Pushing 200lbs, I remember once struggling to run 8 minutes without stopping in Iroquois Park. At the time I was a caregiver to my parents: mom with cancer and dad with Alzheimer’s. The stress of this situation wasn’t helping my own health – I was eating my way into a size 18.
Then, my niece, Emilie Dyer, invited me to a free class at 502 Power Yoga. In the past I had used yoga successfully to stop smoking, so I figured it could also improve my overall health. At one point in my first class, I remember the instructor said to “kiss your knees;” I couldn’t do it. It really hit home then how big I had gotten. I’m going to have to work to get this off, I thought.
Rather than feeling intimidated by others at 502 Power Yoga, I was empowered by this community. I decided to take on the Sunrise Challenge in 2014, and also completed the 40 Days to a Personal Revolution program. Through these experiences, I gained insight into my emotional eating. I learned to be aware of what I was putting into my body and why. I gave up sodas and coffee, and today I only drink green tea, water and sometimes black tea. I have sweets as an occasional treat, and not with every meal as I had in the past. I witnessed these physical and emotional transformations slowly change my body. Over time, I saw cellulite on my knees diminish. I was able to do my first Flip Dog with Mimi’s instruction. I was inspired, and I fell in love with the community.
After some time, it seemed like my daddy was doing fairly well, or maybe it was me. Maybe I had learned to move with the universe instead of work against it. Yoga had become my retreat from all the drama of hospitals and doctors with my parents. I truly believe my yoga practice helped me stay calm throughout every situation and provided me the opportunity for self-care.
I can see how life has come full circle for me. The beginning of my transformation was the Sunrise Challenge in 2014, and more than a year later, after the 2015 Sunrise Challenge, I’m a size 8. My faith in God, my program of recovery and daily asana helped me physically and emotionally through those trying times. I feel those previous limitations fading behind me and conquering Iroquois Park is next on my list!
Who said that eating healthy can’t feel a little indulgent? One of my favorite desserts is this “banana ice cream.” It goes well accompanied with a Quinoa Salad and Peanut sauce dinner, or as an afternoon treat. Eat with a spoon like soft-serve, or add a little extra almond milk, stick a straw in it, and take it on the go!
2 ripe bananas, chopped and frozen
3/4 to 1 cup almond milk, or milk of choice
1-2 tablespoons peanut butter
1 scoop vanilla or chocolate protein powder (optional)
Sprinkle of cinnamon (optional)
Place the milk, bananas, peanut butter, and optional protein powder in a blender* or food processor. Blend until very smooth, like soft serve ice cream, adding more milk as necessary. Enjoy!
*High powered blenders work best, but I did make this in a cheap blender during my college years just fine; I had to add more milk to get it to blend, though.
Bonus Recipe: Pumpkin Bread Pudding
I love making this single-serve pumpkin bread pudding for breakfast, snacks, dessert…I typically leave out the maple syrup and it tastes just fine. Topping with natural peanut or almond butter is highly recommended!
Week One is behind us, and last week we had a recipe for Vegan Chili (did anyone get a chance to try it? Leave a comment about what you experienced!) This week is a Quinoa Salad with Peanut Sauce (optional). This dish is light and high in protein. Feel free to get creative with this since it is easy to customize.
Quinoa Salad with optional Peanut Sauce
1 cup uncooked quinoa
2 cups water (for cooking the quinoa)
1 cup shredded red or green cabbage
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 cup carrots, shredded or finely chopped
2 cups edamame
1/4 – 1/2 cup green onions, sliced
Fresh cilantro (optional)
Cook the quinoa by placing it in a pot with the water and bringing to a boil; turn to low and simmer for 15 minutes, or until all the water is absorbed.
Transfer the cooked quinoa to a large bowl, and combine with the remaining prepared ingredients.
At this point, you can serve as is, or make the peanut dressing from the below recipe to stir in. (If you have a peanut allergy, try almond butter, cashew butter or sunflower seed butter!) Enjoy!
Week one of 40 Days to Personal Revolution (40DPR) is here! For many, the most challenging part of 40DPR is sticking with the healthy eating habits. Laura Olinger has taken the time to create some ideas for meals for each week, and she starts us off with some wholesome Vegan Chili to support a heating diet. This chili is great because you can share it with your spouse, kiddos, or save the leftovers for meals throughout the week!
For a heating diet: Vegan Chili
1/2 cup bulgur wheat*
1 cup hot water
28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
1 heaping teaspoon cumin
1 heaping teaspoon chili powder
1 heaping teaspoon cayenne
2 bell peppers, chopped
15-ounce can corn, drained
15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
15-ounce can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
Place the bulgur and hot water in a small saucepan. Cover and bring to a boil on high heat, then turn down low and simmer gently for about ten minutes.
While the bulgur cooks, heat the olive oil in a large soup pot and sauté the onion, garlic, cumin, chili powder, and cayenne. When the onions are soft and a little translucent, stir in the bell peppers and sauté for another 2 to 3 minutes.
Add the tomatoes, corn, and beans into the pot. Stir, and continue to heat thoroughly on low heat.
Taste the bulgur. When it is cooked and chewy, add it to the pot. Simmer for a few minutes for the flavors to meld.
Serve and enjoy!
*Bulgur wheat can be found in the bulk section of many grocery stores; I buy mine at Whole Foods
For a Cooling Diet: Black Bean and Corn Salad
2 15-ounce cans black beans
1 15-ounce can of no-salt added corn
1 avocado, peeled, pitted and diced
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 yellow pepper, chopped
2 tomatoes, chopped
6 green onions, thinly sliced
Fresh cilantro (optional)
Lime juice, to taste
Salad greens, such as romaine or spinach
Combine prepared black beans, corn, avocado, bell peppers, tomatoes, green onions, and optional cilantro in a large bowl and mix.
When ready to serve, place a bed of salad greens on a plate and spoon mixture on top. Finish with a squeeze of fresh lime juice if desired (or top with another light dressing.)