What We Eat At Livewell: Ethan's Plates

I am Ethan, Personal Trainer and I.T. Coordinator at Livewell featuring Flex 151 & Upgrade Café.

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The quickest way to my heart is with food. I love it! Unfortunately, for the first twenty years of my life I failed to recognize the effects certain foods were having on my body with the effects stretching beyond just my waistline. My beliefs about health and nutrition came from observing the behavior of those around me and from my education during K-12. During this time I believed that eating breads & pastas should make up the greatest portion of my daily intake and things like butter, cheese, & egg yolks should be eaten sparingly, or avoided. When it came to my weight during this time I honestly believed I was a fat kid because I got an unlucky role of the genetic dice (I now find this very humorous). It wasn’t until a yearly checkup at the doctor where the scale read 275lbs that it finally sunk in that I needed to make a change. I can still remember being overwhelmed with anxiety about how close I was to reaching 300lbs during the remainder of appointment. My doctor sitting there telling me I needed to lose weight and using his pencil to show my steadily increasing line graph where he had actually marked projections where I would be in coming years at my current pace.

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 High School Graduation 2008

 
Since that day I have tried many different dieting approaches and strategies ranging from Weight Watchers to body building diets and beyond. Some of the diets left with me with better results than others and initially losing weight was easy, but after awhile, losing an additional pound took diligent calorie tracking where I wasn’t eating more than 2000 calories and required me to exercise for hours at the gym. That went on for a good while until about three years ago I stumbled on a few health podcasts talking about an eating lifestyle that mirrored what our ancestors ate prior to the industrial revolution or modern civilization might have eaten. It ironically was exactly the opposite of what I learned in school and growing up. It involved eating butter; yes real highly saturated fat grass-fed butter, as well as other healthy fats, with a moderate intake of protein from quality animals and getting carbs from mainly vegetables. My diet has continually evolved since then, and I now focus on quality foods with an emphasis on counting chemicals in my food NOT calories. As a standard rule of thumb, the more ingredients and hard to pronounce words, the more chance that food is unhealthy.

 

The current eating lifestyle that I roughly follow is called Ketosis. It consists of eating mainly high amounts of healthy fats, a moderate amount of protein, and a low amount of carbs (typically under 50g a day unless with a higher carb day every 3 days or so). I choose this diet because of how energetic and vibrant it makes me feel, and also since it includes very low sugar, it helps me to avoid falling trap to sugar fueled eating frenzies.

 

I typically start my day by drinking a big glass of water with a teaspoon of sea salt and either lemon juice or an awakening shot (lemon, ginger, cayenne, turmeric, black pepper). This is to nourish my adrenal glands and get my stomach enzymes going.  For breakfast I almost always make a spinoff of Bulletproof coffee. In 16oz of quality organic coffee, I mix 2-3 TBS grass-fed butter, 2 TBS MCT Oil, 2 tsp. gelatinized maca powder, 1 tsp. raw chocolate powder, ½ tsp. vanilla, hefty dusting of cinnamon, & a pinch of sea salt. Drinking this allows my body to stay in a fasted state since it is very low glycemic. It’s also very quick to make so I can sleep in a little longer.


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The coffee usually holds me over without cravings or low energy until around 2PMish. At that point I will usually just eat a salad with canned salmon or if I was in a rush and didn’t have much prep time, I will make a protein shake with chia seeds, MCT oil, cinnamon, and a pinch of salt. Today I had prepared the night before, as I wanted a good lunch because I did my Flex workout yesterday. I brought two fried eggs, sautéed brussel sprouts, and baked a sweet potato drenched in butter & cinnamon.

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For dinner I generally have a pretty large portion of food. This is usually where the foodie in me comes out, and I really enjoy the time I spend while cooking. If I have time during the week, I like to cook my dinner fresh every night, but in busier times I will do a big meal prep day on Sunday and then put meals together like my lunch from today and eat it throughout the week. For dinner tonight I made a sweet potato in the oven, then I put a big patty of grass-fed ground beef in a pan with butter, and as it cooked just kept adding random vegetables I found in the fridge. I ended up adding cabbage, brussel sprouts, broccoli, & bok choy. For seasonings I used cumin, lots of sea salt, & cayenne pepper. I topped it off with the premade guacamole from The Fresh Market. If you don’t count the time it takes to bake a sweet potato, which is mainly just waiting, this meal only took about 10 minutes to make and was delicious!
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  Being that my sweet tooth from my younger years never really left me, I have devised ways to please it while still adhering to ketosis.  As of the last few months, I have been making homemade sugar-free coconut milk ice cream. The recipe I created looks similar to a protein shake, but it comes out of the ice cream maker very creamy. The ingredients include full fat coconut milk, pastured eggs, raw chocolate powder or nutmeg, cinnamon, vanilla, MCT oil, a pinch of salt, and xyitol from birch for sweetness.  The one I am having tonight has extra egg yolks and nutmeg to give it an eggnog flavor.

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I hope that by seeing what I eat it will lead you to look deeper into what eating lifestyle works best for you. There is no one size fits all as far as diets go, so stay open and know that everyone has days of eating better or worse. The thing to remember is to just always push back to the healthier side of the spectrum after falling off the wagon and to not be harsh on yourself.

Watch Ethan perform the lat pulldown during a recent workout:



Yamas and Niyamas: Yogic Guidelines Toward Ourselves and Others

by Becca Ramsey, 200 CYT

Ancient yoga sutras detail an eight limbed path for yogis. The first limb is Yamas, the attitude we have toward things and people outside of ourselves. (For this concept however, we will use our own practice.)

The first Yama is Ahimsa, Non-harming. It is more than a lack of violence. It means kindness, friendliness and being considerate of other people (and ourselves).

In our Western culture we generally learn yoga through our bodies first and all other yoga concepts as we mature in our practice. Learning with our bodies becomes doing poses or in yoga terminology, asana.

To express Ahimsa in our asana practice let's think of some things we could do to be kind and considerate in our yoga practice, such as asking your teacher for help with a pose instead of perhaps harming yourself if you didn't understand the instructions or how to progress. It could be an ahimsa practice to encourage a fellow student in their practice if they have been missing class or cheering them on if they have done the hard work and are making great progress. Or perhaps using props or going at a slower pace if our bodies required a gentler practice than the one we usually pursue is unattainable that day. It could be forgiveness of ourselves if we missed practice or got frustrated during class with ourselves, a fellow student or even your teacher!

Do you see all the ways we can practice non-harming? I would love to hear from you your ideas of how you have taken the first step in our eight limbed yogic path!

How did you practice your Yama Ahimsa?

Please watch our short video for more ideas! Thank you for being part of our Livewell family! We appreciate you!



What We Eat @ Livewell: Alex's Plates

I’m Alexandra, Livewell’s Operations Coordinator.  I’m excited to share with you all, because I hope some part of this will resonate with SOMEONE. 

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I was always an active kid.  Ballet, piano, Taekwondo…until high school and I began riding horses competitively and always had a job on top of school.  I volunteered as a counselor at summer camp every year, roller skated; I was having fun.  I definitely was not eating well, though, and I was pretty stressed out.  My meals were mostly empty carbohydrates and processed foods (I think my favorite meal was macaroni-and-cheese from a box).  When I was 15, I got a Deep Vein Thrombosis and Pulmonary Embolism that kept me in the ICU for a few weeks and on the couch for a few MONTHS.  I was totally atrophied, had no strength (or appetite from all the medications), and had to basically learn to walk again.  This was depressing for me, because I loved being busy and active.  I remember a big comfort during those times were foods my mother made me.  Food has always been a comforting thing for me, as it is for most people.  So when I went back to school and eventually back to work, I was eating more and not staying active because I was often in pain.   I wish then I knew about anti-inflammation diets and juicing for blood-building!

Fast forward a few years to college, I was not active, still working but eating poorly.  I was overweight, depressed, and the symptoms of my blood disease were getting worse.  I started smoking cigarettes and my snacking and mood swings went out of control.  I had low-paying jobs, so I ate mostly fast foods and sodas.  I had tried doing P90X-type workout plans and diet plans, and they did work at first, but they were so unsustainable I would get discouraged and go back to my comforting ways.  One day I looked in the mirror and realized ‘I look TERRIBLE!…What have I done?’ and decided to make a serious commitment to change myself.

I fell into vegetarian and low-fat diets, because most pop-science articles were promoting it.  Ethically I was against factory farming, so I liked the idea of not eating meat but didn’t know how to adequately get protein and fats from other sources.  I started walking every day and trying to make myself happier.  I did lose weight, but I was still bloated and had low energy pretty often.  My acne was still horrible, and I was surrounded by chemicals at work that gave me headaches.  My job at the time was really stressful, so I decided to find something else.  That’s when I found Livewell … and my world changed!  Now I eat a high-fat, mostly organic diet with moderate protein and lower sugar.  I try to make almost all of my meals, love trying new recipes and using my crock pot.  On the weekends I have a “cheat” day where I can eat something I normally don’t (that day is normally pizza and beer)!  I walk everywhere, do yoga and use the chi machine, tanning bed, and sauna, and I get massages whenever I can afford them!

Breakfast:  I was never much of a morning eater, so I normally have a buttered coffee.  Sometimes I have eggs with fermented ketchup if I have time, but I’m normally busy getting ready for work.  This has lots of healthy fats to keep me full and energetic until lunch, tastes great, and it’s warm and comforting in the winter when I walk to work!  I use organic coffee, grass-fed grass-finished butter, coconut MCT oil, organic cinnamon, maca powder, and cacao powder, with a touch of Himalayan salt.

 
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Lunch:  For lunch I normally have something raw and cold.  I really enjoy crunchy foods mixed with creamy foods, so something like an organic bell pepper filled with avocado and my home-grown sprouts is perfect.  Sprouts are full of nutrients and protein, and the avocado gives me more healthy fats to keep me going all day.   Plus it’s fun to eat with my hands; it makes it feel more like a sandwich.

 
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Dinner: For dinner I normally like something hot, mostly veggies and sometimes eggs or fish.  Tonight I wanted that oily, salty roasted taste.  I roasted broccoli, onions, asparagus, and mushrooms.  I sprinkled it all with a little organic cheese and also had a home-brewed kombucha.  I love kombucha’s bubbles; they taste so much better than soda!

 
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I hope this helps you realize that no one is perfect and that eating isn’t so serious!  It can be healthy AND taste great, and everyone likes different things.  Whatever your journey to health looks like, I hope you’re proud of yourself!   Livewell knows how difficult this kind of lifestyle change can be!