Energize and Alkalize

by Liz Caskey on September 16, 2009

Fruits

Since we moved to our little interim apartment (just the office, a galley kitchen, “meeting” room, and bedroom), life has been crazy busy. Crazy busy as in we have so much work between our growing business, the cookbook we are writing/photographing, and birthing projects like our Eat Wine guide, that the days are 14-16 hours long with no weekends. I have accepted it is a phase. I know this is part of the plan to move to the next, bigger level.

However, all work and no play could be viewed as unbalanced. What has been literally saving me, in addition the fact I am blessed to be working on all of this with my husband/business partner, is that I have taken charge of my health, wellbeing, and body. I am working out more than ever and am full of energy. My diet is better than ever. I don’t get sick anymore, not even this winter when flu season descended. I feel in sync and, most days, in total flow. I also have learned to treat myself in this period to a weekly massage, acupuncture, or a big nap. How is it possible to do this with all the “stress” surrounding me? In a word: alkalizing. I truly belive I am able to stay at my peak performance primarily by respecting my body’s energy, its cycles, and incorporating habits that support more energy, primarily through the food I eat.

For this post, I feel really inspired to sift gears from the normal foodie focus that relies entirely on sensations in the palate like taste and texture. I want to talk a little about this journey into becoming aligned with food and my body, which has been a process of many years.  As much as I love flavors, I also love feeling my best. Waking up and wanting to rock the house every day and having the energy to support my natural drive is just so awesome.

These are some of the habits and practices that I have incorporated in my life that have made a huge difference. I hope that if you are open to it, these words will spur you in the right direction to give them a try. This is by no means exhaustive and I could dedicate an entire blog to this. In this discovery process of finding what works for me with food, eating and living healthy has really become another passion—which I think is totally compatible with being a wine lover and foodie, by the way. Enjoy the sampler.

1.     Drink Lots of Water

Our bodies are made up mostly of water. At birth, we are born at almost 78% water and by adulthood, those percentages are fixed around 60% for women and 55% by men. The percentage of water varies depending on your body fat. The more fat, the less water. Stop and really think about this. 

On a daily basis, you should be drinking half your body weight in ounces of water as a minimum. If you work out, drink caffeinated beverages, consume salty food, that number has to go up to compensate. Contrary to popular belief, drinking more water will NOT make you more bloated nor not screw up your electrolyte balance if you are eating a healthy diet.

Make sure your water is filtered and fresh. There are so many minerals, chlorine, and other gunk lurking in tap water, you have to clean it if you want the benefits.

Basically, the only beverages I drink at this point are: water (lots of it), natural herbal teas, hot lemon water (amazing detox), liquid chorophyll or green drinks, homemade almond milk for breakfast, and a glass of wine a couple times per week.  That’s it. My decaf espresso is treated like a reward and when I do indulge, I hydrate even more.

Get a 500 cc or 1 liter (16 ounce) Sports bottle and take it with you everywhere. That way you will make sipping water a habit and not wait until you are thirsty (already a sign of dehydration) to chug. Drink up!

 2.     Go Green, Eat Alkaline

This concept is relatively new to me and I will give credit to my acupuncturist for turning me on to this. I went to acupuncture about six months ago with signs of gall bladder attacks. Traditional medical exams and my internista didn’t find anything. I was sure there was something going on, call it an intuitive nudge. As we worked through the months, it became very apparent that I was channeling my stress and anxiety through my digestive system. It seemed if I got stressed or angry, my stomach would immediately distend to pregnant proportions. Not nice. I was also eating a lot of stuff that was not conducive to having a flat stomach and feeling good. I think deep down I knew that wheat, dairy, sugar, and coffee was doing a number on me but I was resistent to the change.

After sitting with it for a while, I decided the only way I was going to see the results I wanted was to change from within. It was really all in my head. So I did a one day fruit detox, which was very hard and totally sucked, but I did feel better. Feeling lighter and more neutral, I started taking liquid chorophyll every morning instead of coffee, swapping oatmeal for bread, and no more yogurt. If there is one “magical” pill that has revolutionized my body, adding “green” is hands down the answer. Chorophyll is basically plant blood and acts to detoxify and neutralize the pH in the body. In layman’s terms: taking out the garbage. Now, 2 months later, I never get bloated unless I eat something like say cabbage. Not even beans anymore!

This also coincided with me finally committing 100% to getting to a lean 18% body fat by my next birthday in late January. I knew something had to shift. I started studying the most ripped trainers and nutritionists like Mike Geary and JJ Virgin. What were they doing that I wasn’t? Eating (mostly) alkaline. I printed out the alkaline food chart and realized that even though my diet was “healthy”, it could improve by shifting the percentage of alkaline foods even higher to get to a 75-25 % ratio of alkaline forming to acid forming.

I started changing small daily habits that are having a huge impact on my energy levels and rate of body fat loss.  For example, I have been a die hard peanut butter junkie since age 2. I swapped to homemade raw almond butter. I love soy milk on my oatmeal, now I make my own almond milk and flavor it with natural vanilla bean and stevia. I deep-sixed my cheese addiction and started looking at cheese like it is chocolate. Olive oil is delicious in small quantities but this week, my new habit is integrating organic extra virgin coconut oil which is both alkaline AND melts fat off your abs. I swapped Splenda for stevia, a natural sweetener, and never looked back. I also cut back on non-veggie carbs at lunch and dinner and fill my plate with raw salad and green veggies. Of course I still eat chicken, beans, protein, grains, rice, lots of seafood, occassionally steak, maybe a little cheese but mostly, it is alive food. I mean after all, we are part of nature and we are alive. Shouldn’t we be eating those foods? Not dead or processed stuff!

This didn’t happen overnight. It takes some time and a really strong sense of understanding why you want to eat like this. For me, it is to feel amazing, yield all my potential in work and play, and yes, to have a nice body. When you feel great and look great, you are empowered. But everything, EVERYTHING, starts with one step. Then another. As Tony Robbins once said, “Do a little each day. We are the accumulation of our daily habits”. So I pick something each week and work on shifting it or adding something new to my diet that is alkaline and good for me.  Otherwise I never would have discovered how much I love radishes!

3.     Kick the Habits

You know what are the most addictive, legal, and scary substances out there? Caffeine, sugar, and nicotine. They are drugs. People brush them off as somehow “minor” than the other illegal stuff but they are no less powerful. I was once a caffeine slave, up until last December actually. The way I got down to low body fat in the gym in the past was downing energy pills like Ripped Fuel, chock full of crazy amounts of caffeine. By the time I met with my trainer, I was so wired of course I could do superwoman weight circuits and run sprints for 2 hours. Was I running on my own energy? Nope. Basically, legal speed.

I decided to go cold turkey from all caffeine. It was three days of hell; a withdrawal that felt like a truck had run me over. And then, a fog lifted. Hello world. Since then, I drink decaf coffee when I am overtaken by a craving for the taste. Last Sunday, dragging from working late on our cookbook, I drank ¼ cup high test coffee for breakfast. I could not sit still. Seriously, I thought I was going to have a heart attack. We become so desensitived to the “up” effects of caffeine until we kick it.

Sugar is also an addictive substance. The statistics are staggering how much sugar Americans eat (and I bet Chileans are right up there). Latest reports hint  somewhere in the range of 150 pounds per year. Eliminating this alone from your diet will control cravings and drop inches from your butt and waist. I fortunately do not have a sweet tooth and when it hits, the best way to get over it is with stevia, or a little Honey. I occcasionally will indulge in good dark chocolate, which I love. This is not a play-it-perfect strategy, but cutting the white stuff out, will make you feel so much more alert.

And well, smoking, do I have to go there? In Chile at least, they now put really disgustingly graphic photos on the cigarette boxes of people with oxygen machines, trachetomies, etc.

4.     Balance, balance

In getting my body back to balance, I also am SO enjoying my cheat meals during the week. I usually will do two cheat meals per week. This is not a binge event. I just normally eat what I feel like: sushi, pad thai, pasta, empanadas, pancakes with maple syrup, definitely wine, pizza, tacos, maybe a chocolate chip cookie or two. I don’t crave junk food anymore, mostly carbs of some sort.

The trick is not depriving yourself because your brain will automatically flip over and say, “Oh shit, I cannot have that, what kind of life is that?”.

You can have anything you want but it doesn’t have to be full on pigging out; and it most certainly doesn’t have to be every day. When you employ this strategy, let me tell you what happens. Your taste becomes sharper. Textures and flavors intensify. And things as simple as paté and baguette or a piece of really stinky cheese, for me at least, approach orgasmic taste sensations because I don’t eat them all the time. And I no longer feel the need to eat a lot of them. I have been freed!

5.     Move it

Eating well is 70-80% of the body fat loss equation and vitality game. However, if you are a coach potato, that’s not going to help you on the road to total health and hotness. You have to move it. My advice? Do what you enjoy. Don’t force yourself to go to the gym if you really hate, because every time you go, you will be in the mindset of despising it. Do you really think your body is going to react in a forced state? Hell no! If walking works for you, do it. If you are into golf, biking, yoga, hiking, whatever, just get out and do it. Hopefully at least a minimum of 3 and up to 6 days per week.

Right now in this work phase, I am fortunate to be one block from a super modern gym with classes, machines, weights, and an Olympic pool. I love weight circuits—they make me feel strong, energized, challenged, and like I just kick total butt. I also rediscovered the competitive sport of my youth, swimming. I am back in the pool and pushing myself like never before. It feels really effortless to get to the gym 5-6 times per week. I want to go. And whenever you want to do something and have a strong why, the results you are looking for are inevitable. 

6.     Visualize what you want

Harness your mind’s creative faculty. We all have it. Envision yourself as the perfect picture of health; or fitting into a smaller size; looking beautiful, whatever it is you want. The more specific, the better. One of my carrots is fitting into two pairs of designer skinny jeans that I bought a size too small by accident ordering online. I think it was a subtle, or not so subtle, message from the universe, since the size of those jeans corresponds to my body volume at 18% body fat. Rather than looking at the jeans and saying, “Drag, I cannot I use them”, I imagine myself in them this summer with my favorite 3-inch stilettos and a cute tank top. 

I also visualize myself consistently doing my work outs before I go to the gym. It makes it much easier to swim 1.5 miles straight in 40 minutes when you see yourself finishing it first and experiencing that satisfaction before you even step on the pool deck. Find whatever image works for you and run with it! Don’t be limited either. We are all so full of potential, if we are brave enough to step into it and use it.

That’s it, those are my tips. I would love to hear any more you guys have too!

{ 7 comments }

dave September 16, 2009 at 4:59 pm

Liz, find a place to do some Kettlebell and CrossFit training there in Santiago….you can get to see your “Six Pac” very quickly: http://dragondoor.com/

Good luck and still with the programs that work best for you!

omegaet September 18, 2009 at 2:45 am

Kettlebells rock!

Liz Caskey September 18, 2009 at 2:06 pm

So I am totally into this kettleball training but no gym here has a clue what it is (still caught in the 90s with training and think that Splenda is “good for you”). Can I just buy one on my next trip to the US and rip it on my own? Thoughts?

abdominal fitness November 27, 2009 at 12:08 am

It’s always good when trying to introduce new things to your diet or regime to begin slowly and gradually. This way there is more of a chance for it to stick and become habit forming rather than another fad that you just couldn’t keep up! After a while you will become accustomed to that type of diet and the bad foods you once craved will be a thing of the past and you will have hopefully formed new healthy habits that will last a lifetime.

Sherly Westermark January 28, 2010 at 8:28 am

This is a great post, Thanks!

stevia benefits April 19, 2010 at 9:57 am

Me and my cousin have been using sweetleaf for a while now after reading about it on this site and think its great! Now i can’t drink my hot chocolate without it! i love the fact that its sweetens any drink with no calories too

Personal Training Melbourne June 18, 2010 at 1:32 am

Great post with alot of useful information, will definately taking this information for my own diet!
Cheers,
Max

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