Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Arbonne 30 Days to Healthy Living Review

A couple friends from law school sell Arbonne and were putting together a "30 day challenge" in January. As I mentioned before, I don't believe in "cleanse" diets and it seemed a little overpriced but I decided to try it because I wanted to loose some weight I didn't think I could be accountable to a diet if I was the only one participating. Plus, this made the task of dieting a little more mindless because the meal plans were emailed out each week.

Review of the Arbonne kit itself: My kit came with a whole mess of stuff. 2 protein shake mixes (chocolate and vanilla), 2 packs of energy fizz sticks (pomegranate and citrus), 2 herbal detox teas, 1 fiber boost, a packet of digestion plus and a seven day cleanse. The "challenge" that I was part of (which was lead by an Arbonne consultant) also included weekly recipes. Generally speaking I don't think I'd pay Arbonne prices for most this stuff (even though with Arbonne there always seems to be some sort of sale so you never end up paying the retail price) but I did actually like most of it. It wasn't a miracle product but I think it helped me get on the right track.

Protein shakes - I actually really like the chocolate. The vanilla isn't really my thing but I actually ended up ordering more of the shake mix because I liked it so much.
Fizz sticks - when your trying to drink water instead of your second soda of the day these do take the edge off. I liked the taste of them but I think Crystal Light would have a similar effect at a much lower price. I will say that if you're going to drink the 7 day cleanse stuff these are pretty essential.
Detox tea - I can't really tell you if I was "detoxed" or not but the taste was actually pretty good. I didn't mind them but for the price (and my lack of belief) I might stick with the $3 Celestial Seasonings stuff.
Fiber boost - I liked adding fiber to my shakes, that seems logical to me. You couldn't really taste it so I don't have much of a review. I definitely used it all up though.
Digestion plus - This is similar to the fiber. I think that adding pro-biotics to a shake or smoothie makes a lot of sense. You can't taste this stuff in a shake and I did use it all up but before I invested again I would want to do some research on effectiveness and price of other options.
Seven day cleanse - When added to water and some fizz sticks this stuff ended up tasting like flavored iced tea. I actually enjoyed the taste. I can't actually say if it did anything though. I drank one pack a day for 7 days and stuck with my normal healthy eating. I do think it made my poo a little looser (hey, if you're reading this review you googled over to this blog and I know you wanted to know if the stuff would give you diarrhea....it doesn't) but I didn't notice much other than that. I didn't drop a ton of wait that week and I didn't really feel any differently.

So the only product I reordered was the protein shake. The rest of the stuff wasn't bad I just didn't think I needed it given the price. Between using the items in this kit and eating "clean" (read: no diary, no bread, no white rice, no sugar...no fun) I lost roughly five pounds during January. Honestly, for all the change in diet I was hoping for a little more but five pounds is a good start.

Review of the diet: As I mentioned in a previous post, I didn't love the diet. I think it help me accomplish my goal of retraining myself how to eat but it definitely isn't something that necessarily sustainable for me. Plus, I don't believe in a lot of the "science" behind it. I don't think gluten or dairy are bad. And I don't think that I want to live my life without ever eating sugar (although less sugar than I was eating in 2014 is a good thing). What was great about it was that it got me back to eating healthier and eating less. Both good things. I've since added back in some food I love (we had bread and apple butter last night...so scandalous) and while the weight loss is a little slower it's also more enjoyable. Last week was restaurant week in Denver and we went to two three-course meals and I still manage to drop 2.5-3 pounds in February.

Overall: I was glad I did this. I don't think that dieting on my own would have been great for me initially. I saw this diet as a jump start and a way to reset my eating and exercise patterns. In a quest to loose weight a little quicker I joined a gym and started going to Pilates again. It's now March and I've been consistently exercising 3-5 times a week. More than the diet, I actually think moving more is really helping me to feel better about myself. It's been two months since the start of the Arbonne program and I'm eating better, drinking about half the soda that I used to, and moving more. It's definitely not magical but for me it was a good way to get started.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Pilates and Light Skinned Privilege

There are certain moments when I pause and look at my life and think, "damn, when did I become so bourgeoisie?" Yesterday I came home from Pilates, walked our dog in a gentrifying neighborhood and then at quinoa for lunch. Yes, quinoa. I hardly recognize myself.

Anyhow, I have to admit that, while horrendously overpriced, I really do love Pilates (mixed feelings about the quinoa). It's one of the few things that's been helpful for my scoliosis and I like the feeling of getting stronger. A couple weeks ago I grabbed a t-shirt out of my dresser and hurried off to my Pilates class without giving things a second thought. When I arrived to the room full up upper middle class white women (because, let's be honest, those are the folks who take Pilates). I realized I was rockin' my racial-justice "Black Tomato" shirt.

The Black Tomato shirt is an awesome shirt a friend from law school designed. Along one side it has word that the media and many Americans use to describe white people and along the other it has words that those same folks use to describe black people in similar situations. It ends with "Tomato, Black Tomato," a play on "to-may-toe/ to-mah-to." You know, same-same, no big deal. Don't worry, no extra charge for the sarcasm.

When I arrived at the class one of the nice white ladies stopped me and said in her sing-song voice, "oh! what does your shirt say!? Let me read it!" I sort of panicked. I don't know this woman's politics (but I've made a couple assumptions based on Pilates) and I wasn't really trying to make it a political space and I definitely wasn't trying to start an argument or justify my stance. But there I was...in the middle of a Pilates class...with an upper class white lady reading my racial justice shirt. Fuck. 

As an aside: this isn't the first time this has happened to me. I once went home from college to my republican family's house wearing my trusty "I heart vagina" shirt totally unintentionally. But that's a story for another time. 

Anyhow, I realized as I was silently prepping responses in my head that this situation felt uncomfortable to me because I get to choose when I am perceive as radical. I sometimes even get to choose when I'm perceived as an outsider (but that one is a little more complicated). 

In some spaces: Fuck Racism shirts. In others: lovely cardigan from Ann Taylor Loft. And I get to choose. Or at least I get to choose some of the first impressions. I identify as Latina but being a monolingual English speaker and fairly light skinned, people don't always immediately know my background. Now don't get me wrong, being mixed is it's own cluster...but it's not the kind of cluster that makes me feel awkward walking into a Pilates class. 

The thing is, I sometimes wear t-shirt that call out my politics or one of my identities...but I don't wear it on my skin the way black people or dark skinned Native Americans, Latinos, Asians or Pacific Islanders sometimes do. And I can walk in the world differently because of that. A t-shirt is something I can choose to put on or leave at home (note to self: must figure out where to purchase Lululemon) but it turns out that I'm wearing my privilege whether I choose to wear my noisy t shirts for not. 

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Happy Belated Birthday Katy!

I love celebrating holidays. Really any holiday. Which means that I absolutely always do some sort of celebration for the dogs, even though they don't really seem to grasp the concept of a birthday. Anyhow, the problem is that you don't really know your dogs birthday when you get them from a rescue or a shelter. We adopted Katy in March of 2014 so we decided her adoption day would be when we celebrated her birthday (which is what we do with Olivia) but then when we were cleaning out a closet the other night we found Katy's original collar and it had a rabies tag on it. We did some investigative journalism (read: called the vet the tag was issued by) and learned the Katy turned three on December 23rd. Which means...WE MISSED HER BIRTHDAY. Tragic. 

So last week we had a belated birthday celebration complete with fancy treats from the local dog bakery. Which, side note, the existence of fancy dog birthday treats proves that there is a market for this stuff and that I am not a crazy dog mom. 

Olivia got a mini cupcake

And Katy got a fancy birthday cookie bone

Katy was very interested... 

As was Olivia. She sits so pretty when she wants something.

Happy Birthday Katy! 


Oh man, those eyes. She has the best eyes. 

This is her thinking face. 


Thursday, January 29, 2015

Colorado Hispanic Bar Association Outstanding New Hispanic Lawyer Award

This past weekend I received that Colorado Hispanic Bar Association's Outstanding New Hispanic Lawyer award. Awards are fun...especially in the legal world where self promotion is so ingrained in our culture. Since I work in nonprofit land rather than practicing traditional law I have a bit of an inferiority complex so I felt a little self conscious about the award but it was still super exciting. 

My parents came to Colorado for the dinner at the Ritz-Carlton and Truman's parents also joined us. We all had fun getting dressed up and celebrating. 

You can also see picture from Latin Life Denver here

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The diet: weeks 2 and 3

The alternate title for this post is: Fuck I want some bread.

Well, the diet continues and despite eating less than 1500 calories most days (and usually less than 1300) I've manage to loose a total of 4 pounds. Seriously. Truman, on the other hand, is on the verge of having to buy new pants. Female metabolism is stupid.

Joking aside I didn't really stick to the "cleanse" it has ended up being about smaller portions and almost no bread. I've definitely been eating less sugar, less carbs, and fewer calories...which is what makes the 4 lb loss a little disappointing. I'm still enjoying working out and I've been going to Pilates a couple times a week. So I guess the silver lining is that most of this lifestyle may actually be sustainable. So there's that.

The other upside is that I find my gym sort of hilarious. I mostly work out after 10p which means there are approximately 6 people in the gym. Me, the student who works the first desk and is getting his reading done (nice guy), 2 gym rat guys, and 2-3 older Latinas. In fact, pretty much everyone in the gym on Colfax after 10p is Latino. I find this hilarious because Latinos are not tall people. And all of the machines are made for average-to-tall people. The older ladies literally stand on other machines or sometimes give each other a little boost in order to reach the over head bars. If you're going to put a gym in a Latino part of town you should invest in some shorter equipment.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

How someone who doesn't believe in "cleanse" diets ended up on a cleanse diet

Two confessions:
1. I don't believe in cleanse or detox diets. Your kidneys and liver should do a great job "cleansing" your body and if they aren't then know amount of Kale is likely to fix that situation. I pretty much agree with everything in this article. 
2. I am the heaviest I've been in my life.

So, when some friends from law school decided they were doing one of these diets I decided to sign up. Not because I think it'll actually "detox" me but because the idea of jump starting some weight loss, loosing a couple pounds and feeling better about myself sounded like the right foot to get off on.

It's been a week of low carbs, low sugar, no gluten, no dairy,and no alcohol and here's what I've learned so far:

Protein shakes in the morning might actually be my jam. I've never liked eating breakfast and for the last few months 2 slices of raisin bread with butter has been my standard breakfast. I've switched to protein shakes for this diet and I actually really like the chocolate ones. And it's probably better for me than 2 pieces of bread.

I can trick my body into believing that an apple and some peanut butter (which is actually on the "avoid" list...more on that later) is just as good as a snickers bar. I work next to a burger place and a 7-11. Inevitably, someone at my office makes a junk food run in the afternoon and most afternoons I was eating some sort of sweets; this week I switched to an apple and peanut butter as my afternoon snack and by Thursday I wasn't longing for those m&ms at all.

It's nice to reign in the portions. I've noticed over the last year or so that I've been eating more. Just more. I've definitely felt hungry this past week...but that's ok. It's ok to feel hungry now and then and it's nice to be more aware of how much I'm eating.

Pseudoscience just makes me angry. There's a facebook group associated with this cleanse and it's actually really helpful (for one, they do all the meal planning) but I am having a really hard time dealing with the "science" the group puts out there. Carbs, gluten and peanuts are not inherently bad for you (unless you're a celiac),  no scientific study will tell you that they are. Sure, excess in bad for you and I was definitely eating to many donuts. But it's not because carbs are poison (and don't even get me started on gluten). I'm ok with some unsustainable eating habits for a short period of time but my longer term goal is moderation and a healthy diet I can stick with and I'm not sure this toxicity argument is conducive to that.

I'm not actually trying to give up soda. Yes. Yes, I know soda is bad for me but I was miserable dieting without it. I made it three days. And then I thought about it...drinking less soda I can get behind but if I'm just going to add it back in (and I don't believe in tainting a cleanse) then I should just practice that moderation now. On the day of the most recent vet appointment I found myself hungry and grumpy and depressed in the middle of the afternoon and decided it just wasn't worth it. I'm not trying to tank the whole diet but if skipping soda is going to make me resentful about the whole thing then, fuck it, I should add it back in. So I'm letting myself have my morning soda. And yesterday I actually skipped it all together. I'm sure the facebook group would just melt in disbelief but I don't think 6-12 ounces of Dr. Pepper a day is going to kill me. Especially when I'm eating quinoa and protein shakes the rest of the time. There's the added benefit that I am now a more pleasant person to be around than I was last Tuesday.

I like the gym. I decided to head back to the gym and I'm really liking it. I've been four times this week and doing something (working out) feels better than just not doing something (eating meals with cheese in them).

So, in total, I actually think it's going well. I'm liking the healthier eating and I do think I'll shed a couple pounds. I didn't take any real "before" pictures but I'll be sure to keep you posted on how it's going.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Ruff New Year

There are a few moments in life that are truly awful but that you sign up for because the moments leading up to them are worth it. Sitting in your living room and then sitting in a veterinarian's office discussing the end of your pet's life are some of these moments. Really. Truly. Awful. 

We returned from California on December 28th and on the 30th Olivia started to get sick. It started with shaking and panting and, being that Denver has had a cold snap recently, I thought my little California dog might just be cold. The panting got worse and we headed to the vet the next day. Our (somewhat useless) vet thought it could be anything from heart disease to pneumonia. We scrapped out New Year's plans and cuddled up to watch the ball drop with our fur family. 

The blood work didn't really provide answers and a chest x-ray on January 2nd confirmed there wasn't any pneumonia. No pneumonia is good but still no answers. We were so worried about her that we moved a mattress onto the floor of the living room and camped out there for the next few days. 

And then she started getting worse. She started vomiting and stopped eating. Off to doggie ER we went. They gave her some fluids and an anti-nausea but still no answers (but now the guesses expanded into GI issues). 

A day later Olivia was on her 4th day of not eating. Her breathing was labored and we'd spend about 4 days keeping vigil, crying and trying to guess if this was the end of my best little dog friend's life. Really, Truly. Awful. She wasn't very responsive and we decided that it was time to go back to the vet. In a last ditch effort the vet at the ER (who we adore!) suggested that we try a steroid because the problem was likely a liver issue. 

In what felt like a miracle, the dog ate the next day. I've never been so happy to watch a dog eat my husband's dinner (because she wouldn't eat at all we had started putting our dinner plates on the floor in the hopes that she'd go for it. Turns out that fresh grilled salmon with a side of steroids was Olivia's jam). I think we cried and Olivia got fresh salmon for the next few days. 

We've spent the last week going to vet appointments and buying horrendously expensive dog food from local boutique dog food stores. Olivia isn't her old self but she's doing better (breathing normally and eating gourmet food). The internal medicine specialist at the dog hospital says that it's either liver failure or cancer that are making her sick. We've got her on a steroid and a couple supplements and the theory is that those drugs will work for "weeks or months." In the meantime, she isn't in pain...just seeming really old. :( 

I think I new it was something terminal the whole time. When the first vet said it wasn't pneumonia my heart sank. Not because I wanted my dog to have a respiratory infection but because I think I knew that pneumonia was out best hope of something treatable. 

This is the first time I've had to make end of life decisions for a pet (and I am so glad Truman and I are making it together). We had a cat growing up but I was in college and living away from home so I felt very removed when my mom called and told me that Bailey's time had come. The whole process is difficult and heart breaking...but when you get a pet you know that they aren't going to live as long as you will. I'm thankful that Olivia is still truckin' along...but I can't help but already begin to mourn her health (if not her life). This dog and I have been though thick and thin and this part of "thin" is no fun at all. That being said, she does seem to get a little stronger each day and I am so grateful to still have her around and am definitely hoping for "months" instead of "weeks."