The Transformation: Sleep

If there is one thing I would credit more than anything else with my recent transformation I would say it was sleep.  Yep, fixing my insomnia was key.  That may not be the key that you were hoping for, but you know me – I have to say it like it is.  I say sleep was the key because I have learned recently that it doesn’t matter what else you are doing right, if you are not getting enough good quality sleep then nothing else works nearly as well as it could.  Sleeping well and for long enough on a consistent basis allows everything else to work better and faster.  A lot better and faster.  So get some sleep.

Oh.  Wait.  Sleep is not always as easy as that, is it?  By a long shot.  I don’t think I have ever been more frustrated by anything, ever, as lying in bed, night after night, completely exhausted but completely unable to sleep.  Some nights I would lie there in the dark, Mr. McHenry draped over one leg, Daisy curled up by my side, and cry – tears rolling down the sides of my face in utter despair – until after 3, or 4, or 5 hours I would finally nod off for 45 minutes, just about the time the alarm shrilled me into consciousness again.  Sometimes I would get up and go camp on the brown leather couch in the den, Mr. McHenry in tow, like changing the décor would somehow lull my body into sleep mode.  So yes,  I understand how difficult it can be and if you are in that spiral of misery my heart goes out to you.

I was going to write a long, wieldy, and wildly informative post about every nuance of sleep that I could.  But then I found this post and realized that I could never hope to write a piece as staggeringly comprehensive, so if you’re suffering in the sleep department I strongly recommend that you read this first and then come back and see what specific actions I took that solved my sleep dilemma.  Even if you think you sleep pretty well and feel pretty good when you get up I encourage you to read this article.  You may discover you are not doing as well as you thought you were, and it would be really sad if the efforts you are making in other areas of life were not getting the results you’re after and it turned out that tweaking your sleep was all that was required to super-charge everything else.

Did you read the article yet?  It’s OK, I’m happy to wait while you do.  Goodness knows you’re worth waiting for.  In the meantime, here’s a picture of some milk churns I found in California the other week in a delightful town whose name completely escapes me.

Milk Churns  |  Carrie Brown

Here’s the steps I took in my campaign to regain my sleep sanity:

  • I turned off the heating in the bedroom at night.  We sleep better when our brain and body temperatures are lower.
  • I gave up my love for a big, fat, down duvet (comforter) and starting sleeping with just two micro-fleece blankets.  I immediately stopped waking up drenched in sweat.  It didn’t take me long to stop missing the duvet.
  • I stopped drinking any caffeine after noon.  In fact, I switched to decaf coffee and green tea in the mornings too until I got my sleep down.
  • I stopped drinking any liquids after 6 pm so needing to pee didn’t wake me up.
  • I started going to bed at the same time every single night.  No staying up late at weekends.  No waiting until I was tired.  I set a schedule and stuck to it.
  • I set my alarm for the same time every day – regardless of the day of the week.  Our brains and bodies – not to mention our circadian rhythms – love routine.
  • I started a “going to bed” routine an hour before bedtime – feeding and putting the ‘kids’ to bed, closing all the blinds, locking all the doors, showering, reading, you get the drift – that reinforces to my brain and body that I am winding down for sleep time.
  • I stopped getting any ‘blue light’ at least 2 hours before bed time, where blue light = TV (that was easy, I don’t have one), computer, tablet, smartphone, LED and fluorescent lights.  ‘Blue light’ suppresses the production of melatonin, something we produce that makes us sleepy at night.  The upside is I now have a red light bulb in my bedroom which I think is a total hoot for a single girl who lives with 6 cats.  NOTE: If you must use a computer close to bedtime then download this handy little app: http://justgetflux.com/.  It changes the light from your computer screen to less ‘blue’.
  • I closed all the windows in my bedroom to stop any noise from outside.  This was hard for me because I love to have a roomful of fresh air, but sleep was more important.
  • I closed all the blinds so there was no stray light in my bedroom.  I like waking up to sunlight pouring in through the windows, but sleep was more important.
  • I started taking a melatonin supplement an hour before bed to help my brain know it was time to sleep.
  • I worked really hard on reducing the stressors in my life (that post will be up soon!) so that my brain wasn’t kept awake worrying about or obsessing over stuff. 

All of these things helped.  I was getting a lot more total sleep, but I was still waking up every 2 hours and sometimes found it really hard – if not impossible – to get back to sleep again.  You might find that one or a combination of these tricks is all that you need.

  • For me, once I had done all these things and was still a ways from getting an uninterrupted 8 hours a night, I bit the bullet and called in The Cavalry.  I hate taking medication that I don’t *really* need, but in this instance, getting back in the sleep game was the most important thing in my life that I could do, so ego be damned, I headed to the Dr. and got some Trazodone, which is actually a non-addictive sedating anti-depressant, but these days it is most widely used for treating insomnia, especially in women.  Obviously, Trazodone might not be right for you, so you will need to be guided by your Dr. if you need to go down Medication Avenue until you get your sleep back on track.

I am now getting 8 – 10 hours of uninterrupted sleep most nights.

IT HAS COMPLETELY CHANGED MY LIFE.  It made all the other things I needed to work on possible.

The End.

Now go get some sleep.

 

 

*SANE™, inSANE, SANEity – terms used in Jonathan Bailor’s books, The Smarter Science of Slim (out of print) and The Calorie Myth.

What does SANE mean? Click here.Want more scrumptious recipes? Click here to check out my SANE Cookbooks!

Tracy - Read the Hormone Cure by Sarah Gottfried. I read it after listening to Jonathan’s bonus podcast with her. I had NO idea how much our hormones affect our sleep!!! Sweet dreams!!!!

Pat Baker - I do not see any reference to getting up to urinate. Does this break your sleep? Is this normal. I drink tons of water all day and at night. Therefore I get up but is that bad for me? I am thirsty at night and do not want to stop drinking water. So what is the answer??

Susan - Wonderful, informative article! I struggle to get enough sleep almost every night. I plan to implement many of your suggestions. I usually watch a TV program before bed and then read for about an hour before lights out. Now, I’m going to shoot for 2 hours of readings and melatonin.
Thanks for sharing!

Sahara - Thank you…

carrie - Hi Pat – THANK YOU for reminding me of another thing I changed! I stopped drinking after 6 pm so I wouldn’t be woken up by the need to pee. If it doesn’t bother you and you don’t feel your sleep is compromised by getting up in the night I would imagine it’s OK, but I find disturbed sleep almost as bad as no sleep. You will have to decide what is more important for your own situation – drinking water right up until bedtime or getting uninterrupted sleep.

BJ - This sweet little program automatically changes your computer light from blue to something softer at sundown.

f.lux

http://justgetflux.com/

carrie - BJ – so glad you mentioned that – I had forgotten what it was called!!! I will add it to my notes above – THANK YOU!

Pam - A great book about sleep is HEALING NIGHT, by Rubin R. Naiman, Ph.D.

Keith - Excellent tips, I need all the help I can getting good sleep. So glad you’re sharing all of your experiences and knowledge with us — it has helped my life immensely.

I do not have a Swiss-Army knife of sleep tips yet, but here is one or two that I’d like to share that I’ve discovered ever since I started eating SANE:

I’ve suffered from insomnia for over 20 years and nothing has ever helped until a problem I started having while eating SANEly prompted me to discover a solution that works for me.

The problem: I was eating a veggie and tuna salad with low-fat Cottage Cheese for lunch every day at work. I loved the body results I was getting (three belt notches thinner!) but I realized that shortly after lunch-time I would crash HARD. I found I was just dead tired all at once and wondering how I was going to get through the second half of my work day without falling asleep.

After some google-research I found that many people experience a severe sleepiness reaction to Cottage Cheese because it is packed with tryptophan. Plus sitting in my lunch bag for half the day was “warming” it up enough to kick all that tryptophan into high gear.

I tested it by removing the Cottage Cheese from my lunch. Sure enough I didn’t experience any kind of sleepiness thereafter.

The best part? I now eat half a cup of low-fat Cottage Cheese an hour or two before bed every night along with a teaspoon of raw peanut butter and a cup of chamomile. I fall asleep fast, stay asleep ALL NIGHT (this is unprecedented for me) and I wake up naturally before my alarm every morning.

The biggest boon is that my mood is so much more stable now and I have lasting energy throughout the day, not to mention the benefits I’m sure it’s having on all my other metabolic processes.

I hope that tip helps at least one other person! Thanks to Carrie and Jonathan Bailor for your amazing books. Without SANE eating I wouldn’t be nearly as healthy and may not have discovered this simple fix for my own brand of insomnia!

carrie - Keith – that’s brilliant! What a fantastic discovery!

Chelsea - Carrie, about how long after you started this sleep transformation did you notice a change? I’ve been having some irregular cycles and I expect my hormones are a bit out of whack, so I’m thinking getting on some sort of a more reasonable, regular sleep schedule (I’m a severe chronic night owl-seriously, it’s bad! Haha) should help regulate that a bit better. But I’m curious how long it took for you to see a difference, and how long I might expect before I might notice a difference? Thoughts?

carrie - After a whole week of good sleep I started to feel things changing. Sleep is SOOOOOOO important! Fix those hormones – you can do it!

Pen - Thanks for all these tips. I had just come to the conclusion in my own life that lack of sleep was underlying a lot of other problems, so I have started implementing a lot of your suggestions. Thanks very much.

A Veritable Transformation

I know you know this, but I thought I should just come right out and say it, so you know I am fully aware: I haven’t been doing a lot of cooking lately.

I feel a little bit guilty about leaving you mostly recipe-less, but only a little, because I know it’s only a temporary situation.  I think it would be fair to say that conjuring up 136 (!!) recipes for my 3 cookbooks in the space of 5 (!!) months made my interest in cooking sneak out a side exit, like it was having a smoke break.  Instead of wanting to stand at the counter chopping and mixing and sautéing I was far more interested in curling up on the couch with an oversized blanket, a cluster of cats, and a peaceful, uplifting read.

The other reason I am only a little guilty about the whole lack of recipes thing is because I have come to realize with startling clarity that we need more than just delicious new *SANE recipes to reach our health and body-fat goals, although you tell me over and over how my recipes make this journey easier and a lot more tasty for you.  While *SANE eating and eccentric exercising are two essential keys to a SANE lifestyle, there’s a lot more to living better.  And as you’ll see as you read this post, there’s more to health and fat-loss too.  It’s all so inter-connected.

This clarity came early on in the year when my adrenal glands decided they didn’t want to play any longer, having already supported me through 18 months of chronic stress while I merrily ignored all the physical signs along with endless words of wisdom from my therapist.  By the time January rolled around I was completely exhausted and finding it increasingly difficult to function.  My brain refused to switch on in the mornings, my body had less energy than a bowl of cold rice pudding, and all I wanted to do was sleep, which was ironic given the level of my insomnia.  Getting more than 2 hours of sleep a night was like trying to get pants on a fish.

Then one day my body just quit.  Reason #2 there’s been a distinct lack of recipes around here the last few weeks.  I enlisted the expertise of a Naturopath and after running a battery of tests – some of which, interestingly enough, entailed mailing vials of my spit to Tacoma – the results were clear.  My adrenal glands had shut up shop; something I could no longer ignore.  So I took an giant step back  – hugely grateful to my employer for allowing me the time away – and surveyed the scene, determined to do whatever I needed to do in all areas of my life to turn my world right way up again.

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And here, lovely readers, is the real purpose of this post.  The changes that I implemented to repair my long-suffering adrenal glands had an unintended benefit – I magically started to burn body fat.  I freely admit that some comments I received back in November that prompted this post bothered me deeply.  I didn’t want anyone to look at me and say, “This whole *SANE thing obviously doesn’t work.”  Imagine how thrilled I was then when a couple of weeks ago I saw Jonathan for the first time in a month, and when I walked in the door and ditched my coat over the chair he exclaimed, “WOW! You look amazing!”  Quite the result, especially bearing in mind that it had not been my focus, and given my struggles since my weight-loss stalled earlier last year.  That whole stalling deal was pretty annoying for the girl who is supposed to be a poster child for *SANE living.

Have you been doing everything right in the *SANE eating and eccentric exercise department and are still not seeing a shift but don’t know what the hold-up is?  Then this post may be exactly what you need.  I knew you’d all want to know what I’d done to get over the hump and start losing again – even (or maybe especially?!) if it was unintentional.  I knew my fat-burning hormones had switched on as soon as it happened because my once-legendary appetite tanked.  As JB put it, “Now your body is going ‘Ooooh! There’s some fat to burn right there on your leg!  I don’t need you to eat as much food now’.”

Now, you’ll have to bear with me here because if I wrote everything I want to tell you in one loooooooooooooooong post it would take me two months to write it and you all day to read it.  So I am not going to do that.  I am going to write one post per topic.  This will also make it easier for you to find and re-read the bits that you feel are most relevant for you instead of having to trawl through the whole darn post again.  You can add this as reason #3 for the lack of new recipes – this stuff is important, so I am going to focus on these posts until they’re done.  Then I’ll get back to the recipes.  Promise!

So now you have some context I can tell you that for the last 7 weeks I’ve been focusing on me.  In doing so I now {finally!} realize how hugely important it is that we all spend time focusing on ourselves – not in a self-ish way, but in a self-care way.  Taking care of ourselves is what will keep the wheels on the bus and the lights on.  Had I taken a little me time on a consistent basis I wouldn’t have got to the place of collapse.  I was forced to get off the merry-go-round.  I encourage you not to wait until you are.

There’s ten things that I’ve been working on that together caused my body’s transformation.  Over the next few weeks I’ll write in depth on each topic with exactly what I did and why.  Take the bits you need and skip the bits you don’t.  I hope you find it useful.  I hope it helps you get on track if you’re not, stay on track if you are, and most of all stops you from getting thrown off the merry-go-round – it’s quite the fall.

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#1. SLEEP

Jonathan waxes lyrical about our bodies need for lots of good quality sleep and it’s the reason why I have this as my #1 transformer.  You can eat the best *SANE diet in the world and exercise eccentrically to perfection every week, but if you’re not getting enough great sleep life will suck and it will be much harder for you to burn body fat.  Insomnia can literally make you go crazy, not to mention how it impacts our ability to perform in every other area of life.  Nothing else that I was working on was worth a hill of beans until I got the sleep bit figured out.  If you’re not sleeping, make this your #1 goal.  Everything else you implement will work out much better if you get the sleep down first.  Here I share here how I solved my insomnia.

#2. STRESS 

Next to sleep, getting my stressors under control was critical.  If your body is constantly under major negative stress it doesn’t matter what else you do to support your health, it won’t work – or at least it won’t work nearly as well.  For example – the adrenal glands produce a variety of hormones that play key roles in the stress response and metabolism.  Cortisol is one of those hormones, and cortisol serves an important role in controlling the metabolism and use of proteins, fats and carbohydrates.  So no matter how good I was with my *SANE eating, with a messed up adrenal gland – caused by stress – my metabolism sucked.  Here I share what I am doing in the area of stress management to bring everything back into balance.

#3. ESTABLISHING ROUTINES AND CONSISTENCY

Consistency is absolutely key to lasting and effective change, and setting routines makes consistency so much easier to maintain.  Routine may conjure up thoughts of boring or stifling, but in reality routines make it possible for you to get far more of the exciting stuff in life.  Here I share why that is so and what routines I’ve now established, plus how and why they have helped so much.

#4. EAT SANE

Woah.  Wait.  You mean you weren’t eating *SANE before now, Carrie Brown???  Hang on there, tiger – don’t panic!  I have been eating *SANE foods almost exclusively for 20 months now, but there were two things I was doing that were not allowing that *SANE food to be effective: I was regularly skipping meals altogether when life got too hectic, and I was eating the wrong ratio of macronutrients – too much protein and fat, not enough non-starchy veggies – because for me protein is the easiest thing to grab on the go.  Here I share what I did to change all that and what I do now to make it easy for me to keep the ratios right.

#5. ECCENTRIC EXERCISE

It’s no secret that I do not like to exercise, but the real reason I kept falling off the eccentric wagon was two-fold: I was constantly exhausted and my schedule was nuts.  Here I share what changes I made so that I now look forward to my eccentrics and interval training every week.  Yes, I really did just type ‘look forward to’.

#6. GREEN TEA

It took me a long while to heed Jonathan’s “Drink green tea!” mantra.  It’s hard when you hate the taste of the stuff.  Here I share how I conquered the green tea monster.

#7. SUPPLEMENTS

It’s a good idea to take a multi-vitamin and mineral supplement just to make sure all the nutritional bases are covered – and Jonathan agrees with me.  Depending on your own particular needs there may also be other things that would be helpful for you to supplement with.  Another thing that fell foul of my exhaustion, ridiculous schedule, and soaring stress levels was supplementing my body with things it needed to thrive.  Here I share how I got that back on track and what supplements I take on a daily basis.

#8. YOGA

I have learned how important it is to re-boot your brain regularly, and yoga is a great way to do that.  My first yoga class was a revelation to me – my brain was still for 75 minutes straight.  Here I share what kind of yoga class I attend and go into the myriad of reasons why it’s so good for us.

#9. REJUVENATION

It’s really essential to get your R ‘n’ R in – something I have only got my head around in the last 6 weeks.  I have always been hopeless at relaxing because I always felt a compelling drive to be productive for every waking minute of every day.  Here I share what I did to change that and what I now build into my life on a regular basis to ensure I allow myself to get rejuvenated.

#10. PATIENCE

You can’t fix the consequences of long-term chronic stress – or anything else – overnight, as much as you might want to.  I am giving my body the time it needs to rest and recover.  I know if I keep on doing the right things consistently my body will heal itself.  That will take time.  I am learning to enjoy the journey. 

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You may find that by reading my list you’ve already pinpointed areas you think you need to change.  My list may prompt you to take action you already knew you needed to take but hadn’t made a priority.  You may be just starting out and need to work on everything.  Wherever you are at I look forward to sharing the specifics of my transformation over the next few weeks.  I can’t tell you how excited I am that I have re-kick-started my *SANEity!

In the meantime, whatever makes you feel good – do more of that.

 

*SANE™, inSANE, SANEity – terms used in Jonathan Bailor’s books, The Smarter Science of Slim (out of print) and The Calorie Myth.

What does SANE mean? Click here.Want more scrumptious recipes? Click here to check out my SANE Cookbooks!

Sue Rochester - Dear Carrie I was so pleased to read this post and glad you are feeling so much better. Can’t wait to read your changes in the next few posts. We have plenty of recipes to be getting on with so don’t worry about creating new ones just yet.
Take care and keep up the good progress, you inspire us in so many ways thank you xx

Andrea M. - So glad you’re taking some much-needed, much-deserved ME time!! Good health is about much more than SANE eating and exercise, and we’ll look forward to reading what you have to share. Keep taking good care of you! <3

Gina S - Again you have the exact words at the perfect time. Just what I needed. I’m in the same boat and am ready to fix my body inside.
Looking forward to the next installment!
Thank you!

Alexis - Carrie, I’m glad you are taking time to reset and take care of YOU! I’m particularly interested to hear what you did for rejuvenation – I’m also hopeless at relaxing and know I need to get better :)

jolanda - Dear Carrie, thank you for sharing these very private life situations. I’m sure you needed some courage to take this step and I’m grateful for it. It’s awesome to read you feel so much better and you are in charge of things in your life again.
People say look at the big picture, I like to see the small details in the picture. You reached me a lot these last couple of months and id like to thank you for that. Looking forward to the details….take care :)

Nancy - Go girl! I love your posts, and of course the recipes. But the recipes are second to how much I admire your bravery and your humor. You do us, your ‘lovely readers’, a great service by your honesty about mental, emotional and physical health and how they all interplay for you-so we can see how they might work for us. Thank you!

Gary Moss - This all sounds so familiar. Or most of it. I am left to wonder why my mind and body want me to sleep twelve hours a day, but I’m allowing it to happen instead of overriding it. We’ll see where this and better structure for meals and exercise go. I am patiently waiting for a big change in my body sometime in the next months. Thanks for putting it all down for me to read about.

Gary Moss - ps. My physician prescribed an hour of intensive cardio five days a week to get through this time. I do not agree!

Theresa - Carrie, I am so glad for this post! I was feeling a bit frustrated by the lack of results today although I know they will come eventually. Like you, I spit into tubes and mailed it off and found that I had low cortisol so I know that’s a factor in this process that I need to attend to. I’m doing a lot of things to reduce stress and encourage healing. I am looking forward to reading your upcoming posts about your journey. Thank you for sharing :)

Maree Chappell - Dear Carrie,

How I laughed at your description of feeling so low you want to crawl into bed with your cats! Amen to that one! I do love those furry little buggers!

And getting pants on to a fish – well the mind boggles. So in the midst of your struggles and ill health, Carrie you are still making us laugh! You are a rare one. May you heal fast and the fat loss continue!

God bless!

Maree

Jan - Thanks Carrie, you have shone the light on my health status. I love your frank honesty, no wonder you are the poster girl for sane eating. I look forward to your future posts and in the meantime, I am getting my adrenals checked!

Julie - Carrie girl, thank you for letting us know what is going on with you. You know, when you recently said that you couldn’t eat as much as you used to, the first thing I thought was “well, the Sane way of eating is really kicking in for her”. That’s what happened to me. I just can’t eat as much. I am looking forward to hearing about all you are doing to heal. Thank you for being honest with all your lovely people.

Allie - Hooray, Carrie! What a great update. Thank you SO MUCH for sharing this with us. I’d be really interested in you also sharing what the naturopath did – especially what kind of testing. This is something I’ve been considering for some time now. Much love to you on this journey.

Allison - This is amazing. There’s so much more I want to say but suffice to say, this is amazing. I can’t wait to read more. And we lead parallel lives, honestly!

This has come at the perfect time. Just amazing.

Ellen - Thanks, Carrie! This is going to be very helpful, and is incredibly timely. You are awesome!

ellen - p.s. ditto on the info about the naturopath. sounds exotic – wonder if they have those here in North GA? :)

Lynn - Thanks so much for this Carrie, i’ve been going through a similar situation and coincidently have started to look at some of these factors too. You are further down the line than I am and it is an inspiring read.
Looking forward to the next bit…

Ellen - Carrie,

Thank you SO much for addressing this topic and your experience with it! I am in a similar situation, having abused my body for way too long, and I love your reminder to treat our bodies with compassion even when we are frustrated with “cortisol belly” and exhaustion and such. I can’t wait for your follow-ups!

carrie - So glad these posts are helpful, Ellen! I don’t want anyone to feel the way I have for the last several months.

The Transformation: Yoga » Carrie Brown | Life in the SANE lane - […] A Veritable Transformation […]

The Transformation: Rejuvenation » Carrie Brown | Life in the SANE lane - […] then my adrenal glands went on strike and my world came to a screeching halt.  Most days when I got home from the day-job I barely had […]

The Transformation: Meal Plan » Carrie Brown | Life in the SANE lane - […] the results from my transformation started to become physically apparent I’ve had bucket-loads of requests for more detail on […]

Tina - Dear Carrie,
I can’t thank you enough for your time to share these single steps of your transformation. In my fourth month of SANE eating I didn’t lose much weight or inches – and indeed I can relate to so many aspects of where you found yourself before turning things around: insomnia, huge stress levels, being overwhelmed by exponentially growing to do lists – and then the additional stress of justifying the way I was eating now, and what I was not eating anymore, for months, without any visible results.

carrie - Food is a huge part of the puzzle, but there are other things in play that can help us on our journey to health and fatloss which we would be wise to consider.

The Elephant In The Room » Carrie Brown | Life in the SANE lane - […] A Veritable Transformation […]

The Slippery Slope » Carrie Brown | Life in the SANE lane - […] have often mentioned that since my transformation I can eat a treat every once in a while without any issues whatsoever.  I now know I need to […]

Get Yourself A Pedicure » Carrie Brown | Life in the SANE lane - […] this year I’ve been working on self-care, although admittedly it took a crisis for me to recognize that it was vital to my existence as well as making me more useful to the […]

Megan - Thank you so much for sharing. I am relatively new to SANEity and am finding your posts so inspirational. I have been really struggling with my sugar addiction, which is not helped by the fact that my husband does not share my enthusiasm for healthy living. Thank you for giving me direction and permission not to be perfect!

Big Breakfast Adventure | Lola

It’s true that I love men.  It’s also true that I’ve been single for 7 years.  If you put those two things together it’s really no surprise that as much as I love my girlfriends, I do look forward to those occasions when I get to hang with male friends and catch a glimpse of life from a testosterone-fueled point of view.  Plus, of course, the hugs.  The hugs are awesome.  Oh, and having the car door opened for you.  Love that.

I knew today was going to be a splendid Big Breakfast Adventure for two reasons:

1. I was going to spend it with two of my favorite men.  The kind of men you ask to be the executors of your Will because you know they would dot every i and cross every t in exactly the way you would want.  The kind of men you can just be yourself around.  The kind of men that would be there in a heartbeat if required.  Yes.  Those kind of men.

2. I was going to eat what I have long considered to be the best breakfast in Seattle, and let me tell you I’ve downed one heck of a lot of Seattle breakfasts in order to arrive at that happy conclusion.

I supposed I should concede that this was another Big Breakfast Adventure that wasn’t really an adventure, since I knew when we set the date weeks ago exactly what I would be having for breakfast, and how *SANE it would be.  The upside is that I also knew it would need no tweaking to pass the test – I could order it straight up and a dish of *SANEity is what I would get.  I have lost count of the number of people I have force-fed invited to enjoy Lola’s Octopus Hash.  Every single one of them loved it.  I even scheduled a meeting there with my boss at 7 am one Thursday so he could experience the amazingness of noshing on a cephalopod to get the day started.

What is this magical breakfast of champions?  Octopus Hash.  It’s listed as Tom’s Big Breakfast on the menu, but Octopus Hash is what it is.  Mike was all in with the whole octopus-for-breakfast-deal right from the get-go, while Jeff wavered between that and the Sausage Omelet.  When he enquired of our lovely server which he should have her response was swift and sure.  Three plates of Octopus Hash coming right up!

Big Breakfast Adventure  |  Lola  |  Carrie Brown

What makes eating Tom’s Big Breakfast an adventure is that they change the ingredients all the time.  I have never had it show up the same way twice.  The Mediterranean octopus is always there, and an egg perched jauntily on top, but the other ingredients in the hash are always a surprise.  Today’s offering involved kale, chick peas, shallots…and oh how I wish I’d taken a shot of the menu so I knew what else was in it.  Their online menu says: Tom’s Big Breakfast – Mediterranean octopus, Delicata squash, Josh’s leeks, bacon, onion, heirloom peppers, sage, garlic yogurt, poached egg.  Gosh!  I almost wish that had been today’s version.  My new baby appetite struggled to get through it all, but I finally cleared up every last sprig of kale and slice of sautéed tentacle.  My taste buds thanked me for allowing myself to squeeze it all in.

There’s usually a fair amount of geek when the three of us breakfast, most of which I don’t understand, but they do teach me cool things to do with my phone other than read email and send text messages – the only two things I am really proficient at.  I realized how awesome having techie friends was last year when Mike totally saved my a**  as I got stuck in the middle of moving my website from one hoster to another.  Boy did he ever get a big old container of *SANE Triple Toasted Coconut Ice Cream and a jar of *SANE Hot Chocolate Fudge Sauce to pour over it after he put all the bits back together and made it whole while I laid on his couch wailing and wringing my hands.

Today we talked about routines and how simple changes can wipe away all sorts of life stressors, and we mused on whether we’re starting to like routines because we’re getting older or because we’re getting wiser.  I voted for wiser.  But then I always come away feeling smarter when I’ve been around these two.

Whatever makes you feel good – do more of that.

 

 

*SANE™, inSANE, SANEity – terms used in Jonathan Bailor’s books, The Smarter Science of Slim (out of print) and The Calorie Myth.

What does SANE mean? Click here.Want more scrumptious recipes? Click here to check out my SANE Cookbooks!

Sylvia - Hi Carrie

Sounds like you had an awesome time with your friends. It’s very comforting to have friends like yours who you know you can rely on and trust. Lucky you!

Hugs

Sylvia xx

Tammy Fuller - Sounds like a wonderful adventure. I’m not brave enough to try octopus, but the rest of the breakfast sounds delightful.

The Hardcore Green Smoothie

It’s high time I told you what I’ve been downing for breakfast lately.  First off though, I really think I need to explain why I have changed course from drinking any of my other delicious Green Smoothies.  You see, it’s my appetite.  My once-legendary ability to eat Mr. Bailor under the table tanked about 6 weeks ago.  What that means in practical terms is that I simply cannot physically consume very much food any more, and consequently, when I do eat I have to focus only on the nutrient-dense essentials – the non-starchy veggies, the lean protein, and the healthy fats.

Enter The Hardcore Green Smoothie.

spinach

I realize that this image is a pile of spinach and not a green smoothie.  You can expect a glass of green liquid by the time you’re done making it, rather like any of the other 7 green smoothie pictures I’ve already shot for you, although it’s true that they are not all green.

Let me be clear about a couple of things upfront: 1. I did not shoot this image of spinach, and if I knew who did I would credit them.  2. this smoothie does not taste delicious.  It doesn’t taste horrid by any means, but it is not scrumptious like the Strawberry Milkshake Smoothie or the Orange Creamsicle Smoothie.  It reminds me most of the flavor of peanut butter.  It has a vaguely nutty taste, but on the whole it really doesn’t taste of anything at all, which for me makes it perfectly palatable, just not something that makes my mouth go, “Wow!”  Given it’s purpose in my life at this point, I’m good with that.

So right now I have this for breakfast every day as a means to an end – to get the most nutrient-dense meal I can in as small a volume as possible.  At first I hesitated to post this, because delicious is what I do when it comes to recipes, but if you have times when you also need maximum nutrition and *SANEity in a small package, this may well be a great trick for you, too, as long as you’re down with more function than flavor.

While we’re on the subject of green smoothies, let’s take a quick refresher on what there is to love about spinach.  Spinach is a good source of niacin and zinc, and a very good source of dietary fiber, protein, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin K, thiamine, riboflavin, vitamin B6, folate, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, copper and manganese.  Amazing!  It looks so tame and unassuming.  This hardcore smoothie gives you 6 servings of non-starchy veggies where 1 serving = 1 packed cup = 1 oz / 30g.

Then the egg white powder storms home with 96% protein.  You get more than your 30g of protein in by using just 45g of powder – about 1/3rd cup – and there ain’t nothing else that can pack that kind of protein power into such a small space.  Finished up with some lovely medium-chain triglycerides in the coconut milk and you’re set.  *SANE as SANE can be.

Next time you want maximum nutrition in just one glass, go hardcore!

5.0 from 6 reviews
The Hardcore Green Smoothie
Author: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 1
 
Ingredients
  • 1 cup / 8 fl oz. thin coconut milk (in a carton)
  • 1½ oz. / 45g powdered egg white
  • 6 oz. / 170g fresh spinach
Instructions
  1. Pour the coconut milk into the blender.
  2. Add the egg white powder and immediately blend on the lowest speed until mixed. This stops the egg white powder getting stuck on the sides of the jug and being wasted.
  3. Gradually push the spinach through the hole in the blender lid with the blender still running on low.
  4. Once all the spinach is added, blend on high until it is completely smooth and free from any pieces of spinach.

 

*SANE™, inSANE, SANEity – terms used in Jonathan Bailor’s books, The Smarter Science of Slim (out of print) and The Calorie Myth.

What does SANE mean? Click here.Want more scrumptious recipes? Click here to check out my SANE Cookbooks!

Alvin - You’re awesome (or ORSUM, like I hear you pronounce it on the webcast)

This is great becaus so many people focus on making the smoothie a dessert, when in fact nutrition should be the basis. I too have a similar formula only I add chia seeds for energy, greens powder, and use Whey Natural USA instead of egg powder.

Another option is organic unsweetened kefir instead of coconut milk for a probiotic kick!

Thanks again

Scott - Awesome!

Sue - Wonder why your appetite tanked?

Monicad - “I simply cannot physically consume that much food any more”

Hi Carrie, I love that this ‘smoothie’ is so low carb/keto friendly.

I’m curious regarding the quote above, is that because you, as one comment implied, have lost your appetite or because you want to lose weight?

Also:
How long have you been doing this morning smoothie?
How long does it satiate you?
Is it *working?* for your goals?
Would you publish your goals?

Many thanks for all you do.
Loads of Love
Monica :)

carrie - Coming soon! I am writing a blog post explaining why my appetite changed and everything else that’s been going on around here…

carrie - Monica – I lost my appetite. You do not need to reduce the amount of food you consume in order to lose weight. Is it working for my goals? My goal was to create a meal that provided maximum nutrition, fiber, protein and healthy fats in the smallest volume possible, so yes it is totally working for that goal.

Keith - Thanks! I was looking for just this type of recipe. Something for breakfast that will maximize everything I’m looking for in my morning meal.

Is this something you think would freeze well for thawing the night before drinking?

I’d prefer to make a week of these ahead of time and then simply leave one out each night to thaw before drinking each morning if possible. My neighbors are great but I’d rather not test their ability to withstand the sound of a blender at 4am when I wake up.

Thanks again for this perfectly simple, powerfully nutritious, and convenient recipe!

carrie - Keith – I would add 1/4 tsp guar gum to each serving to make sure it doesn’t separate and then try freezing. I can’t see why it wouldn’t work, but I would definitely add the guar gum to help. Guar gum is super useful in helping things freeze well. Let us know how it goes! I love the idea of making a whole weeks worth at one time!

Keith - Excellent tip, I’ll give it a shot and let you know how it goes. Thanks again for the excellent recipe and support!

Jerel - Hi Carrie,

This smoothie looks awesome for those days when you just need to “git-r-dun” in the morning. Now on to the less pleasant portion of this message.

I had kidney stones a couple of years ago, and they are extremely painful. The best way to prevent them is to drink a LOT of water every day. So far so good. However, the recommendations go on to say that you should limit your intake of dark leafy greens and PROTEIN!! Now I’m wringing my hands, because I really like this diet, but the last thing I ever want to do is to experience the pain of kidney stones again!

How will I ever be able to eat SANEly and follow these guidelines? They are saying not to eat more than about 60g of protein per day, and limit consumption of things like tea, nuts, berries, citrus, and vegies like beets, carrots, cauliflower, spinache, kale, leeks, chard, eggplant…. there’s nothing left!! It seems like every non-starchy vegetable is high in oxalates!

I’m more confused than a chameleon in a bowl of Skittles. Any advice you can give (and I know you’re not a doctor, blah blah) would be helpful.

For reference, see http://www.med.umich.edu/intmed/nephrology/docs/stones.pdf and the website http://kidneystonewebsite.com/Pages/KidneyStone_4.shtml#Preventing

Colleen - About getting the spinach to properly pulverize: I’ve been buying raw fresh spinach in bulk at Costco, and then sticking it in ziplock freezer bags at home. It blends OHSOMUCH better than those bricks of pre-chopped, pre-frozen spinach, AND better than the raw fresh stuff too. Been very happy with this technique. Bonus: I no longer wind up with a bunch of very wilty (or worse, ew!) spinach leaves at the bottom of the bin near the end of the week.

carrie - Colleen – fantastic! I think I’ll try this. Will make it quicker in the mornings too :-)

carrie - Jerel – I strongly encourage you to head over to our Facebook Support Group https://www.facebook.com/groups/SANEandEccentric/ and post this there. Dr. Cathy I know has personal experience of this exact thing and may be able to guide you far better than me. Dr. Mike may also have words of advice. I have also had kidney stones but have not had any issues since I went SANE 2 years ago and I eat 6oz of spinach and JB recommended amount of protein daily. However, that doesn’t mean they are not a problem for YOU! Please head to Facebook and see what our resident Docs have to say. Good luck!

Alvin - For those looking to expedite the process, On Sundays I put spinach, kale, cilantro, mint, bok choy, and any other leafy green I can find including romaine and red lettuce, add some lemon or lime and blend it all up with water.

Then I pour the mixture into ice cubes (I have big molds) and freeze.

Now throughout the week when I want a green smoothie I just pop out a few cubes and add coconut milk and chia seeds and I am ready to roll. Takes drastically less time.

Terez - So glad to see a green smoothie recipe without fruit. Am absolutely new to green smoothies but I’d been having an eggnog every day. Sounded much like your recipe here except raw milk instead of coconut milk, and a local pastured egg instead of powdered egg whites. Plus I add a tiny dribble of vanilla extract.

Anyway, I added greens to my eggnog before blending. Also added half a teaspoon of honey because I was worried about the greens being bitter. But it wasn’t bitter at all; I will skip the honey from now on.

I had thought of doing a green smoothie this way but was worried because all the other recipes I found included fruit. I don’t mind fruit but I don’t care for juice, and just prefer to eat my fruit than to drink it.

Long, rambling way of saying Thank You for this green smoothie recipe!

karen - Hi Carry
Would it be better to use real egg white instead of powdered? I’m avoiding all processed food where possible. There must be a bit of work going into drying that egg white.
Thanks.

carrie - Karen – you absolutely can use egg whites instead, although I don’t think it will be “better”. A few things to note: You will need to use 11.5 egg whites per smoothie to get the same amount of protein. The smoothie will be much bigger because of all the water in the egg whites, and it will also be a lot more liquid. You may have issues with the egg whites whipping into a huge froth in the blender. Depending on what you pay for eggs, the cost will be higher, and could be considerably so. It will also take a lot longer to prepare. Hope that helps!

Terez - Carrie, I see your reply to Karen and I am now looking up egg white protein. It appears (from a podcast transcript) that you use Honeyville Farm brand. Their pricing is good but they add sodium lauryl sulfate.

Do you still use that brand, or have you found a good brand without the sulfate?

Thanks,
Terez

Leslie - Just Whites from Deb El is 100% powdered egg whites, with nothing else added, including sodium laurel sulfate. I really like this brand! Just thought I’d pass it along…

carrie - Terez / Leslie – JB and I use Honeyville. Obviously you can use any brand you prefer. The sulfate is just there to stop it caking together and to make the whites whippable. The amount is tiny.

Denise - Here’s a suggestion of what NOT to do with this smoothie: DO NOT substitute 1.5oz of green power powder for the spinach. It will be extremely bitter, extremely thick, and extremely gross.
Carrie, if I can finally get spinach powder online, what would the substitution amount be for the fresh spinach?
Thanks!!

carrie - Hi Denise – I had the same experience with adding green power powder :-( I honestly don’t know the answer to your other question – I didn’t know you could get spinach powder! You would have to make a calculation from the packaging material for the equivalent of 6 oz of fresh spinach is and go from there.

Denise Luhman - Carrie: the link to the powdered spinach is on JB’s store page on his site. It comes from znaturalfoods – the same place the green power powder comes from. They were out of stock for ages but they finally have it in again. Mine should be here soon.

Btw, 3/4 oz of green power powder seems to work pretty well – much less bitter & thick, and actually drinkable. But I still can’t wait for my spinach powder. :-)

Bonnie - I’m confused how this is 6 servings of vegetables … my 6oz bag of baby spinach from Trader Joe’s says it’s 2 servings? And I asked on the Facebook page and was told 2-3 cups of raw spinach or kale equal a serving.

carrie - Serving sizes and appetites are different for different people. Servings sizes are just a guide. Eat when you’re hungry, stop when you’re full. Hope that helps!

Nina - I have the same question as Bonnie! JB always says the most important thing is getting at least 10 servings of non-starchy veggies. My container of spinach also says that 3oz is a serving. I’ve been counting 6 oz as 6 servings. Which is true because if it is the former, I am getting way fewer veggies than necessary! Help!

carrie - Nina – are you eating protein and non-starchy veggies until you are full? Are you getting the results that you are looking for?

Fresh Strawberry Smoothie… | Cut Cook Eat - […] reading Eat Smarter! Smoothies and Sides. Carrie calls the original smoothie from Bailor’s book The Hardcore Green Smoothie and I have to agree. It was not until I read Carrie’s book that I was tempted to try her version. […]

Don - Jerel – take a look at this post by Dave Asprey – http://www.bulletproofexec.com/the-kale-shake-is-awesome-so-upgrade-it/ – it might give you some ideas for dealing with the oxalates, especially since you are already sensitive to them. Best of luck to you!

Andy - Thanks for this idea – it’s just what I’ve been looking for! Just wondering if there is a reason that you prefer the egg white powder over other protein powders (like whey etc)?

carrie - Andy – egg white is 96% protein, so it’s pure, no additional ingredients and more bang for your buck, so to speak.

Diana - I’m intrigued by your recipe. How do you keep your egg white powder from turning the smoothie into spinach merengue?

Drew Thompson - Hey Colleen:

I buy my spinach from Costco too, but when I get it home I put it on large baking trays for a couple of hours and every time I enter the kitchen I turn it over to dry it out. Then I re-bag it into zip locks and then roll them up to force the air out before I close them. I can get a good week in the fridge this way without it turning to that horrible green slime that was spinach.

my two pence
Drew

Terez - I also buy organic spinach from Costco, as Drew mentioned. What I do is, I take the bag out of the clamshell and put the bag in my freezer as-is. It freezes up beautifully.

To use it, I just open the bag, take a few handfuls, and drop them in the blender. Then I roll up the plastic bag and use a binder clip to keep it closed in the freezer as I gradually use it up, a few handfuls at a time.

Granted I have an upright freezer (which is colder than the small freezer on a refrigerator). But that’s where I keep several bags. The bag I’m using is kept in the small freezer atop my fridge. Once in a while I pull the bag out when the freezer is on the defrost cycle, and some of the leaves are soft. But I just use what I need, put the bag back in the freezer, and it’s good to go the next time.

There will be a little snowy frost in the bag. I just shrug and use it. Small price to pay for the EASE of this method.

carrie - Terez – great idea!

carrie - Great tip Drew!

carrie - Diana – the fat in the coconut milk stops the egg whites from whipping – so no meringue! Hope that helps.

MinnesotaAnn - HELP PLEASE:

struggling with (1½ oz/45g powdered egg whites) without running out to buy a scale can anyone give me approx. Tbls or Tsp amounts??

thankx

carrie - Minnesota Ann – it is approx. full 1/3rd cup. Hope that helps!

Catherine - My egg white powder just arrived and I noticed it has sucralose in it, darn it! I used what I had with only half the spinach you use and almond milk and it tasted ok. Will have to look for coconut milk in a carton, have only seen it in cans here.

Wren - Finally got up the nerve to try the HARD CORE. Mine was a little bitter but a few drops of stevia fixed that. I used Jay Robb egg white vanilla protein and it has xylitol and stevia in it. Also from chickens not treated with growth hormones. 1 scoop has 24g of protein. I must admit I’m kinda missing my fruit in this smoothie but I sure do feel good about drinking it. I like being able to say I’m a HARD CORE smoothie girl! Whoop whoop!

carrie - LOL, Wren! It’s not the best tasting, but it terms of nutrients and SANEity, it is the bomb. I admit there are some mornings where I have to choke it down :-)

carrie - Ugh, Catherine! Why do manufacturers feel the need to adulterate everything??! I use Honeyville Egg White Powder. Coconut milk in a carton is just like very white cows milk in thickness.

Big Breakfast Adventure | La Bete

The weekend before I flew away to the sunny wine country of the Sonoma Valley I went on a Big Breakfast Adventure with an uber-talented photographer friend, Danny, and his smart, beautiful, and equally-talented-but-in-different-ways wife, Tina.  Danny is one of those people who is gifted with everything he touches.  Not only does he shoot amazing images, he is also a brilliant, multi-instrument-playing musician, and those two accomplishments barely scratch the surface of things that he has successfully turned his hand to.  Tina is busy studying Naturopathic medicine while running a successful business, and being wildly creative with fabrics in ways I can only dream of ever being able to do.  For years they have travelled to Venice every February to attend Carnival, Tina making all their stunning costumes and masks with her incredibly skilled fingers.  On top of all that artistry though, they are simply fascinating people.  Danny wears kilts, has a foot-long beard to go with his two-foot-long black hair, makes no apologies for the choices he makes about his life, and regularly wears a bowler hat.  They personify what it means to be who someone really is, and I just adore that about them.

When I posted on Facebook my intention to resume The Big Breakfast Adventure, Tina was one of the first with her arm in the air, waving wildly, “Me! Me! Pick me!”  I was equally thrilled.  I was also a tad nervous, because what with my mission to eat only *SANE foods, and Tina’s multiple food sensitivities, I realized we might be in for a tough time finding something suitable to quench our appetites;  La Bête’s menu indeed proved to be a weighty wrestling match, and there were more than a few moments when I thought we might all have to leave hungry.

La Bête lives in an unassuming – almost missable – grey, corner building right near what I like to call the Olive Way triangle.  This is like the Bermuda triangle without the water, and I have spent far too many hours of my life driving around its few short blocks over and over trying to figure out how to get to where I wanted to be.  This visit was no exception, but Bing maps and parking karma eventually prevailed and as I stepped from my trusty 4-Runner, Danny and Tina magically appeared less than 100 feet away.

La Bête is one of those places that you could walk past daily and never realize there was a charming restaurant inside serving up a delicious array of interesting foods.  Sophisticated old world elegance and a happy, eager staff make for a delightful experience.  The menu at La Bête is a panacea for adventurous food lovers as long as you’re ready for a hefty helping of starch in a myriad of guises.

La Bete Seattle  |  Carrie Brown

Danny, who is not following a SANE lifestyle, took the plunge and gobbled up the biscuits with ham gravy and poached eggs, and declared them to be delicious.  Tina and her pesky dietary limitations worked with the our server to conjure up a plate of food that was both interesting and tasty, although other than that it involved a slice of pâté and some exotic-looking cauliflower, I do not recall the details.  And this is why it’s always best to write the same day as the day you ate the meal…

Hand on heart, my pre-SANE foodie’s interest was piqued by all the ingenious concoctions staring at me from the menu, but I stood firm to my mission to find *SANEity everywhere!

La Bete Seattle  |  Carrie Brown
When I whittled out all the inSANE, all-inclusive dishes which didn’t have options for SANE substitutions, I was left with 3 or 4 choices, all of which needed some tweaking.  I finally opted for the La Bête Deluxe “Painted Hills” Burger – where “Painted Hills” is a brand of grass-fed beef raised in Oregon.  It’s famous in these parts as one of the local grass-fed beefs of choice.  Yum.
La Bete Seattle  |  Carrie Brown
The options listed for my burger were fries or Caesar salad.  Ding!  That was easy.  The only other hurdle was that wretched bun.  When I asked for it bun-less, our ever-helpful server subbed in some leaves of butter lettuce – favorite! lettuce! ever! – and, um, B-A-C-O-N.  Needless to say, after some initially scary moments wondering if I was going to get fed, a little help from the kitchen resulted in my desired plate of delicious *SANEity.  Despite having been almost lured off the ranch by the dozen other inSANE dishes, I knew that a few moments of oral pleasure would have been regretted for hours, if not days.

It was a thoroughly lovely couple of hours of good food and great conversation.  I even made it out of the Olive Way triangle alive!  And on the same day!!

I thoroughly recommend grabbing some favorite people and sharing a meal.  Whatever makes you feel good – do more of that.

 

*SANE™, inSANE, SANEity – terms used in Jonathan Bailor’s books, The Smarter Science of Slim (out of print) and The Calorie Myth.

What does SANE mean? Click here.Want more scrumptious recipes? Click here to check out my SANE Cookbooks!

Hope - I so love your food adventures. You are such a great encouragement to me with each choice you make! Thanks for continuing to do what you do. xox

carrie - It sure is fun doing them!!! Seeing how SANE you can be when dining out is a great game!