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Do you ever wake up in the morning and immediately regret an over-indulgent decision from the day before?

  • Lament ordering that extra glass of pinot noir?
  • Feeling bad about spending too much on a deep tissue massage?
  • Kick yourself for sneaking in an additional hour of sleep?

Luckily, Health.com is telling us to not be so hard on ourselves! We deserve our vices when they are healthy for us as they can be great ways to enhance your days. So this Tuesday, I present to you:

TEN THINGS THIS TUESDAY: HEALTH.COM’S 10 BEST VICES FOR YOUR HEALTH

Quotes from the Health.com article are in italics. My comments follow, as usual. Let’s get to treatin’ ourselves, shall we?

1.  Getting your zzz’s: Pillow time gives you energy, bolsters your immune system, boosts your memory, and even helps you get (or stay) slim.

c/o t1.gstatic.com

I’ve previously shared I am not a good sleeper. I wake up several times a night and, if I’m lucky, average a broken seven hours of sleep a night.  So whenever my body (and more often, my mind) allow me to get an extra hour of shut eye, I welcome the chance with open arms.

2. Playing hooky: Studies confirm that time off relieves stress, lowering your blood pressure and your risk for heart disease.

This past Friday, I took a (pre-approved!) personal day. We had a major painting project planned. To help decrease the stress of getting it all done in one day, we spaced the tasks over a long weekend. Friday morning I woke up a bit later than usual – already a better way to start the day! I leisurely enjoyed my breakfast before hunkering down for the task at hand. Trying to cram everything into the weekend would have overwhelmed me. Instead, having that extra day to work made the process so much more enjoyable.

3.  Sexual healing: Subjects in one study who did it once or twice a week had higher levels of the antibody immunoglobulin A, which shields you from colds and other infections.

And they said an apple a day kept the doctor away… more like a roll in the hay keeps the MD away!

4. A daily chocolate fix: Dark chocolate and cocoa may help lower blood pressure, reduce the risk of stroke, and provide other cardiovascular benefits, multiple studies have shown.

I’m all about the consumption of dark chocolate. It only gets better when there are added health benefits.  My new dark chocolate discovery: Adora Calcium Dark Chocolate disks.

c/o adoracalcium.com

At just 30 calories a disk, each piece has 500 mg calcium and is gluten-free.  There’s no better way to end a meal in my opinion.

5. Girls’ nights out: “Friendships are very good for you — as long as you hang out with people with whom you have a well-balanced relationship and limit your time spent with people who are toxic for you”

I love my girlfriends and want/need to spend more time with them. I’m lucky enough to be seeing a bunch of them in the upcoming weeks. This week I’m hosting a blogger get together – can’t wait to see all my favorite CLE blends!

It only gets better when the girls get together for a bit of fitness: in a few weeks, a bunch of the gals will be participating in the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure in downtown Cleveland.

c/o komenneohio.com

The race on Saturday, September 11 will be my next official 5K race. I’m signed up for the 9:15 “competitive race” – chip timer and all!  The race route is different this year than in years past, which I’m very excited about. Hopefully I can talk a few of the girls in to running with me!

6. Full-fat dressing: “When you have a meal that includes a little fat, you tend to feel more satisfied, so you eat less”

After years of dieting, I’m still in the habit of picking foods with labels like “low fat” or “low calorie”. Since I’ve been enjoying intuitive eating since turning to maintenance mode, I’ve been enjoying items such as nut butters again. When part of a balance diet, there is a bit of room for everything!

7.  Your morning java: Research suggests that coffee… fights heart disease and some cancers, and it may even help you push through harder, longer workouts.

Bring on the home-brewed Starbucks!  I love grinding my own beans of their Organic Yukon Blend. So much tastier and cheaper than the $1.85 for a Grande every morning!

c/o starbucks.com

I do admit: on Saturday mornings when I neglect to enjoy my two large mugs of coffee, my cardio kickboxing class seems to be endless!

8.  Getting a rubdown: Women in a 2008 study noted less pain, depression, anxiety, and anger when they were massaged twice a week by their partners — and (bonus!) their partners reported better mental health, too.

Has anyone seen my husband?  All these training miles for my half marathon have got my legs pretty tight… why do I have a feeling number 8 leads to number 3?!

9. Basking in the sun: Bright days really do lift our moods — sunshine is the ultimate natural antidepressant, triggering our bodies to nip production of the sleep-stimulating hormone melatonin so we’re alert, energized, and ready to face the day.

Since I spend my 9 to 5 cooped up in the air condition, I love any chance I get to spend outside. I even sneak in a quick jaunt out to my car during my lunch break, just to get a breath of fresh air. My favorite 8:00PM indulgence is a brisk pup walk. A thirty minute excursion around the cul-de-sacs of my neighborhood with Poise in Parma’s favorite golden retriever always makes my week night.

10. Wine with dinner: The buzz on wine is about its heart-healthy properties, though researchers aren’t entirely sure how it works its magic. Its antioxidants may keep blood vessels flexible, or alcohol could boost HDL (good) cholesterol.

Hey, I’m all about additional antioxidants, but remember the key is moderation. Ordering a bottle for the table is one thing. Finishing the entire thing by yourself is quite the other. Don’t be a sloppy wino. Take a cue from this handsome man and stay classy, Cleveland:

What’s your vice? Is there a healthy justification for its existence in your life?

In the past week, a major egg recall rocked our grocery stores’ diary sections. While the average American probably isn’t fretting about this recall, I am nearly in a panic. Let me explain why.

There’s no question that I am a creature of habit. I enjoy my weekday routine: wake up at 7:30AM, shower and dress, go down stairs to make breakfast, then back up to finish getting ready, back down to pack my lunch and out the door no later than 8:40AM.

I could probably shave a good twenty minutes off of this by eliminating the breakfast portion of that agenda.  However, I don’t want to. That third of an hour cooking my meal and enjoying each bite is the right way to start my day. The calm before the storm, if you will.

As for the meal itself, I prefer a savory breakfast six out of seven mornings of the week. Before I began my gluten-free endeavour, my weekday rotation looked like this:

  • Savory Oats: made with one sunny side egg and ½ oz. of cream cheese
  • Two eggs – over easy – on a Thomas English muffin or ½ of an Everything Thomas bagel, with pepper jack cheese
  • Stovetop Seasonal Fruit Oatmeal (banana, strawberries, blueberries, apples, peaches

The weekends would bring special treats like:

  • Scrambled eggs/omelets
  • French toast
  • Pancakes with seasonal fruit (Hans prefers banana)
  • Palatschinke: Background from Wikipedia: Palatschinken is a Central European pancake, comparable to the French crêpe. They are made by creating a runny dough from eggs, wheat flour, milk and salt and frying it in a pan with butter or oil. They are usually served with an apricot or strawberry jam and sprinkled with sugar. (Yes, #fitblog participants, I said CREPE. And you thought I only thought about them on Tuesday nights.)

Note: only ONE of those options are made without eggs.

Now step back three weeks: I embraced a gluten-free diet and my breakfast options went to:

  • Gluten-free oatmeal creations: usually Savory Oats, fruity if I have berries in the fridge
  • Scrambled eggs with a bit of cheese, salt and pepper

Now I love my Savory Oats, but I’m afraid that I am going to fall out of love if I keep eating them everyday. And I just can’t let that happen. Between that and this egg recall, it’s time to take action.

POISE IN PARMA READERS: I’m stuck in a breakfast rut and I need your help.

I am asking for you all to be my culinary muse and to help solve my first meal dilemma. What are your go-to breakfast options? What do you throw together in ten minutes or less on a weekday to keep you fueled during the day?

Here are your guidelines:

  • In case this egg debacle continues, suggestions without eggs are helpful.
  • Gluten-free options get major bonus points. Remember – this is just a trial period for me and Hans could benefit from your suggestions of any kind.
  • I do love my oatmeal, so any unique oat recipes are definitely welcome.
  • Smoothies and I haven’t had the best track record to date, but I’m willing to give them a second shot for the right recipes.
  • I am also a big fan of plain Greek yogurt, but not so much the flavored varieties.
  • I’m not afraid of bacon or sausage. In fact, I encourage their participation after a long hiatus!

INSPIRE ME READERS! I’m begging you! I’m open to all your ideas. Share your favorites with the world!

Many of you have discovered this great health blog resource, but I wanted to share it with all my blog readers. Friends, please meet Healthy Living Blogs:

c/o healthylivingblogs.com

Words from the creators themselves:

Healthy Living Blogs is a new resource for the health blogging community. Created by Lindsey of Sound Eats, HLB is a site designed to enhance the positive community of the healthy living blog world. Bloggers and readers can explore the site and find more blogs to love, bloggers in their area, and forums to deepen healthy discussion and support.

One of my favorite things about HLB is the blog listing by location. There are blogs registered from AustraliaCanadaChinaFranceJapan, The United KingdomNew ZealandScotland and The United States. People are seeking a healthy balance all over the world!

Since I love to share my love for the O-H-I-O, I encourage you to check out the blogs from my fellow Buckeye bloggers:

If you’re interested in having your site listed on HLB, simply send the following information to healthylivingblogs@gmail.com and check the site out for yourself!

  • Email subject line: MEMBERS
  • Your name (please share if you prefer to go by first name, first and last, or however you prefer to be known on the Internet)
  • Blog Name
  • Blog URL (please start with http://, not www.)
  • Your twitter handle, if applicable
  • Your location (if you prefer not to disclose this information for privacy’s sake, that is completely understandable. We’ll simply include your blog listing in the A-Z listing, not by location, too)
  • Any specific labels (i.e. vegan, gluten-free, weight loss, running, etc.)

What are your favorite healthy living blogs and websites?

I’m not a mother, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have a baby: he’s just more of the fuzz variety. You know this guy, so I don’t think an introduction is really needed.

Today – August 19th, 2010 – is Grady’s fourth birthday. While you have seen many photos and read many tales about this pup, there are a few facts you might not know about him:

Grady was my wedding present from Hans. It was the week of our wedding and I was in major panic mode about our organist cancelling on us four days before the big day. Instead of freaking out, Hans decided we should go look at a litter of Golden Retriever puppies. If that’s not a stress reliever, I don’t know what is!

my cell phone pic from the night we picked him out

His name was almost Sloopy. This should come as no surprise that we are diehard Ohio State fans. At our wedding reception, we walked into “Hang on Sloopy” for goodness sake. We decided to name him after the Cleveland Indians’ center-fielder instead.

Grady at two months old

He gets really bossy if you have cantaloupe or popcorn around. I try not to feed him an abundance of “people food”… but how do you say no to that pup face?!

the fuzz around four months old

He knows his tricks by word, number and hand signal. Point down, he sits. Put your hand up high, he’ll give you a high five. Say the word four, he lays down. He’s one smart pup!

about a year old

He knows he’s not allowed to eat chocolate and grapes. Probably because I freak out and shout “NO GRADY NO!” every time I drop one. Since they are considered “toxic” to dogs, I made sure he learned these were not good treats for him early on.

with my bro on Memorial Day

He’s easily freaked out. Did you see this article from WebMD how dogs automatically and voluntarily imitate the behavior of their owners? No wonder the dog has anxiety issues! Like mother, like pup!

He’s a lover and not a fighter. Case in point:

with Aunt Kathy on Memorial Day 2010

…and he’s excited to be having all his fellow blends (that’s blog friends) over for a birthday celebration in the upcoming week! CLE Bloggers: you and your pup want to join the party – let me know!

Do you celebrate your pets’ birthdays? Is there a dog bone “birthday cake”, or a special can of wet dog food for them on their special day? Am I the only crazy-dog lady out there?!

HEY CLEVELANDERS! Is anyone else overwhelmed by the amount of food and wine festivals this month? I know I am! For me, there’s one culinary, religious and cultural gathering that I MUST attend every August: The Feast of the Assumption in Cleveland’s Little Italy neighborhood.

For the non-Catholics in the crowd, here’s some info on the reason for this weekend festival from Holy Rosary Church, that organizes this four day event:

  • For the past 111 years, the Parish of Holy Rosary has hosted the celebration of Feast of the Assumption in Cleveland’s “Little Italy” neighborhood.
  • The Assumption, a Catholic Holy Day on August 15, commemorates Mary being taken into Heaven.
  • During the four days of festivities, booths are set up in the Churchyard featuring Italian foods, live music and rides for young children.

So in honor of my Italian-American heritage, I provide you with…

TEN THINGS THIS TUESDAY: MUST EATS AT THE FEAST OF THE ASSUMPTION

1. Pasta (DUH.)

From gnocchi to cavatelli, from ravioli to tortellini – if you want a form of short pasta, they are being served on Mayfield Road. My mom enjoyed the above cavatelli, while Hans found the gnocchi that he loves at Gusto Restorante Italiano:

2. Meatballs

Don’t even THINK about ordering your cavatelli without a meatball. It’s a sin on this holy weekend in this neighborhood!

3. Meat Kabobs

Meat-on-a-stick? AND it’s gluten-free?! COUNT ME IN. Where’s the lamb?

4. Anything from the Dim and Den Sum folks

HA! Had to throw you off the path a bit! You might remember my review of CLE’s favorite food truck. This year, they joined the Feast, sans truck. Their offerings:

PBLT (made with pulled pork shoulder, bacon, basil pesto aioli, lettuce & tomato) and Italian Nachos (made with bolognese, mozzarella, oregano crème Fraiche). YUM. Nice work boys and girls. Keep up the good work!

5. Pizza & Calzones (Another DUH.)

Orlando Bread Company solid the above squares of joy. I have a soft spot for Orlando Bread – makes me think of my Dad coming home with loaves of bread that were given to nearby workers when the bakery would make too much product in a day!

On the calzone front, Hans rocked one of these last year (and almost did this year):

6: Sausage sandwich with grilled peppers

Another traditional option at any summer festival, Hans was quite pleased with this one from Gusto. Eaten with his beloved pasta of choice.

7. Porchetta

I was on quite the gluten-free hunt when I stumbled upon a little market up around the curve on Murray Hill Road. They are new to the neighborhood and admitted they barely got everything organized in time for this weekend. I started chatting with one of the owners – Michelle – and explained my current dietary restriction. She was quite the gluten-free resource – I was glad we stopped to chat with her!

She recommended I try the above porchetta with kale and fennel. Porchetta is considered a celebratory dish by Italians, so it was a perfect choice for the Feast. I must say that pork did not disappoint.  I realized I never had kale before and really enjoyed the dressing on this serving. Can’t wait for their market to get up and running. I was so happy and content after eating that pulled pork/greens combo.

8. Roasted corn-on-the-cob

Purchased at the aforementioned market (that I can’t remember the name of!!!!), I couldn’t help myself. The corn was delicious – my mom even compared it to lobster! She must have gotten a very buttery bite!

9. Cannoli

These are a staple of any menu in Little Italy. Did you know that “cannoli” is the plural form? If you eat just one of these Sicilian pastry desserts, you’ve eaten one “cannolo”. But really – who eats just one?!

10. Gelato at Presti’s Bakery

Alas, the girl behind the counter wasn’t sure if it was gluten free.  Oh, iced creamy goodness, why do you tease me so?!

I could have enjoyed the lemon ice in the top left corner. She knew that it was made of just lemons, ice and sugar. At least the ingredient list was minimal!

What’s your favorite Italian-American food item? I am sucker for a good meatball sub myself!

When I last left you, I gave you a major teaser that a big announcement was coming this beautiful Monday morning. I have some pretty big news to share with all of you! It is something I am very delighted, passionate and inspired about.

You know about my new found love for running from the recent 5K I ran a few Saturdays ago. I never thought I could be a “runner”, so to know I ran my first 5K in 33:46 (my official chip time!), I knew I found a new passion that would drive me to do great things.

I’m taking this new found love and throwing myself into it in ways that I never expected! With that said, drum roll please…

I have joined the Arthritis Foundation’s Joints in Motion program and will run the 2011 Walt Disney World Half Marathon as a member of the AF’s Virtual Joints in Motion Team!

c/o arthritis.org

From the Arthritis Foundation’s websiteJoints in Motion is the Arthritis Foundation’s athletic training program. Become a Joints in Motion member and raise funds and awareness on behalf of the Arthritis Foundation to fight arthritis… Together we will help improve the quality of life for millions of men, women and children with arthritis.

I am incredibly thrilled to be a part of such a strong organization and training program. Unfortunately, many of us know someone who has been affected by arthritis.  Here are some things you might not know about the disease from Let’s Move Together, a movement inspired by the AF:

  • Arthritis is a term used to describe more than 100 different conditions that affect joints as well as other parts of the body.
  • The most common types of arthritis include Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA), Osteoarthritis (OA) and Juvenile Arthritis (JA).
  • Arthritis is one of the most prevalent chronic health problems and the nation’s most common cause of disability.
  • An estimated 46 million people in America have been diagnosed with arthritis including 300,000 children under the age of 18.

As an employee of the Foundation, I could not accomplish my job without the ongoing support of our dedicated volunteers and staff. In addition, arthritis has affected many of my family members.  I have committed to running the 13.1 miles to honor my fellow co-workers and volunteers of the Northeastern Ohio Chapter. I also run to honor my family members fighting this disease.

In addition to honoring these individuals, I have committed to raising $2,600 in support of the Arthritis Foundation.

This is where I need your help. I ask you to please consider a donation to help me reach this goal.

Visit my Joints in Motion webpage for more information & to make a donation today. Know that every contribution is greatly appreciated and truly makes a difference.

I’m excited to share my progress – both on the training and fundraising ends – with my faithful blog readers! Thank you for supporting me in this endeavor! I better get runnin’!

SOMETHING TO LOOK FORWARD TO: I’ll be making a big announcement this Monday the 16th! It’s quite EPIC and I can’t wait to share it with the world!

♦♦♦♦♦

TODAY’S POINT OF BALANCE: In my recent review of Bắc Asian American Bistro & Bar, I mentioned I was toying with a certain way of eating. That way means the elimination of this:

c/o thechessdrum.net

…this:

c/o tastefood.com

…and this:

c/o mudfog.com

That’s right kids: I’ve been attempting gluten-free eating for the past ten days.

In case you are not familiar, let’s start with a definition of a “gluten-free diet” thanks to the Mayo Clinic:

A gluten-free diet is a diet that excludes the protein gluten. Gluten is found in grains such as wheat, barley and rye… Gluten causes inflammation in the small intestines of people with celiac disease. Eating a gluten-free diet helps people with celiac disease control their signs and symptoms and prevent complications.

…and that means the elimination of wheat, barley, bulgur, and rye from my diet. Therefore, I have been avoiding these “usual suspects”:

  • Beer
  • Bread
  • Cereal
  • Crackers
  • Pastas

I have still been enjoying:

  • Wine: As you saw from last week’s wine tasting extravaganza
  • Processed luncheon meats: I love those Hillshire Farm Deli-Select lunchmeats, which are gluten-free. They are even better on sale at Marc’s!
  • Salad dressings labeled ‘gluten free’
  • Sauces labeled ‘gluten free’
  • Soups labeled ‘gluten free’
  • Oats: While they can be contaminated with wheat during growing and processing stages of production, I just can’t give up my oatmeal.

Why am I doing this?

I feel some people see a gluten-free lifestyle as just another diet fad – a way to lose weight since you aren’t eating bread and pasta. However, I’m strictly doing it for health reasons.  I’ve been dealing with some of the typical symptoms of gluten intolerance, including irritability, fatigue, anemia and digestive issues. I’ll save you the details, but they all seem to point in the direction of this food allergy. I figured eliminating gluten for a limited amount of time might open some doors to some answers.

What have I learned so far?

Maintaining a gluten-free diet is not easy. Gluten is used in so many different ways, including as a thickener in some foods. It is also found in medications, medications, vitamins and makeup. Also, just because something doesn’t have gluten in it doesn’t mean that it wasn’t contaminated in the facility it was processed in. That being said, I know I haven’t been 100% gluten-free because while I’ve done my best to keep an eye out for labeling, I’m sure I’ve missed something.

Walking into Panera Bread takes A LOT of will power. When you have to pick up a dozen bagels at 6:45AM for a 7:45AM committee meeting on the other side of town, all you really want is that sample of the chocolate chip bagel as you walk in the door. Now try driving to the other side of town with your car perfumed with the smell of bagel goodness. I couldn’t get to Westlake fast enough.

It’s a good thing that I LOVE fruits and veggies. There’s no question I get my recommended servings every day, which has made the dietary switch far easier for me. I’m sure if I typically ate other types of processed foods I would be mentally miserable right now.

It’s another good thing that I like preparing my own meals. Some people hate to cook. I LOVE it. My dad and I agree that the meals you make yourself taste so much better than what you’d get at a restaurant, and for a fraction of the cost. Making my own meals means I know what the ingredient list entails, which means less chance of unknown gluten consumption.

Funding a gluten-free diet is not cheap. Whole Foods is going to officially become Whole Paycheck. When purchasing pasta and breads in gluten-free form, the cost is significantly higher than buying the wheat varieties.

Brown rice and potatoes are my friends again. While I never hated either of them, rice and potatoes were never at the top of my “go to” lists of foods. However, in the past week, I’ve been cooking with these items more often and enjoying them again. I foresee a lot of rice casseroles and baked potatoes in my future!

An Important Note

I know that completely eliminating gluten from your diet before going for the standard blood test can alter the results. This is just a trial for me. In the next week or so, I plan to return to eating as I did before.  I’ll note how I feel then compared to how I feel today, then go from there. That might mean making an appointment for blood testing. Or that might mean splurging on an all-you-can-eat pasta buffet. What is important is that I am listening to what my body wants and needs at this point in time to be healthy.

Any thoughts or tips? Have you tried to eliminate a food group to see if it makes a difference in your health? Do you have Celiac disease or gluten intolerance? How has it changed you and your daily food routine?

Disclaimer: Remember that I am not a Registered Dietitian. I have no formal education on this sort of thing. While my findings are all based on copius amount of time on MayoClinic and WebMD, I’m just reporting on how MY body reacts, not how YOUR body necessarily would. Be smarter than me and consult a doctor before making any changes to your diet.

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