Supplements – Get Fit, Get Healthy Week 12

Written by Elena @The Art of Making a Baby. Posted in EVERYTHING ELSE, GET FIT, HEALTH


1. If you haven’t yet, join the challenge here: GET FIT and GET HEALTHY
2. Every Saturday come back to The Art of Making a Babyand ShutterMama to read the tips on how to be fitter, healthier and more confident.
3. Weekly write a post about your progress, following the questionnaire below, take a self-portrait (optional) and link up with us.
4. Don’t forget to grab the GET FIT challenge button on the sidebar and display it proudly on your blog or GET FIT post.
5. Link your post with
Selfie Saturdays if you took your week’s self-portrait.

Vitamin and Mineral Supplements.

In the course of my preparation for pregnancy, one of the topics I did extensive research on was vitamin and mineral supplements.

We all know the importance of taking daily vitamins, especially if our diet leaves something to be desired. Now supplementation it’s not as simple as pop a pill each morning if you want to do it right.

There’s vitamin toxicity to pay attention to, minerals mashing together in all the wrong ways and negating each other, proper absorption, etc etc…

Here’re a few important fact everyone taking a supplement needs to know. This is especially useful to pregnant women or those TTCing, because having proper nutrients in your body is crucial:

There are certain minerals and foods that prevent absoption of others and vitamins that aid in absoption. You need to know that to get the maximum  out of your vitamins.

  • Pretty much anything interferes with iron absorption, so if your goal is to make sure you have plenty of iron in your stores, read the following:
              -do NOT mix calcium rich foods with iron rich foods, the same goes for supplements. Take iron and calcium supplement at least 2 hours apart.
              -do NOT drink tea after eating an iron rich food or taking an iron supplement.
              -the easiest way is to make sure you take an iron supplement completely separate with iron rich food
              – take vitamin C with iron for best absorption.If you’re a vegetarian, great sources of iron include: beans/lentils,some nuts, spinach, collard greens. Make sure to add some of those at every meal.
  • If you’re taking an iron supplement, make sure to take zinc and copper with it. Iron supplements interfere with the absorption of copper, which in turn is very closely related to zinc. So if you’re taking copper, you need to supplement it with zinc and visa versa. Since excess of one will give you a deficiency of the other So since iron interferes with copper and copper interferes with zinc, you need to take all three to make sure you’re even. In nature it’s done automatically, most foods high in iron are also high in zinc and copper. Never exceed 100% of DV an any of these minerals, because of it’s close relation and intricate balance system.
  • Calcium is best absorbed with Vitamins D. Most  Calcium supplements have vitamin D in it, just make sure it doesn’t exceed 50% DV, since vitamin D has a toxicity level.
  • It’s hard to get enough DHA in a pill form and it’s pretty expensive so look for a morning cereal that is a good source of Omega-3s and load up on some avocado and walnuts.
  • FOLIC ACID: TAKE IT!!!! Please please please, if you are of childbearing age and not infertile, please take a folic acid supplement, even if you’re not “planning” any more kids. Neural tube develops during the first 27 days of pregnancy, well before most women even know they’re pregnant. Folic acid can prevent most neural tube defects in a baby as long as you take it before and during the first month of pregnancy. Unless you’re like me and plan pregnancies that meticulously, the last thing you’d want is to get pregnant, not know it for a month and miss that 30 day window.

If you’re pregnant or planning to get pregnant:

NEVER EVER (unless advised by a doctor) exceed 100% of DV on any supplement. It’s hard because most over the counter prenatals stuff 200-300%DV of vitamins in it to appeal to the less educated women thinking they’re getting a better value. You are NOT! You should be getting plenty from food, so all you need to do is create a safety net.

Fat soluble vitamins get packed away in your fat thus making it possible to create a toxicity hardful to a fetus if you don’t know what you’re doing.

-Do not take vitamin A in any form but beta-carotene, that includes milk and animal products that have a decent amount of vitamin A in retinoid form. High doses of vitamin A causes birth defect and it’s easy to go over board if you’re a meat eater and take supplements
-Watch your vitamin D intake.
– Vitamin E has been linked with heart defects at birth. That is even vitamin E taken before pregnancy at as low as 2/3 of recommended daily value (DV). Now since, oil has lot of vitamin E, I suspect those finding might have had something to do with women who ate lots of oily foods that are already bad for the baby. But we can’t know for sure, and these are my personal speculations. I am not taking any vitamin E supplement, since we get plenty through oil use and nuts.

Folic acid is a MUST before you’re even pregnant.
Supplemental iron is helpful taken before pregnancy so that you go into it with your stores full of iron.
Unless you eat lots of fruits and veggies ( and I do mean lots and varied, making up most of your meals), you might not need to supplement A,C or K vitamins, since you get plenty from fruits and veggies.

Since everything tend to interfere with everything and you can’t take more than 100% of the certain type of vitamin..bla bla bla… I found the best way to make it easy is to buy each supplement separately and take them in batches:

iron+C+zinc+copper= 1st batch
Calcium+D= 2nd batch
Folic+ B+DHA+other= 3rd batch

So there you have it!

Now, my entry for week 12

1. Height: 5’11″, weight: 134 lb

2. Your fitness challenge(s) for this week: 30 minutes of pilates every other day + 30 minutes of cardio ( rollerblading, running, swimming or treadmill) every other day+20 sit-ups every hour for 8 hours on cardio days. Special exercises designed for pregnancy to increase flexibility (daily) + Kegels (twice daily). A total of about an hour or more of physical activity a day.

3. Your health challenge(s) for this week: My eating habits are close to perfect, however I could improve on my water intake. My goal will be 8 glasses of water daily + continue eating the way I do now. Start snacking more during the day to prepare for the first trimester of morning sickness.

4. How well did it go:
  • Fitness: It was awesome. I did everything I set out to do. Worked out daily. I feel it’s starting to become a habit, one that I will not want to give up. Yesterday, hubby and I even did both strength and cardio and abs in one day, even though we’re supposed to do cardio/strength every other day.
  • Water: I’m back to my KleenKanteen bottle and being hydrated.
  • Food:Food intake was perfect. Nothing to complain about.
    5. Failures and slip-ups: Can’t say anything here. I’m getting in the groove and getting stronger.

6. Weekly challenge wisdom: It’s true that they say it takes a while to form a habit, but once that habit forms it becomes a joy to do the most mundane things.
7. Advice to fellow GET FIT members
: Stick with it! It will get better But if you give up now, it’ll NEVER get better. You will always start and stop and start and stop and get nowhere, or give up and continue living unhealthy and overweight.

8. Self Portrait: Magic Tricks
kind of creepy, huh?


{for more shots, go to my photography blog, Selfie Magic}




Written by Elena @The Art of Making a Baby. Posted in EVERYTHING ELSE, GET FIT, HEALTH


1. If you haven’t yet, join the challenge here: GET FIT and GET HEALTHY
2. Every Saturday come back to The Art of Making a Baby and ShutterMama to read the tips on how to be fitter, healthier and more confident.
3. Weekly write a post about your progress, following the questionnaire below, take a self-portrait (optional) and link up with us.
4. Don’t forget to grab the GET FIT challenge button on the sidebar and display it proudly on your blog or GET FIT post.
5. Link your post with
Selfie Saturdays if you took your week’s self-portrait.


Authentic Italian Pasta Do you guys know how to read labels? You probably do. But do you pay much attention to the ingredients list? Do you know which items to avoid? Probably not many of you.

I bought a great book that breaks down every possible harmful item that gets included into our common foods and once I read it, I’ll be sure to pass on that knowledge. But for now, I’d like to tell you what i DO know.

Things to avoid in food:

high fructose corn syrup

What? In simple words it’s added sugar. But not just sugar, but over-processed cheap version of sugar.
Where? Almost EVERYWHERE!
Why? If the products says natural, but you see high fructose corp syrup there, you’ll be sure that there’s nothing natural about it, considering they pumped it with additional cheap sweeteners. It bombards your body with sugar, raising yourinsulin level, causing diabetes and obesity.

Partially hydrogenated oils

What? Oils that didn’t complete a hydrogenation process. A cheap alternative to butter
Where?You can find them in chips, cookies, baked goods.
Why? They make you fat, they are disruptors of metabolic processes and a big cause of cancer. And they’re just simply bad for you!

MSG (Glutamic Acid)

What? A naturally occurring essential amino acid that has been used in the food industry as an additive and a flavor enhancer
Where? Most restaurants, specifically Chinese. Processed, packages or frozen foods.
Why?Have you ever eaten at a restaurant and had what I call a food hangover? That achy feeling, maybe a headache, weakness and a definitely dry mouth/thirst? That’s MSG to blame for. Most restaurants add MSG to enhance flavor of their meals ( why did you think restaurant food tastes so good?). But would you still enjoy the food, knowing that the great taste comes from , basically, a chemical?
FDA generally recognizes glutamic acid as safe, however we all know that FDA is heavily lobbied  by the food industry, whose only cheap ay of making things taste good is adding MSG. If you care to dig into it, you’ll learn about a certain CEO of a certain company being  good  friends with the head of FDA  at the time the MSG ruling was happening. ‘nough said.
And while glutamic acid does occur naturally in our bodies, we get more than enough eating our normal healthy diets. More than that will cause the above mentioned symptoms and possible health effects. And who wants to eat food that makes them feel sick? The tricky thing is MSG comes all kinds of different names, so you need to watch out for those too. Here’s a list of the biggest offenders

What else to pay attention to?

The higher the ingredient is on the list the more  of it the product contains, so you obviously don’t want anything that has the above mentioned ingredients anywhere in the top 5 of the ingredient list
Look for shorter ingredient list. The shorter it is, the more natural and unprocessed the food product is.

You wouldn’t believe how many brands I switched from after learning all these facts a while ago. But at least I am confident that I have some sort of idea of what I put in my body.

Now, my entry for week 10

1. Height: 5’11?, weight: 133 lb

2. Your fitness challenge(s) for this week: 30 minutes of pilates every other day + 30 minutes of cardio ( rollerblading, running, swimming or treadmill) every other day. Special exercises designed for pregnancy to increase flexibility (daily) + Kegels (twice daily). A total of about an hour of physical activity a day. I decided to pick up the pace and work more on my abs more, inspired to go into pregnancy as fit as I can possibly be.

3. Your health challenge(s) for this week: My eating habits are close to perfect, however I could improve on my water intake. My goal will be 8 glasses of water daily + continue eating the way I do now. Start snacking more during the day to prepare for the first trimester of morning sickness.

4. How well did it go:
  • Fitness: This week… agh! I can’t say I did GREAT! But Iguess I didn’t fail completely. It was hard to do pilates with my knee and palms hurt, since most of the exercises are on your hands and knees. I did what I could, but I think skipped a few days due to work :( Don’t like that.
  • Water: I’m back to my KleenKanteen bottle and being hydrated.
  • Food: Ate great as usual. Tried to snack on nuts throughout the day. Found out excesses of vitamin E ( nuts) are harmful to pregnant women and those planning to conceive. Had to slow down on them .

5. Failures and slip-ups: Was too busy and didn’t work out as much as I wanted to. Since I am usually at home, working out is easy, but it’s when I run around and break my schedule that it gets hard. I need to formulate a plan in my head of what to do on day when I expect to be away from the house all day: work out really early in the morning, or the second I have time.

6. Weekly challenge wisdom: Envisioning your goals will help you push yourself harder. It was 10 pm after a very hard day of work and the last thing I wanted to do is 30 minites of pilates. But I kept picturing having an easier pregnancy and delivery and being able to look the same after birth and that made me start and finish the work out.
7. Advice to fellow GET FIT members
: Motherhood is NOT an excuse for being unfit, out of shape and unhealthy. It’s THE REASON to be better.  Are most of you REALLY ok with looking and feeling the way you do now that you have a baby? It doesn’t take THAT much effort to shed those extra pounds. It’s as simple as a healthy diet ( lifestyle) and just a little bit of exercise. I applaud to those who have joined and stayed with us through these weeks

8. Self Portrait: My friend, the Fan {for more shots, go to my photography blog, Selfie Magic}






Written by Elena @The Art of Making a Baby. Posted in EVERYTHING ELSE, GET FIT, HEALTH

Nutritional Data

While we’re are concentrating on cutting our calories, let’s also talk about nutrition. It’s such an important topic to discuss especially if you’re living on a limited amount of calories in order to lose weight. There have been a few studies that showed that people who habitually eat smaller amounts of calories, lived quite a few years longer than those who had a normal caloric intake. It can be attributed to many factors, such as not having to tax our lower intestinal tracts that hold so many toxins, or to the fact that most people consciously reducing their caloric intake as a way of life tend to eat much better.
Which brings me to this: if you’re going to cut your calories, you need to ensure you’re doing everything possible to receive all the necessary vitamins, minerals and nutrients within your lowered caloric intake.
But just like most people didn’t know they were overeating until they were faced with the data inputted by them into or some other calorie counting service, you most likely don’t realize that a lot of the foods you’re eating are nutritionally empty. And if you’re going to waste an already limited amount of calories on certain foods, wouldn’t you want to make sure that food gives you all the nutrients your body needs?
I talked about ,a href=””>refined grains vs whole grain last week, which is a no-brainer.
It helps to get education on what certain foods give you nutritionally. So I wanted to share my favorite nutritional website with you:

Take, for example, the seemingly nutritionally weak snacks I made a few weeks back. One would think that potatoes (starch) and zucchinis aren’t THAT well packed with nutrients and vitamins. Well, one would be very wrong.
Sweet Potatoes (with skin) and zucchinis are quite the superstars in the glitzy world of nutrition.

1 BAKED ZUCCHINI                                                                                                                 1 BAKED SWEET POTATO

You simply type in your food and the whole nutritional breakdown comes out in front of you! Brilliant!

Using this site, I created a special table of most commonly consumed foods ( by me) that I arranged by the amount of certain vitamins that food has. I did that specially in preparation of pregnancy to ensure I do not go overboard on Vitamin A which can be toxic to a fetus in large doses ( unless it’s beta-carotene found in most veggies) and that I receive as many vitamins naturally through food as possible and then supplement whatever is missing.

I will be a sweetheart and share this table with you. It took me literally three days to organize it into this format. I taped it to the refrigerator to make sure I pick the right foods and keep track of whether I’ve gotten my needed vitamins.
{I am also working on the minerals table, but, like I said, it takes so much time, I haven’t been able to finish it yet}

You can print this table out on legal size paper in a landscape orientation and hopefully it’ll help you pick better foods.

{click and save as or right click on the link and chose save target as…}


Now, my entry for week 9

1. Height: 5’11′, weight: 132 lb  ( i seem to be holding steady at 132lb. I might have to accept that that’s my weight for now and continue to eat as much as I can)

2. Your fitness challenge(s) for this week: 30 minutes of pilates every other day + 30 minutes of cardio ( rollerblading, running, swimming or treadmill) every other day. Special exercises designed for pregnancy to increase flexibility (daily) + Kegels (twice daily). A total of about an hour of physical activity a day. I decided to pick up the pace and work more on my abs more, inspired to go into pregnancy as fit as I can possibly be.

3. Your health challenge(s) for this week: My eating habits are close to perfect, however I could improve on my water intake. My goal will be 8 glasses of water daily + continue eating the way I do now.

4. How well did it go:
  • Fitness: I did great! I figured out that my reluctance to work out stemmed from lack of sleep. And now that Iam getting 11 hours again, I’m rocking it! Yesterday I went rollerblading as my usual work out and while showing off to hubby, fell and  bruised my side, wrists and skinned my knee and palms pretty bad. But I still went back to finish rollerblading after i got bandaged up.
  • Water: I’m back to my KleenKanteen bottle and being hydrated.
  • Food: The usual stuff, really healthy, never any meats. I tried to eat as much as I could this week, and snack on nuts in between, but it’s looking like I really can’t stuff myself with food. I’ll eat when I am hungry and stop worrying about not getting enough calories. I obviously get enough for me.

5. Failures and slip-ups: Not much really. We skipped work outs today, cuz it was so busy and I was doing the posts ( it happens every Friday), but I intend to make up for it tomorrow, like I always do.

6. Weekly challenge wisdom: I underestimated how much sleep my body really needs. I kept setting an alarm so that I could get more done, and sleeping about 7 hours a day. I was feeling like crap and couldn’t understand why I didn’t want to work out. One day I slept in, and it was absolutely amazing. I was a different me!
7. Advice to fellow GET FIT members
: Prioritize! Very few things in life are more important than your family and your health. Concentrate on that and you’ll be happy.

8. Self Portrait: Bokeh {for more shots, go to my photography blog, Selfie Magic}




Whole Grains and Fiber, Week 8 of GET FIT, HEALTHY and CONFIDENT challenge

Written by Elena @The Art of Making a Baby. Posted in EVERYTHING ELSE, GET FIT, HEALTH


1. If you haven’t yet, join the challenge here:
2. Every Saturday come back to The Art of Making a Baby and ShutterMama to read the tips on how to be fitter, healthier and more confident.
3. Weekly write a post about your progress, following the questionnaire below, take a self-portrait (optional) and link up with us.
4. Don’t forget to grab the GET FIT challenge button on the sidebar and display it proudly on your blog or GET FIT post.
5.  Link your post with
Selfie Saturdays if you took your week’s self-portrait.


Haven’t been we bombarded enough with whole grain this, whole grain that? But do we ALL understand why whole grains are so important? What makes them so much better than the tasty refined grains?

I have been eating exclusively whole grains for about a year now. And I have to tell you it makes a huge difference. Of course, there are times that I have to eat refined grains, like in cookies, or on very rare occasions when we go out and the restaurant doesn’t offer a whole grain option, but I tend to avoid it. Just like I made healthy eating my lifestyle, no meat – my mantra, I made whole grain is the only option for me when it comes to breads, pastas and rice.

The reason for the switch beyond numerous health benefits was obvious. If I am going to eat healthy and take care of my body, I should NOT eat anything that is a waste from the nutritional standpoint. Anything that has empty calories is off limits for me. That includes sugared drinks, most deserts and sweets ( I do have some on occasion), pasta, rice, bread (all made from refined grains).
It started as a weight loss supplement for me and my husband {why would we ever eat so many calories and not reap the benefits of nutrients?}, but ended up being a healthy food choice.

The fact is: Eating whole grains instead of refined grains lowers the risk of many chronic diseases. While benefits are most pronounced for those consuming at least 3 servings daily, some studies show reduced risks from as little as one serving daily. Here’s what we’re looking at:

The benefits of whole grains most documented by repeated studies include:

stroke risk reduced 30-36%
type 2 diabetes risk reduced 21-30%
heart disease risk reduced 25-28%
better weight maintenance

Other benefits indicated by recent studies include:

reduced risk of asthma
healthier carotid arteries
reduction of inflammatory disease risk
lower risk of colorectal cancer
healthier blood pressure levels
less gum disease and tooth loss

Whole grains work in different ways to make you healthier, but here’s the main reason: FIBER!
Besides having a higher nutritional value, including more protein ( and if you’re a vegetarian, you could use some extra), more iron, whole grains have a significantly more fiber.
And fiber is really a magical ingredient.

See, daily our body is bombarded by hormones reacting to things, like emotional stress, physical stress, changing blood sugar levels throughout the day, different levels of available energy… But fiber can at least help your body defend against a few of those. Food that is high in fiber ( that’s fruits, vegetables and whole grains) controls and keeps your blood sugar level steady. If you’re overweight and have what is called “pre-diabetes” ( you might not even know it), eating more foods high in fiber will help you body control your insulin, so that you don’t develop full on Type 2 diabetes in a few years like most pre-diabetics do. You might think “Oh I am fine! I’m not diabetic”! But you can only say that if you’ve been tested recently ( in the past year) In fact, 40% of school kids are pre-diabetics, a disease that used to plague mostly middle-aged folk.

Aside from evening out our blood sugar level, fiber keeps you full faster and longer. By eating foods high in fiber, you’ll eat less and won’t come back to check out what new showed up in the refrigerator in the last hour, thus helping you lose weight. Get full fast and Stay full longer- isn’t that what most people want?

Fiber reduces the risks of heart attacks and high blood pressure (cardiovascular diseases), obesity and diabetes (metabolic disorders), intestinal problems (constipation, diverticulosis, diverticulitis, gallstones, appendicitis, hemorrhoids, polyps, and colon cancer), varicose veins and blood clots (deep vein thrombosis). (notice the similarities between whole grains and fiber benefits?)

Now, finally, FIBER is THE BEST cure from constipation! I know,right, who wants to talk about constipation?
But I guarantee that half of you have a problem with it, and the other half just doesn’t realize they have a problem.
Did you, guys, know that you’re supposed to go after EVERY MEAL within a few hours? Crazy, huh? But it’s true!
If you go number 2 less than once a day, you have a problem. If you go once a day, you could still do better.

Listen, it’s not like I want to go poop every couple of meals, BUT that IS the right way that our body is supposed to work. And guess, what after eating perfectly for about 6 months, it is how my body and my husband’s body started working.
I know this is kind of gross to talk about it, but it’s really important, because easy and consistent bowel movement is the reason behind all those lowered risks of diseases I listed earlier. If you read my post about eating meat, you might remember that colon is where all the toxins gather from our food. It’s the most toxic place in our body. Colon cancer is 4th most common type of cancer. The goal of our intestine (colon) is to move those toxins and waste through our body as fast as possible. Well, what do you think happens when you don’t eat enough fiber, all that “stuff” sits there for days and let’s juts say that’s not good. I wrote about it in detail in my post about how meat is killing us, so go read if you’re interested.

So it’s in your best interest to be mostly eating foods high in fiber. Why would you EVER have a refined grain product if you can get a ton more nutrition, protein, fiber in the same amount of calories?

I was eating lunch today and thinking about writing this post, looking through my lose it, seeing how much fiber I’ve been eating over the weeks The number is always about 30 grams daily, which is excellent considering an average American get about half the recommended amount of 25 grams.
-“Hm, I thought, it’s not like I am consciously trying to eat more fiber!”
And then it dawned on me: the amount of daily fiber intake is THE BEST indication of how well a person is eating in general. Think about it, fiber is ONLY in fruits, vegetables and whole grains. You can’t get fiber in bad stuff, you can’t get fiber in meats or dairy. Which makes fiber the best measurement for how much of the healthy foods a person is getting. If they get more than 25 grams of fiber, they are most likely eating extremely healthy ( healthy doesn’t equal the right amount of calories, though).

So I’d like to give you an assignment for this week: If you’re using or any other calorie and nutrient counting programs, look up day by day how much fiber you have gotten for the past two weeks. Also review the total weekly amount divided by 7, to give you an average. If you’re above 25 grams, GREAT JOB! If you have been consistently under 25 grams, you know what you need to work on.

Keep in mind, you can get TOO much fiber (usually over 40 grams).

If you’re just starting to eat a diet high in fiber, keep in mind that it’s going to take a few weeks to get the benefits going when it comes to your intestines. Start slowly, increasing your fiber intake day by day and you shouldn’t incur any side effects of jumping onto a fiber wagon suddenly, like constipation, gas and bloating

So I encourage you to substitute ALL your grains with whole grains. The sooner you adopt the change, the easier it’s going to be for you to teach your kids to eat properly. If whole grains is all you eat at home, that’s all your kids will eat. Keep increasing the amount of vegetarian meals you cook at home, as well as vegetables and fruits you snack on. Remember, vegetables don’t have to be a side, like our culture seems to think. Vegetables make an amazing meal on their own.

{P.S. I would love to know how much fiber you currently eat and whether there’s room for improvement or if you’re meeting the daily recommended amount}

Now, my entry for week 8

1.  Height: 5’11″, weight: 131. lb  

2. Your  fitness challenge(s) for this week: I am preparing for a future pregnancy so  my work outs are intended for improving my strength and my muscles, rather than weight loss: 30 minutes of pilates every other day + 30 minutes of cardio ( rollerblading, running, swimming or treadmill) every other day. Special exercises designed for pregnancy to increase flexibility (daily) + Kegels (twice daily). A total of about an hour of physical activity a day.

3. Your health challenge(s) for this week: My eating habits are close to perfect,  however I could improve on my water intake. My goal will be 8 glasses of water daily + continue eating the way I do now.

4. How well did it go:
  • Fitness: I guess I did good. It’s so hard for me to be happy about achievements until I performed perfectly
  • Water: It was on and off. I kept forgetting to refill my KleenKanteen
  • Food: Perfection. That’s one area where I can never do wrong. I just don’t want to eat bad stuff. I make myself have some cookies after a meal, so that I could at least fill up my daily calories so that i’d gain some weight already.

5. Failures and slip-ups: I did good this week. I can’t say I excelled at exercise. I was tired all week for some reason, probably lack of sleep, and was very unhappy about having to work out. I did though. I might have missed 1 day out of the week, and I guess that’s good. It’s just hard to feel about something you did in spite of fatigue instead of giving it 100%. Today’s workout felt really good though.

6. Weekly challenge wisdom: The worst thing is the anticipation of a workout. Once you’re done, the buzz all over your body is unbelievable and you wonder why you ever dreaded it.

7. Advice to fellow GET FIT members
:  Push yourself more than you think you can. Your body will thank you! I pushed myself in today’s work out and felt like I’m on clouds, compared to the other workouts during the week, where I grudgingly got through them doing them half-assed.

8. Self Portrait: I AM BEAUTIFUL {self-love challenge}






Written by Elena @The Art of Making a Baby. Posted in Cooking, EVERYTHING ELSE, GET FIT, HEALTH

1. If you haven’t yet, join the challenge here: GET FIT and GET HEALTHY
2. Every Saturday come back to The Art of Making a Baby and ShutterMama to read the tips on how to be fitter, healthier and more confident.
3. Weekly write a post about your progress, following the questionnaire below, take a self-portrait (optional) and link up with us.
4. Don’t forget to grab the GET FIT challenge button on the sidebar and display it proudly on your blog or GET FIT post.
5.  Link your post with
Selfie Saturdays if you took your week’s self-portrait.

Today i want to share with you some of tasty, fast and low calorie vegetarian and vegan recipes that I use  at home. Most of the time I come up with my own dishes utilizing anything that we have in our fridge and cupboards, because it’s faster that way, other times I’ll actually adopt a recipe, making a few modifications. {sorry for horrible iphone pictures}

1. Roasted Vegetables
My most favorite and easiest meal to make is roasted vegetables. What I love about it is how little thinking it requires and you can use any vegetables you have at home.
I usually use zucchini, mushrooms, tomatoes, yellow squash, baby potatoes and onion. All you have to do is cut a bunch of vegetables up into chunks, dice lots and lots of garlic, use 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast it at 450F for about 30-40 minutes or until potatoes are done. Garlic is a very important part of the meal
The meal is easy to pack away for left overs and tastes GREAT the next day.  If you want to use it as a vegetable side for whole grain pasta or rice, or a meat dish, simply skip the potatoes.

 2. Chickpeas Salad

I came up with this one in a totally random way. We had nothing good left to eat and I needed to make something healthy quick. I pulled out romaine lettuce, canned chickpeas, hot pickles and a low cal garlic dressing.
YUM! It’s one of our favorite salads now! Has plenty of anti-inflammatory lettuce and chickpeas high in fiber and protein. Hot pickles are a mus since they add the spice to the salad.

3. Black Beans 

Again, one of those “throw together anything that you have” deal.
Saute onion in 1 tb of canola oil, add red/green pepper, 10 minutes later canned black beans (drained) and tomatoes. Saute for 5 minutes.  Salt and spice. You’re done. 

 My absolute favorite:

4. Tuscan Panzanella Salad

Super healthy, tasty and easy to make. Recipe here

I would like to encourage you to try out new things on your own. Be creative, mix things that you have for amazing new tastes. Stay healthy and low calories by choosing vegetables, fruits, legumes and whole grains in everything you make. Use canola oil for sauteing and salads, and olive oil for salads. Never overheat olive oil to the point of smoking. You’re making a good thing extremely harmful that way.

Finally, for some of you who are struggling with removing meats from your diet and those who have already gone meatless, here’s a post I wrote about MEAT  that might help you eat more vegetables and fruits rather than meat products.



Now, my entry for week 7

1.  Height: 5’11′, weight: 131. lb  

2. Your  fitness challenge(s) for this week:  30 minutes of pilates every other day + 30 minutes of cardio ( rollerblading, running, swimming or treadmill) every other day. Special exercises designed for pregnancy to increase flexibility (daily) + Kegels (twice daily). A total of about an hour of physical activity a day.

3. Your health challenge(s) for this week: My eating habits are close to perfect,  however I could improve on my water intake. My goal will be 8 glasses of water daily + continue eating the way I do now.

4. How well did it go:
  • Fitness: Oh yeah! I got my mojo back this week! I was concerned when for two weeks following my surgery I was far from doing well on the fitness challenge. This week I am back and LOVING it! How do we forget how awesome it feels to fulfill your exercise goals? It’s just the best feeling in the world!
  • Water: Ok, i was so focused on exercise and coming up with meals using whatever was left in the fridge, that I completely forgot about water. I still probably got around 6 glasses a day, but need to pay closer attention to that.
  • Food: This week I had to tap into creative cooking. Our fridge was nearly empty and my husband and I were both too busy/lazy to go grocery shopping. we did have our farmer guy deliver us veggies that we’ve been eating all week. The kind of meals I cooked up with seemingly nothing usable were honestly amazing! I’m very impressed with myself. Nutritious is of utmost importance to me, even more than exercise and I have to say it worked out great even with limited ingredients.
  • On a separate note, I’ve been trying to gain the weight I lost after the surgery, but I haven’t really been able to do that. I eat way too healthy to be gaining weight and I cannot increase the amount, because I simply can’t eat any more when I am full. I also refuse to eat unhealthy just to gain weight. I need to gain some weight, because when we start TTCing, I want to make sure I have enough body fat to conceive.
    I also haven’t been able to eat nuts which is both high in calories and healthy, due to my wisdom teeth surgery. If you have any suggestions as to what I could be eating to gain weight that is extremely  healthy, I’m all ears.

5. Failures and slip-ups: Most people would reach for easy foods or go to a restaurant or a fast food place when their fridge is empty, however i guess I am at the point where it is not an option for me. So even though I had plenty of excuses to fail on the nutrition front this week, I held strong. We did go to a restaurant on St Patty’s day only because we had a gift card burning a hole in our pocket, but we both chose extremely well (hummus, a side salad, a side of grilled mushrooms and a side of brown coconut jasmine rice). I also skipped my rollerblading yesterday because of lack of time, but I intend on making it up today.

6. Weekly challenge wisdom: After the rain, there’s always sun! If you really sucked this week, do better next week. Don’t just assume this is too hard and give up.

7. Advice to fellow GET FIT members
:  Cook more at home. Keep meal vegetarian or vegan if you’re trying to lose a lot of weight. You’ll be surprised how much easier it is to maintain weight when you’re consistently eating mostly fruits and veggies.

8. Self Portrait: Model Eyes

Self Portrait


BREAKFAST HABITS – Get Fit, Get Healthy, Get Confident: Week 4

Written by Elena @The Art of Making a Baby. Posted in GET FIT, HEALTH

Another week of being a better person has gone by and some of you had successes, some of you had setbacks. It’s expected. It’s understandable.

We fall down, we brush ourselves off and we keep on going.

For those who had the strength to join Sonya and I today, you’re awesome!

If you’re new, WELCOME! Feel free to put your name down on our virtual list of participants here.


1. If you haven’t yet, join the challenge here: GET FIT and GET HEALTHY
2. Every Saturday come back to The Art of Making a Baby and ShutterMama to read the tips on how to be fitter, healthier and more confident.
3. Weekly write a post about your progress, following the questionnaire below, take a self-portrait (optional) and link up with us.
4. Don’t forget to grab the GET FIT challenge button on the sidebar and display it proudly on your blog or GET FIT post.
5.  Link your post with
Selfie Saturdays if you took your week’s self-portrait.  


So today I’d like to discuss something very important to me that changed the way I eat: Breakfast habits

I was never a big breakfast eater. None of that eggs, bacon, sausage patties + a stack of pancakes for me. I went through years of not eating breakfast at all ( not good), and then eating whatever I felt like (not good), until I finally stumbled onto a concept that made a lot of sense to me and changed my mornings completely.

That concept was introduced to me by an old book that my booker from the modeling agency gave me to read and follow before I could go to New York. A lot of things in that book shaped my current eating habits, but the idea behind the whole concept is what blew my mind.

Basically, as many of you might know, we eat for one reason and one reason alone: FOR ENERGY. Food shouldn’t be for pleasure or indulging. We were meant to eat food for survival. That’s why we have taste buds, and that’s why we find food so good tasting, because year after year of evolution  allowed only those to survive who were motivated enough to find their own food ( and honestly, would we want to hunt days and nights on end for food that doesn’t even taste good? I don’t think so). Actually sexual pleasure has the same reason. If sex didn’t feel good, how would we ever procreate in the stone age and continue our line?

So we eat food for ENERGY. Calories = Energy.

via Lisa Clark

However, 3500 unused calories equal 1 pound of fat. So next time you look at that scale and see that you’ve gained 1 pound, please know that it’s exactly 3500 calories that you ate that your body didn’t need and didn’t burn.

What many of you didn’t know is that there’s one process in our body that requires more energy (calories) to accomplish than anything else. It’s digestion. It’s a very complex and very important process, therefore our body puts a lot of priority on digesting your meal and extracting every possible nutrient and calorie it can. Have you noticed that how after a big meal ( Thanksgiving dinner, anyone?), every single person unbuttons their pants and goes into a coma. That’s your body at work prioritizing and taking the energy away from your body and giving it to your GI.

So that means we need food to have energy and we need energy to “have” food.

Now what happens in the morning is that we wake up from 8-10 hours of sleep without any expendable energy, because , well, we didn’t eat all night. Then most of us go ahead stuffing ourselves with eggs and bacon, and refined carbohydrates and syrup, mixing all that mess of protein and carbs and sugars in our tummy and expect it to digest. Except our body has no energy to digest it yet. The worst thing is meat has the toughest time digesting, especially when mixed with grains. We keep taxing our system like this day after day without even realising how much damage we’re doing to our colon.

Some people don’t eat breakfast at all, robbing their body of that needed energy to function first thing in the morning.

The solution is FRUIT. Fruit is the only thing that is partially digested in your mouth by saliva. So by the time it hits your stomach, it needs very little to finish digesting giving you a little burst of energy to continue functioning. Then in about an hour or less after the first breakfast, you can allow yourself to eat some of the heavier foods, being assured that your body can handle it.

Either way, it’s never a good idea to mix meats and starches and grains, they don’t digest well together, because they need different digestive juices. Meat and veggies, and grains and veggies is your best option. And I’d leave meat till later in the day anyways. So get up and before you even had your morning cup of coffee, have a fruit or two.

There’s a school of thought that believes that it’s important to have protein in the morning. That’s not a problem. Have the 1st breakfast of fruits (fruits alone, no sauces, no dipping, no sugar), and then continue in about an hour with your choice of protein.

I’ve been eating like this for 2 years now, and I gotta tell you, I’d never go back to no breakfast or heavy breakfast.

Cutting back on coffee is a good idea too, since most of you don’t realize how addicted your body is to the caffeine ( and anything that hinders your functions is never good). Apples has similar effects on a human brains as caffeine does, making you feel more awake in the morning.  My husband followed suit and quit coffee cold turkey after being a 2-3 cup drinker, and he had withdrawals for 5(!!!) days. He, as well declared that he’ll never go back to drinking caffeine after experiencing the kind of effect it has on your body. Coffee in itself isn’t that bad, but it’s the addiction and, how disabled it makes us feel if we don’t have it every morning, that is troubling.

Give me your thoughts on this!


Now, my entry for week 4

1.  Height: 5’11″, weight: 132 lb  {-1lb, not good, need to get back to 133-135lbs}

2. Your  fitness challenge(s) for this week:  30 minutes of pilates every other day + 30 minutes of cardio ( rollerblading, running, swimming or treadmill) every other day. Special exercises designed for pregnancy to increase flexibility (daily) + Kegels (twice daily). A total of about an hour of physical activity a day.

3. Your health challenge(s) for this week: My eating habits are close to perfect,  however I could improve on my water intake. My goal will be 8 glasses of water daily + continue eating the way I do now.

4. How well did it go:
  • Fitness: it was a total zero. I had my wisdom teeth surgery on Monday and I have been in bed recovering since :(
  • Water: Thanks to my new Clean Kanteen bottle, I have been getting plenty of water. It makes it so easy to drink.
  • Food: I was limited to liquids and soft foods and have been eating nothing but veggie soups,mashed potatoes with mushrooms and oatmeal. My hubby bought me ice cream, but even though I had a free pass to eat it due to my surgery, after having a little cup, i decided that i don’t really like unhealthy foods anymore, even when sick. So that’s a great revelation. It’s nice to be where the junk food doesn’t appeal to you anymore.
5. Failures and slip-ups: Not exercising all week was really tough, but I had no choice. I’m hoping I’ll be recovered enough to do some pilates next week. Also not happy about having to eat mashed potatoes, but it’s one of the few things I can eat and at least it’s not too horrible for you.
6. Weekly challenge wisdom:  When you are sick, you are sick. It’s tough for me to be ok with not doing something to perfection, however this week i realized that sometimes it’s not up to me.
7. Advice to fellow GET FIT members: If you get discouraged one day, have the strength to pull yourself together and encourage yourself to continue another day. Strength and willpower are flexible, not fixed. The more you work at them, the stronger you become. I don’t believe anyone has a weak will, they just haven’t had the chance to train it yet
 8. Self Portrait, Arm’s Length Portrait:



EATING OUT – GET FIT Challenge, Week 1

Written by Elena @The Art of Making a Baby. Posted in GET FIT, HEALTH

I’m very excited to start WEEK 1 of the GET FIT/GET HEALTHY challenge. For those not familiar with it, please go here to read how it works and to join.

This week’s goal is to determine your fitness and nutritional challenges ( use this list for ideas), publish a post listing them along with your weight/height (optional) and a (self-)portrait of what you wish to look like when you’re done with the challenge. Don’t forget to enter it into the SELFIE SATURDAYS photo linky.  After you’re done reading my tips for this week, go ahead and move over to Shutter Mama’s part of the challenge and read up about what you can do on the fitness part. 


What I’d like to talk about this week is eating out versus cooking at home.  

Oneof the best way to lose some weight, cut down on calories and eat healthier is to resolve to not go out to restaurants and eat all your meals exclusively at home. Now I know it might not be realistic for some who aren’t self employed or stay-at-home moms, however you too can make an effort. If one only knew precisely what restaurantsput into each and every meals, noone would ever want to eat out again. I suggest that whenever you have an urge to go eat out, jump online and find a caloriebreakdown of that restaurant’s dishes. I guarantee that this alone will deter you from dining at that restaurant forever. Or at least until the next urge.  

Even seemingly healthy options have tons of fat and calories. And the cheaper the chain is, the worse their food tends to be. Remember, to maintain their weight most women need 1800-2000 calories, however in reality I find that the majority of girls in their 30s have a metabolism that is much slower than that, making 1800-2000 calories a day a sure way to slowly gain weight ( a pound or two over a few months). So don’t over estimate how fast you burn calories and always go for less than you think you can have. 

I also realize sometimes you’re in a situation where you have to eat out, then  you have to do what I do: pick the smallest ( size-wise) meal on the menu that has the most veggies and ask for dressing on the side if it’s a salad. Or order fish with a side dish of vegetables and request no oil to be used. You will be surprised that most chefs are willing to cater to your “silly” requests. Another tricky way of making sure you eat healthy and low in calories at the restaurants is to order anything vegan. Just ask for about vegan options on the menu and you’ll be almost guaranteed a healthier lower calorie dinner by cutting out our diet’s biggest offenders: cheese, sauces and meat.   

If you happen to own a smart phone, jump online and search for a calorie breakdown of that restaurant ( most restaurants have it published). If it’s a small shop, ask the server for a nutritional breakdown of the menu. I think every place is supposed to have one by law ( I might be mistaken, but every place I’ve asked has brought me a big book with a caloric breakdown). Then pick a meal with a reasonable amount of calories, the least fat and the most fiber.  

Another option that some restaurants have is ordering whole grain instead of refined grains, like CPK. California Pizza Kitchen has some of the best low calorie and healthy options if you know how to pick.  

Now, if you are able to avoid restaurants all together, you’ll be doing yourself a huge favor. Cooking meals at home, and not just snacking on whatever is available, is one of the easiest way of controlling your portions and calories.  The key to cooking at home is making sure you follow the USDA guidelines: 6-11 servings of whole grains, 2-4 servings of fruits, 3-5 servings of vegetables, 2-3 servings of proteins, 2-3 servings of non-fat diary.  

 Keep in mind that you need to reduce the amount slightly if you’re trying to lose weight, while still keeping the  balance of the food groups.  

Another trick I discovered on my journey to healthy living was cutting down on any kind of fats and oils while cooking at home. When a  recipe calls for 1/4 cup of olive oil, I cut that in half or more. If i have to use butter, I either skip it completely ( if possible) or add just 1 tbs of it. It does the trick and doesn’t ruin the meal. I’d even suggest that you cook on water or canola spray while you’re trying to lose weight. There are also plenty of low calorie dressings available with only 35 calories per 2 tbs that taste amazing!

Make your own dressing too. Store bought Caesar doesn’t even come close to the Ceasar dressing I make at home using 1/3 of the amount of oil and it has half the amount of calories to boot.  

Hope you find this helpful and will attempt to incorporate some of it into your life.  

So Here’s my Week 1 entry:

My goal for this challenge is to maintain my weight and gain more muscle tone and strength, as well as continue eating healthy. I cannot be losing weight right now, since my BMI is on the border of being underweight and normal ( and that’s after I gained 3 lb on purpose). So I need to stay where I am and prepare my body for the physically demanding aspects of pregnancy and childbirth.    

1.  Height: 5’11”, weight: 133 lb
2. Your  fitness challenge(s) for this week:  30 minutes of intense pilates every other day + 30 minutes of cardio ( rollerblading, running, swimming or treadmill) every other day. Special exercises designed for pregnancy to increase flexibility (daily) + Kegels (twice daily). A total of about an hour of physical activity a day.
3. Your health challenge(s) for this week: My eating habits are close to perfect,  however I could improve on water intake. My goal will be 8 glasses of water daily + continue eating the way I do now.
4. How well did it go: This is week 1, so the question doesn’t apply, but I do have to mention that I’ve been pretty much following the fitness part of this for a while now
5. Failures and slip-ups: I do catch myself forgetting about eating. And while it’s sort of fine right now, I cannot skip meals or go without food when I am pregnant. Therefore I need to work on making sure I eat throughout the day. Also there are days when I eat 2 or 3 cookies after meals, rather than just one.
6. Weekly challenge wisdom: It really feels absolutely amazing to be doing good in both fitness and nutritional part of my life. I feel like a 100% better person, accomplished and guilt free.
7. Advice to fellow GET FIT members: All you need is be determined and be strong! I know some of you think you’ll fail, but with fellow bloggers’ support you might just be strong enough to go on.
8. Your self-portrait ( optional but strongly encouraged)

This selfie was taken about 3 years ago or so, right before I left for New York to model. I had spent the previous month working out 2 hours daily ( pilates and step aerobics ) and dieting, so at that point I had very little body fat ( probably dangerously little) and really nice strong muscles.  I realize that right now, when I am getting ready for a baby, I cannot diet, but I can continue improving my muscle tone and flexibility. This photo will serve as a reminder of what I strive to look like once I have a baby and that working out and eating healthy NOW will help me bounce back easier and faster LATER.  



Now that you’re done reading about this part of the challenge, make sure to check out Shutter Mama’s post, as well as enter in the Selfie Saturday linky ( this week’s theme is “my dream self” photo).
And don’t forget to join and write your own post with your goals ( see questionaire above) and a self portrait of what you’d like to look like. Don’t forget to display the GET FIT GET HEALTHY buttons ( code on the sidebar)!


NEXT WEEK SELFIE SATURDAY THEME: Full Body Shot – Take a full body shot- it will be your starting point in the GET FIT challenge. In a few months we will take another full body shot to view our progress.



Please don’t forget to VOTE daily!

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How meat is silently killing you!

Written by Elena @The Art of Making a Baby. Posted in Cooking, EVERYTHING ELSE, HEALTH, Pre-CONCEPTION

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Before you make assumptions about what this post is regarding, let me tell you  this:
It is not about animal cruelty ( which is bad, but I prefer not to think about it as much as I can, because it upsets me).
Neither it is about me being vegetarian and trying to convert all you “sinners” to follow my way.
It also has nothing to do with religion, or politics.
All I want to talk about today is health. And weight loss. No, wait, weight loss deserves its own topic, but I’m sure I’ll be referring back to this post for why you should stop eating meat, besides the obvious- calories :) 
Meat is Murder, not because we have to hunt animals for food, but it is murder, because of how it Kills us!

I find it funny how when you tell people you’re vegetarian, the eyes start rolling. Like “OMG, one of those”. Actually, I think the same thing happens when people hear that you don’t drink coffee, or don’t consume alcohol. Instantly, it’s “Oh come on, live a little!”. When what you’re actually doing IS trying to make sure you live a LOT. Since when our healthy choices are laughed at and ridiculed.  How come when you say , “Oh no, I don’t smoke!”, no one goes “Weako!” or “Oh stop being so extreme!” Is it because it’s a widespread knowledge that smoking KILLS. But do you think that 50 years ago when the information was starting to come out that smoking is bad for you, when everyone and their mother puffed, people still accepted other people’s healthy choices ? I don’t think so. I think it’s human nature to disregard things until they’re up in their face and printed on the packaging “Smoking KILLS”. So until then, we, people who are CURRENTLY making healthy choices, are going to be given the stink eye and weird looks.
Now I am really not judging anyone. To be fairly honest, I DID THE EXACT SAME THING. A few years ago, whenever my husband and I would hear someone is vegetarian, we’d instantly roll our eyes and think “Weirdo! Now we have to modify what we make at home, while they’re visiting”. Yeah, I was there with you, meat eaters! Being annoyed at other people’s choices to be healthier. Now to be fair, I’m pretty sure some of those people’s choices were for religious reasons or “meat is murder” reason ( which is still annoying… hahaha… just kidding), but regardless of that, it was their choice and who were we to judge it. One thing I have to tell you is this: people who are vegetarians for the “right” reasons, will never make it inconvenient  for you. You don’t have to accommodate us. We will pick and choose what we eat and won’t make a big deal out of it. 

So before you decide to stop reading right there and go back to your meatloaf, do yourself a favor and hold your decision making until you actually know ALL the facts. One cannot say “I will never stop eating meat” unless they’re truly educated about what meat does to them. I did a lot of research on it and have felt all the positive effects of giving up meat products, such as clearer mind, weight loss, healthier body, better eating habits.

So if you don’t really eat meat, read up- you’ll be happy that you don’t and this will motivate you to continue being healthy.
If you do eat meat occasionally, but want a reason to make yourself stop, because you secretly know that it’s not good,  read up. It’ll convince you your feelings are right and give you an extra push to skip on that huge steak you just ordered.
Even if you’re a meat lover and don’t see any reasons whatsoever that you would willingly give up something as delicious as meat, read up anyways.   It never hurts to be educated about things you’re eating, even if you end up deciding to be ignorant about it ( in the nicest way possible). 

But until you have all your facts, you cannot make the right decision for you and your body. And that decision will be yours and will be respected. At least by me. 

So first,  I’d like to start with my own “meat” story to establish a baseline here. 

I was never CRAZY about meat. And when I say crazy, I mean I enjoyed meat (never steaks), I loved meat products: pepperoni, sausage, bacon, ham, chicken- you name it. I remember going a whole year eating nothing but Meat Lover’s Pizza Hut pizzas and banana splits ( thank you my skinny genes { as opposed to skinny jeans} and my 18 year old metabolism for letting me live that one down). Yeah, I wasn’t always a perfect healthy  food angel {Read: FREAK}
If it didn’t have meat I didn’t feel like I was getting food, substance. It was like trying to satisfy a primal hunger with a piece of hard candy.
Time went by and I was bombarded by article upon article about how bad meat was  for you because of the cholesterol. In my perfectionist mind, I wanted to live forever, therefore I needed to ease up on meat. I don’t think it was a conscious decision though. I was still eating like shit, still loving pepperoni ( switched to Super Supreme pizza though), buying microwavable dinners full of breaded chicken and pasta, and sausage. But at least now I knew that for my husband eating that chunk of rare steak is bad bad bad. Eventually meat left our dinner plates for diet reasons, when I needed to go from size 2 to size 0 for modeling, since it has the most calories.
But it wasn’t until I started getting ready to get pregnant did I truly understand how evil meat can be. Having done  lots of research and read a lot of books on pregnancy nutrition and the harm that eating animal products can do to a little fetus, made me even a stronger believer in being a vegetarian ( or, better yet, vegan if you can possibly handle that). And I am here to share my knowledge with you, so that even if you continue eating meat, you will at least do so, fully armed with facts  and not out of ignorance. 

One more thing I’d like to mention: before you go on declaring something like:” I’d never be able to give up meat/cheese/milk/whatever! I love it too much”, give it a try. If the facts I present are compelling enough, don’t disregard them simply out of “weak will” expectations, but “attempt” to do something about it, even if you expect yourself to fail. 

Again, I am not here to convince anyone, but give fact and information, to share my journey and experience, along with medical studies and research that has been done. 

So here we go: 


Let’s start with the minor stuff. 

1. Saturated and Trans Fats

{ “I don’t want any vegetables, thank you. I paid for the cow to eat them for me” Doug Coupland  }

You’ve all heard it. Saturated fat is bad for you.  Everyone is well aware that saturated fat is bad for our cardiovascular system as well as our diet. Eating foods that contain saturated fats raises the level of cholesterol in your blood.  High levels of blood cholesterol increase your risk of heart disease and stroke.  In addition to that, many foods high in saturated fats are also high in cholesterol – which raises your blood cholesterol even higher.  The majority come mainly from animal sources, including meat and dairy products.  Examples are fatty beef, lamb, pork, poultry with skin, beef fat (tallow), lard and cream, butter, cheese and other dairy products made from whole or reduced-fat (2 percent) milk.  These foods also contain dietary cholesterol.
Add to that the fact that most processed foods and baked goods are full of saturated fat due to current manufacturing processes and we have a nation that is inundatedwith saturated fat in their diets. We get up to 3 times more saturated fat that we should. All by itself in reasonable quantities saturated fat isn’t that bad. However, if you review your daily food intake, you will surely find more than the allowable 16 grams of saturated fat. 

Now, trans fat is even more dangerous than saturated fats, and it also occurs naturally in animal products as well as processed foods, with the majority of them found in commercial baked goods (pastries, biscuits, muffins, cakes, pie crusts, doughnuts and cookies) and fried foods (French fries, fried chicken, breaded chicken nuggets and breaded fish), snack foods (popcorn, crackers), and other foods made with partially hydrogenated vegetable oils, traditional vegetable shortening or stick margarine. 

There have been numerous studies linking these type of fats to heart disease, high blood pressure and cholesterol level. A new study in the Archives of Internal Medicine looked at the diet of more than 500,000 Americans over a span of 10 years. It found that (other things being equal), men and women who consumed the most red and processed meat were likely to die sooner, especially from heart disease and cancer, than those who consumed much less. The increased mortality risk from consuming higher levels of red meat ranged from 20 to 40 percent. Another one that followed more than 72,000 women for 18 years found that those who ate a Western-style diet high in red and processed meats, desserts, refined grains, and French fries had an increased risk of heart disease, cancer, and death from other causes. 

Researchers suggest limiting hamburgers to once or twice a week, a small steak to every other day, and a hot dog to every 6 weeks. 

In the study, those participants who consumed larger amounts of fish and white-meat poultry, and those who consumed larger amounts of fruits and vegetables tended to live longer than those who did not. Poultry and fish contain lower amounts of saturated fat than red meat, and fish also contains heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. 

To reduce the “bad” fat intake, try eating less animal products, swap them for fat free diary and Omega 3 rich fish, more vegetables, beans and legumes and stay away from commercially processed foods. The best way to ensure this is to cook at home and eat as many fresh foods and possible. 

I know you’ll say “Hey, that means I can still eat meat as long as I limit it?”
Well, yes and no. There’s a lot more wrong with meat than just some saturated and trans fats. So read up. 

2. Digestion

{“Happiness: a good bank account, a good cook, and a good digestion”  Jean-Jacques Rousseau}  

I hear you saying “Ah! Who cares about digestion?”
YOU should! 

Your large intestine (colon) is the most important under-repped organ in your body. It is the first organ to be developed in the fetus. Because without a proper waste elimination system, we will be literally poisoned. If you eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans and rarely any animal fat, your bowel movement should be perfect: fast easy and daily or more than once a day. For most people, however, who follow the standard American diet, the colon is the most toxic place in the body. 

Red meats on average take from 1 to 3 days to be completely digested and eliminated from the body. They take much longer to digest than other foods because of their high protein and fat content. When meat has been processed or ingested with other incompatible types of foods ( carbohydrates to be exact, which exactly what your average American eats: meat and potatoes), it takes up to 5 times longer to digest, because different types of foods require different digestive juices, which disrupts our whole digestive process, thus making it even longer. As a result, the partially digested meat start to petrify (spoil) right there inside of your body, going through the colon and releasing all the toxicity it holds. After years and years of eating this way, it starts to get very tough on our colon, thus giving us digestive problems in the older age. 

Wouldn’t you think that we are supposed to feel fresh and energized every time we have a meal, since food is a source of energy? You would think so. However, most people experience stomach pains, heartburn, gas, constipation, and extreme fatigue immediately after a large meal ( Thanksgiving anyone?). That occurs because digestions also happens to be the most energy sucking activity our body can do. It takes more energy to digest a meal than to run a marathon. And when we’ve treated our mouth like a garbage disposal putting into it anything that looks, smells or tastes good without any regard to its content, no wonder that we are ALWAYS exhausted after a big meal. Our body is struggling to digest all the fat and a mess of protein and carbs. The more we throw in there, the longer it takes to digest, the more it starts to spoil before we are able to eliminate it.
All this stress on our large intestines is bound to affect us somehow. Which brings me to: 

3. Colon Cancer

{You are full of shit!} 

Colon (large intestine) cancer  is the fourth most common form of cancer in the United States and the third leading cause of cancer-related death in the Western world. What? You didn’t think that all that disregard for our digestion and nutrition would  get us anywhere? I realize many of you have never heard of this type of cancer, or never knew anyone with it, but do you really think anyone would willingly admit they have COLON cancer? Come on! It’s much more prevalent than it seems. it’s one of those things that you don’t know about it until it hits you ( or your family).
many studies have been done that linked dietary and lifestyle habit, specifically red meat consumption, to developing colorectal cancer. 

In a study involved more than 140,000 men and women that was led by the American Cancer Society, researchers collected information about the participants’ eating habits over a ten-year period. When the study was over, the average age of participants was 63. In comparing red meat consumption to colorectal cancer incidence, researchers found that people who ate a lot of red meat were 30-40% more likely to develop cancer of the lower colon and rectum than people who didn’t eat much red meat.  However , lifestyle changes ( such as exercising, healthy diet)  could decrease the risk of colorectal cancer as much as 60-80%. 

4. Cancer ( in general)

{“The more you cook, the worse you look. The more you fry, the faster you’ll die”} 

Aside from a very high risk of colon cancer, according to the World Cancer Research Fund and the American Institute for Cancer Research “red or processed meats are convincing or probable sources of some cancers.” Their report says evidence is convincing for a link between red meat, processed meat, and colorectal cancer, lung, esophageal, stomach, pancreatic, and endometrial cancers. 

National Cancer Institute also points to a large number of studies that link red meat consumption with chronic diseases. 

The question is why? Why does red meat cause cancer? There’re several reasons, besides the ones I already mentioned above in the Colon Cancer and Digestion section. 

When meat is cooked or grilled, carcinogens can form on the surface. They’re called heterocyclic amines (HCAs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). And processed meats like sausage or pepperoni usually contain nitrosamines, another known carcinogen.  Saturated fat has been linked to cancers of the colon and breast. Heme iron, the type of iron found in meat, may produce compounds that  can damage cells, leading to cancer. And the most importantly, in my opinion, high levels of dioxins ( read below). 

The American Institute for Cancer Research recommends that we limit cooked meat in our diets, while completely avoiding  any processed meat products, such as sausage, deli meats, ham, bacon, hot dogs, and sausages. If you do choose to eat meat, make sure not to overcook it and trim all the fat before cooking. Keep in mind that most frozen meat products, such a burger patties,  contain as much as 50% fat ( the guideline for lean meat is at most 5% fat)

It’s like they say “The more you cook, the worse you look. The more you fry, the faster you’ll die” 

5. Agricultural standards

(” You are what you eat and you are what what your food eats” )

Agriculture is a business like any other. Which means it operates based on a business motto:”Faster, Cheaper, Easier”. Cows are shot up with growth hormones (steroids) to make them grow faster and stronger. They are administered numerous antibiotics to keep them disease free  and living longer. As result, we have beef full of steroids and antibiotic resistant bacteria.
To add insult to an injury,  they’re being fed the most horrible disgusting stuff you could ever imagine: chopped up animal carcasses. Long gone are the days of cows serenely mooing at the pasture. These cows are stuck in modified cages and fed animal by-products ( meat, rather than grass) that their stomachs are not designed to digest. Cows are herbivores by nature, they’re made to eat grass. So when fed animal fat, they retain all the toxins, poison and diseases present in all their feed. And with  humans being at the top of the food chain, those toxic elements eventually end up in our body ( read above about colon cancer and digestion). And this is the kind of meat that ends up being sold in our grocery stores.

“What about grass fed cows, organic meat?” you might ask. So fine, take out the last paragraph about agricultural standards, however everything else still applies and it’s still pretty darn bad. Dioxins ( read below) are present in “organic” cows and do quite a lot of damage.

 6. Dioxins ( my favorite and most recent topic of research)

{If you’re a woman of childbearing age, this is of UTMOST importance to you}

Most people have heard about pesticides and other carcinogens, but very few people know what dioxins are, which is very strange, considering the omnipresence of these highly toxic substances.

Dioxins are considered to be some of the most toxic chemicals known to science and describe a group of elements that are a by-product of many manufacturing processes involving chlorine. In simple words, these are very dangerous carcinogens that are present in our environment and our bodies without the general public really knowing much about them.

Since dioxins are stored in fat of humans and animals and last virtually an eternity, they are everywhere: in our bodies, in animal products such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy, in the oceans, on our grass and produce, in our bloodstream.
Our major sources of dioxin are in our diet. Since dioxin is fat-soluble, it bioaccumulates, climbing up the food chain. A North American eating a typical North American diet will receive 93% of their dioxin exposure from meat and dairy products (23% is from milk and dairy alone; the other large sources of exposure are beef, fish, pork, poultry and eggs). In simple words, it’s like this: dioxins “settle” on grass that is then fed to the cows, they accumulate in cows, that are then fed to humans, so we end up being the end carriers of all of the dioxins of the world. A worse scenario: cows being fed with animal by-products that are already full of dioxins-> we get triple  the dose of dioxins, which then stay with us for 7-10 years. The fattier the animal product, the more dioxins  it has. Even cows and animals who are WILD and GRASS FED have high levels of dioxins due to their exposure, especially in the Midland of America.

What about vegetable produce and grains? Didn’t you say dioxin “accumulates” there too? Yes and no! It can only be stored in FAT, so vegetables, fruits and grains don’t “store” it, they simply have it on the surface. Wash the produce well and you’re good to go. In EPA’s dioxin report, they refer to dioxin as hydrophobic (water-fearing) and lipophilic (fat-loving). So in the end dioxins will always end up on ( or more like, IN) top of the food chain, i.e. humans.

But that’s not the scariest thing!  Besides there not being a “safe” level of exposure to dioxins, their “half-life” is about 7 to 10 years, depending on the individual age and  levels of dioxins. That means once in our bodies, it takes about 7 years to get rid of them. What’s even scarier is that general US population already has them at or neat the level with adverse health effects. We all have it, and we all continually ingest it day after day. 

In addition to cancer, exposure to dioxin can also cause severe reproductive and developmental problems, damage the immune system and interfere with hormonal systems. Dioxin exposure has been linked to birth defects, inability to maintain pregnancy, decreased fertility, reduced sperm counts, endometriosis, diabetes, learning disabilities, immune system suppression, lung problems, skin disorders, lowered testosterone levels and much more. 

These effects are often hardly noticed and are attributed to other conditions and genetic problems. There’s no way to find out where weak immune systems, genetic abnormalities, cancers, learning disorders come from. And it’s even harder to pinpoint them to dioxin exposure, because it works under the radar.

However, developing fetuses and infants are most at risk from these effects.  This is because these chemicals “mimic” or “block” estrogen and progesterone, natural hormones which instruct the body on how it should develop. Hormones regulate how an unborn baby develops. If they’re disrupted, horrible things can happen. While our bodies might be big enough and strong enough to not see much damage from the level of dioxins in our systems, a little pea sized embryo will have it at a toxic level causing developmental disorders, genetic abnormalities( and thus miscarriages), diabetes at birth, hormonal disorders that lead to obesity and worse.  All humans get a first dose of their dioxins through the mother’s placenta, and then through breast milk if breastfed, making breast-feeding for non-vegan/vegetarian mothers quite hazardous. So if you’re a non-vegan female who is planning on having a kid in the next 7 years, you can be sure that baby will get a nice dose of dioxins through the placenta and then through the milk before it can even do its own damage by eating meat later in life. In just six months of breast feeding, a baby in the United States will, on average, consume the EPA’s maximum lifetime dose of dioxin. Breast milk contains high levels of fat. This means that dioxin levels in the bodies of newborn babies are already at levels that put them at risk of serious illness. “The amount of chemicals required to disrupt normal development could be as low as one part in a trillion, the equivalent of a single drop of liquid placed in the center car of a 10-kilometer long cargo train. Dioxins are also highly persistent in the environment and extremely resistant to chemical or physical breakdown.”

This was probably the biggest argument that made me reinforce my desire to not eat meat and had me stop eating most cheese and dairy products ( I still drink yogurt and kefir due to its positive effects on bacterial balance and digestion, and I eat certain types of fish that are low in mercury and dioxins, like sardines).

I have to say that  eating fatty fish is very beneficial to our health, benefits that are hard to achieve in a pill form. If you decide to eat fish for health benefits, just keep in mind that ocean fish has significantly lower levels of dioxins  than freshwater fish. So seeing as I am preparing for a pregnancy, I have allowed myself sardines for two reasons: Sardines do not eat other fish, but plankton, and they reside in the oceans, therefore their dioxin levels, as well as mercury levels are negligible compared to the healthy omega 3 fatty acids that they are full of.

If you’re eating the typical North American diet, this is where you are getting your dioxin from:

Dioxin Exposure Chart
Chart from EPA Dioxin Reassessment Summary 4/94 – Vol. 1, p. 37Now, I do know that our government is making”some” efforts to reduce the amount of dioxins in our country, it is obviously not enough. I think the most important thing is public awareness. If you want to eat meat so bad that you’re willing to risk years of your life and your baby’s health, at least it’s your decision. But people CAN NOT make those decisions without having all the facts and being educated on the matter. And articles titled “meat is bad because it raises your blood cholesterol level” obviously aren’t doing enough to make people want to stop eating animal products. Michael Jacobson, executive Director of Center for Science in the Public Interest, suggested that  food labels could include dioxin levels. That way maybe consumers would begin to eat less greasy fatty food if they were told how much dioxin was in each serving.

A final note on the dioxin topic: There’s no way to get rid of dioxins for men. They have to wait until dioxins break down in 7-10 years. Women have two ways to expel dioxins out of their systems: through the placenta and through breast milk, neither one is viable for obvious reasons. I would also imagine that you can somehow get rid of dioxins in your system through weight loss since they’re stored in fat, however the danger of that I’d imagine is the increased amount of dioxins in bloodstream that needs to be cleared out by your liver and kidneys. So if you’re losing weight and were a big meat eater, make sure you do everything to properly support your liver and kidney functions.

So with all that being said ( and I hope I haven’t lose you yet),

 is there ANYTHING GOOD about meat?

Well, red meat is high in iron, something many teenage girls and women in their childbearing years are lacking. The heme iron in red meat is easily absorbed by the body. Red meat also supplies vitamin B12, which helps make DNA and keeps nerve and red blood cells healthy, and zinc, which keeps the immune system working properly.Red meat provides protein, which helps build bones and muscles. 

“Calorie for calorie, beef is one of the most nutrient-rich foods,” says Shalene McNeil, PhD, executive director of nutrition research for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. “One 3-ounce serving of lean beef contributes only 180 calories, but you get 10 essential nutrients.” 

However, I think all that can be found in other varied foods, as well as supplemented, to be sure.

How come our predecessors lived just fine eating meat? The first questions is DID they? Back then the average median age was 40 years old. Now, I wouldn’t link it to meat consumption, however  you cannot compare what our predecessors did or did not do due to completely different circumstances and environment we live in. First of all, our planet wasn’t as polluted as it is now, with dioxins poisoning us. Secondly, our predecessors had  much healthier lifestyles and diets, working in the field all day, and not sitting at the computer. They also didn’t have all the processed foods we’re having now, even if you think you eat relatively healthy. They didn’t have restaurants stuff their food with MSG and fats for better taste and present them with portions 3 to 4 times larger than an average serving. They had healthy trim lean cows that ate clean grass rather than animal by products, chickens that ran around all day, rather than be locked in cages and pumped with hormones and antibiotics, wild fish that was caught in the clean unpolluted waters, unless nowadays when farmed salmon while being a healthy fish in the wild, is so fat, it’s no longer worth eating it for the sake of its barely existent omega 3s. Our predecessors didn’t smoke, didn’t abuse alcohol, didn’t breathe the polluted air we breath.

So we have to deal with the time we live in now. And as far as I am concerned, while there’re certain things I cannot help as much I’d like to, such as what I breathe ( pollution), mercury content in fish, dioxins in animal products, one thing I can control is what I put inside of myself willingly. There’re plenty of reasonable and tasty ways of getting enough protein and B vitamins and iron in my body that I do not need to rely on contaminated products. I chose health, I chose exercise, I chose being educated and knowing my facts and making my own decisions, I choose to be prepared. I choose to  live as long as I can, for my kids and my husband and my parents. It might NOT be your choice, I realize that. Some people choose to be lazy and not exercise regardless of numerous studies showing that how exercise modifies our whole body: keeps us healthy, stress free, disease free, it keeps our brain sharp. ( That’s another post), and it’s their choice. Others choose to eat whatever their heart desires and be obese, regardless of consequences. Those are their choices and they will have to live with them. So this is your choice as well, like any other.
But I choose NOT to ignore my facts and take care of myself.

I really hope that you got something useful out of  MY choices and reasoning behind them. And I hope you will make your own decision to be healthy, even if it’s in you own way.

Some people will say: “So what now I can’t live at all? If we’re worried about everything then it’ll be no fun to live?”

Yes, and it won’t be any fun to die prematurely, will it? Or have a baby with birth defects, or diabetes, or cancer, or asthtma or high blood pressure, caused by your unhealthy lifestyle. One thing I can tell you from my own experience is that you LIKE what you’re USED to. Once you make the choice to change your habits and stick with them, it becomes an easier choice every day. You eat an pear instead of a cookie, you make beans and veggies instead of meatloaf,  you cook a vegetable pizza on a whole wheat bread, instead of ordering Pizza Hut, you drink water instead of Coke, you eat salt water fish instead of steak. It becomes second nature and you enjoy it just as much. You enjoy the clarity of mind that comes with clean eating, the unstoppable energy radiating from you every time you eat, you enjoy your lean body that doesn’t seem to gain any weight regardless of how much you eat, you enjoy your clear skin and most importantly you enjoy passing it down to your children and bringing them up in the same manner, to be healthy and young forever.

I’m not saying meat will do it all. You have to start somewhere, and removing the biggest offender is the first move.
I am a vegetarian and my husband just turned vegan about 4 months ago. He has lost about  30 pounds without cutting calories or dieting by just becoming vegan and has never been clearer minded and more full of energy. I will probably turn vegan as well, once I’m done making babies and breastfeeding, but for now I do allow myself kefir/yogurt and sardines for health benefits.

I’d love to learn about your experience with food and meat and weight loss and health. How do you feel about meat?

{I am currently writing a post about healthy eating and weight loss in general, not centered on meat,
so look forward to many tips on how to make your diet more healthy and clean}

Please feel free to share a link to this post with your friends and family or reblog it on your sites. I think it’s important to spread the information out as much as possible because our government doesn’t seem to think it’s important enough and people tend not to listen.



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