Indigo30 DAY 29: Your words

All of this Whole30 and yoga stuff is a really super good idea, but if we never found out from anyone if it actually worked, then none of it would even matter. It’s because we tell each other about the results we’ve experienced (or haven’t) that we continue to learn and be motivated to be better. Human beings are results-driven, even in the minor things. We expect our car to start and run. We expect certain things to happen at specific times of day. We want to know that our efforts are seen and that some things in life are certain. The expectations and desire for results are driven by habits, which mold and frame and direct our days — thousands of them. Some are simple, like the habit you have of making your coffee in the morning, with the reward of the delicious, foamy first sip. And others are complicated, like the habit you have or know of someone having of fighting an addiction. They all swirl about and pull from emotions and often times feel vastly out of our control. “But every habit, no matter its complexity, is malleable. The most addicted alcoholics can become sober. The most dysfunctional companies can transform themselves. A high school dropout can become a successful manager,” writes Tal Ben Shahar, of Happier. 

In the course of the last 28 days, really more like 35 days, because the preparation week really counts in my opinion, you have shaped, formed, shifted, reorganized and changedimage.png some of the biggest habits a human being can have. You have done this. Your willpower has a pattern now, and you are the one who made that happen. You decided, consciously, to do the work, see the cues and the rewards that drive your routines, and create new rituals around your daily behaviors — rituals that have meaning and value not only to you but to the people in your lives. Your families have been impacted. Your friends have watched you shift and change and stay the course. People who were once strangers, are now your friends, with their superhero capes ready to throw on and help you back up anytime you stumble.

You did other things too, things that no one could predict and things that won’t sell diet books: you became accountable for your behaviors.

“I realized that I am the reason my family eats out so much. My lack of organization around meal planning and just plain laziness at times created chaos during what would have been time of comfort for me and my family. By not having a plan, I made their evenings hectic while we all tried to figure out dinner and usually made an unhealthy choice,” writes one I30 participant.

I have been working with students for over a decade, helping them to come clean and get straight and own up to their role in relationships and breakdowns that occur in their lives. Especially when the default is to blame.

Very rarely does anyone own it like this.

“I realized I’ve been dropping the ball,” she said. “Cooking for my family for the last 28 days has been so lovely. They can’t wait to hear what’s for dinner. They have never once said, ‘I wish we could just go out to eat.’ My daughter even said, ‘Momma, I love this whole thing you are doing because the food is so good!”

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You can’t put a number, especially a scale number, to something like that. These children are going to remember this time for years to come. They will be in college someday longing for their mom’s healthy home cooking. It will be part of the reason they can’t wait for the holidays. They will remember going to yoga with their mom and remembering holding her hand at the end. They will remember her encouragement and how she took care of herself. And the pride in their eyes when they look at their mom — glowing, healthy and happy, is nothing anyone can put a number to. That is what quality of life looks like. That is happiness.

“When I was told I had to stop running because of an injury,” writes another participant, “I spiraled into what I couldn’t do. I got depressed and ended up having surgery. Surgery didn’t help. It made things worse. Had I found yoga, I wouldn’t have gone that route. Yoga reminded me that I could exercise and not injure myself. I just do what I can do. Some days it’s not much, but it’s better than me sitting at home and feeling sorry for myself. Thank you for putting this program together. I’ve learned so much it’s crazy.”

Many of you have remarked that the combination of nutrition and movement has been a game changer — that the diet without the yoga might have left you feeling a little obsessive over the food, and that the yoga without the diet might have kept you eating stuff that wasn’t really working for you but that you might have dismissed “since you were working out all the time.” The two components are what creates the balance, the effort and the ease. The two disciplines actually hold each other accountable. As we have learned, you cannot be all in on one and sort of in on the other. They work together. Add in meditation/mindfulness/self-reflection, and you have a perfect triad of balanced wellness.

“I’m actually more nervous to end the Indigo30 than I was starting it,” writes a student new to the Indigo30. “I’ve never had so much energy. It makes me a better speech language pathologist, a better friend, and a better person to be around. The meetings were so helpful and I loved hearing about other people’s NSVs. The blogs helped me A LOT — the introspection is huge for me. I tell others that it’s not about losing weight; it’s about seeing how your body reacts to certain foods. It’s about gaining insight into your own habits with food, and it’s about doing something you didn’t think you could.”

Some of you were looking for education, and were curious. Others were looking for a reset. Still others were looking for a distraction from the hardships of life, something to redirect your focus. You all have admitted that this was more than you thought it would be — why were you suddenly finding yourself crying tears of gratitude on your mat? Why and how were you suddenly not craving a drink amidst friends and normal social circles, totally content to say, “no, thank you” with ease? Why was it easier than you anticipated?

Because you didn’t do it alone. You redefined what “hard” really is. And you saw change occur.

“I probably would never have done this type of regimen without Indigo as a support group.”

“I have struggled with anxiety and depression. Over the past month my mood swings have been almost non-existent. I have not felt so ‘stable’ in several years. My chronic migraines have almost disappeared. I have decreased my caffeine intake significantly. These are things I never, in a million years, though possible.”

“I’ve had personal challenges/disappointments/losses that I’ve experienced for years. All of THAT was hard. And it still is. Pouring my energy into what I thought was going to be a ‘distraction’ that turned out to be a blessing — this reset — was not hard. I have learned so much, made new friends and bolstered my confidence as I prepare to take the next steps on my journey.”

_______

It’s not always easy to know what our purpose is. There will be days when you feel aimless and lost, alone and so vulnerable. You will think you are just chasing your tail or wandering directionless, feeling like no one and nothing even notices the path you are traveling, because they are so hyper-focused on their own path. Most of all, you may battle mostly with yourself, relentlessly seeking achievement and perfection; running toward some intangible goal of “finally good enough” when all the things have, at long last, perfectly lined up. Until the day comes, and it will if it hasn’t already, when you realize that the battle is only with your own reflection. If you reach out and try to touch it, there will be nothing there. But if you look around and see what’s outside of, and beyond that reflection, you will find real people with real feelings and similar, real battles, whose hands need to be held and who also need to be pulled away from the enticing reflecting glass so that they can see, in your eyes, who they really are.

The mission of the Indigo30 was to educate participants in nutrition and yoga in such an impactful, but balanced way, that how they live — their lifestyle — will automatically, by default, impact and balance others as they exemplify and share what they have learned.

“As I now look toward my future,” a hesitant-to-share Indigo30 participant writes, “this experience will always go with me. My degree is concentrated in Nutrition and Wellness; my goal now is to work with individuals who want to make lifestyle changes to improve their health. Therefore, I thank you, for providing this experience. It has not only helped me but will help others with whom I share it.”

Mission accomplished.

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One more day.

Keep going.

B

 

Indigo30 DAY 27: An introduction to the Reintroduction

Don’t do what I did the first time I did the Indigo30, which was not TRULY learning about the re-introduction a few days before the final day. All I could think about was BEING DONE. And I can even remember being a little defiant about doing the image.pngreintroduction all together, like, “Nah, I don’t really need to do it properly, I will figure it out.” I do remember having the WORST STOMACH ACHE EVER on Day 31 after eating some quinoa. But that morning I also had cream in my coffee. And I had a glass of wine on the night of Day 29. (Bad cheating! I was such a rogue.) So even though I thought it was the quinoa, it could have been any of the three. But I didn’t really know because I mashed them all together in a 12-hour period.

After 3 years of studying the Whole30, I still have to give myself the constant reminder that the Whole30 is a dietary reset, intended to help us figure out what foods affect our digestion, energy, sleep, mood, focus, cravings, athletic performance, and symptoms of a medical condition — negatively. “Careful, systematic reintroduction is the key to identifying which specific foods aren’t okay for you (and the effects they have on your body and brain),” encourages the Hartwigs in Whole30. So do NOT skip, blow off, rush through, modify or forget about this step. You guys, if you skip the re-introduction, it’s like getting to the end of the race but never crossing the actual finish line. It’s like I tell my teachers in training — you must complete your last assignment, or I can’t give you your certificate. Why put in ALL this work and not get what you came for?

“Reintroduction is actually a lifelong process. The more you pay attention to how you look, feel, perform and live after eating certain foods, the more you will notice their subtle effects. For some, gluten makes them sad. For others, dairy makes them break out — but not until two or three days after the exposure.” I can remember an esthetician once told me that the sugar that I eat now will show up as a breakout on my face or back 30 days later. I was like, OMG. NOOOOO!! I don’t even know if that’s actually true but it was enough to make me not want to eat sugar because it felt like a horrible forever-kind-of cycle. I can’t remember what I ate a month ago! But now it’s a huge, angry cyst on my chin. Yuck.

I can promise you this, if I can’t promise you anything else on this program. If you blow off your yoga and you decide to celebrate with pasta and wine or beer and pizza followed by a bowl of ice cream and a night-cap, Day 32 is going to be hell. You will feel like you have been lawn-mowed. Your Sugar Dragon will reawaken with a vengeance, you will have zero energy and your trips to the bathroom will be frequent and uncomfortable. And you really won’t know why.

There are two ways to work the Reintroduction: the Fast Track and the Slow Roll.

The Indigo30 Fast Track

image.pngThe Fast Track is the complete reintroduction protocol in ten days. This is for folks who know exactly what they have been missing and want to figure out quickly if these foods negatively impact them. You are going to keep up with your yoga schedule because you know how to safely pace and modify and when to back off a little (in class) but you love how you feel and you need the discipline of coming every day. If you feel satisfied with the results of the Indigo30, are a Type-A, structured type person, then the I30 Fast Track option is for you. This plan is also the best route for someone who undeniably lives with food allergies and is not certain what is causing so much genuine and life-altering upset.

The basic timeline of the Indigo30 Fast Track is as follows:

DAY 1 (optional): Keep your entire diet Whole30 compliant while evaluating a gluten-free alcohol. The best options are a gluten-free, low-sulfite red wine (Fit Vine is fantastic, as is Scout & Cellar. Both wines are free of residual sugar which makes them so much better to drink, of course in moderate quantity, after this program) 100% agave tequila or gluten-free beer. This is the day to re-introduce it but don’t go overboard. Then, go back to Whole30 for the next two days and see how you feel. Alcohol is a major part of social life, and, you have done just fine without it for 30 days. Take a little time to determine how, how often, how much — if at all — you really need it in your lifestyle.

DAY 1 (OR 4): Evaluate legumes while keeping the rest of your diet Whole30-compliant. I caution against a big bowl of beans — you know why. You could try some peanut butter or some miso soup. After this day, go back to Whole30 for the next two days.

DAY 4 (OR 7): Evaluate non-gluten grains (corn, brown or white rice, certified gluten-free oats, quinoa, etc.) while keeping the rest of your diet W30-compliant. Oatmeal, white rice, tortilla chips, gluten-free bread… (I know all you saw just now was TORTILLA CHIPS). After this day, return to W30 for the next two days. Pay attention. You are getting all the intel you need during this time about what truly works and what doesn’t.

NOTE: You may experience a moment of loss or sadness when you come to the realization that some of your most favorite foods truly, after all, simply don’t work for your body — like at all, not just for 30 days. Dude, I get it. It’s a bummer. And… it’s not. It’s just food. It’s not a loss of life or loss of a pet or loss of a relationship. It’s the loss of a routine and a reward that you created by no deliberate fault of your own at some point in time and found enjoyable. Be present with the irrationality of feeling loss and depression over tortilla chips. Then, take a deep breath, shake it off, and get to your yoga mat. 

DAY 10 (OR 13): Test run gluten-containing grains (any product made from wheat, rye or barley-bread, cereal, pasta, crackers, beer, etc.) — and of course keep the rest of your diet W30 clean. You could go with a muffin or some whole-grain bread, maybe some wheat crackers or a beer. Only do a bowl of cereal if you can use a nut-milk over it.

COMPLETION: Now you know. Your reintroduction is over, and you can decide for yourself what works and what doesn’t. If drinking alcohol gave you a splitting headache, if yogurt made your bowels blow, or bread made you break out like a teen, only you can make the call about if it was worth it… and it may be! And that’s okay! The win here is that you now know going in how it will affect you. And I would put money on the notion that you probably won’t indulge as much as you think you will anyway. Pretty great for just 30 days of work after a lifetime of wily ways.

The Indigo30 Slow Roll 

The Slow Roll doesn’t follow any particular timeline. The entire idea is to just carry on eating Whole30 and doing your yoga until something comes along that causes you to have to make some new choices. Is it a special treat at a party? Is it a weekend vacation to the beach where your yoga happens as napping on a beach chair with a magazine?

image.pngWhat’s great about the Slow Roll is that you get to continue the momentum you’ve built, living symptom-free and energized as long as you stick predominately to the plan. Another huge bonus that you may not have even realized is that when you do choose to reintroduce food that you think is the greatest, most irresistible thing ever, you’ll savor it more. You won’t be bringing a large amount back in at any given time, so it’s likely that the side effects won’t be as severe or last as long as they might if you are really going for it like you do on the Fast Track.

This option is for the person who has already done the Indigo30 before and has a really good sense of what foods do not work for them. It’s possible that you may want to Fast Track to see if anything has changed — we know this is possible as we age — that we can’t tolerate things quite like we used to be able to (alcohol!) This option is also for the person who doesn’t have really severe food allergies and doesn’t need super definitive answers. However, the Slow Roll isn’t just for ten days — this is basically your new normal from here on out. (In a couple of days, I will talk to you about my other approach, the “Paleo5,” which is another option after you ease out of the Slow Roll.)

As far as your yoga goes, I encourage you to take Day 31 completely off. Like, I don’t even want to see your smiling, triumphant face on Day 31. TAKE DESERVED, NEEDED REST. And on Day 32, get back on your mat, and allow yourself to determine how much yoga is truly best for you, your body, your schedule and your goals/purpose. I will always and forever tell a practiced yogi that 5 days a week is your standard, with one of those days devoted to a restorative practice, especially if you incorporate other workouts into your regimen. My only caveat here is that the routine — the ritual — for some of you, really helps keep you on the rails. And what a positive, glorious ritual it is! So keep going. Just keep going wisely. Hydrate often. Eat enough – nourish with good carbohydrate and good fat. Back off every now and then so your body can heal and therefore get stronger. Do imagenot ever push past reasonable limits. There is no direction ANYWHERE in any of the ancient teachings that says “push harder” or “if you’re not killing yourself you are not working hard enough.” No, no, no. Oh my gosh — NO. This idea is so not what was intended by the great masters. The ancient text, the Yoga Sutras, interestingly enough, only says one thing about the physical practice of asana: Sthira Suhkam Asanam. It means a yoga posture should be steady, firm and stable, yet also comfortable, light and delightful.

Straight from the Whole30 book is “One Slow Roll Consideration.”

“There is one way to keep your daily diet feeling more sustainable without jeopardizing your Tiger Blood. To give yourself a little breathing room on this stretched-out reintroduction schedule, consider relaxing on the Whole30 “no added sugar” rule come Day 31.

HALLELUJAH PRAISE THE LORD!

… This doesn’t mean you’re eating frosting washed down with energy drinks (gross) but if you want sugar-cured bacon with your eggs, ketchup on your burger, or the vinaigrette dressing the comes with your restaurant salad, go right ahead. Note that we’re not actually changing your diet much here — you were already eating meat, condiments, and salads on the Whole30. We’re just broadening your choices a bit, in a way that won’t send you running for the nearest donut shop. Of course, if there are some foods you suspect (or know) will be ‘triggers’ for your Sugar Dragon, stay away! Sweetened nut butters or coconut butters, dark chocolate, or coffee creamers may send you hurtling down the path of cravings and overconsumption.”

I feel so happy that you now have a good path for when you’re on your own. I am feeling suddenly like an empty nester. (sniffle) I am excited for you and know you will crush it, no matter what comes your way. I feel confident that you will be able to decide, for yourself and in your heart, what is “worth it.” I do want to warn you though, and the book will tell you this as well, that your definition of “worth it” on Day 31 may loosen as time goes on. The discipline is to always and forever assess what is worth it as if you were on Day 15. Sometimes, as with so many things, the idea of a certain food is better than the actuality of it.

Be strong. Make informed decisions. And as always, keep going.

Love,

B

Indigo30 DAY 25: Hold the eggs. And the bacon. (BUT WHY?!)

Because I bet you’re a little sick of eggs and bacon. I bet you are ready for more variety, but not necessarily wanting more on your plate, so to speak. If you’ve mastered the art of variety for this epic Indigo30, then you are likely always looking for new ideas!

On par with how I’ve rolled this thing out for the last 30 days, I’m about to share new ways to make not only our food more creative, but your YOGA more creative and fresh as well. Don’t worry, I won’t make you choose a different spot in the yoga room for your mat. (Although …)

One of the suggestions I’ve gotten in the past is to keep a “Best of I30” journal, a place image.pngwhere you could keep, note and organize all of your favorites into categories… perhaps that should be in the appendix of this compilation of blogs which will hopefully have a cover and a spine someday. But for now, get yourself a little 3-ring or a tabbed notebook to organize all the good stuff you’ve learned. (Don’t forget to include your favorites from our Tuesday Posting Parties, Yvette’s recipes and all the info in these super awesome blogs!)

And without further ado, here are more ideas to add variety to your routines so you can finish strong.

Great breakfasts that are not eggs and bacon (from the Whole30 Daily Newsletter):

  • Sausage and cabbage sautéed in coconut oil.
  • Smoked salmon, cucumber, tomatoes and dill (or homemade tartar sauce).
  • Grass-fed steak, sautéed kale with mushrooms and onions, side of guacamole/avo and tomato. And some grapefruit.
  • Shredded chicken with Anaheim pepper sauce and plantains fried in coconut oil.
  • GIANT spinach salad with berries, grilled chicken, roasted squash and roasted sunflower seeds… balsamic and olive oil.
  • Roast a whole boneless turkey breast with whatever spices and dried herbs you have, slice it, then eat it all week with veggies, avocado and salsa.
  • Caribbean Seafood Stew from Everyday Paleo.

Why not have a burger for breakfast? Try this:

Ingredients: ground beef, 1 egg, hot sauce (Rubin’s Red or Frank’s) 1/4 C. cilantro

Directions: Grill burger, top with egg fried over-medium. Sprinkle cilantro and hot sauce and devour!

Do you have the yoga yawns?

Are you tired of hearing, “Let’s start in child’s pose?” If you’re looking for a little variety in your yoga practice, sometimes it’s just as easy as asking your teacher for it! All of the teachers at Indigo Yoga are trained to be able to add and subtract poses in the sequence in a way that makes anatomical, biomechanical and energetic sense. Nothing is arbitrary and we don’t teach to entertain; we teach to educate. But, if you are wanting a change up, ask them to throw in an extra inversion, hip opener or arm balance. Or maybe there is a pose you want to work on for a few extra minutes. They will love the challenge and are savvy enough to even be able to take one suggestion and craft an entire class around it … without losing the essence and why of the sequence. Don’t fall victim to boredom and blame your teacher! Make a request!

And don’t forget, you lucky down dogs, you have TWO studios to practice at. Haul your butt 10 minutes down the road to the Sundance Square studio for a change of scenery. Nothing beats the twinkle lights in the trees when you settle in for your savasana nap. And if you’re lucky, your teacher will cover you with a blankie and tuck you in.

You miss sandwiches, don’t you…

There is research to suggest that getting your hands on your food can actually stimulate all of the senses. This is probably why eating a sandwich can be such a satisfying experience. But how to when no bread? Here’s how:

  • Lettuce wraps. Butter lettuce, collard greens are both great for nestling your contents and keeping it somewhat intact!
  • Grilled, baked or toasted sweet potato is really the winner for little slider-like sammies. And it’s delish!
  • Jicama tortillas work great for wraps as well. They are super delicious with tuna fish salad or chicken salad.
  • Sometimes, if you slice roast beef or chicken just thick enough, they can be like two slices of your favorite gluten-packed, sugar-laden, gut-bloating bread. (hahahaha). Put some mayo on those slices, add bacon, lettuce, tomoato and before you know it, you have a Breadless BLT or Cali Club.

Kiddo Inspo

Whole30 Forum contributor/member, Flynn, shares a handful of great ideas for cub-approved lunch snacks…

  • Gorilla Sandwich: Almond butter and banana rolled up in a romaine leafCrispy-Paleo-Chicken-Nuggets-e1438874710299.jpg
  • Shish Kabob: Flynn calls them “muscle sticks” and tells her kids how big and strong they will make them! Find a little stick of some sort, like a skewer, and put meat and a few veggies or apples/pineapples in between.
  • Chicken nuggets: What kid doesn’t love the nug? Homemade is pretty darn good, and here is a stellar recipe from Paleo Running Momma.
  • Ants on a log: It never goes out of style … celery, almond butter and ants. I mean, raisins.
  • Meatball lollipops: weird name, kinda sounds gross but kids don’t care! Use Tessamae’s ketchup for dipping.
  • Fun containers can be found anywhere. Kids love the bento-box styles with the little compartments. Because their little brains crave consistency and routine and organization too, just like yours does.

Revolutionize your yoga with some new learning

Going to daily yoga classes is fun for sure. It’s so GREAT when your schedule becomes consistent and you can really start to see progress and strength. Adding in new learning such as a weekend workshop, a studio program, an outdoor class, meditation sits (in a class or at an outdoor sit) can also deepen not only your knowledge base but level up your daily practice. Yoga is everywhere these days — you don’t have to look far to find some inspiring new curriculum. Keep up with the electives, workshops, trainings and programs Indigo Yoga holds all year long through the website and social media channels. We are always striving and growing to provide our students with the most cutting edge teaching.

And finally,

GO GET YOURSELF A NEW YOGA OUTFIT. Your old ones probably don’t fit anymore anyway. 

Love you guys!

Keep going!
B

Indigo30 DAY 22: Satiety and satiation

I’ve done the Whole30 several times now and each time not only do I learn so much more, but I understand the concepts in greater depth. And I even look back on my previous programs and go, “I so didn’t know that,” or, “How did I not know that!” So if this is your first time, try to give yourself a little wiggle room for learning. On the outside it seems fairly simple, but it’s actually pretty complicated because food producers and manufacturers make it real complicated.

In fact, I was at Costco today, and as I was skimming the food book/cookbook table for anything interesting, a lady leaned over to me and said, “Ugh. I don’t know what to buy. My sister is on this Keto thing and she’s lost all this weight but she’s grouchy and miserable even though she’s trying to get me to do it with her. It’s all so confusing.” I looked at her with my silver hair ablaze like Einstein’s and said, “I can help you.”

We talked for about 15 minutes and I explained some of the basic concepts I have been teaching you. She asked all kinds of questions, but her biggest concern was longevity. I was pretty candid about how I didn’t think the Keto diet was sustainable long-term, and that even though the weight might drop off faster, it would be harder to maintain versus a Whole30 reset followed by a Paleo-based lifestyle. But weight loss is so glamorizing for the average American. We want it all and we want it now. And most don’t even care how they get it, even if it means taking dangerous weight loss drugs, having invasive surgery and a host of other harmful methods. What is more alarming, is that people will do these things without any research or understanding about what and why. th-1.jpeg

For those of you who are wanting true, long-term results and practices, you make great efforts to understand processes. Two of the key concepts that explain the why of the Whole30 approach are satiety and satiation. The two words are often confused or thought to mean the same thing. Let’s look at them more closely. I really love how Dallas and Melissa Hartwig break down the concepts, I’ve pulled an outstanding excerpt from their book, It Starts With Food to explain.

“If we were hunting and foraging our food in nature, our bodies would need some way to signal to us that we’d found something useful. For example, bitter taste signified toxic foods, while sweet taste signifies safer choices. Thanks to nature and our biology, our brains have been hardwired to appreciate three basic tastes: sweet (a safe source of energy), fatty (a dense source of calories), and salty (a means of conserving fluid). When we came across these flavors, neurotransmitters in our brain would help us remember that these are good choices by sending us signals of pleasure and reward, reinforcing the experience in our memories. These important signals from nature helped us select the foods best suit to our health.

But there is one very important point to keep in mind with respect to these signals from nature. They weren’t designed to tell us which foods were delicious — they were designed to tell us which foods were nutritious.

In nature, pleasure and reward signals led us to vital nutrition.

The trouble is that in today’s world, the ancient signals persist — but the foods that relay them are anything but good sources of nutrition. And that creates a major disruption in our bodies and in our brains.

Over the Last 50 years, the make up of our foods has dramatically changed. Our grocery stores and health food markets are packed with shelves of processed, refined food-like products — which no longer look anything like the plant or animal from which they were derived.

Food scientists caught onto the fact that our brains respond strongly to specific flavors (such as the aforementioned sweet, fatty, and salty), and, armed with this knowledge, they began to modify our whole foods. They sucked out the water, the fiber, and the nutrients and replaced them with ingredients like corn syrup, MSG, seed oils and artificial sweeteners, colors and flavors. All of this with specific intention of inducing cravings, overconsumption, and bigger profits for food manufacturers.

They’ve turned real food into Franken-food.th-2.jpeg

These foods light up pleasure and reward centers in the brain for a different reason than nature intended — not because they provide vital nutrition, but because they are scientifically designed to stimulate our taste buds. The effect is a total disconnection between pleasurable, rewarding tastes (sweet, fatty, and salty) and the nutrition that always accompanies them in nature.

In nature, sweet tastes usually come from seasonal raw fruit, rich in vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients. Today, sweet flavors come from artificial sweeteners, refined sugars, and high-fructose corn syrup. In nature, fatty acids usually come from meats, especially nutrient-packed organ meats. In modern times, fats come from a deep fryer or a tub of “spread.” In nature, precious electrolytes like sodium came from sea life or from the animals we ate. In modern times, salt comes from a shaker.

Do you see the problem with this?

Modern technology has stripped the nutrition from these foods, replacing it with empty calories and synthetic chemicals that fool our bodies into giving us the same powerful biological signals to keep eating.

This means that we are eating more calories with less nutrition.

Persistent biological signals lead us to eat over eat sweet, fatty, salty foods while keeping us malnourished.

These Franken-foods are ridiculously cheap to produce.
They can unnaturally electrify our taste buds. They contain little, if any, nutrition.
And they mess with our brains in a major way.

You may be thinking, “If these foods taste so good that I can’t stop eating them, maybe I should just stop eating foods that taste good.” But that sounds miserable to us — and flavor restriction would probably be just as unsuccessful long-term as caloric restriction. Thankfully this strategy is wholly unnecessary. The problem isn’t that these are delicious.

The problem is that these foods are super normally stimulating in the absence of nutrition and satiety.

They are the essence of empty calories — food with no brakes.th-3.jpeg

The idea of food brakes can be explained by satiety and satiation. They sound the same but biologically speaking, they are two separate and distinct concepts.

Satiety occurs in your digestive tract specifically, and you’re intestines. When you’ve digested and absorbed enough calories and nutrients to satisfy your body’s needs, hormones signal your brain that “I am well nourished now,” which decreases your desire for more food. Satiety can’t be fooled or faked, it is as dependent on the actual nutrition in your food. But since digestion is slow, the signals may take several hours to be transmitted, which means they can’t do a very good job all by themselves to keep you from over eating.

That’s where satiation comes in.

Satiation is regulated in the brain and provides more timely motivation to stop eating. It’s based on the taste, smell, and texture of food, perception of “fullness,” even your knowledge of how many calories are in a meal. As you eat, you perceive various sensations (“This is delicious,” “I shouldn’t eat the whole bag” or “I’m getting pretty full”), all of which send your brain status updates to help you determine whether you still want more. But unlike satiety, satiation is an estimate dependent on your perceptions, not an absolute measurement.

Ideally, the brain would signal us to stop eating when our bodies have sensed that we digested and absorbed enough nutrition to support our health. In this case, satiation and satiety would be one and the same. Let’s use the example of a prime rib dinner.

Prime rib contains complete protein, the most satiating of all of the macronutrients, and naturally occurring fat, which makes protein even more satiating. As you eat the prime rib, you’ll find yourself wanting prime rib less and less with every bite. The first bite was amazing, the second fantastic, but by your tenth bite, the texture, smell, and flavor are less appealing. And by the 20th bite, you’ve had enough, and you know longer desire the flavor or texture of the meat — so down goes your fork.

This is satiation.

Prime rib also takes longer to eat then processed food (as you actually have to chew and swallow) which gives your brain a chance to catch up with your stomach. As you eat and start to digest the meat, your body recognizes that the dense nutrition in that prime rib is adequate for your energy and caloric needs. This sends a “we’re getting nourishment” signal to your brain while you’re still working on your plate, which also reduces your “want” for more food.

This is satiety.

This scenario plays out differently for foods lacking the satiation factors of adequate nutrition — complete protein, natural fats, and essential nutrients. Let’s compare prime rib to a tray of Oreos.

Oreos are a highly processed food containing almost no protein, saturated with sugar and flavor enhancing chemicals, and filled with added fats. As we eat the Oreos (generally at a much faster rate than prime rib), they move through us quickly and don’t provide enough nutrition to induce satiation or satiety. So unlike prime rib, there are no “brakes” to decrease our want. We want the tenth Oreo just as much as the first. And we never stop wanting more because even though we’ve eaten plenty of calories, our bodies know that we are still seriously lacking nutrition. So we eat the whole darn package because satiety can’t be fooled.

In the case of Oreos, the only reason to stop eating is when our bellies are physically full, and we realize we are about to make ourselves sick from overconsumption. Chronic consumption of these foods don’t affect just our taste buds, our perceptions, and our waistlines. Over time, they literally rewire our brains.”

Whew. That’s a lot I know. But imperative that we understand. Or we don’t have a real why. And this is a scientifically proven, biological, anatomical why. Not just one someone made up to sell more diet books.

Read this a few times if you have to, but get this concept drilled in. It will absolutely, positively change the way you choose your food. My boys love to get me all riled up by putting Mountain Dew in the grocery basket because they know I will freak out and talk about how soda pop is poison, especially Mountain Dew. But y’all, I’m not kidding around. It is. As are so many other fake, processed junk foods that we all find (found!) delicious… like OREOS.

You are now learning to outsmart the little Franken-food-stein in your head. And at least, if you do choose the Oreo or the doughnut or the fast food, somewhere in the recesses of your thought bank, you will know the path of no return that fake food will take you down. And in that moment, pause, feel your feet, (that’s your yoga at work) and make a conscious choice. You can so do it!

Keep going and keep going strong. Only nine days left!

B

Indigo30 DAY 20: Ten days left. Time to prepare for the real world.

image.pngOkay people, we are nearing week 3. You have ten days to go. We’ve had our few days of not feeling great, we are now on the mend. Now it’s time to RALLY! The Whole30 Day by Day makes a great point on Day 20: “While ten days to go can be an exciting prospect, Day 20 is a reminder that you only have ten days left. Which might lead to, ‘I’m not there yet.'”

Ah yes, a daunting thought for sure. Perhaps you’re either wondering if you will achieve certain goals or still worried you won’t figure it all out. Maybe you’ve had experiences in the past with roller coaster diets that you crash on and rebound after. So that cycle might feel like a prospect to you and that is, of course bothersome. But the reason we have invested so much time in educating you is to help you realize that you now have tools that will last you, well, forever if you want. Like it or not, you know stuff about food now. And you know stuff about yoga. You know that the two together are possibly the two very best things — sustainable things — that you can do for your health. So no matter what Day 31 brings for you, you have tools in your pocket that no one and nothing can take away. Not even your dastardly SCALE.

You may also be starting to think about how you will maintain after Day 30; many of you are already planning to keep going. Or, you might actually have some stress around the idea — I usually hear something like this from participants: “I don’t want to blow everything I’ve worked so hard for, but I’m not sure how to maintain this pace, this diet, this much yoga and this lifestyle — in more moderation.”

These are fair concerns. And the short answer is: with a plan.

I was asked recently if I was going to do a follow-up on the habit blog… a follow-up that included some thoughts about how to sustain a habit after creating it. You have learned about the structure of a habit; how it starts, that it needs a cue, a routine and a reward. Once you have the habit formed, your brain lets that habit ride on auto pilot while it moves on to other things. You know how you can run up a flight of stairs after you take the first few steps without even thinking about it? Or how you can back your car out of your driveway without hardly any deliberate thought? That’s a habit. Those are acts of will that are so ingrained that they take very little presence and almost no deliberation. You’re not quite in the stage of transformation where you no longer have cravings or you don’t have to think about how to structure your day. You’re probably not quite there yet with your diet and yoga, but you are laying very solid groundwork. Now, you are likely asking, when will this willpower become automatic? What if my old habits start creeping back?

“The problem is that your brain can’t tell the difference between bad and good habits, and so if you have a bad one, it’s always lurking there, waiting for the right cues and image.pngrewards,” says Charles Duhigg, in The Power of Habit. “Without habit loops, our brains would shut down, overwhelmed by the minutiae of daily life.” So they are actually a good thing, if they are a good thing. And, you’ve created a lot of additional good habits. The question is, how do we sustain them and not let the old ones come back?

One of the keystone good habits of success is a little thing called willpower. Willpower is not only a keystone, but a necessity for sustaining good habits.

Now you may be thinking — if I need willpower to create a habit (i.e., I  need discipline to get to my mat every day) and I need a habit to create willpower (i.e., I need to get to my mat every day to feel strong enough to build up my willpower) — which comes first? Duhigg suggests this answer to the riddle: Make the willpower itself, the habit. “Sometimes it looks like people with great self-control aren’t working hard — but that’s because they’ve made it automatic,” Angela Duckworth, a University of Pennsylvania researcher says. “Their willpower occurs without them having to think about it.”

One of the first things you can do to prepare for “moments of weakness,” when you are no longer in the protective arms of your Indigo30 team, is get clear about what those scenarios might look like. I’m willing to bet that for the most part, you all are doing the program really well most of the time. And, I’m willing to bet that the times that you falter, weaken or even fall off the wagon are times when you are stressed, squeezed emotionally, pressured, uncertain or under duress. It’s in those times that willpower seems to evaporate. What is needed to strengthen the willpower in times of strain is… a plan.

Call it an exit plan, an emergency plan, or even a contingency plan, almost every company, building, or event has a plan in case things break down or get out of hand. It’s interesting that humans don’t have these kinds of standard operating procedures. (I mean, wouldn’t it be great if we all came with manuals?) Call it a 911 plan or call it a routine, it’s something we can call on and follow when our willpower loses its steam and when the ice starts cracking under our feet. We need something to help us not crack with it.

But here’s the thing. It’s not a quick fix. It’s something you have to practice. Your backup plan for when (not if, but when) you start to crack under pressure is something you have to practice and make a routine. You have to determine right now, on Day 20, what that plan is going to be, and start practicing it now… not on Day 31, but today, so that you are ready when the shit hits the fan. Because when the shit hits the fan, it’s not going to wait for you to practice your response. Your main job, from today forward, is to create a new habit loop of willpower that will be automatic after Day 30.

One willpower habit loop you all already have is your small group (if you are engaging with them. If you are not, then you have not created a habit loop of accountability.) So after Day 30, you will likely keep up communication, especially when you hit rough patches. This routine of checking in with one or all members of your group will re-invigorate your willpower. You just don’t realize it’s already happening. So going forward, you can say to yourself, “When I find myself skipping yoga for more than 2-3 days, my plan is to … (check in with my group/make a yoga date with one of my group pals/etc.) You are already doing it. Your work now is to keep the habit loop alive.

It would be beneficial for you to determine which parts of the Indigo30 you want to sustain once the program is officially over. After you have that written down, make a list of situations that you think would throw you off — they don’t have to be unpleasant, necessarily — scheduling, travel, social situations — aren’t negative, but they absolutely have the capacity to disrupt a positive habit loop. Work through these scenarios (role play) with your family and friends (and small group) so they don’t just live in your journal or in your head.

“This is how willpower becomes a habit: by choosing a certain behavior ahead of time, and then following that routine when an inflection point arrives,” says Duhigg. The better you get at recognizing what will trigger, the more you can ready your plan. And before you know it, you will be communicating with your pals about going to yoga together without actually consciously thinking through how you are trying to get back on track. It will just happen because it’s a bona fide habit.

Friends, you have all the control in the world over what you eat and how you take care of yourself. You have choices that millions of people do not. Take these small lessons, the ones that arrive on your Facebook feed each morning, the ones that your leaders are sharing with you because they love you, and all the little tidbits in between, and take action. Do something amazing with the insight and education you are being given, that I believe is being channeled through me and your other teachers, to help you be the very best version of you. Don’t take it for granted and please don’t let the small things trip you up. You are too grand, too wise, and too informed to let that happen.

Now start planning. You only have ten days left.

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B

Indigo30 DAY 19: Why do I feel terrible?

One of the reasons I decided to write this blog day by day instead of pre-writing them and just doling them out like a Vegas dealer was because I wanted to be right in the pressure cooker with you. Also, I thought, what if I have a topic planned and that’s not what is actually happening for everyone at that time? Well, the topic that was sort-of planned, (my attempt at at least a loose outline), was about buying local produce and meats. Sort of interesting. Not really. And not what’s actually happening right now.

What’s happening right now is that a good handful of you just plain don’t feel good. I know this because you’re telling me. And because (ahem) I don’t feel good either. Your body is hurting, you have stomachaches, you’re feeling flu-ish. And your wrestling with not only what to do about it but a genuine frustration about feeling sabotaged by the universal forces when you’re 1- working really hard and 2- starting to near the end and 3- you want to go out strong.image.png

“Should I keep eating like this while my stomach is a rumbling mess?”

“I’m sure I’m coming down with something. Should I go to yoga anyway and just lay there (because I really want my star.)”

“I feel bloated and fat. What gives?”

“My shoulder and elbow are angry and have sharp pain. Isn’t the inflammation supposed to have subsided by now instead of flaring up?”

“I have so much gas. I’m about to kill the all people around me from toxic fume inhalation.”

First of all, sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but you may feel worse before you feel better. Think of a fever and how it sometimes runs its course — you think you’re getting sick, you feel better and think you’ve triumphed, and then it comes back around and just kicks your butt. and it kicks it hard until all the infection is finally gone. Well, that’s what’s happening right now.

Second, just as a disclaimer, please do not come to the/a yoga studio if you are genuinely sick and get other people sick. Doing that just to get a star will get your ass kicked in a different way.

Third, and this is the moment of truth – be mindful about what’s happening. Stop the brain racing and get present…

Your body is still adapting and cleaning. That’s why you feel badly.

Or

You ate something off-program and your body is reacting.

Or

You’re just looking for a way out or someone to give you permission for a way out.

Or

You can still go to yoga, but you need to dial the intensity down.

And, on top of feeling badly and one of the above things is occurring, maybe this is also happening …

The frustration, the worry, the guilt and the runaway thoughts of being a little under the weather or a little achy and the consideration skipping yoga is outweighing the innocuous actuality of just going and doing what feels ok and resting in savasana the rest of the time.

You have to decide between the two stressors – the guilt of going and not doing as much or the guilt of not going. Or… just go to yoga and do what you can. Don’t be so dramatic about it.image.png

Also stop and consider that taking 1-2 days off amidst 30 because the flu has taken you down is not unreasonable. It’s SAFE.

Rethink what you are going through. Reconsider what’s actually happening versus what you think should be happening.

General discomfort

As I said earlier, it’s not uncommon on or around days 18-21 to feel terrible. It’s a mind trick for sure, but it’s normal. Here are some fairly easy remedies if you’re not up to par right now:

Digestive distress (gas, bloating, cramping): try some peppermint gels (watch ingredients, some have soybean oil) and digestive enzymes. Limit fibrous foods like broccoli, dried fruit and nuts. Increase good fat intake. Sprouts has a peppermint sparkling water (Crystal Geyser) that I pretty much live on. I am not sure it helps the bloat but the taste makes me feel like it does. And also peppermint tea, which, when I am a grandma, I am going to tell my grandkids cures everything.

Headache: Hydrate and supplement your hydration with electrolyte replenishment. Get more sleep. It may be stress, it may also be allergies. See if you can’t identify the trigger.

Joint and muscle aches: Epsom salt baths, Doterra Deep Blue Rub & oil, cold compress, massage, cryotherapy. Your place is in the Vinyasa-Restorative class for a few days unless you can honestly turn your practice dial down until you’ve recovered some.

Flu-like symptoms: Hydrate, rest and a potential trip to the doc — there’s a bunch of kid funk going around and that s–t doesn’t play.

Fatigue: Obviously rest. But sometimes, getting back on your mat is the cure needed to fight the fatigue, especially if you have a tendency to talk yourself into being tired.

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All in all, please try to be patient with yourself. Stop, take some inventory. Get clear on what’s actually happening and try not to immediately dwell on how this “setback” means failure. Quite frankly, I’d be concerned if some of this stuff wasn’t happening to you, because if you’re really working the program, it’s inevitable. I’m going through it too, I promise. I feel like checking the “all of the above” box. So I know I need to back off a little, drink more water and get some better rest. Here’s an exercise: Even for just a day, redefine your definition of failure — make it mean not trying at all and being a judgy jerk to those who do! That is a good definition of failure, I think!

In the comments below, tell me and your comrades how you’re feeling. Sometimes hearing from others helps us realize everything is normal, we are not alone and especially that “everyone else” isn’t doing a gazillion times better at things than we are.

I love you guys. I’m so super proud of you. Keep going.

B

Indigo30 DAY 13: Time for adventures!

Welcome to Day 13, you are nearing the half-way mark! You should be very proud. Half way is a great milestone. But just like doing a yoga pose or even a long sequence of poses, there’s this little triumphant squeal of glee — Yay! We completed one side! — and then the overwhelming realization of — Omg, we’ve only completed one side …

So your work right now is to “stay in the river,” as many a guru has probably said over the years. Don’t swim faster and yet, don’t just tread. You still have a ways to go. Just stay in the flow, keep a steady pace, and let the natural rhythms move you forward. You are already seeing NSVs and progress — you have shared them proudly with your friends and peers. So imagine what’s coming if you stay the course! Adventure!

Food is the way to your friends’ hearts.

One of the funnest things you can do during your Indigo30 is get to know your comrades with a meal swap. You really cannot believe how much you will love this and learn from it. You are probably ready for some new dishes, or you are starting to tire from leftovers, or you just want a day off from cooking. Well, Indigo30 Superstar, it’s time to branch out and spice it up! I promise you will not regret this. It’s kind of like the old fashioned chain letter!

It’s pretty easy to do and you can do it with one pal or a whole group — or maybe a couple of groups. Then, coordinate your meal swap. The meal swap is better with a few people – 7 is ideal. Once you pick a time and a location, each of you can make a dish that has 7 image.pngservings or a big batch. When you get to your potluck, swap it all out and BOOM – you have one new meal a day for the next 7 days! (or you can freeze and save for even later!) Share your bounty, because your chili may be super fab today, but it’s not as good when you’ve eaten that gigantic crockpot full 5 meals in a row.

Is swapping with your pals not very convenient for your schedule? Set up a roaming brunch, lunch, or dinner party once a week. Each of you commits to hosting the others for one meal, sharing in the cooking (and, hopefully, the clean-up). It’s a great way to socialize over healthy food, share kitchen tips and tricks, and pick up some sweet lunchtime leftovers for the next day.

Try a new spot. 

image.pngDo you go to the same spot in the yoga room every day? Yeah, we know who you are. And we know what kind of temper tantrum you internally have when someone is in your spot. Yogis, yogis, yogis. I want you to use your new tools of mindfulness right this minute, and get present to what is actually happening when you walk into the room and someone is in your spot. Okay — all that is actually happening is some completely oblivious person who has absolutely no idea that you have this attachment to the outcome of your practice being based on where in the room your mat is, just put their mat down there. That’s it. Or, they are wrestling with their own attachment issues and just got there before you did. Now, pause, step back for a moment, and consider how completely, utterly absurd it is to get upset about a spot for your mat in the yoga room. (Got it? Are you smiling/laughing?) Then I want you to consider that there may just be a new experience waiting for you in a different spot … perhaps there is a cooler breeze up in the front. Or perhaps hiding in the back won’t work so well this time because the teacher decides to do the entire class facing the back. Or perhaps a new student (maybe even the one who stole your spot) looks over at you and says, “Hi, I’m new. I’m really nervous. How long have you been coming?” And you realize that your purpose, instead of getting your way, was to befriend someone who is scared and worried about being new and different. Now I don’t know about you, but that’s a good enough reason not to be attached to your spot.

Some of you are like, “I really have no idea what she is talking about right now, I could care less where my mat is. Half the time I’m rolling in late anyway so I don’t even pay attention.” — To you, I challenge you to arrive early and go to the same spot each day and play with consistent routine. Stretch yourself by sharpening consistency. Bust through old patterns. Break through into new spaces, the same one every day for the next 15 days.

You now how to make both of these things a new, exciting pattern? Grab a friend, or your small group, and go together. This will keep things fresh and will keep you accountable.

Spicing it up with actual spices

I planted an herb garden a year ago and after all of this rain, it’s going completely bonkers. imageI have more herbs than I could ever use even if I cooked all day every day all week. They are fun to cut and give as gifts, and even if I don’t cook with it, just having the smell of basil wafting in my kitchen brings smiles.

If your cooking is feeling a little bland, take a spin around the world with some new spices. Chances are, if you are willing to step out of your ho-hum cooking box for a minute, you will discover flavors you didn’t even know existed! Just changing just one spice can turn an Indian curry into a savory Spanish stew. The right spices can make or break a dish, turning everyday ingredients into authentic ethnic cuisine.

But be careful with seasonings (mixtures and blends). They can be tricky and sneak the sneaky sugars in right under your spice sniffer. Check out the ingredients in this taco seasoning commonly found at chain grocers:

Yellow Corn Flour, Salt, Maltodextrin, Paprika, Spices, Modified Corn Starch, Sugar, Garlic Powder, Citirc Acid, Autolyzed Yest Extract, Natural Flavor, Caramel Color (sulfites).

“Taco seasoning” sounds innocent enough, but this spice blend is anything but innocent (or healthy). I’m sure you are looking at the list now and know exactly why these ingredients are not okay by Whole30 standards, but are they really okay by any standards? image.png

Sometimes, spices and seasonings intimidate people with their fancy-sounding names like Za’atar, Dukka, or Tabil. Melissa Joulwan (author of Well Fed), is a spice-a-holic and has an awesome list of spices and how to use them in this GREAT article.

Spice Hound is another great resource to help you identify Whole30-approved spices to fill your cabinet. A full 100% of their salts and spices meet Whole30 criteria, and 20 of their spice blends are also Whole30-approved.

Here is a complete list of all approved Spice Hound blends:

Adobo Seasoning Cajun Rub Chili Powder Blend
Chinese 5-Spice Powder Curry Powder Dukka
Fines Herbes Four Peppercorn Blend Garam Masala
Garlic Sea Salt Herbes de Provence Italian Seasoning
La Kama Panch Phora Poultry
Pumpkin Pie Spice Seasoning Sea Salt Tabil
Turkey Brine Za’atar

Though they last a long time, spices can be expensive. If your cabinet is empty, commit to buying one or two new spices a week, until you’ve collected enough to transport you to any foreign country (and cuisine) in just a few moments!

You’re considering a potluck with your new I30 buds, a different spot for your mat against all better judgement, and are about to buy Garam Masala. Now let’s try … some totally new foods! Here are some beginner and advanced “foodie” options that will keep your Whole30 from boring and snoring.

Beginner/Intermediate:

  • Ghee: Like butter, only better! A personal favorite is Bulletproof Grass-fed Ghee, but there are many great brands.
  • Coconut butter: My most favorite I30 find this go-round! Delicious by the spoonful straight out of the jar. (I could stop there, because I have done a lot of this lately) or as a slightly melted topping for sweet potato, apples, or berries. You guys, I nearly DIED when I took my first bite. Look for Nutiva Coconut Manna in the nut butters section. Tip: when you get it, it will likely be solidified in the jar. You have to dig it up and even out (I dug it all out of the jar, mixed it up good and put it back into two) because the oil will separate from the pureed coconut meat. I promise you, it is worth every second of effort! And as a reward, peruse the Nutiva recipe page — you will have loads of post-I30 treat ideas ready to roll with this magic manna from the heavens.
  • Jicama: A sweet, crunchy root that looks like a big, round potato. Peel, chop into sticks and top with lime juice and chili powder, dip in salsa or guac, or just eat plain as they come. Central Market has jicama tortillas and rolls, which are delicious with tuna fish mixed with W30 mayo rolled in!
  • Coconut Aminos: Soy sauce is off limits for your Whole30 (I’d like to see you bid farewell to this gut buster forever, but for now…) I will tell you, coconut aminos taste the same. They’re a healthy Whole30-friendly replacement for soy sauce in recipes, and perfect for dunking sashimi. Find them in the soy sauce aisle of your local health food market—or order from Amazon. Speaking of sashimi…. gosh that sounds good! Have you thought to add it into your restaurant options? Bring your coco aminos when you go! You can buy them in single serve packets!image
  • Sauerkraut: Raw and fermented, sauerkraut contains tons of healthy bacteria to keep your digestion happy with all of its natural probiotics. Purchase it at any of our local grocers or let Whole9 Envoy Extraordinaire Stephanie McCormack teach you how to make your own in this fun video. Sauerkraut has made a serious comeback!

Advanced Adventurer (Vegans and Vegetarians, kindly skip to the end…)

 

Okay my friends, my word count is way out of range, so in closing as always, KEEP GOING, and in the words of a wise little bear..

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B