Tuesday, 26 March 2013

285 DAYS of my 365 days of transformation: Women need to know this stuff!

Women need to know this stuff! 


My body type is:  (boobs, no hips, thick in the middle)

What is Progesterone?Progesterone is a steroid hormone involved in the female menstrual cycle, pregnancy, and human fetal development. Progesterone is a precursor of other hormones such as cortisol and androstenedione. Androstenedione can subsequently be converted to testosterone and the estrogens estrone and estradiol. Progesterone is produced in the adrenal glands, the ovaries, the brain, and—during pregnancy—in the placenta. Progesterone levels are low in children, men, and peri and postmenopausal women.

Progesterone has a number of physiological effects, usually to counteract the effects caused by estrogen. The effects and benefits of progesterone include:

  • Increases breakdown of fat
  • Protects against endometrial cancer
  • It is a natural diuretic
  • It is a natural anti-depressant
  • It exerts a calming, anti-anxiety effect
  • Increases libido (sex drive)
  • Helps prevent osteoporosis (when combined with estrogen)
  • Decreases PMS Symptoms
  • Decreases carbohydrate cravings

Progesterone plays an important role in brain function and is often called the "feel good hormone" because of its mood enhancing and antidepressant effects. Optimum levels of progesterone can promote feelings of calm and well being, while low levels of progesterone can induce feelings of anxiety, irritability and even anger.

Progesterone Benefits in more detail:
1) Effects on bone metabolism: Progesterone influences or regulates certain proteins in bone-forming cells. This assists in bone formation. In addition, Progesterone binds to certain hormone receptors, thereby helping prevent bone loss caused by naturally-occurring steroid hormones.

2) Effects on breast cancer: Progesterone reduces breast cancer risk by inducing cell death in T47-D cancer cells. In addition, Progesterone increases production of the protective P53 enzyme.

3) Effects on the Brain: Progesterone is synthesized by Schwann cells, the cells that form the protective myelin coating around many nerve fibers. This enhances myelin formation in peripheral nerves and repair of the myelin sheath around the nerves in the brain. Furthermore, Progesterone affects expression of several brain proteins. These factors have implications for maintenance of nerve function in menopause and aging, and protection against neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s. The use of progesterone is also being heavily investigated for use in Multiple Sclerosis, because of its benefits on myelin formation and nerve protection.

4) Effects on the Cardiovascular System: Progesterone protects against atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) by preventing multiplication and migration of smooth muscle cells, which are involved in arterial plaque formation. Progesterone also reduces platelet aggregation (a key component of blood clots and cause of heart attacks and stroke) through the effects of nitric oxide, a naturally-occurring chemical that causes relaxation of the smooth muscle lining of the blood vessels.

Progesterone Replacement Therapy:
While all progesterones are considered progestins, not all progestins are progesterones. There is only one real progesterone; it is produced by the human body or in a laboratory from plant hormones. Synthetic progestins are not human progesterone, and they cannot be substituted for many of the favorable actions of endogenous or bio-identical progesterone. For example, synthetic progestins (Provera®, norethindrone) bind to the natural Progesterone receptor sites and inhibit the action of natural Progesterone. In addition, unlike natural Progesterone, synthetic progestins do not produce the protective P53 gene, thereby preventing production of endogenous Progesterone. Furthermore, proliferation of breast epithelial cells (increasing the risk of cancer) is greater when synthetic progestins are combined with estrogen, when compared either to estrogen alone or no hormone replacement at all.

The best method to increase progesterone levels is through bio-identical progesterone replacement. But progesterone is poorly absorbed by oral ingestion unless micronized and mixed in oil or with fatty foods; it does not dissolve in water. “Micronized” means that it is milled to a very small particle size to allow the progesterone to pass into cells and distribute throughout the body. Progesterone, and other bio-identical hormones, also can be custom formulated into creams, gels, lotions, tablets, liquids, suppositories, sublingual (under the tongue) tablets, and troches (medication on a stick that dissolves in the mouth).

Many "natural progesterone" products are heavily marketed to consumers, often said to contain extract of yams, with extensive claims and without need of prescription. Many contain fillers and unknown products. If they actually do contain any real progesterone, they are not likely to have U.S.P. quality, and the strength is always of considerable lower value than that which is available from products available from compounding pharmacies. In other words, don’t waste your money!

For menstruating women, progesterone is typically administered in cycles, most commonly on days 14-21 or 14-25 of the menstrual cycle. Post-menopausal women, or women who have had total hysterectomies may receive continuous daily progesterone, since there is not need for withdrawal bleeding.

Bio-Identical Hormones and Compounding PharmaciesMost commonly, bio-identical hormones are obtained by physician prescription from a “compounding pharmacy”. These are special pharmacies that can create unique or special-order medications, using U.S.P. certified and standardized medical grade ingredients. (“USP” stands for U.S. Pharmacopeia, and is your assurance of quality and standardization.) Typical chain-store pharmacies, such as CVS, Walgreen’s, Brooks, WalMart, etc., are dispensing pharmacies. They simple dispense commercial medications. They do not have the capability to compound or custom-formulate medications.

One of the benefits of custom compounding is the ability to combine multiple hormones in one cream or product, making application much more convenient. However, some physicians choose to use individual products initially until a final optimum dose of each supplement is determined. Then a combined product may be used.

SUGAR...... are you hooked?

New research links sugar and addictive behaviors. Are you hooked? Take the Oxygen Mag quiz to find out!!

The term “sugar high” may be more accurate than we thought; shocking new research has linked sugar with addictive behaviors. 

Are you addicted to sugar? Answer the following yes or no questions:

1. When you get stressed or bored, do you find yourself reaching for something sweet?

2. Once you’ve had one serving of sugar, do you find it difficult to stop yourself from indulging in a second?

3. Can certain smells—like freshly baked cookies—evoke a sugar craving?

4. Have memories or spaces—your grandmother’s kitchen, for example—ever triggered a sugar craving?

5. When you get a sugar craving, do you get anxious or find it difficult to concentrate?

6. Do you get less than 6 hours of sleep per night?

7. Do you tend to wait until you’re starving before eating a meal?

8. Do you start thinking about a second helping of a sweet treat before you’ve even finished the first?

9. Over time, does it take more and more of the same treat to satisfy your sugar craving?

If you answered yes to three or more of the following questions, you may be addicted to sugar. But don’t despair!

Oxygenmag has us covered! Find out more about sugar addiction here:http://www.oxygenmag.com/Nutrition/Articles/Sugar-High-Linking-Sugar-and-Addictive-Behavior-.aspx

THE MAJOR FACTOR causing obesity and chronic disease.

Dr. Mercola's Comments:

Is sugar a sweet old friend that is secretly plotting your demise?
There is a vast sea of research suggesting that it is. Science has now shown us, beyond any shadow of a doubt, that sugar in your food, in all its myriad of forms, is taking a devastating toll on your health.
The single largest source of calories for Americans comes from sugar—specifically high fructose corn syrup. Just take a look at the sugar consumption trends of the past 300 years:1
  • In 1700, the average person consumed about 4 pounds of sugar per year.
  • In 1800, the average person consumed about 18 pounds of sugar per year.
  • In 1900, individual consumption had risen to 90 pounds of sugar per year.
  • In 2009, more than 50 percent of all Americans consume one-half pound of sugar PER DAY—translating to a whopping 180 pounds of sugar per year!
Sugar is loaded into your soft drinks, fruit juices, sports drinks, and hidden in almost all processed foods—from bologna to pretzels to Worcestershire sauce to cheese spread. And now most infant formula has the sugar equivalent of one can of Coca-Cola, so babies are being metabolically poisoned from day one if taking formula.
No wonder there is an obesity epidemic in this country.
Today, 32 percent of Americans are obese and an additional one-third are overweight. Compare that to 1890, when a survey of white males in their fifties revealed an obesity rate of just 3.4 percent. In 1975, the obesity rate in America had reached 15 percent, and since then it has doubled.
Carrying excess weight increases your risk for deadly conditions such as heart disease, kidney disease and diabetes.
In 1893, there were fewer than three cases of diabetes per 100,000 people in the United States. Today, diabetes strikes almost 8,000 out of every 100,000 people.1
You don't have to be a physician or a scientist to notice America's expanding waistline. All you have to do is stroll through a shopping mall or a schoolyard, or perhaps glance in the mirror.

Sugars 101 -- Basics of How to Avoid Confusion on this Important Topic

It is easy to become confused by the various sugars and sweeteners. So here is a basic overview:
  • Dextrose, fructose and glucose are all monosaccharides, known as simple sugars. The primary difference between them is how your body metabolizes them. Glucose and dextrose are essentially the same sugar. However, food manufacturers usually use the term "dextrose" in their ingredient list.
  • The simple sugars can combine to form more complex sugars, like the disaccharide sucrose (table sugar), which is half glucose and half fructose.
  • High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is 55 percent fructose and 45 percent glucose.
  • Ethanol (drinking alcohol) is not a sugar, although beer and wine contain residual sugars and starches, in addition to alcohol.
  • Sugar alcohols like xylitol, glycerol, sorbitol, maltitol, mannitol, and erythritol are neither sugars nor alcohols but are becoming increasingly popular as sweeteners. They are incompletely absorbed from your small intestine, for the most part, so they provide fewer calories than sugar but often cause problems with bloating, diarrhea and flatulence.
  • Sucralose (Splenda) is NOT a sugar, despite its sugar-like name and deceptive marketing slogan, "made from sugar." It's a chlorinated artificial sweetener in line with aspartame and saccharin, with detrimental health effects to match.
  • Agave syrup, falsely advertised as "natural," is typically HIGHLY processed and is usually 80 percent fructose. The end product does not even remotely resemble the original agave plant.
  • Honey is about 53 percent fructose2, but is completely natural in its raw form and has many health benefits when used in moderation, including as many antioxidants as spinach.
  • Stevia is a highly sweet herb derived from the leaf of the South American stevia plant, which is completely safe (in its natural form). Lo han (or luohanguo) is another natural sweetener, but derived from a fruit.

All Sugars are Not Equal

Glucose is the form of energy you were designed to run on. Every cell in your body, every bacterium—and in fact, every living thing on the Earth—uses glucose for energy.
But as a country, sucrose is no longer the sugar of choice. It's now fructose.
If your diet was like that of people a century ago, you'd consume about 15 grams per day—a far cry from the 73 grams per day the typical person gets from sweetened drinks. In vegetables and fruits, it's mixed in with vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and beneficial phytonutrients, all which moderate the negative metabolic effects. Amazingly, 25 percent of people actually consume more than 130 grams of fructose per day.
Making matters worse, all of the fiber has been removed from processed foods, so there is essentially no nutritive value at all. And the very products most people rely on to lose weight—the low-fat diet foods—are often the ones highest in fructose.
It isn't that fructose itself is bad—it is the MASSIVE DOSES you're exposed to that make it dangerous.
There are two overall reasons fructose is so damaging:
  1. Your body metabolizes fructose in a much different way than glucose. The entire burden of metabolizing fructose falls on your liver.
  2. People are consuming fructose in enormous quantities, which has made the negative effects much more profound.
The explosion of soda consumption is the major cause of this.
Today, 55 percent of sweeteners used in food and beverage manufacturing are made from corn, and the number one source of calories in America is soda, in the form of high fructose corn syrup.
Food and beverage manufacturers began switching their sweeteners from sucrose to corn syrup in the 1970s when they discovered that HFCS was not only far cheaper to make, it's about 20 percent sweeter than conventional table sugar that has sucrose.
HFCS contains the same two sugars as sucrose but is more metabolically risky to you, due to its chemical form.
The fructose and the glucose are not bound together in HFCS, as they are in table sugar, so your body doesn't have to break it down. Therefore, the fructose is absorbed immediately, going straight to your liver.

Too Much Fructose Creates a Metabolic Disaster in Your Body

Dr. Robert Lustig, Professor of Pediatrics in the Division of Endocrinology at the University of California, San Francisco, has been a pioneer in decoding sugar metabolism. His work has highlighted some major differences in how different sugars are broken down and used by the human body.
I highly recommend watching Lustig's lecture in its entirety if you want to learn how fructose is ruining your health biochemically.
As I mentioned earlier, after eating fructose, most of the metabolic burden rests on your liver. This is NOT the case with glucose, of which your liver breaks down only 20 percent. Nearly every cell in your body utilizes glucose, so it's normally "burned up" immediately after consumption.
So where does all of this fructose go, once you consume it?
Onto your thighs. It is turned into FAT (VLDL and triglycerides), which means more fat deposits throughout your body.

Eating Fructose is Far Worse than Eating Fat

However, the physiological problems of fructose metabolism extend well beyond a couple of pant sizes:
  • Fructose elevates uric acid, which decreases nitric oxide, raises angiotensin, and causes your smooth muscle cells to contract, thereby raising your blood pressure and potentially damaging your kidneys.1

    Increased uric acid also leads to chronic, low-level inflammation, which has far-reaching consequences for your health. For example, chronically inflamed blood vessels lead to heart attacks and strokes; also, a good deal of evidence exists that some cancers are caused by chronic inflammation. (See the next section for more about uric acid.)
  • Fructose tricks your body into gaining weight by fooling your metabolism—it turns off your body's appetite-control system. Fructose does not appropriately stimulate insulin, which in turn does not suppress ghrelin (the "hunger hormone") and doesn't stimulate leptin (the "satiety hormone"), which together result in your eating more and developing insulin resistance.2
  • Fructose rapidly leads to weight gain and abdominal obesity ("beer belly"), decreased HDL, increased LDL, elevated triglycerides, elevated blood sugar, and high blood pressure—i.e., classic metabolic syndrome.
  • Fructose metabolism is very similar to ethanol metabolism, which has a multitude of toxic effects, including NAFLD (non-alcoholic fatty liver disease). It's alcohol without the buzz.
These changes are not seen when humans or animals eat starch (or glucose), suggesting that fructose is a "bad carbohydrate" when consumed in excess of 25 grams per day. It is probably the one factor responsible for the partial success of many "low-carb" diets.
One of the more recent findings that surprised researchers is that glucose actually accelerates fructose absorption, making the potential health risks from HFCS even more profound.1
You can now see why fructose is the number one contributing factor to the current obesity epidemic.

Is Uric Acid the New Cholesterol?

By now you are probably aware of the childhood obesity epidemic in America—but did you know about childhood hypertension?
Until recently, children were rarely diagnosed with high blood pressure, and when they were, it was usually due to a tumor or a vascular kidney disease.
In 2004, a study showed hypertension among children is four times higher than predicted: 4.5 percent of American children have high blood pressure. Among overweight children, the rate is 10 percent. It is thought that obesity is to blame for about 50 percent of hypertension cases in adolescents today.
Even more startling is that 90 percent of adolescents who have high blood pressure have elevated uric acid levels.
This has led researchers to ask, what does uric acid have to do with obesity and high blood pressure?
In his book, The Sugar Fix: The High-Fructose Fallout That is Making You Fat and Sick, Dr. Robert J. Johnson makes a compelling argument for a previously unrecognized connection between excess sugar consumption and high uric acid levels. However, he promotes artificial sweeteners as an alternative to sugar and makes other recommendations that I don't agree with.

Dr. Johnson is a conventional physician who has not accepted large parts of natural medicine, however, he is one of the leading researchers defining the extent of fructose toxicity. He has spent many years of his life dedicating himself to uncover this mystery.
There are more than 3,500 articles to date showing a strong relationship between uric acid and obesity, heart disease, hypertension, stroke, kidney disease, and other conditions. In fact, a number of studies have confirmed that people with elevated serum uric acid are at risk for high blood pressure, even if they otherwise appear to be perfectly healthy.
Uric acid levels among Americans have risen significantly since the early half of the 20th Century. In the 1920s, average uric acid levels were about 3.5 ml/dl. By 1980, average uric acid levels had climbed into the range of 6.0 to 6.5 ml/dl and are probably much higher now.

How Does Your Body Produce Uric Acid?

It's a byproduct of cellular breakdown. As cells die off, DNA and RNA degrade into chemicals called purines. Purines are further broken down into uric acid.
Fructose increases uric acid through a complex process that causes cells to burn up their ATP rapidly, leading to "cell shock" and increased cell death. After eating excessive amounts of fructose, cells become starved of energy and enter a state of shock, just as if they have lost their blood supply. Massive cellular die-off leads to increased uric acid levels.
And cells that are depleted of energy become inflamed and more susceptible to damage from oxidative stress. Fat cells actually become "sickly," bloating up with excessive amounts of fat.
There is a simple, inexpensive blood test for determining your uric acid level, which I recommend you have done as part of your routine health checkups. Your level should be between 3.0 and 5.5 mg/dl, optimally.
There is little doubt in my mind that your uric acid level is a more potent predictor of cardiovascular and overall health than your total cholesterol level is. Yet virtually no one is screening for this.
Now that you know the truth you don't have to be left out in the cold, as this is a simple and relatively inexpensive test that you can get at any doctor's office. Odds are very good your doctor is clueless about the significance of elevated uric acid levels, so it will not likely be productive to engage in a discussion with him unless he is truly an open-minded truth seeker.
Merely get your uric acid level, and if it is over 5 then eliminate as much fructose as you can (also eliminate all beer), and retest your level in a few weeks.

Sugar Sensitization Makes the Problem Even WORSE!

There is yet another problem with sugar—a self-perpetuating one.
According to Dr. Johnson1, sugar activates its own pathways in your body—those metabolic pathways become "upregulated." In other words, the more sugar you eat, the more effective your body is in absorbing it; and the more you absorb, the more damage you'll do.
You become "sensitized" to sugar as time goes by, and more sensitive to its toxic effects as well.
The flip side is, when people are given even a brief sugar holiday, sugar sensitization rapidly decreases and those metabolic pathways become "downregulated." Research tells us that even two weeks without consuming sugar will cause your body to be less reactive to it.
Try it for yourself! Take a two-week sugar sabbatical and see how different you feel.

Are Fruits Good or Bad for You?

Keep in mind that fruits also contain fructose, although an ameliorating factor is that whole fruits also contain vitamins and other antioxidants that reduce the hazardous effects of fructose.
Juices, on the other hand, are nearly as detrimental as soda, because a glass of juice is loaded with fructose, and a lot of the antioxidants are lost.
It is important to remember that fructose alone isn't evil as fruits are certainly beneficial. But when you consume high levels of fructose it will absolutely devastate your biochemistry and physiology. Remember the AVERAGE fructose dose is 70 grams per day which exceeds the recommend limit by 300 percent.
So please BE CAREFUL with your fruit consumption. You simply MUST understand that because HFCS is so darn cheap, it is added to virtually every processed food. Even if you consumed no soda or fruit, it is very easy to exceed 25 grams of hidden fructose in your diet.
If you are a raw food advocate, have a pristine diet, and exercise very well, then you could be the exception that could exceed this limit and stay healthy.

Dr. Johnson has a handy chart, included below, which you can use to estimate how much fructose you're getting in your diet. Remember, you are also likely getting additional fructose if you consume any packaged foods at all, since it is hidden in nearly all of them.
FruitServing SizeGrams of Fructose
Limes1 medium0
Lemons1 medium0.6
Cranberries1 cup0.7
Passion fruit1 medium0.9
Prune1 medium1.2
Apricot1 medium1.3
Guava2 medium2.2
Date (Deglet Noor style)1 medium2.6
Cantaloupe1/8 of med. melon2.8
Raspberries1 cup3.0
Clementine1 medium3.4
Kiwifruit1 medium3.4
Blackberries1 cup3.5
Star fruit1 medium3.6
Cherries, sweet103.8
Strawberries1 cup3.8
Cherries, sour1 cup4.0
Pineapple1 slice
(3.5" x .75")
Grapefruit, pink or red1/2 medium4.3
FruitServing SizeGrams of Fructose
Boysenberries1 cup4.6
Tangerine/mandarin orange1 medium4.8
Nectarine1 medium5.4
Peach1 medium5.9
Orange (navel)1 medium6.1
Papaya1/2 medium6.3
Honeydew1/8 of med. melon6.7
Banana1 medium7.1
Blueberries1 cup7.4
Date (Medjool)1 medium7.7
Apple (composite)1 medium9.5
Persimmon1 medium10.6
Watermelon1/16 med. melon11.3
Pear1 medium11.8
Raisins1/4 cup12.3


Baked Tandoori Salmon Skewers

With these aromatic salmon skewers, there’s no need to marinate for hours to get that authentic South Asian flavor. Zucchini tossed with cumin and mint adds a light touch to round out this meal.

Serves: 4

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice, divided
4 tsp olive oil, divided
1 tbsp tandoori seasoning (TIP: Look for all-natural brands, and check the ingredient list to ensure that it has no added coloring or salt.)
1 lb boneless, skinless center-cut salmon fillets, cut into 1-oz cubes
2 zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch chunks
1/2 tsp ground cumin
Sea salt and fresh ground black pepper,
to taste
3 tbsp roughly chopped fresh mint leaves
1/2 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt

4 wooden skewers, soaked for 5 minutes

Preheat oven to 425˚F. In a large bowl, combine 2 tbsp lemon juice, 2 tsp oil and tandoori seasoning. Add salmon and toss to coat. Thread four pieces salmon onto each skewer and transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake skewers for about 8 minutes, until fish flakes easily with a fork.

Meanwhile, in a large nonstick skillet on medium-high, heat remaining 2 tsp oil. Add zucchini and cook, stirring frequently, for 3 to 4 minutes, until softened. Stir in cumin and continue to cook for about 2 more minutes. Add remaining 2 tbsp lemon juice and season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat and stir in mint. Divide salmon and zucchini among serving plates and serve with yogurt for dipping.

Nutrients per serving
(1 salmon skewer, 3/4 cup zucchini, 2 tbsp yogurt):

Calories: 241
Total Fat: 12g
Carbs: 6g
Sugars: 3g
Protein: 26g

Guacamole Chicken Egg Lettuce Wraps

Serves 1-2
Ingredients: onion, garlic, broccoli, bell pepper, kale, lettuce, chicken, eggs,  olive oil, hotsauce rosemary, salt, and pepper

First, sauté in a small skillet on medium low with a mixture or ghee/butter and olive oil:
• 1/4 cup chopped onion
Cook for 5-10 minutes stirring occasionally

• 1/2 cup chopped broccoli
• 1/4 cup chopped red bell pepper
Cover and cook for 5 minutes
• 1/8 cup finely chopped kale
•1/2 cup cooked chicken
• 1-2 tsp hotsauce {depending on how spicy you like your food}
• 1/2 Tbsp finey chopped rosemary
salt and pepper to taste
Stir and cook covered for a few minutes till chicken is warmed
Then add:
• 2 eggs
Scramble until the eggs are cooked through
Then top onto lettuce and dollop with homemade garlicky guacamole.  AND voila! A deliciously satisfying nutritious breakfast, lunch, or dinner {or even midday snack}.

Paleo Bread


makes 1 loaf

  • 1 1/2 cups blanched almond flour
  • 2 tablespoons coconut flour
  • 1/4 cup golden flaxseed meal
  • 1/4 teaspoon celtic sea salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 5 eggs
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar


1. Place almond flour, coconut flour, flax, salt and baking soda in a food processor and pulse the ingredients together.
2. Add in eggs, oil, honey and vinegar and pulse.
3. Pour batter into a greased 7.5" x 3.5" non-stick loaf pan (or line with parchment paper.)
4. Bake at 350° F for about 40 minutes.
5. Cool and serve.
Recipe from Elana's Pantry.

Yes, nutritious. In fact, even though I am maintaining a grain-free diet these days it’s still possible to eat fluffy, yummy pancakes – it just requires a little creativity.
Yes, sugar-free. If you want to sweeten these fluffy cakes a little more you can add a few large scoops of baked pumpkin, squash or sweet potato to the batter and blend in the food processor (see instructions below). Add 2 tsp of pumpkin pie spice and you’ve got Fall on your plate!

Try out these Almond Protein Pancakes care of Coach Rita Catolino (with a few tweaks by me) & let me know what you think.
4 whole eggs
1.5 c almond flour (J.K or Bob’s Red Mill)
1/2 c banana powder (Mum’s)
2 scoops protein powder of your choosing (use the scoop measure given in your powder)
2 tsp cinnamon
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
Dash of sea salt
2 Tbsp coconut oil (for griddle/pan)
*1 pint blueberries
*2-4 large scoops of baked Pumpkin, Butternut Squash, or Sweet Potato
*2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1. *Bake pumpkin, squash or sweet potato in 475 degree oven until soft (30minutes – 1 hour)
2. *In a sauce pan add blueberries and a dash of water. Cook the blueberries over medium heat until the burst. Then stir until they are syrupy. Set aside.
2. Preheat your griddle or pan with coconut oil.
3. Combine all ingredients until smooth, but not over-blended.
4. You may need to add a dash more milk or flour based on the consistency.
5. Use a 1/4 c measuring cup to measure out each cake on the griddle or pan.
6. Flip when you see bubbles forming around the edges of the cake. Cook for 2 more minutes.
7. *Top with blueberry syrup.
Serves: ~12

Put zucchini on a baking sheet (non stick pam sprayed) season salt and pepper . I’d use mrs dash if eating
Bake 5 mins 425 each side turn oven down to
Mix parmesan cheese into the cottage cheese
Layer a sauce layer
Layer a zucchini layer
Layer a cheese layer
We put cheddar on the top for the kids. You can use a healthier alternative or just put a little mozzarella.
Bake for one hour at 375 covered. Take Foil off 5 – 10 mins before the end to brown off the top.
Copycat Peanut Butter Eggs
(Makes 6-9 eggs)
Click for: Step-by-Step Photos.
  • 1/4 cup pb (or any nut butter)
  • dash salt (I also use salted pb)
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar or Sugar-Free Powdered Sugar
  • 2 tbsp. cocoa powder
  • 2 tbsp. virgin coconut oil (see below, for substitution notes)
  • Liquid stevia to taste, or 2 tbsp. agave or pure maple syrup
  • 2 more tbsp. of the sugar/sf sugar, if needed
Mix the first three ingredients together in a bowl until it becomes a crumbly dough. (Note: if your nut butter is from the fridge, let it sit awhile—or microwave it—so it’s easier to mix. Also, I put the dough into a plastic bag to shape into a ball with less mess.) Add the extra 2 tbsp. sugar/sf sugar if it’s too gooey, and add a little more pb if it’s too dry. (Different brands of peanut butter will yield different results.) Taste the dough and add a little more salt if desired. Form dough into flat little ovals (or egg shapes, but real Reeses eggs are flat). Freeze the dough for an hour or so, until it’s hard.
Meanwhile, mix the cocoa and coconut oil (melt the oil if it’s not already melted) in a shallow dish. Add the agave/maple or stevia drops. If you use the stevia option, also add a scant 2 tbsp. water or extra oil. Mix until it looks like chocolate sauce, and then take one “egg” out of the freezer at a time (so the rest stay cold) and cover in chocolate. (I used a corn-cob skewer. No idea why I even have those, but they worked really well! A fork would also be fine.) Immediately return covered egg to the freezer and let harden. Best to store these in the freezer as well. You can thaw a little before eating, or eat when frozen–either way, they’re awesome!
View Nutrition Info
Substitution notes: If you don’t have virgin coconut oil, or if you want “eggs” that don’t need to be stored in the freezer, you can melt chocolate chips and dip the pb eggs in that instead. As mentioned above, you could also opt to simply freeze a blob of nut butter until it’s shapeable, shape it into eggs, and dip in chocolate. Or, if you have egg-shaped molds, just pour in a little chocolate, then the pb, then more chocolate. Freeze.
peanut butter eggs

Sunday, 24 March 2013

283 DAYS of my 365 days of transformation - Women and our Hormones

Life these days is all about TRAINING, practice posing, food prep, eat clean, work... oh yes   I do get to play a little hang out with family and friends.  

I am learning so much on this fitness journey about courage, energy, determination, stamina, strength, tenacity, food, genetics, human nature and friendships. 

I am like a sponge trying to LEARN and figure out how all of these things effect me, my body and my surroundings.   

I hope you continue to follow me on this journey and just to let you know..... I am HAVING A BLAST!    p.s.  it is NOT easy!  "just sayin"

Yesterday I visited with my nutritionist Hari Ghuman, (Registered Nutritionist
Biosignature practitioner L1, L2 PICP Level 1 Strength Coach) and he explained a few things to me about estrogen, cortisol or insulin.    I found this amazing article that explains the effect of the female hormones and weight loss. Please read below.

Female Hormones and Weight Loss


A quick glance at a male versus female body tells you right away something is different. While we can certainly recognize the obvious, we ignore these differences when we talk about diet and exercise for fat loss. The standard health and fitness advice of eat less and exercise more often does not work once people get out of their twenties and into their thirties, forties and beyond and women are especially impacted.
So what is the difference between men and women, what determines where women store fat, and what can women do to address the fitness and fat loss issues that are unique to them?
The differences between men and women:
Women usually have smaller waists and more fat storage on the hips, thighs and breasts. Estrogen and progesterone have much to do with this. Estrogen is largely responsible for greater fat storage around the hips and thighs while both estrogen and progesterone impact larger breasts. Men, on the other hand, are usually much leaner through the arms and the legs and store more fat around the middle as a consequence of testosterone.
Because women experience monthly hormone fluctuations through the menstrual cycle, they know from experience that hormones impact how they feel, function, and look. They seem to intuitively get the fact that hormones play a role in determining whether they store fat or burn fat and where on the body it is lost or gained. To understand why women are so different you have to understand their hormones.
Brief review of the menstrual cycle.
No discussion of female fat loss can take place without understanding the normal female menstrual cycle. The first day of bleeding for a woman represents day one of the menstrual cycle. The menstrual cycle can then be divided into two phases, the follicular phase (named for the maturing of the ovarian follicle) and the luteal phase (named for the corpeus luteum which ovarian follicles become after ovulation). Ovulation, the release of an egg from the ovaries separates these two parts of the cycle.
The follicular phase is associated with higher estrogen levels compared to progesterone while the luteal phase is the reverse. The relative ratios of these two hormones can have an impact on female related fat loss and health.
Estrogen and progesterone balance
A key fat loss measure in women is the estrogen and progesterone balance and how those hormones interact with other hormones like cortisol or insulin. Just as looking at the girth of a man’s belly can tell you a little about his testosterone levels, bigger hips and thighs on a women suggest greater estrogen levels relative to progesterone. The reverse of that, larger breasts and smaller hips and thighs, MAY indicate the opposite balance of these hormones.
The menstrual cycle is another key indicator of hormone balance. Since the time just before menses is usually a progesterone dominant time, PMS is a strong indication there is a progesterone deficiency relative to estrogen. Don’t get confused here, a relative deficiency is not the same as an absolute deficiency. A woman can have higher than normal progesterone levels but still have a relative deficiency if estrogen levels are much higher in comparison. Many women with low progesterone relative to estrogen will report feeling like a completely different person before ovulation (the first two weeks of cycle) vs. after ovulation (last two weeks of cycle), where they feel much worse. This ill feeling usually manifests as depression, breast tenderness, moodiness, fatigue, lack of motivation, bloating and other complaints.
Female fat distributions
Progesterone & estrogen both play a in keeping the waist of women smaller. This is because estrogen works against the action of insulin while both estrogen and progesterone oppose the action of cortisol.  insulin and cortisol together are implicated in belly fat deposition. Estrogen is the biggest factor in increasing fat storage at the hips and thighs providing the hour-glass shape. Progesterone with estrogen halts the storage of fat around the waist, but stress can have more of a negative impact on progesterone’s action. High stress has been shown to negatively impact progesterone, so a women who sees fat accumulating around the waist may want to work to reduce stress and raise progesterone.
Interestingly, progesterone can be used to make cortisol in the adrenal glands. Many holistic physicians, including ourselves, believe progesterone derived from the ovaries can be used to increase cortisol production when needed. This is called “progesterone steal” and it is used to describe a situation where the adrenal glands “steal” or “use up” progesterone to make the stress hormone cortisol. This likely only becomes an issue at menopause. At the same time, just as progesterone interrupts the action of cortisol, cortisol does the same thing to progesterone making stress especially insidious for women.
Estrogen is a little different. Estrogen works to increase fat storage by up-regulating what is known as alpha-adrenergic receptors in female fat depots around the hips and thighs. Adrenergic receptors are like the gas and brake peddles on your car and work to accelerate or decrease fat usage. Beta-adrenergic receptors increase fat burning while alpha adrenergic receptors block it. The hips and thighs of a woman have higher amounts of alpha adrenergic receptors compared to men. This is also the major reason it is so difficult for some women to lose fat from the hips and thighs.
It is interesting to note here that one of the best ways to decrease the action of these alpha receptors is by using a low carb diet. This is why many women find fantastic results when they switch from the standard high carb diets and adopt more low carb eating patterns.
Many women have plenty of fat to spare in the hips and thighs but instead of burning it, they will become smaller in the torso and breast first and remain bigger on the bottom. This is a very frustrating scenario for many. Estrogen increases alpha-adrenergic receptor numbers while progesterone decreases it. Progesterone, like testosterone in men MAY increase beta-adrenergic receptors. In this way, estrogen and progesterone work to influence the ability to burn fat and determine from which areas it will be taken from. This is an issue of hormone balance not calories.
Women should not make the mistake of assuming estrogen is all bad. Too high is not good, but neither is too low. Estrogen helps the body be more sensitive to insulin and has fat-loss and muscle building benefits in that regard. As long as it is in balance with progesterone and other hormones it aids fat loss for women
Female hormone changes: age, lifestyle, and the environment
Women are often duped into believing the low calorie diet and aerobic exercise myth. This approach to weight loss rarely works and often creates damage to their body as a consequence. As a woman ages, as a consequence of stress, or because of environmental estrogen mimicking compounds several things begin to occur. The ovaries decrease their production of estrogen and progesterone. This exacerbates estrogen and progesterone balance, further pushing the body more towards estrogen dominance.
There are also many estrogen mimickers in our food and environment. At the same time, fat cells continue to produce estrogen through an enzyme called aromatase present in fat cells. This also leads the estrogen/progesterone balance to shift more towards estrogen. At the same time slimming and muscle building hormones, like human growth hormone (HGH) and DHEA, decline. Together this creates the perfect storm for female related fat gain and most of it occurs in the mid-section.
DHEA, HGH and progesterone are all hormones that act to keep a woman lean and block the storage of fat in the middle of her body. The tricky part is that a low calorie diet and a focus on aerobic exercise makes this worse because they do nothing to restore these powerful hormones and may actually worsen the estrogen progesterone imbalance in the long run.
Fixing the problem:
Women should be focused on eating more, of the right things, and exercising smarter. This means eating higher amounts of vegetables and “estrogen free protein” (a soy free and organic meat focused approach) as well as engaging in weight training over cardio. There are only three ways to reliably restore HGH in the body: sleep, adequate protein, and intense exercise using weights.
Weight training is perhaps the most important aspect of this and is critical for female health especially to stop the belly fat that accumulates during aging. HGH is to women what testosterone is to men, it keeps them looking young, lean and firm. Once progesterone levels fall due to stress, menopause or other factors, HGH is all that is left to keep belly fat in check
Women falsely believe less intense exercise like walking and yoga will give them the desired “look” of their younger years. While these activities are exceedingly healthy they will not be adequate to generate the hormonal effect needed to raise HGH. However, they will work synergistically with more intense exercise to lower the negative impact of cortisol.
Training with the menstrual cycle:
Interestingly, the menstrual cycle may provide unique opportunities for women with exercise. Estrogen increases the amount of fat burned during exercise, but makes sugar burning less efficient. Progesterone opposes the action of estrogen. Since lower intensity exercise burns more relative amounts of fat and higher intensity is fueled more by sugar burning, women can cycle their training modalities to work with these fluctuations.
It is important to understand estrogen and progesterone action on fat burning is completely wiped out by the influence of stronger hormones like insulin. So, in order for a women to reap any benefits from this type of cycled training the insulin exposure will need to be low, probably less than 100g of starchy carbs daily
More long duration and slower type exercises (walking, biking, running, etc) may be of more benefit during the estrogen dominant follicular phase. Higher intensity shorter duration activities (sprint training, HIIT, etc) may be able to generate more of an EPOC after-burn effect during the progesterone dominated luteal phase. Weight training has benefits across the board in opposing the action of stress hormones and assuring plenty of HGH.
The female fat-loss formula involves the following:
1. Decrease exposure to all estrogen related factors in the diet and environment. Including plastic bottles, coffee, soy, pesticides, non-organic meats, sodas, etc.
2.Help the body deal with excess estrogen through natural detoxification. This is done through increased intake of green tea, cruciferous veggies (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, etc), increased fiber, tailored supplementation, and decreased dairy and grain (yes, these cause excess release of insulin and conventional milk products may add to the estrogen burden)
3. Decrease insulin and cortisol effects by decreasing most grains and starches and replace with fruits and vegetables. Drink water (not out of plastic) and green tea and skip coffee and other beverages.
4. Supplement with Vitamin D, calcium, and Fish Oil, yes to protect bones, but more importantly to decrease inflammation, protect against heart disease and cancer and balance female hormones
5. Train with weights 3 to 5 times per week. If you want to burn fat, decrease belly fat, build bone, improve mood, enhance strength, bolster self-esteem, tighten the body NOTHING compares to weight lifting exercise. Walking is necessity NOT exercise. Women should walk as much as they can daily.
6. Young menstruating women on low carb diets can use the unique attributes of the menstrual cycle to their advantage.
What is the difference between Figure and Bikini???  

There are distinct differences between the figure and bikini classifications in competitions. Understanding what the judges are looking for can help you to decide which one is right for you.
----- FIGURE -----

Classes – segregated by height and sometimes age

Posing – structured with mandatory poses for judging comparison (i.e. front pose, side pose, back pose at quarter turns)

Suit – 2-piece adorned bikini, high at hips, top straps attached to bottom criss-crossed in back

Physique - muscles should be toned but not showing muscle fibers like a bodybuilder, balanced on both sides, and proportioned throughout

Stage Presence – feminine grooming with confidence and poise on stage, moves with fluidity

Special note: Figure is suited for women who tend to carry more muscle. Figure is also ideal for more mature women due to less even distribution of body fat as we age.

----- BIKINI -----

Classes – segregated by height and sometimes age

Posing – unstructured with non-mandatory poses for judging comparison (i.e. hand on one hip model pose or hands on both hips)

Suit – 2-piece adorned bikini, can be mid at hips, top straps tie in back like a standard bikini, more flexibility in bikini style than figure

Physique - muscles should be toned but not showing, balanced on both sides, and proportioned throughout, tend to be smaller in stature than figure and a slightly higher body fat percentage creating a smoother overall appearance

Stage Presence – feminine grooming with confidence and poise on stage, moves with fluidity, personality more of a factor in bikini than figure

Special note: Bikini is the most unstructured of all the classes. Strong emphasis on a toned beach body look with no muscle separation. 

Chocolate Avocado Protein Pudding
What you need:
1 ripe avocado
1 scoop of chocolate protein powder
1/4 cup of water
1 tbsp vanilla
1 tbsp cocoa
1 tbsp crushed walnuts
Put avocado and all other ingredients into blender
Blend until a pudding consistency (make sure all avocado is blended – no chunks)
Serve in a small serving dish and sprinkle top with crushed walnuts

You can use a different flavor protein powder like vanilla or cookies & cream