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My 30 day League Challenge Series: Healing Through Food

Healing Through Food and The League App

Our society has a tendency to underestimate the role and value food plays in our lives. The majority that do think they value it, they do so in the wrong way. Technically, food is just fuel for living. That’s it. Nothing else.  However, for so many of us it’s become so much more; for pleasure, for comfort, to socialize, as a reward, when we’re bored, as gifts, when we’re lonely…and the list just goes on and on. Over the years I’ve experimented with food. I went from eating a high carb diet while being an elite athlete, to becoming a vegetarian and then slowly transitioning to a strict vegan diet. Why vegan? For no other reason than I watched the documentary Food Inc and it scared the crap out of me. I was also living in Vancouver and it seemed as though everyone there was a “Granola Grinder” so it just seemed right at the time, LOL. But then I entered a fast pace career working for the largest Tobacco company in the country (ironic I know). With an unlimited expense account, tons of traveling, while wining and dining clients, my health started to go sideways. It is not surprising that my kidney issues resurrected during this time and fibromyalgia followed close behind.

Nathalie Niddim

If you’ve read part one of my 30 League Challenge (if not you can read it here) you have a good understanding at the health struggle I had for the last few years. I owe a large part of my recovery to food. Or shall I clarify, the right food. After several weeks of research, I was astounded to discover how much food influenced my conditions, especially fibromyalgia related pain. After taking copious amounts of prescription medication for an extended period of time, my gut lining and intestinal walls had become putrefied. These little holes in the lining allowed for food participles to sneak into my blood stream, causing my body to go into defence mode. The result was a nasty mix of chronic joint and muscle pain, food sensitivities, skin irritations, yeast infections, crippling migraines and insomnia. In recent months I have started to see some of these symptoms creep back up so I am determined to halt them in their tracks with the assistance of my League PRO and Holistic Nutritionist Nathalie Niddam.

ELXR Juice Lab

The process of connecting with Niddam through League was ridiculously easy. I was able to check her availability, set up our initial appointment through the app and within minutes she had emailed me what felt like a million documents, all necessary though, to fill out so she could get an idea of my medical history. This woman impressed me. She did a ton of reading and gathered up as much info as she could and was able to provide me with an insanely intense program for me to tackle to get back to where I need to be, while still getting the right about of calories to allow me to train and prepare for my next race. The custom program she created was broken up into three parts. 1) a custom 3 day juice cleanse with ELXR Juice Lab, 2) an anti-inflammatory/anti-candida diet and 3) a gut healing diet.

ELXR Juice LabELXR Juice Lab’s “Deep Breath” water is a midday lifesaver. It contains coconut water, fulvic acid and chorella. It boosts red blood cells and acts as a reboot – giving you life and energy to tackle the rest of the day. Photo from Instagram @sashaexeter

I was thrilled to find out that a juice cleanse was part of the program. After two years of testing out every juice company in Toronto, I have finally decided to partner long term with one and I have chosen ELXR. People have differing options on juice cleanses and they may not be for everyone but they have proven to be a lifesaver for me. When I am suffering from a pain flare-up, I can always count on a couple days of juicing to immediately bring down the pain level. It helps give my digestive organs a rest, improves my sleep, skin and so on. With more juices per day I have ever seen in any juice cleanse package before (8 juices and 2 boosters), I did not get hungry or have one craving. To be honest, I was quite full and had to force myself to drink the last two before bed. This is actually a good thing. I have cleansed with other brands before and literally felt that I wanted to chew my arm off from being so hungry. After day one,  I was bouncing off the wall with energy. With the perfect combination of cold pressed, non-HPP juices, seed mylks, and booster shots, I actually could gave gone another two days. ELXR’s mantra is, “Let food be thy medicine and let medicine by thy food” and their carefully formulated concoctions are created to act as the following remedies:

ELXR Juice Lab Remedies

ELXR Juice Lab Remedies

I am currently in the second phase of Niddam’s plan, the anti-inflammatory/candida detox for a total of six weeks – which is no doubt the most difficult one. You don’t necessarily need to be a chronic pain sufferer, have arthritis or a candida issue to do this. This regimen is a phenomenal detox program for anyone trying to do a deep cleanse of their system. However, I will admit it can be a bit challenging for someone to do voluntarily. Believe me if I could, I would be scarfing down a big stack of pancakes and sipping on a flat white while I write this post. All the foods most people generally love have been eliminated, so I am bidding farewell to fruit (with the exception of berries), dairy, legumes, all sugar and processed foods, fermented products (salad dressing, condiments – basically anything that may contain vinegar), alcohol, most nuts and caffeine…welp! The list of foods I can’t eat is much longer than what I can eat. For right now I am noshing on lots of dark leafy veggies, berries, eggs, foods high in good fats like avocados, organic chicken, fish and homemade soups made with alkalizing bone broth. I have just begun to start experimenting with some clean diet recipes that Nathalie graciously sent over in a 35 page deck and I will be sharing some of my faves over the next several weeks. Below is an easy, go-to brekkie recipe of that I love to prepare. It’s so yummy and full of good fats and protein:

Poached Egg with Avocado and Sweet Roasted Potatoes

Sample Breakfast

What You’ll Need

1 Tsp of vinegar *this is just to help keep poached eggs from separating when you boil them. Trust me, it’s a life saver!

1/3 – 1/2 avocado, thinly sliced

1 small to medium sweet potato, cut into chunks

EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil) for drizzling

Pinch of paprika, garlic powder and red chilli flakes

Sea salt and pepper to taste. *Nathalie suggests pink or grey sea salts. Natural mineral salts are nourishing and help balance electrolytes

Cilantro

Preparation

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees

2. Fill a medium saucepan halfway with water and bring to a simmer. Add in vinegar. Crack eggs one at a time into a bowl. I like to use the outer ring of a mason jar cover to help keep the eggs in place while boiling. Place the rings into the water and gently pour one cracked egg into each. To be honest, this trick will allow you to perfect poached eggs every single time. Let boil for 3-4 minutes until whites are set. Remove carefully with a slotted spoon.

3. Toss sweet potato with olive oil, spices, salt and pepper. Transfer to a baking sheet and roast for 20-25 minutes until soft and crispy.

4. Plate eggs, avocado slices and sweet potatoes. Garnish the avow with cilantro if you wish, spritz of lime and a sprinkle of sea salt.

I am going to chill with this anti-inflammatory diet for another 4.5 weeks before going into phase three; “the gut healing diet”. When this program is over, I plan to integrate a Ketogenic diet based on the advice and direction from my nutritionist. What was initially supposed to be a 30 day challenge has quickly turned into a 90 day one. For those who are interested, I will continue to post my progress, share info on the third step of the food program, recipes I feel you may enjoy and feature my favourite concoctions from ELXR.

For more information on League, to sign up for free and to begin to build your own league of experts click here. Details on ELXR Juice Labs original, organic formulas and to create your own custom juice cleanse, head to ELXRJuiceLab.com. Thanks to my friends at ELXR, by entering the discount code “So Sasha”, you will receive 15% off your orders.

Ever wonder what your acne is telling you?

As an adult woman in my 30’s I still suffer from occasional acne, which I thought was a done deal after the age of 15 – especially seeing as though my Mother has amazing skin. Each month during my menstruation it is a given that a few critters will appear on my face, but I often ask myself, “What about the break-outs throughout the rest of the month? And more importantly, why do they always seem to appear before a big meeting, party or event when I need to look my best? As I embark on my quest for better health and prepare for my pending nuptials next May, I have learned through mediocre Internet research that stress or medications could be the cause of the break-outs. After trying a plethora of high-end, expensive skin care products such as La Prairie, Dermalogica and Arbonne, I have literally become obsessed with the idea that there must be other pieces to the puzzle. My “ah ha, Oprah moment” came last night when I started looking into face mapping. How the heck did I not know about this old science which is the key to unlocking the mysteries behind problem skin?

For those individuals who have been consulting dermatologists and skin clinics for years would probably giggle at my lack of skin knowledge. But for those ladies, who like me, know nothing apparently, face mapping has been prominent for quite some time now and combines Ayurveda and ancient Chinese medicine with leading dermatologist’s prescriptions to explain how certain parts of your face are connected to organs in your body. So in essence, our face is essentially a map and the blemishes are simply the X’s on that landscape.The spots in different zones/areas correspond to different problems. Therefore, if one was to use this so-called map as a guide, sufferers of acne can get down to the nitty-gritty of the cause behind the problem and not only make the acne disappear but also correct the underlying health issue at the same time.

Here is how to decipher the code to radiant, blemish free skin:

 

1 & 2: Digestive System

Check your diet! Reduce the amount of junk or processed food intake, reduce the amount of fat in your diet,  and significantly increase water intake.

3: Liver

The first thing that comes to mind when I hear of liver is alcohol – so cut this out if problem area three is your issue. Moreover, greasy foods and dairy can also be the culprit. This is the zone where primarily food allergies show up first so ensure to read the ingredients of your food prior to purchasing. In addition to these changes, it is recommended to do 30 minutes of light to moderate exercise each day and ensure you get 8 hours of sleep so the liver can rest.

4 & 5: Kidney

For those that fall under this category…water, water, water is the cure. Almost always, anything surrounding the eyes, even dark circles, point to dehydration

6: Heart

You may want to get your blood pressure and Vitamin B levels assessed. Decrease the amount of spicy foods, eat less meat and get outside more for fresh air. Try to find ways to also lower your cholesterol which would entail replacing “bad fats” with “good fats” like Omega 3 and 6 which can be found in avocados, flax seed, fish and nuts. It may also be wise to check to make sure that your make-up is not past its expiry date or is skin clogging, as this area is prone for dilated pores.

7 & 8: Kidney

Yes, this is not a typo or a mistake, you have read the word “kidney” correctly. Again, increase water intake as much as possible. Eliminate carbonated beverages, coffee/caffeinated drinks and alcohol as these will perpetuate the dehydration.

9 & 10: Respiratory System

If you have allergies or smoke tobacco products, they would be the culprit for these areas. If by chance this is a trouble area for you and you don’t smoke or have allergies, then don’t allow your body to overheat, try eating more cooling foods such as cucumbers, decrease sugar intake and get more fresh air. Another useful tip, try keeping your body more alkaline by steering clear of foods that can make the body more acidic – meat, dairy, alcohol, caffeine, and sugar; and add more alkalizing foods such as; wheatgrass shots and dark leafy veggies. Last but certainly not to be forgotten, the two largest culprits of acne, especially in these zones, are dirty pillow cases and cell phones.

11 & 12: Hormones

This is one that we could have all guessed on our own…zones 11 & 12 are prime araes for stress and hormonal changes – which as women we know that the latter is unavoidable. Ways to combat it; increase water intake, ensure to get enough rest, keep skin clean and eat tons of dark leafy veggies. For those you want to take face mapping to a whole new level; breakouts in this area indicate when you are ovulating and on which side.

13: Stomach

Digestion issues would be the apparent reason in addition to increased toxin levels in the body. Increase fiber intake, drink herbal teas and try to reduce toxin overload.

14: Illness

Our bodies are very sophisticated and intelligent machines. Acne in this area could be due to your body warding off bacteria to avoid illness. It is critical to relax, partake in meditation/yoga, and drink plenty of water.

So there you have it, the next time you experience a breakout, like I am having right now, you now know that your skin is trying to notify you that something may not be right in your body. Think of the skin as a mirror to your insides. Whatever disruption is occuring internally, will show up on your face. Please note, I am not a dermatologist nor am I an MD, this is just a guide that may put you in the right direction to solving your skin issues. It is always best to consult to consult a doctor for a proper diagnosis.

XO.

S

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