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Hello blog, I’ve missed you!  I hadn’t intended to stay away for so long but summer came, family activities picked up, and here I am, months later.  One of the things that’s taken up my time is my new fitness routine.  I’ve been practicing yoga for over a year now and in the last few months have upped the frequency to almost daily.

I first tried yoga eons ago when I was in college.  Back then it seemed to be more of a new age-y activity.  The class was for the gentle, meditative type of hatha yoga and my instructor’s name was Coco.  She had long, gray, braided hair, complete with feathers.  I stopped going after a few classes because it always seemed that I would fall asleep as soon as we got into corpse pose.  A nice respite from an afternoon of classes, but I could have easily achieved that in the comfort of my own dorm room.  Flash forward to last year when the neighbor who runs the daycare my daughter attends recommended hot yoga to me.  My first thought was, “Uh, yoga? I don’t think so.”  My second thought was, “Isn’t it gross with all those hot, sweaty people dripping on you?”  She went on to explain that, no, it wasn’t nasty and that the heat really helped to loosen her muscles and relieve her arthritis.  She gave me a couple of free passes, I thanked her and promptly forgot where I put them.

After a couple of months, I started thinking about trying yoga in earnest.  For me, the thing with exercising has always been consistency.  I’m not the type of person who loves to work out.  I do it because I’m vain and want to look good and if it’s going to happen on a regular basis, I better love it.  I also wanted something that didn’t require a ton of equipment or weights or lots of space.  I had been training with weights and trying some primal-friendly, cross-fit type workouts and while I was improving my muscle tone, I didn’t want to be tied to heavy weights as I travel quite a bit for work.  Yoga was my answer on those two fronts.

So I signed up for a free week of classes and, wouldn’t you know it, I ended up going everyday for five days.  I would have been there seven days straight if it hadn’t been for the business trip that interrupted my free yoga.  It was all the things I thought it would be – hot, sweaty, drippy.  I was tired and sore but I also felt renewed and refreshed.  Yoga is all about uniting and balancing opposites.  In order to fully “be” in a posture, there is both pushing and pulling, extending and compressing.  The muscles have to be engaged in every which way.  And you have to breathe.  Sounds simple but when you’re trying to hold a pose, the breath instinctively stops.  Reversing that tendency and breathing through the pose is what will get you through it.  This facet of training the body is what I was missing from other types of exercises.  What I really value, though, perhaps even more than the physical aspect, is what it does to my mind.  Taking 60 or 90 minutes a day (a huge luxury in and of itself) for my type-A, obsessive, multi-tasking self to quiet this chaotic mind is a humbling challenge.  I have experienced some emotional releases mid-pose that have caught me off guard and almost threw me off my feet.  I’ve recently entered into what will be a life-altering commitment and yoga is helping me to grasp and process it.  Yoga for me is not just a practice but a space; somewhere for me to both stretch and think, exert and let go, rejoice and grieve.   No matter how long of a day I’ve had and how I feel going into it, I always come out feeling better and rejuvenated.  Physically speaking, I am probably in the fittest shape I’ve ever been and my body continues to evolve.  I have more flexibility, better posture and I feel more symmetrical.

So I’m going to wrap up this yoga love fest.   I hope you have a chance to try yoga for yourself, you might like it.  I’ll be posting a recipe shortly, I promise!

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I am back from a sun-drenched vacation (glorious!) and returned to dingey, overcast skies that are practicing for June gloom.  It’s left me feeling sort of blah in a couple of ways.  Blah because vacay is over and work is on the agenda.  Also blah because I feel gross from indulging in food I normally don’t.  So to reset myself, I’ve embarked on a cleanse.  Knowing that I’m giving my digestive system a bit of a break is helpful and leads me back to a more normal – and primal – way of eating.

I’ve never really explained when I started this pokey little blog on why I choose primal living.  I choose [present tense] because it’s a conscious decision I make everyday.  And what I decide today can be different than what I decide tomorrow or next year (obviously like when I was on vacation).  My husband is really the one who got me more in tune with a healthier lifestyle.  Because he has done so much research into natural supplements and alternative medicine, I followed his lead.  My initial forays into healthier eating started with the goal of losing weight.  I followed conventional trends:  low-fat, low-carb, vegetarian, soy-everything.  But I started to wonder if a trend was so healthy, why doesn’t it stay that way instead of being replaced with a new one?  It all got to be very confusing.  Then everything changed the year my first child died and I was diagnosed with cancer.  My heart was broken and so was my body.  I could not see beyond my grief to care about what I was feeding myself.

It has taken me a long time to feel anything more than loss and despair but I have come a long way.  Once I started to feel more hopeful and was looking toward the future, I realized that I had to change my lifestyle to live and to thrive.  I had to be as healthy as I could to be a wife and mom.  In addition to conventional medicine, I sought out homeopathy, acupuncture, and spiritual guidance.  Thankfully, a year and a half ago, I landed on Mark’s Daily Apple and found what I was looking for.  It all seemed so clear and simple and exactly what I needed.  I was first introduced to the Paleo Diet by a co-worker years ago, but didn’t give it more than a fleeting thought since it seemed ludicrous to give up bread (serious?)  My friend also didn’t consume dairy, season her food or really invest in the process of cooking.  She took in the nutrients she needed and that was it.  While that approach didn’t appeal much to me, I was intrigued and agreed with many of the paleo principals.  The foods we eat shouldn’t be able to sit in a box on a shelf for years and they shouldn’t have a list of ingredients that takes longer to read than to actually prepare.  The idea made a home in my brain and continued to pop in and out for the next several years.  As I discovered the Primal Blueprint, it all came together and I knew what I was missing.  Mark Sisson breaks it down and keeps it straightforward and I was ready to make the change.  Hubby and baby were coming along.

While there were certain aspects of our diet that didn’t need a whole lot of tweaking – we’d already been buying organic produce and grass-fed meat – we were still eating a whole lot of grain.  I went from white flour to whole wheat to sprouted berries but it was all still wheat and gluten.  I was making homemade bread to avoid preservatives and refined flour but was adding vital wheat gluten to help them rise.  And then there was the sugar.  My rotten sweet tooth couldn’t grasp how to bake without sugar.  I have since been schooled on the subject and found a wealth of information and recipes.  Thank you, internet!

One of the greatest things about the Primal Blueprint is that it factors in the idea of eating like a caveman with living in a modern setting.  Strict adherence, while admirable, is not required nor realistic.  For a while, I thought my recurring rash may have been food related, possibly wheat, and I have made the choice to eliminate gluten as much as knowingly possible.   We do occasionally , however, have other types of grains and pseudo-cereals such as rice, and millet and quinoa.  Eating this way certainly has it’s challenges and I think we have fared reasonably well.  Although, I am finding that influencing your child’s diet is tough enough without having to exclude all the stuff that other kiddies are eating.  That’s for another post.  I love to cook and share my food and have found that I am cooking so much more than ever before.  It’s inevitable if you’re bent on having fresh, nutrient-dense food but I don’t mind the extra work.  I prepare all of my daughter’s meals and snacks for daycare even though I don’t have to.  This way I know she won’t be eating the same empty calories that her little friends get.

This has been an evolution.  I am still learning about food, nutrition and fitness and it has been wonderful to find an ever expanding community of primal and paleo eaters.  I would love to hear about your experiences.  Grok on!

Happy new year!  I know it’s the third week of January and my greeting is a little late but I have to be honest – the holidays wiped me out.  I must have fallen into the old age time warp or something because time is speeding up on me.  Once Halloween hit, Christmas was right behind and before I knew it, it was time to take down the tree.  It doesn’t help that the Santa Ana winds are blowing right now either.  One day it’s a frigid 55 degrees outside (don’t laugh) and then all of a sudden it feels like summer.  I’m quite happy with the  warmer temperatures, though, it suits me just fine.  All the rain we’ve had this year has kept us indoors a lot and made us a little cuckoo.

So now that I’m back to do a bit of blogging, I want to first say thank you.  THANK YOU!  2010 was a good year for my little webdom.  I managed to post some stuff people actually wanted to read and got many more visitors than I could have imagined.  Thanks for checking out “What I Crave” and giving me your feedback – keep ’em comin’!

My first recipe for the year is a simple one and requires no cooking.  I’m sure there are a ton of people out there who’ve not yet fallen off the new year’s resolution health wagon, so this is one food that can keep them on for a little while longer.  I’m a big fan of chia and I created this for my husband who is a cereal junky.  He was getting a little burned out on the Nutty Granola, so this was a good change of pace.  There are chia-based cereals that you can find in the health food stores but they’re kind of pricey and contain more sugar than I’d want to eat.  You can add cold milk and enjoy it right away, like hubby does, with some crunch.  Or, if you prefer, and I do, you can add warm milk, let it sit for a few minutes and have something more akin to a pudding.

Chia Cereal

Makes 5 1/2 cups

2 cups chia seeds

1 cup unsweetened flaked coconut

1 cup sliced almonds

1/2 cup pecans, chopped

1/2 cup dried cherries, chopped

1/2 cup dried cranberries or raisins

pinch of salt

Toss everything together and store in an air tight container.

The cereal will keep for at least a couple of weeks.  You can add any type of nuts or fruit and flavor it with any spices you crave.  I kept it simple and didn’t add any sweetener because the dried fruit was plenty sweet for us but a tablespoon of coconut sugar with some cinnamon would probably taste really yummy.  Try it out and let me know how you like it.

primal 30day challenge 1

Fans of the the Primal Blueprint and Mark’s Daily Apple get ready!  The Primal Blueprint 30-Day Challenge has officially begun.  If you are a primal eater, then the contest prize of – wait for it – a WHOLE grass-fed cow will excite you to no end.  If you haven’t been introduced to MDA yet, head over there and check out the primal principles as well as details of the Challenge.  Do something for your health and start today.