives: health

My resolution has no resolution.

I don’t believe in New Year’s resolutions. I think it’s a marketing ploy to sell stuff. However, I do believe January is a perfect time to “reset” and think about my goals or plans for the new year. So I am starting this new year off by doing #Whole30. I don’t want to say it’s a diet because it isn’t. It is not designed as a vehicle to lose weight as much as it is to focus on how food interacts with your body and how to eat and get maximum nutritional benefit without relying on processed food. It does, however, have guidelines to follow for as long as you want to adhere to them. The guidelines are no dairy, soy or processed/refined/sugar items. Basically, anything that turns to sugar once digested is a no-no.

Two years ago, I did a January Whole30 and found it to be very doable as long as I prepped my meals in advanced and kept a lot of turkey bacon, avocado and eggs on hand. There is a lot of information provided by founder Melissa Hartwick on social media, and she is totally honest about how you will feel throughout the month. I like doing Whole30 in January because January sucks in Chicago. It’s usually grey and freezing, and I get really unmotivated to leave my house. It’s a perfect time to prep meals and if I feel sluggish from the sugar detox, I stop writing and make soup or take a nap. Ok–not everyone has that luxury, but I’m just being honest because hey, it’s my blog.

During my first Whole30, I had more energy, lost some weight, lowered my cholesterol (a genetic inheritance) and felt overall much better while eliminating sugar from my diet. On the other hand, I also found myself obsessing over what to cook for dinner every night. This time,  I have a plan. This year, I’m trying Blue Apron as they are in a  partnership with Whole30. I chose three dinners a week where I don’t have to think about cooking or shopping and not worry about what will be Whole30 compliant. I also intend to make a lot of soups. It’s just an easy way to eat and also experiment with my new Insta-Pot.

I am not going to say I’m only participating for a month. My “goal,” is to somehow keep sugar out of my diet. I would love to figure out how to occasionally eat pasta or bread and not slide down the carby slope of decadence. My problem last go-round was that I didn’t know how to bring certain foods back without completely flying off the rails. I also had trouble eating out. It is much better to follow this program and not have a social life because it’s just easier to have control over your food than eating at restaurants. Plus, who needs the temptation? I am going to have to stop kvetching about it and suck it up because I do go out on Saturday nights, and I do need to figure out how to eat out of the house on Whole30.

Today my refrigerator is stocked with chopped vegetables, seasonal fruit, eggs and beef bones for broth. I am on the lookout for compliant recipies too. Here’s to keeping the sugar dragon at bay. Happy New Year!


Never say never or people will call you names

Sometimes I wonder why I run and bike. Usually, this happens when I’m alone on a path or street, trying to maintain a specific zone or cadence and ignoring the voice in my head suggesting I turn around because it’s too hard or that I slow down because it’s windy. My fitness relies on goals. Whether it’s a race or specific improvement or just maintenance, I need goals, or I can think of hundreds of activities to pass the time besides working out.

In December, my mom was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma, which according to the Mayo Clinic is, “… a cancer of your plasma cells, a type of white blood cell present in your bone marrow.” While there is no cure currently, there are many treatments and luckily, she was treated early and has responded very well. Things are ok with her. She leads a busy life and has an amazing, positive attitude. The thing is, it REALLY prioritized my goals when my mom, who I have always viewed as indestructible, in the short span of weeks prior to her diagnosis, suddenly became wracked with pain and bed-ridden, taking on physical attributes more commonly associated with my late  90+ grandma. Yes, things are much better now, but it was breath-taking to experience (and not the beautiful vista kind of “breath-taking” but rather the kind where you actually feel your breath being taken away). I kept picturing a ladder where my mom became my grandma, and I became my mom, and we kept climbing up.

This mental image brought into a very clear focus why I ride and run, why I choose to torture my body in the name of physical and mental fitness.   I do this because I don’t want to climb that ladder, or if time must pass and the climb is inevitable, I at least would like to slow the climb and enjoy with gratitude every step and rung along the way.

Three years ago, my husband and I signed up for Ride the Rockies bike tour and raised over $3,000 for the Livestrong Foundation. We knew several people suffering from various cancers and in my perpetual guilt/gratitude, I needed to give something back for the fact that my family and I are healthy, happy, and able to have this adventure.

From March 2010 to June, I rode over 700 base miles in training. In Colorado, I rode over 500 miles in one week and climbed thousands of feet in elevation. Ride the Rockies was the hardest task I ever accomplished. There is no way to train for the elevation or climbs living in Chicago, but I did it. I also didn’t realize the mental workout a ride like that would take on my head. I was terrified of the descents and pissed my climbing was so slow. What most people had said was great fun was utterly grueling and made me feel that whatever fitness level I had in Chicago utterly vanished in Colorado.  So, I came home, promised myself that I’d never do that again, and I set other fitness goals for myself (mostly running).

Well, self, I’m doing it again.

And, the reaction that I get when I tell my non-cycling friends is, “Ilyse. You said you’d never do that again.” Or, “Are you #@?!ing crazy?”  Honestly, the reaction that I get from many of my cycling friends isn’t really that much different..  Apparently, I am a crazy hypocrite, but yes, I’m doing it again, and here’s why. I’d like to do it a little better than I did in 2010, and even if that doesn’t happen, mentally, I’m more aware of what to expect and hope even if my legs fail me, my head won’t.

So it’s off to Denver in June right after my 8th grader graduates from middle school. I will miss his 14th birthday because I’ll be riding. He said that he totally understands because he loves his grandma, and I’m riding for a good cause (see below). I’ll be riding on my husband’s birthday and mine as well. I like the idea of climbing up a mountain on my 45th birthday. I’m not so sure about riding down it. We’ll see how it goes.

More importantly, I am raising money for the Multiple Myeloma Foundation and am riding in hopes of a cure for my mom as well as the other millions of people who suffer from this disease. If you want to help by making a donation, that would be great. I truly appreciate it. You can click the link below. Thank you.

Please click on the link which will take you directly to the site.