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Blue Wolf Challenge

Based on everything I was learning about in school and inspired by my sister-in-law Ariana, I just completed my 21-day BLUE WOLF Challenge!

“So what is the Blue Wolf Challenge?” You ask… let me tell you:

no sugar

NO sugar, NO flour, and NO processed foods.  

processed foods
junk food

(There are a lot of these type of diets/ challenges out there, but I modified/personalized mine a bit, hence the name “Blue Wolf Challenge”. One such modification is that, every 7th day I took off. Come on, that’s Biblical right?!)

During the Restricted days it was:
NO sugar added to any meals or products
No ARTIFICIAL SWEETENERS : Splenda, Equal, NutraSweet, Sweet N Low, High-Fructose                           Corn Syrup, Corn-Syrup, etc.
No flour: That includes Pasta, Bread, Muffins, Bagels, Toast, Tortillas
No Chips, French Fries, Popcorn, Corn Tortillas
No Processed Snacks: Crackers, Chips, Pretzels, Gold Fish, Cheez-Its
No Beer

Drinks: No juice, coffee, alcohol, soda, milk, energy drinks,
Good drinks: Tea, Water, coconut water, fresh squeezed vegetable juice

coffee

WARNING: If you are giving up caffeine (which is a GREAT thing), you may get withdrawal headaches for the first couple days but if you can outlast a week you should be able to break your addiction to caffeine.

What to shoot for:
Vegetabels, fruits, legumes, lean meats, fish, NUTS, seeds, sprouts, whole grains ONLY (Brown rice, soy beans)

A lot of people knew I was doing this and the question I always got was, “WHY????”

Why give up sugar etc?

Let me answer your question, with a question of my own…  would you like ANY of the following?

More Energy?

Lose weight?

Sleep better?

Slow the aging process?

Better skin?

Decreased Asthma and/or Allergies?

If you said “yes” to ANY of the following, you could potentially benefit from this challenge.

Still not convinced to give this a try, there’s more!

Not only does sugar cause the obvious problems like tooth cavities and decay, but it has also been linked to impaired brain function, depression/anxiety, cancer, and heart disease.

As a future doctor I didn’t want to preach what I couldn’t or hadn’t already done myself. That is something that is very important to me.   

Have you ever met a doctor (or any health professional) who is super overweight and trying to council you on healthy living? How serious do you take them? It all goes back to not preaching what you don’t live out.

So how did it effect me?

At the end of the 21 days I lost a total of 13 pounds!

I started the Blue Wolf challenge with a day long fast of liquids only.

The first two days I was pretty hungry and even a little fatigued. This is when I realized this challenge is much harder than I anticipated.

I gave up my two favorite food groups: bread and sugar! I was already hard core craving both.

Only a few days into the challenge and I already felt like I was starving. But I knew I could power through. Mind over matter, right?

By day 3, Ariana asked me how I was doing and if I felt like my body was detoxing? I told her, “If detoxing feels like your body is shutting down 😝”

The good thing was that I had no headaches, which I was worried that I might. Honestly the hardest part was always trying to figure out what to eat without eating the same thing over and over.

During the first couple days Annalisa would unintentionally keep asking me if I wanted a bite of this or that, and I had to turn her down like 20 times a day. I’m sure she was probably getting annoyed with me because constantly throughout the days I was like, “No, I can’t eat that.”
I remember we were walking through Target and we wanted to get a snack. I don’t think I could eat anything on the menu. NO pasta, pretzels, popcorn, ICEEs, smoothies, etc.

The funny thing is you can still eat a lot! It’s just most people aren’t used to eating that way, and most places don’t cater to this type of lifestyle.

This “challenge” is funny, because it’s only a challenge due to the fact that we live in America in the 21st century and are addicted to processed foods. People 100 years ago would have been like, “ummm that’s what we do every day, why is that hard?” HAHAHA

This challenge forces you to plan ahead which is cool. You can’t be lazy and just grab something out of the cupboards.

However, if you do get lazy, and everyone does at some point, an apple with peanut butter (Organic Sugar free) or a handful of nuts is a great snack. Even sharp cheddar cheese with a green apple is really good. (Thanks Air for the tip!)

Side note on the peanut butter. I bought the “organic” peanut butter for the first time in my life, the kind that has just nuts and NOTHING else. I took a big spoonful of it and shoved it into my mouth thinking it would bring me as much pleasure as it used to when I did the same with Skippy peanut butter... WARNING, not the same!  I almost puked.

The organic peanut butter is good on stuff like celery and apples but not like you could sit around licking it off a spoon like the dessert peanut butter that most people eat.

After the first week of the challenge I lost EIGHT POUNDS! This was unintentional. I actually did not want to lose weight (but I guess it was okay since I had just finished gaining all that weight during the pound-for-pound challenge with Annalisa). Some people call this “water weight” which is in some sense true, but when you give up sugar for longer periods of time you don’t see the rebound of weight gain like you do with water weight changes. Instead you will see a rapid drop in weight and then a steady decline in weight (that is if you continue to eat healthy and exercise). It’s hard not to lose weight when you body is detoxing and getting rid of all the excess waste. And once I got over the sugar cravings, I wasn’t even hungry.

Best part (for those of you hoping to lose weight), I was able to eat ENORMOUS portions. If you look over my meal plan (see bottom of page) when I say bacon and eggs, sometimes I was eating 5 eggs and 6 slices of bacon. When I ate chicken and rice it was usually portioned for 2 and my salads were portioned for a party of 4.

That being said, there are 2 very important things to keep in mind:
I made sure to still exercise intensely at least 3-4 days a week at the gym, and was active at least 30 minutes everyday.
Every BODY is different. Just because one person’s metabolism works one way doesn’t mean you can eat the same portion size and get away with it. Listen to your body and find what works best for you!

Some additional takeaways…

During this challenge it really revealed to me how nonchalantly we ingest SO much processed foods constantly! I never realized how much processed foods I eat... Wow. I consider myself to eat healthy, but during these days I realized my daily diet was changing a lot based on my processed food intake alone!

The crazy thing is I wasn’t doing anything extreme. I was simply eating “from the ground” and food found NATURALLY without being processed (Just because it says “all natural” on the label does NOT qualify for being naturally from nature and free from processing. Actually 99% of the items in the store that are marketed as “100% natural” I could NOT eat as part of my all natural diet challenge. I think that just goes to show how messed up the advertising / food labeling is when it comes to deceiving their audience. Sorry for my rant).
Anyway, I’m back to my normal diet, but I have made some lasting changes. I now eat more vegetables and less processed foods, which comes much more naturally to me now than it did before (pun intended). I consume less sugar and can resist sugar cravings. I still allow myself sweets and am back to enjoying the deliciousness of Sea-Salted Dark Chocolate with Chopped Almonds (in moderation of course).

 

I would love to hear back what you think? Has anyone done something similar? How did it effect you?  Interested in trying? Let me know how it goes!

 

The rules to the Blue Wolf Challenge:

Day 1: Fast (Liquids Only)
Day 2-7: Diet restrictions
Day 8: Free day
Day 9-14: diet restrictions
Day 15: free day
Day 16-21: diet restrictions

Any Vegetable, but the best are:
Leafy Greens: Lettuce, Chard, Spinach, Cabbage, All Herbs
Above Ground Greens: Asparagus, Broccoli, Artichokes, Brussels Sprouts, Celery, Onions, Cauliflower
Root Vegetables: Carrots, Sweet Potatoes, Yams, Zuchinni, All Squashes

MEAT (All meat is allowed, but try to avoid highly processed meats like hot dogs, salami, pepperoni, etc.)
 Chicken, Turkey, Pork, Steak, Bacon, Ground Beef, Lamb,
    All Seafood and Fish: Salmon, Tuna, Mackerel, Tilapia, Shrimp, Oysters etc.
    Eggs from any animal

Nuts and Seeds are GREAT (just make sure no added sugar, and choose sea salt rather than just regular “salt” when possible)

All fruit, but these low sugar fruits are best: Green Apples, All Berries, Lemons and Limes

Good Fats:
    Healthy Oils: Olive, Coconut, Avocado, Macadamia, Sesame
    Hard Cheese: Parmesan, Bleu, Cheddar, Goat, Swiss, Gouda, Muenster, Provolone
    Full Fat, Unflavored, Yogurt

Beans are good. Some challenges/diets restrict beans, but all of my research has lead me to the belief that beans do the body good (unless you are a gassy type person, and then all those around you might not agree).
Beans are good because they can prevent heart disease, fight cancer, lower cholesterol, manage diabetes, and help you lose weight.
The negatives to beans is that they can interfere with vitamin absorption, cause migraines, raise blood pressure, trigger gout, and, as previously mentioned, can make you gassy.

So if you don’t have flatulence problems, or migraines / gout / high blood pressure, I recommend you eat them!

I included my day by day break down to give you an idea of things I ate. I wasn’t very creative and I know there are way better recipes out there. And a lot of times I meal prepped so I ended up eating the same thing several days in a row. Just wanted to show what I did for those of you out there who are curious.

Day 1: Liquids only! Veggie smoothie, chicken broth, 2 cups of tea, lots of water
day 2: Breakfast: Eggs, Bacon, potatoes    Lunch: Chipotle: Brown rice, black beans, chicken, pico salsa, lettuce, and cheese.         Dinner: White, Chicken, Chilli soup. with a side of turkey
Day 3: B: Eggs/Bacon        L: Banana, almonds, cabbage salad (sugar free dressing)  D: lemon chicken, potatoes, brown whole grain rice, green beans
Day 4: B: homemade soup, green beans    L: almonds, chicken, brown rice, potatoes, cranberries, raisins,     D: Chipotle: Brown rice, black beans, chicken, pico salsa, lettuce, guacamole, and cheese.
Day 5: B: turkey, cheese, and a banana    L: carrots, chicken, brown rice, potatoes,     Snack: sugar free peanut butter on an apple        Dinner: Egg noodles with chicken and fresh pesto sauce
Day 6: B: Banana, mixed nuts    L: chicken, brown rice, potatoes,  snack: apple with peanut butter, bowl of raspberries,    D: steak, onions, bell peppers     
Day 7: Eggs, bacon,    L: almonds, pear/spinach/berry salad, carrots    D: double double In-in-out burger with everything except bun.
Day 8: Free Day
Day 9:  Breakfast: turkey, sliced cheese    Lunch: Chill and baked potatoes    Snack: Veggie smoothie    Dinner: Chicken, grilled onions/bell peppers, brown rice
Day 10: Brunch: Chicken, grilled onions/bell peppers, brown rice, Avocado     Dinner: Souplantation
Day 11: B: almonds and strawberries,    Lunch: Salad, Tuna,          Snack: celery and peanut butter        Dinner: Egg noodels with pesto and tomato sauce
Day 12: B: Eggs and sausage    L: celery with peanut butter and raisins, sliced Salami and cheese, Cabbage Salad, Mixed nuts        D: Baked potatoes, Lemon-spinach chicken, brown rice, veggie smoothie    
Day 13: B: eggs and sausage    L: egg noodles with pesto, carrots, trail mix    D: Chipotle: Brown rice, black beans, carnitas, pico salsa, lettuce, and cheese.  Dessert: Fat free, sugar free yogurt    
Day 14: B: eggs, grilled turkey,    L: Broccoli slaw (no dressing), brown rice, chicken, spinach, potatoes    D: Carnitas, brown rice, beans,     Dessert: fat free yogurt
Day 15: Free Day
Day 16: B: Canadian bacon, veggie smoothie,    L: Salami, Cheese, Trail Mix, Carrots,     D: Flame Broiler: chicken, rice, veggies.
Day 17: B: Canadian bacon and eggs,     L: Carnitas, brown rice, beans, lettuce, cheese,    Dinner: chicken Caesar salad
Day 18: B: eggs, bacon    L: Veggie smoothie, grilled turkey, cheese     D: souplantation
Day 19: B: eggs, bacon    L: mixed nuts, raisins, salami, cheese, carrots
Day 20: B: canadian bacon, cheese, veggie smoothie    L: potatoe salad with onions, zuchinni, and avocado. Lentil soup    D: Chicken, rice    
Day 21: B: eggs, bacon    L: Salad, carrots, nuts, raisins, tuna        D: Soup, Salad

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The Tongue: The Untamable Beast

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The Tongue: The Untamable Beast

long tongue
human long tongue

The tongue is the most powerful part of the human body. Obviously it helps us breakdown and taste food but also helps to talk, spit, swallow and even kiss.

Zipper tongue

According to the bible taming the tongue is one thing that EVERYONE struggles with. I’m going to repeat that because this is a big deal: EVERYONE struggles with taming the tongue.

It is interesting because we know while some people struggle with alcohol abuse others do not. Some struggle with lust/pornography addictions, others do not. Some struggle with pride, some with envy, some with lying, some with drugs, some with self-centeredness, some with anger,… but EVERYONE struggles with what comes out of their mouth. Don’t take my word for it, look at James chapter 3:2

For if we could control our tongues, we would be perfect and could also control ourselves in every other way.

We are going to look further at James chapter 3, but first 5 fun facts about the tongue:

tongue print

1) Tongueprints, which are actual tongue imprints, are as inimitable and unique as fingerprints and could be used in the same way to identify and distinguish every person in the whole world. Everyone differs in the size, shape, and number of taste buds.

2) The average person speaks 12,000 sentences a day, with an average of 50,000 words. If we were to put all these words on paper it would be enough to write a 150 page novel every single day.

doctor say ahhhh

3) When you go to the doctor often one of the first things they will have you do is open your mouth and say “ahhhhh”. Why? So they can examine your tongue.  The color of the tongue can tell a lot about a person’s health.
Typically: Pink Tongue = Good Health; Yellow Tongue = Stomach Problem or Fever; White Tongue = Fungal Infection.

healthy tongue
yellow tongue
gross tongue

4) The tongue has a really really rough texture. Maybe not as rough as a cat, but next time you are kissing someone take note of the rough texture of the tongue. You will notice most when you compare it to the smooth texture of lips or the skin of ear lobes.

tongue myth

5)Everyone that remembers their biology class diagrams probably remembers those tongue maps that show how you can taste sweet, sour, salty, bitter and umami are different parts of the tongue. Despite the popularity of these pictures, this is largely rubbish. Most people can taste all different types relatively equally across the tongue. LiveScience confirms this but just in case you don’t believe me, you can put it to the test. The front of your tongue is supposed to be used for detecting sweetness… put some salt on the “sweet” receptor and see what happens.  Taste salty? So much for that myth. See ya!

James 3:1-2
Dear brothers and sisters, not many of you should become teachers in the church, for we who teach will be judged more strictly. Indeed, we all make many mistakes. For if we could control our tongues, we would be perfect and could also control ourselves in every other way.

James starts off with a warning. Why? He is not discouraging people from spreading or teaching the gospel. He just wants to make sure you are doing it for the right reasons. If you are doing it for popularity or to make yourself look better in front of others, you are doing it for all the wrong reasons. You will be judged more strictly for these teachings than any other way you use the tongue.

The second verse just confirms what I first said about the tongue being the impossible part to control.

It’s crazy that this 3 inch piece of muscle can control our whole lives! Actually, I guess it makes sense.

Look at James 3:3-4
We can make a large horse go wherever we want by means of a small bit in its mouth. And a small rudder makes a huge ship turn wherever the pilot chooses to go, even though the winds are strong.

In a same way the tongue guides, shapes, and directs the course of our life.

Let’s continue, James 3:5-6
In the same way, the tongue is a small thing that makes grand speeches. But a tiny spark can set a great forest on fire. And among all the parts of the body, the tongue is a flame of fire. It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body. It can set your whole life on fire, for it is set on fire by hell itself.

Whoa! Intense words at the end there. But completely accurate and perfect analogy. Think about it. Like a single spark that causes a forest fire, the same thing can happen in our lives. A single white lie can grow and expand until it becomes full-fledged deceit. A harsh word or comment towards a friends can cause a fight that leads to alienation or even a new enemy. A small piece of gossip you start (or help spread) can build momentum like a snowball until like an avalanche it come crashing down on the person whom it centers upon, wrecking havoc on their life.  

tongue of fire

Let’s reemphasize why it is so important to focus on the tongue each and everyday. Read James 3:7-8
People can tame all kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, and fish, 8 but no one can tame the tongue. It is restless and evil, full of deadly poison.

Poison! Another great analogy. Why do people use poison rather than a machete or machine gun to kill someone. Because poison is subtle.

In the same way, we often don’t realize the subtle power our words have over people and on ourselves.

And finally, check out James 3:9-12
Sometimes it praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it curses those who have been made in the image of God. And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right! Does a spring of water bubble out with both fresh water and bitter water? Does a fig tree produce olives, or a grapevine produce figs? No, and you can’t draw fresh water from a salty spring.

Isn’t it crazy that out of the same mouth (and with the same tongue), we praise our heavenly Father and slander people created in HIS image. Think about that the next time you want to make fun of the way someone looks.  They were created in the image of GOD! How dare you slander His creation, let alone the creation made in His image.

The takeaway message:

Don’t be discouraged by the fact that the tongue is untamable. Rather, know that through the power of Christ we can strive to become masters of the tongue. Focus daily on your words and how you are using them.

Jesus tells us in Matthew 12:37:
For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.

At the end of time, everyone will be accountable for every word they said. Knowing this is a great reminder for me to guard my tongue and follow after the wise words of James 1:19:

Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry.


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