Thursday, July 21, 2016

Dieting During the Dot: Supplements for PMS

Hormones. They are capable of making you look and feel like an irresistible, youthful, selfie-taking runway goddess of power and poise.

They are also notorious for transforming you into a hairy, half-starved, Viking Cow of Despair.

Now that I am in my mid thirties, I notice these "symptoms" far more than I ever did in my twenties. Trying to stay on the nutritional track when we are preparing to surf the crimson tide, well, that's when you can (and will) succumb to the powers of ass-sitting, wine, and Doritos. And while it's true that our bodies burn extra calories during PMS, it's not enough to compensate for those Pop Tarts you just crammed down your throat after work.

Lucky for you, I have found a few supplements and products that help me calm the Half-Starved Viking Cow... and they may just help you calm yours? I've been taking supplements BEFORE Dr. Oz made the main stream. 

Click the picture for a link to the Pinterest pin with over 6.5k pins

This is the part where I tell you that I am not a licensed nutritional anything, and you must use your best judgement when testing these products. I'm just the Guinea Pig. Always give the family practitioner a heads-up about your supplement experimentation. Tell her I said, "Hi." Remember: Supplements take time to work. It's not magic. Give them a few weeks. Likewise, what works for my inner Half Starved Viking Cow, may not work for yours.  

I decided to stop taking these supplements all together for two months. My husband, who happens to be Cpt. Pessimism about things holistically related, said he didn't think it was plausible for these to be doing anything; Which is code for, 
"You're still a bitch, Kert. Stop kidding yourself." 
Okay. Maybe I'm imagining all of this "relief?" Game on. 
I stopped taking them. All of them. And it was hell. Easily had the worst PMS/ periods in my life. He retracted his argument after this experiment was all over and done with. Trust me. 
These supplements DO help. Now... if this heifer could get a salt lick loaded with estrogen, that would be terrific. Until then, I do this: 

Flaxseed- Tame the Hungry Beast 
Flax is a phytoestrogen, or, a dietary estrogen. They aren't the real biological thing, but, phytoestrogens are comprised of plant compounds that our endocrine system accepts. Long story short: The consumption of flaxseed, especially during the dot, influences estrogen metabolism.

Lemme break it down for you: Much like a Donald Trump polygraph test, our estrogen levels are all over the damn place during PMS. When estrogen production plummets, that's when ovulation is over, and our period starts to kick-in. You probably notice that by the first day of your period, you start to feel better? The 7-14 days in-between can be rough... that's where Flaxseed comes into play.

Flax helps to fool your system into thinking it has the estrogen it needs to soothe the savage beast and relax the food cravings. I like to incorporate as much whole flaxseed as I can- Food and smoothies. Flaxseed also happens to be a plant-based protein with antioxidants that slow the aging process. Win/win. Feel free to google it. Can't go wrong with this stuff. Want a great recipe that curbs craving as has a good amount of flax? Try my Whey Protein nuggets: No added sugar, 240 calories per serving, 5g of protein, and loaded with dietary estrogen.

Magnesium, Magnesium, MAGNESIUM!!! "Soothe your Swole, bruh."

I cannot stress this particular supplement enough. Magnesium is arguably the most underutilized mineral in the human body.  I take one erry-damn-day. During the dot... I take two. Why? Glad you asked.

My red blood cell levels are extremely low during this time. In fact, most practitioners agree that just about all PMS-ers red blood cell levels are low. Our bodies go through a lot during this period-thing. Don't down play it. We have a reason to be bitchy. The drop in cell production means cramps, back aches, bloating... you get the picture. Magnesium is a tried-and-true muscle relaxer and mood enhancer. It "soothes my swole" and my racing brain. Likewise, it helps me sleep and helps digest the food in lieu of being stored as fat. That's right, magnesium is a natural fat blocker. Particularly belly fat. And chances are pretty high that you aren't getting enough. Magnesium is ranked as one of those minerals that most adults are not getting enough of. Mind you, not all Magnesiums are made the same. I've narrowed it down to the two that help with dieting and strength building.

Magnesium Chelate: Higher absorption rate for active individuals.


Magnesium Citrate: A digestion support super star.

I tried the higher absorption mag and found that, while it helps me fall asleep and relax faster,  it gives me a stiff neck and a headache when I wake up. Feel free to be your own guinea pig on this'n. Again, my body is different than yours.

Before the dot, I take 650mg (two 250mg pills + my multi vitamin) every day leading up to the first sight of spotting. When my period starts, I go back to my normal dose of 400mg. According to my doc, if you are below a 6 on the red blood cell test, you are deficient. If you don't want to go through all of the blood testing, ask yourself: Are you tired, angry and sore? Do you eat a metric shit-ton of super green things a few times a day? If you answered yes and no... get some magnesium.

Likewise, after a serious workout, our muscles are drained. You may want to consider a magnesium soak. Get yourself a bag of Dr. Teal's epsom salt, run a nice hot bath, put a cup or so in... and relax. The body soaks up the magnesium and that hormonal backache will thank you for it! You will sleep better than ever. If your estrogen levels are heavier than a Sam Smith ballad, I have another thing to try.

Melatonin's cure for the sleep deprived PMS-er. 

I have one hell of a time sleeping when I'm PMSing. This stuff is gold when it comes to helping relieve my IBS: Irritable Bitch Syndrome.

In addition to magnesium, I use extended release melatonin during my PMS insomnia. I have tried the regular stuff- not the same. I wake up by 2am.

Extended release is the way to go!

When I toss and turn and don't get enough sleep... my PMS symptoms are off the chain. Naturally occurring melatonin levels are, you guessed it, super low during PMS. Once again, menstruation takes a lot out of the female body. All this hormonal stuff takes a toll on us that only gets agitated with age. Melatonin is an excellent example of an aging hormone, as it decreases in production as we get older. What exactly is melatonin and just who the hell figures this stuff out?

Melatonin is a brain hormone/antioxidant that is... well... fueled by light. Crazy right?

Stay with me.

Humans have this thing called a circadian rhythm. It is your inner clock. Exposing yourself to too much bright light at night, or not enough during the day, drops your melatonin levels. As we discussed earlier, red blood cell counts are low during PMS and those red blood cells help that melatonin flow. Low red blood cells + low melatonin = no sleep for Kertney.  That's where a melatonin supplement comes in handy.

Sleep is also a key component to successful weight management. When you are well rested, you can accomplish so much more and you are more apt to stick to the script. I do, however, end up feeling a tad groggy the following morning when the alarm sounds, but, it wears right off.  Sleep is a CRUCIAL element for maintaining a healthy disposition. Insomnia is a key contributor to depression and anxiety. Two things that those PMS hormones love clinging to.

St. Johns Wort Cures the CrayCray. 

I'm a transparent broad. I will tell you how I feel and I will always give it to you straight-up with a
touch of sarcasm. Before the dot, however, there is no humor. Only despair. I am an emotional PM Mess. I am angry. I am sad. I am forgetful. I am anxious. I am quiet. I am loud. I am all over the goddamn place.

Seven days before the dot, I will straight-up overanalyze all of the conversations I have had that day, the day before, years past,  and scrutinize all of things that I have absolutely no control over. Social media becomes a judgmental outlet of contempt for yours truly and I will twiddle my thumbs about shit that I would never care about post period. I am a mess. And if any of my crazy sounds like your crazy... This is where Natural Xanex comes into play. And boy does it help.

St. Johns Wort is something that I take ONLY during PMS.You are probably wondering why I didn't just get evaluated for BCP or antidepressants?

I have taken birth control pills for PMS. I have taken antidepressants for PMS. They make me tired and fat. I gained 10lbs after less than two months of antidepressants. I did not have the will to do anything. Didn't care. And that's not good. We should all have a good, healthy dose of self awareness. I take one in the evening, only during PMS. Antidepressants can be a game changer- both good and bad. St Johns Wort is my natural mood enhancer. I use something else, too...

Synthetic Progesterone

As previously stated: I no longer need birth control. I do not like birth control. And however much it soothes my savage beast, it turns me into a hunched over TWD character, thus killing Kertney, and her libido... much like Negan is gonna kill Maggie. (Yeah, I called it) No bueno. If you have taken other roads to prevent pregnancy, and the pill is no longer beneficial, try some pretend estrogen cream. It really, really does help. A bat named Lucille may do the trick, too. (Oh no she did'n)

Natural progestin is, once again, a plant based hormone. A synthetic hormone. It helps to ease mood, cramps, water retention, headaches,  sleep, anxiety, menstrual cycle regularity and hot flashes... it's the holy grail of Hormone Replacement Therapy. And no, all HRT isn't bad. It all depends on the hormone. And this one happens to be fake. But the body can't tell.

Hormone replacement therapy got a bad rap back in the early 2000's with breast cancer dogma. Like I said before, synthetic progesterone is different. All hormones are not created equally. This plant oil cream regulates the thyroid gland, balances out estrogen, and is safe to use, especially if you aren't into swallowing supplements. I slather this stuff on after a shower and ONLY during the week(s) leading up to my period. If you have a smart phone, get yourself a free ovulation/ period tracker app. Yes. There's an app for even that. There's the ever popular "cervical mucus" calculator, so... you can... uh... I got nothing. I'm sure it's a baby-making-thing.  nyway, get yourself one of these apps and it will track your periods for you, so you can prepare for your PMS fueled pantry pillage and when to use your PMS cream. Better yet, make your significant other get the app so there's no excuse for them to question your... um... behavioral influx.

How do you know if you need it? Estrogen dominance has all of the tell tale symptoms: bloating, tender breasts, mood swings, cramps, backache... you name it. And if you are nodding your head to all of this right now, shaking your fist to the ceiling, while crying into your chardonnay, licking the Cheetos fuzz off of your fingers... this is the lotion for you.

Sweat the Bitch Out

Last but not least... EXERCISE!! Seriously. I want you to bitch all the way around the block, in the car on the way to the gym, or cuss me out during Mixxedfit or in the squat rack.  I guarantee that you will feel better once you release those serotonin hormones during some cardio. Sweat that hairy, viking cow right on out of your body. Be sure to drink a ton of water and watch your sodium intake. You will bloat like crazy if you don't. If you just don't have the energy to do so, try a few of my tricks to get you up off of the couch. 

 Trust me on this viking-thing. My sis did a DNA test. Turns out my Viking rage is inherited.  So, I am a natural expert. In the meantime, I'm going to eat a few phytoestrogen laden banana nuggets and pluck some hairs off of my chin... or I'll braid them? Either way.

Cheers, hons!

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Roasted Red Pepper Crockpot Marinara

The thing about store bought marinara is that most varieties are loaded with bullshit: sugar, preservatives, salt, salt and more salt.

Make my marinara. It is clean, fresh, vegetarian, and it tastes amazing. Add the remaining sauce to some glass jars and stick them in the freezer until you need them again. You'll never need store bought again. You won't want it. I got all of my ingredients at Trader Joes. Cost me all of $6 to make at least 3 jars of organic (yes, I used that word) marinara.

  • 1 large 12oz can of whole tomatoes 
  • 1 Small can of tomato paste
  • 1/2 jar of roasted red peppers
  • 1/2 can of water (use the tomato can)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 heaping tbsp raw sugar or 2 tsp Agave Syrup 
  • 4-5 cloves of freshly peeled garlic (whole clove, not pressed) 
  • 10 fresh basil leaves
  • Pinch of Fennel seed *optional, but it gives the sauce a beautiful flavor*
  • 3 tsp pepper
  • 2 tbsp sea salt
Crockpot meals aren't rocket surgery... and that's why I love them with every fiver of my being.

It's pretty simple really. Add all of the above ingredients into a crock pot. You can do the next step one of two ways:

**1) If you are preparing this before work- let it crock on low heat until you get home. 
**2) Or, if you please, let it crock on high heat for 3 hours and low heat for 1 hour. 

Up to you. It's a "set-it-and-forget-it" sauce. Nothing to get worked up about time-wise when it's on low all day.  It all depends on what time you serve dinner. The trick to a fantastic sauce is minimal, fresh ingredients.... and letting those flavors slow cook. 

Once it's happy and warm, add the crocked marinara, in small 
batches, to a blender or food processor. 

Can't emphasize the "small batch" part enough. It will get all over the damn place. I have ruined too many cute frocks the hard way. Jussayin.

Blend/pulse the mixture well and add your "Sunday Gravy" to some mason jars for later storage.

Aged sourdough baguettes. Yeah, I can make bread and stuff.
Get some pasta going, rip off a hunk of bread,  and presto! Dinner is served, baby. 

If you are looking to preserve this with, say, the 'maters in your garden, check out my Jarring101 page AICC2 on Pinterest

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Cold Curried CousCous

No intro. Let's just get the damn recipe already.
-Fine, sheesh.

If you want something OTHER than the norm at a pot luck, make this. 
Does not disappoint and it's easy.

Serves 4-6 people 
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 1/4 cup Agave or Honey
  • 3 tsp Sweet Curry powder, reserve 1 tsp for later
  • 1tsp Turmeric
  • 1/3 cup diced carrots
  • 3 Green onions, sliced 
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 2/3 cup Dried Cranberries
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 diced english cucumber 
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro 
  • 1/2 cup coconut shavings- unsweetened 

Make the couscous per package instructions, but instead of water, use vegetable stock. When it's boiling, add your carrots, agave or honey, curry powder and turmeric. Next add the couscous. Take it off the heat. Cover. Let it sit for 10 minutes.  

Transfer the couscous to a large bowl and "fork it around" until it loosens up. Haha... "Fork it around." God, I'm a dork.

Add your red onion and dried cranberries and another 1 tsp of curry powder. Refrigerate it for a few hours. Overnight is better. 

When it's cold, add all of the fresh ingredients: green onions, lemon juice, bell pepper, cucumber, coconut and cilantro. Fork it around some more and serve it up! 

Monday, April 18, 2016

Sweet & Tangy Edamame

Super quick healthy-ish recipe time!! 
This edamame is irresistibly sweet, tangy, and somewhat spicy... You won't be able to stop eating them. Even my kids were chowing down. 

  • 1 bag o' frozen Edamame 
  • 2 cups Canola Oil
  • 1/4 tsp powdered ginger
  • 1/4 tsp powdered garlic
  • 1 tbsp raw sugar
  • 1/4 tsp tajin
  • Pinch o' salt
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne or hot chili peppers
  • 1/4 tsp sesame oil

Put your oil in medium sized pot and get it hot. 

While you are waiting, add all of the above dry ingredients into a separate bowl and mix them together.  If you haven't ever used Tajin before, you are missing out my friends. It is a staple in my household for all things that need flavor- chicken, rice, corn, chips, popcorn, broccoli, avocados... you name it, Tajin is delicious on it. Here are a few other recipes where Tajin is used: 

Tomatillo Hummus recipe
Zesty Avocado Turkey Sammy 

Edamame pods do NOT take long to fry:  60-90 seconds tops! Once your oil is hot and ready, fry them in handfuls for 1 minute. 

Transfer them to a few paper towels (remove some of the oil) and then into a large bowl. Add your sesame oil and your dry rub, and coat your fried edamame.  


Want a recipe that is amazing with this edamame? Try my super simple Bulgogi-style Korean beef.  Awesome stuff! 

Saturday, April 9, 2016

340 Calorie Beef: Bulgogi-style

Not gonna lie: I crave this recipe. It's so simple and cost friendly to make... and it hits the healthy spot every, single, time. This recipe is low in saturated fat and loaded with lean protein and vegetables. My sister and I get Bulgogi just about every time we go to the Korean market's restaurant side. It is sweet, smoky, and spicy...  I recommend getting all of your ingredients at the Asian Market. Excellent prices on all of your produce, sauces and beef. 

Shout-out to Paldo World in Tacoma, Washington. Love you! 

This recipe takes a whole 20 minutes to prepare and that's because you are waiting for the rice to steam

Prep time: 20 minutes
Serves: 2-4 

  • 1 pkg thinly sliced beef.  4oz- Sliced in strips. 
  • 1/2 tsp freshly grated ginger
  • 3 green onions, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and quartered 
  • 1 large red bell pepper, chunked 
  • 1/2 tsp Salt  
  • 2 large garlic pods, crushed
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas *optional
  • 1-2 tbsp Gochujang depending on how spicy you want it (WTF is this? Chick here)

1. Start your rice. Need a recipe for that? Try my magical rice trick. It's a perfect pot of steamed rice without any measuring instruments whatsoever. Don't start the wok process until the rice is just about steamed. You want your bulgogi to be fresh and the vegetables crunchy. 

2. Rub the garlic, salt, and ginger into your sliced beef and set your wok on high heat. Work the salt, garlic and ginger into the meat like you were a masseuse. Remember to buy the thinnest beef you can buy. You will save yourself a ton of trouble by buying it pre-sliced. 

3. Once the wok is über hot, add the oil and beef. Remember Martin Yan's credo: Hot pan. Cold oil. Food won't e'stick. Sound advice. Completely cook the beef before introducing the vegetables. 

4. Brown your beef in the oil- 3-5 minutes. Add peas. You should have some brown, crispy edges to the beef. Nom, nom...

Here be the nutrition facts.
5. Next add your peppers, white onions and Gochujang- sauté well for a minute or two. We want the peppers and onions to be coated in all of the flavor... but still have that crunch. Mushy veggies are no bueno. Note: Only add 1tbsp of the Gochujang and taste it. Need more? Add it. Make this recipe according to YOUR tastebuds, not mine. If I'm coming over for dinner, please add two tablespoons. This stuff is no joke rich and spicy.

6. Garnish with sliced green onions and edamame. Serve over seamed rice. Check out my recipe for OUTSTANDING fried edamame. It has this dry rub that is as addicting as this dish. True dat.  

Monday, March 28, 2016

The Fat Zumba Instructor. Making Weight: Part I.

Transformation Tuesday

Scene: Fitness studio. Summer. Wood floor. Latin music. Women in lycra with their sneakers squeaking about to find their "spot" on the dance floor. 

Enter-  Moi. I was returning from the ladies room when I noticed a few women I had never met before and casually greeted them. I was rifling through my gym bag when one gestured to me...

New Zumba Lady: Are you familiar with this instructor? 

Me: Haha... Pretty familiar. You new?

New Zumba Lady:  Yeah. We go to another place, but she's on vacation. 

Me: That's great that you decided to try this place.

New Zumba Lady: I hope it's good? I hope I know some of her dances?


I hear she's chubby. 

Me: <beat> Who? <beat> The instructor? 

New Zumba Lady's Friend: Yeah. Saw her at the Zumbathon. 

Me: Oh? Wow. She should probably up her game then, huh? 

<I walk to the front and turn the music down> 

... Welcome to class, ladies and gent! Let's dance. 

I think we both know that she was pretty embarrassed by her comment. She apologized later. Eye roll. I won't pretend that it didn't punch me in the feels, though. And to be clear, I didn't even DO that year's Zumbathon which means she hadn't "seen" me in a year...

So... yeah. That happened.

In hindsight, I'm glad she made her comment. It was a bittersweet ego boost that validated my new fitness direction.

See, I wasn't only doing Zumba.

Shout out to Harold!! The ONE gentleman who would come to my class and dance his tush off! He was 60+ by the way. Loved him!

The fact is, I wasn't enjoying Zumba. It become a chore. Seemed like EVERYONE was a Zumba instructor in that small town and felt like everyone was in constant competition with each other. And, to be perfectly honest, I wasn't toning up the way I had hoped. Slimming down, yes. Muscularity? No. Hell, even the brand name came out with "weight maracas." Lame. So, at the behest of the gym owner, I started lifting actual weights and took one of his classes shortly after the new year.

I will never forget the first day I came to MMA class. I will never forget climbing into The CAGE! I will also never forget the next day and the day after that. Every inch of my body hurt. Every. Inch. I used muscles that you just don't use in Zumba. Muscles that I didn't know existed? My midsection, for example, burned more than doing 1000 crunches. Who knew throwing a punch could do that?!

Fit Fam: Lauren and I.  Miss this woman like crazy! 
 I had the honor of training with a few amateur, and up-and-coming UFC ladies and gents on the mats. More inspiring still was working out with women who, just like me, wanted to gain some strength and lose some fluff. It was a turning point. There was a camaraderie. We were on a new course of making weight, gaining muscle, and building confidence... rather than simply losing weight. And the fat was melting off.  Most importantly; While I never, NEVER want to be in a position where I would have to protect myself, or my loved ones, I am confident that I will be able to do so. That is a confidence like none other, I assure you. I owe a lot to the trainers at Absolute Fitness Academy. They gave me my vision back.  My stamina. Never focused on weight once. Nutrition, speed, and sweat... that's different. Haha!

The goal of this quickie blog on #transformationtuesday isn't to roast Zumba or any other form of "hot right now" cardio, (I happen to be in love with MixxedFit) but, this is a blog about switching up your game and working outside of your comfort zone. This is a blog about results. This is a blog about cardio and lifting heavy things up and down. This is a blog about eliminating the words "I can't" or "never" from your vocabulary. This is a blog about giving a solid "fuck you" to the shit stirrers and naysayers. This is a blog about focusing on YOU and what you really want. This, my friends,  is a blog about making weight.

Not losing it.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Whey Protein Nuggets.

If you are looking for a healthy snack that is simple to make, has no added sugar or salt, will fill you up, and tastes like it shouldn't be healthy... look no further.

My sister sent me a similar recipe from a Pinterest pin. I thought it was a great, super easy recipe, but, it needed something? I went ahead and added a few things to make this a better, more action-packed snack to prevent the growl in your stomach. These nuggets are a healthy alternative to banana bread for those decaying bananas in the fruit bowl. 

This is also my favorite pre-workout snack. I eat two with my supplements before I get started. If you are interested in supplements and what you may want to try, check out my page about those: Gym Fuel: Supplements for a meaner sweat and a stronger you. 

These little babies have a great amount of Flaxseed, for example. If you aren't looking into incorporating more Flax into your diet... get on the bandwagon; Easily one of the most health conscious ingredients that you can add to your grocery list. In addition to all of the omega fatty acids and beneficial fiber, these bad boys are known to stabilize estrogen production. These nuggets could help with PMS or menopause symptoms. Hell, all we want is chocolate and sweets, anyway. Might as well hide it in a cookie? And a healthy cookie at that!
Likewise, this cookie has a fair amount of cinnamon. Cinnamon is a well known metabolism booster, among other jaw dropping things. Read all about it here along with a few other vitamins you may want to look into? 

Bake at 350º 12 minutes
yields 35-40 nuggets
Serving size: 2 nuggets

2 scoops of Vanilla Whey Protein
3 *Heaping Tbsp **Peanut Butter
2 ripe Bananas
2.5 cups of rolled Oats
1/2 bag of Dark Chocolate Chips (60% or darker)
1 tbsp Cinnamon
1 cup un-sweetened coconut flakes
2 tbsp Flax seeds

Optional Ingredients
Coco powder and/or raw nuts of your choice. 

Just mix all of the ingredients above. Blend really well. I use a mixer. Use a heaping tablespoon (or a cookie scooper) and dollop them onto a lined cookie sheet. Bake and serve. I keep them in the refrigerator to preserve freshness. They can get funky if you keep them sealed up on the counter too long. 

*Heaping Tablespoons are not level tablespoons. A heaping tablespoon will hold as much of the product as possible. (Which reminds me to jack up the calorie content by a few more calories... and PROTEIN! Holla!) I use an actual tablespoon (not the measure-y kind) for this recipe. Check out this image at Foodie Fresh for an idea.  My friend made these the other day and they came out crunchy and granola-like. Sure, they have a hard outer shell, but they are soft inside. I have a feeling that the crunchiness was  because of the heaping confusion, and that's my bad.

 In defense, her crunchier version was awesome and it made for some FANTASTIC granola! Especially if you were to add some nuts? I will store that information away. Thanks, Erica!

**If you want to cut way back on the sugar, use almond butter or whatever super-healthy-nut-butter you want. There's not much difference between the über healthy stuff and the regular stuff other than flavor. Not that I've noticed, at least. Sometimes it's best to use the stuff that tastes good. To each their own.