Sowing My Wild Oats: Mood Boosting Foods and a Whole Foods Giveaway!

In a recent article in Eating Well, the author suggested that feeling depressed or anxious can be related to the foods that you are eating. Below are some suggestions to help you not want to find the nearest bridge when you are feeling  down in the dumps.

1) Pick fruit, vegetables, fish and other whole foods.

In a recent study of close to 3,500 men and women published in the British Journal of Psychiatry, those who reported eating a diet rich in whole foods in the previous year were less likely to report feeling depressed than those who ate lots of desserts, fried foods, processed meats, refined grains and high-fat dairy products. Previous studies have shown that antioxidants in fruits and vegetables and omega-3 fatty acids in fish are associated with lower risk of depression. Folate, a B vitamin found in dark green vegetables like spinach, beans and citrus, affects neurotransmitters that impact mood. It’s possible that the protective effect of the whole-food diet comes from a cumulative effect of these nutrients, says lead study author Tasnime N. Akbaraly, Ph.D.

2. Go ahead: order the bagel.

In a new study in the Archives of Internal Medicine, people who for a year followed a very-low-carbohydrate diet—which allowed only 20 to 40 grams of carbs daily, about the amount in just 1⁄2 cup of rice plus one piece of bread—experienced more depression, anxiety and anger than those assigned to a low-fat, high-carb diet that focused on low-fat dairy, whole grains, fruit and beans. Researchers suspect that carbs promote the production of serotonin, a feel-good brain chemical. Also, the challenge of following such a restrictive low-carb diet for a full year may have negatively impacted mood, says study author Grant D. Brinkworth, Ph.D.

3. Have a little chocolate.

Eating dark chocolate (1.4 ounces of it) every day for two weeks reduced stress hormones, including cortisol, in people who were highly stressed, a study done at the Nestlé Research Center in Switzerland recently found. “Polyphenols (antioxidants) in chocolate, and also in fruits and vegetables, may have contributed to the changes [in stress] in this study,” explains Douglas G. Mashek, Ph.D., assistant professor at the University of Minnesota in St. Paul. Psst: Be sure to account for the 235 calories that 1.4 ounces of chocolate delivers—or you may be stressed to see extra pounds creeping on.

So, in order to kick off the giveaway, I will post a healthy, mood boosting recipe. A citrus berry smoothie full of yummy goodness that gets you high-high on life!


Yummy goodness

  • 1 1/4 cups fresh berries
  • 3/4 cup low-fat plain yogurt
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons nonfat dry milk
  • 1 tablespoon toasted wheat germ
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Okay, so to get on to the good stuff-the giveaway. Post your favorite mood boosting recipe by Wednesday in the comment section of this post  to win a $15 gift card to Whole Foods. We will announce the winner next Monday, August 22nd.  We can’t wait to read, make and enjoy all of your recipes. We have to-depression sucks.


The Daily Sweat meets Sowing My Wild Oats: Middle Sis, Medical Mom of 3 Style

As most of you know I made the big move to Philly last week, and because I’m lucky to have the best sisters ever, my middle sis came to help me unpack.  Oops – she booked the ticket before the moving company called to say my junk was late (yesterday, they updated me that they will be here on Tuesday and were somewhere in Ohio.  Clearly they cannot emergency manage the same way I can).  Instead of unpacking, we decided to just hang instead, take a nice, long walk along the Schuylkill River trail, sample some local cuisine and buy some basic essentials like an air mattress that actually inflated and a new pump. 

Last night I “interviewed” her about how she gets on her daily sweat  and makes sure her family eats healthy.  I use interview loosely as I talk to her once a day and we often text in the morning after our workouts.  If you’ve read our tribute to Little Women (and the Braxton sisters), you would know her as Meg, the responsible, grounded sister who is all about planting herself and growing a big family, unlike me (independent Jo).  Meg/Rachel  works as a doc two days a few treating the underserved, has three kids (all 7 and under) and her hubby is a doc too.  When I visit their house I usually sit in the corner in a state of shock, helpless amidst the flurry of activity.  The most popular word in the house is “Mom” or “Mama”, and my sister never stops moving.  We are built mostly the same way, and I always wonder how she stays smaller than me when we eat very similarly.  I truly believe it’s because she NEVER stops moving. 

Her current daily sweat activities include getting up at 5:00am 3X a week to do a condensed version of P90X with her husband.  Her favorite P90 workouts are yoga and plyometrics.  Even though she and her hubby don’t talk much during workouts (unless you count heavy breathing) they feel this is quality time they get to share as well as dedicate to keeping themselves healthy.  In addition, when my sis isn’t working she tries to take the kiddios on a walk.  She lives in the sweltering South, but even if its one of those 98 degree 98% humidity days she attempts to take the kids at least down the street and back.  Pushing a stroller with a 35lber and 20lber is no joke.  If its too unbearable, she and the kids play in the playroom during the day, and she sometimes takes that opportunity to drop and do 20, or maybe even pick up some weights and do some mild strength training.  Sometimes the kids join in for fun.  And, at night after the splishing and splashing of bath time, she might lace up and take a 45 minute walk.  When I asked her what she felt the key was to staying healthy through exercise, she said that it was super important to have that structured time set into your schedule at a time when you know you will be able to workout.  For her, that is in the morning before the kids get up, so she sets her clock 45 minutes earlier 3X a week.  Sometimes things don’t always go as planned, and one of the tots may get up early, or the alarm “fails”, but she says that doing 10-20 minutes is better than doing nothing at all (and she’s a doc, she knows what she is talking about).

When it comes to sowing her wild oats for the family, one key thing she always does is to have fruit or veggies at every meal – even when they eat out.  I am constantly impressed when we go out that she and her husband always ask for a side of fruit for the kids even if it’s not on the menu (and, believe it or not, most restaurants will cut up some fruit for you if you ask). You’ve seen kid’s menus:  chicken tenders, pizza, macaroni, French fries, quesadillas, but she makes sure that her kiddios get some kind of fiber at every meal. 

Yesterday, we made a brief stop at Whole Foods for lunch, and if you’ve ever heard the saying that the more colors that are on your plate, the healthier your food is likely to be it couldn’t be more illustrated by the plate of food my sis made for my youngest niece (see below).


Trying to stay healthy is a balancing act, and things don’t always go as planned – sick children up through the night and there isn’t always a Whole Foods-esque lunch at your fingertips – but with a few tricks, you can make it work.

What tricks do you use to keep you, or your family healthy?  Please share for the rest of us out there struggling with that high-priced commodity:  time.

Right now I’m watching my niece stuff as many grapes into her mouth as possible.  She’s got big cheeks, so it’s amazing what she can hide in there. 

Enjoy your Sunday everyone.


Sowing My Wild Oats: Meets Paula Deen

Well Hiiiiiiiii y’all! It’s time for some good ol cookin Paula Deen style. Because lets face it, butter IS GOOOOOOD! God didnt give us butter not to eat it. Are you with me now, honey? So take your shoes off, put on your apron and let’s get to cookin.(audience goes wild)

So, yesterday after being yelled at by the teenager that we had no milk (even though we had just gone to the store and he forgot to get it) I decided to get creative. I mean so creative that if I had an apron, I totally would’ve put one on. Feef free to mail me one. I like TN orange or hot pink and black:)

I opened the bare fridge and found some honey biscuits…yes I said honey and biscuits in the same sentence. I hear angels singing. I found a few pieces of nitrate free bacon I had left over from our Haitian guests and about six organic, free range brown eggs. I found some red onion I had chopped up and bagged and some cheese left over from when my mom came to baby my aching wounds….I mean help me after my surgery.

Thus, I invoked the spirit of Paula Deen and got busy. I decided to cook the biscuits, fry up the bacon (yes I said fried) then make the eggs into a casserole. I would say it was an old family recipe but if you knew my family, you would know we don’t have family recipes..I mixed up the eggs, cheeses, red onion and added some garlic salt.

I cooked it all at the same time and it truly was pretty effortless. When the teen came down, he scarfed it down like a starving kid in Africa. I will admit that I myself also enjoyed four biscuits. This was an awesome meal and if you feel like adding on a few pounds, I highly suggest you make it.

So, get on into your kitchen y’all, grab out that butter and make up some eggs and biscuits. Plate it up and eat til your hearts content….or until it’s stops beating…oh semantics


The Daily Sweat meets Freeing Sisyphus: Trying to stay balanced while logging the interstate miles, eating road food and dealing with one sore butt

The Big Move

(pic courtesy of internet as I passed this thing at about 12am, going 75mph)

Typically when I talk about soreness and logging miles it’s after an extremely hard or long run.  Not this week….Oh no.  As mentioned by my sis, Freeing Sisyphus has taken a huge step toward what I hope will be a quality of life improvement moving from the frozen tundra of Minnesota and the horrors of I-494 to the diverse and transient community of Philadelphia (much better suited for a transient like me).  Although Philly has its own commuting nightmares, I chose a location such that my commute is a 20-minute trek through a tree-lined, rolling hills, horse-farm viewing route versus a 45 minute car-fume imbued crawl through strip mall hell.

But, I get ahead of myself….

As most of you know, “the man” is really never thinking about what’s best for you.  As a result, my work relocation has been interesting to say the least.  The up-in-the-air details finally got close to being finalized until Friday when I got a call at 2pm asking me if I could be ready to move by 8am the next day (Saturday) instead of some yet determined time late on Sunday.  Suffice it to say I still had organizing to do before the packers came.  But, I had to go with the flow as I needed to be out of my apt.  I got up at 4am and scurried around cleaning and trying to figure out what would come with me in the car versus what would go with the packers.  Have you ever worn your Garmin heart monitor while cleaning or moving for giggles?  I have.  Once, I burned 1300 calories in 6 hours of cleaning.  Yeah, my apt was a little messy.

The packers came at 8am, and although I promised my sister I would take pics for the blog, the packers blew through my apt like a typhoon (man, those guys were in shape), and I never got a chance.  By the time I even thought about it they were hauling my 300lb kickboxing stand into the elevator and the doors were closing.  All of my junk went onto a truck I never even saw.  I finished up some cleaning, errand running, and believe it or not had to go to work for a few hrs, but finally hit the road at 7pm CT.  I hadn’t really eaten all day besides an Advocare meal replacement shake blended with frozen peaches and bananas (was too nervous to eat solid food), but by the time I realized I NEEDED food my only option was McDonald’s.  Ugh, had a quarterpounder with cheese and a smoothie, but have to admit their frozen strawberry smoothie wasn’t too bad.  My plan was to make it past Chicago and stop for the night and get up early to log the rest of the distance to cornfield central.  Something happened around 1am, and I just decided to keep going.  I hit Indiana, and the corn fog started to roll in, pesticide perfuming the air.  Visibility was reduced to about 10 ft, so after a few hallucinations I finally decided to stop around 5am (that’s right, I was up 26 hours straight).  Slept for 3 hours and then, thanks to my daily Spark packet, made it to Karin’s house by 10:45am having logged 570 miles.  The visit was short and sweet (and already chronicled in one of Karin’s posts except for the cool part where I bonded with the nephew and brother-in-law over our favorite new sci-fi series Falling Skies).

I climb into my car on Sunday with only a slightly sore butt (visions of a run with a sis went out the window after waking up way too late) and my car sputters to life, trembling and shaking, the check engine light blinking at me ironically (yes, ironically, b/c I had my car tested from top to bottom only the week before trying to plan for all eventualities).  I drive around the block and the sputtering continues, so decide to take it to the dealership during which time the sputtering and shaking stops.  After being given wrong directions by the attendant at the dealer and finally getting the right ones, I arrive and they hook my mischievous Altima up to a machine.  $100 dollars later they tell me that a coil misfired and they couldn’t say whether or not it would happen again, but if it did, I would be stranded.  I said, “look, if it were your daughter driving in the middle of the night in the middle of nowhere would you let her get on the road.”  Unexpectedly, they said yes.  I leave the dealership somewhat assured, maneuver through rush hour traffic and leave Indy around 6pm.  So much for not driving late at night again.

200 miles later I realize I haven’t eaten dinner and luckily found a truck stop with a Subway – grabbed a turkey sub  and an Energy Vitamin Water to get me through the next few hours.  Below is my sad attempt to take a picture of the “Smile you are inPennsylvania, the state of Independence” sign at the welcome center rest stop.  Spent 10 minutes trying to get that pic from different angles to compensate for the reflective writing on the sign (my sister yelling at me in my head) while suspect truckers slowly drove by.

Does this story ever end, you are asking?  Fast forward: stayed in a scary Super Eight, butt really hurting, get up again, race down the PA turnpike fielding calls from work, buzz, buzz, buzz from the blackberry and make it to the leasing office of my new apt around 3pm to get my keys looking like a recent lobotomy patient.  My BB dies, then comes back to life, I can’t track down my relocation agent to find out if my stuff was coming as promised the next day and my sore butt and I sleep on the floor b/c those rockstar packers packed my air mattress pump before I could grab it.  Arrive at work the next morning bright and early where the person who is supposed to set me up is nowhere to be found, 2 days behind in work, no cup for my oatmeal I brought with me (thank God for Clif bars), and after 3 calls and 2 emails, get a call from the relocation company to tell me that my driver had mechanical difficulties and my stuff won’t arrive until Monday.  At this point, I felt probably as unbalanced as one could possibly feel.

Sounds a little like life, right?  Finally get sorted, stay at work until late catching up, take a nice walk in my pjs along the river to stare at the moon and then pass out on floor – butt a little less sore.

And, then Eureka, I get up yesterday morning, 1200 miles proudly behind me, do a quick run on my new path along the Schuylkill river, drive my serene commute and……..sigh of relief……somewhat of a normal day.

Anyone out there have a “moving” horror story to share, or any other life event that sent them teetering?  How did you recover?

Lesson learned for me:  life will always send us teetering, but if we take it step by step, we can quickly recover and find balance again.  Perfect eating, perfect exercising, perfect “being” will never occur, so Sisyphers and Sweaters, sometimes we have to cut ourselves a little slack and give an inch to take a mile.

Sowing My Wild Oats: Why I love communal living and want to buy a big piece of land and have all my friends live there

This week one of my most selfless, giving friends Amanda brought over a bounty of fruits and veggies for our family to enjoy. This is such a blessing as I’ve been injured/had surgery and could not only drive to Whole Foods but also couldnt justify spending the money. My husband’s work has been slow and we need all of the help we can get!

I was starting to feel bad just feeding the tot peanut butter and jelly three times a day

When she dropped by the food, I immediately thought of preparing it for our Haitian guests that we had this weekend. But, as the weekend came and went, it seemed we only had time to prepare breakfast as they wanted to tour Indy and eat some local cuisine.

So last night, I took the entire box of food and began to get ideas about what I could make. We had tomatoes (that were perfectly juicy and ripe I might add), very spicy jalepenos, a few different types of peppers, squash, zucchini and fresh green beans.

Originally, I was just going to steam everything but then I got creative. I did steam the green beans along with some cut up tomatoes and a few slices of jalepeno. But, I then decided to sautee the squash, zucchini, peppers, jalepeno peppers, tomato and red onion with extra virgin olive oil. I let it simmer and at the end added just a tad bit of goat cheese.

I had a bag of potatoes that I feared would soon go bad so I decided to cut them all up in quarters and roast them. I doused them in olive oil and baked them for 45 minutes on 425. At the end, I also added goat cheese and let it melt a little on top.

I know these pictures may not look that appetizing but remember I am using a blackberry. This dinner was seriously one of my favorites yet and my hubs even went back for seconds. That is saying A WHOLE LOT!

So what’s on your menu for this week? Do you co-0p with other friends and cook up fresh veggies and fruits each week?

AdvoCare: Carissa’s Update II

As some of you may remember, Carissa, after months of considering the 24 day challenge, finally mustered up the courage and the finances to try it out. She was definitely skeptical at first. But, since day 2, I have received email after email about how amazing she feels and just an overall disbelief in how these products really work. When we first introduced you to Carissa, she was 165.

When we did her second update, she was down to 158. Most importantly, she had already lost about 8 inches at this time and it had only been 11 days! Her energy was out of this world and for the first time in a long time, she felt healthy and like she had a clean slate to work with.

I just heard from Carissa yesterday, letting me know that in addition to losing 7 pounds, she has now lost 15.5 inches!!! That is seriously crazy and she said her clothes no longer fit. She is so excited to be able to go and try on/buy new clothes. As you can see in these pictures. AdvoCare not only helped her detox and lose weight, it also brought a glow and joy to her face that wasn’t there before.

Carissa has come a long way in life and I am super proud of her! I know she will continue to use some of the products and will only get smaller. But even more important than that, she is now aware of the junk she was putting in her body and is on a better path to wholeness!

That’s what I love about AdvoCare, the products are all natural and cover everything from detoxing (with food) to sports performance, overall wellness, increased energy, bone strength, weight loss, stress relief and on and on it goes. For more info, please email me or see

However, if you email me, I can formulate a specific plan for you. I will be your cheerleader and make sure you succeed. I can hold you accountable, plan grocery lists and menu’s and text you encouraging notes til you wanna chuck your cell phone out the window.

And if you are concerned about the price, just ask Carissa or myself how we actually SAVED money by doing the challenge. Funny how when you aren’t eating out or driving through Starbucks, just how much money you do save!

Let’s cheer Carissa on by leaving a comment and congratulating her on her success! I have a feeling this won’t be the last time you see her! (go look back at these links..she has come so far!)

This girl is smokin hot! check out the previous links for how different she looks!

The Daily Sweat: “I think I can, I think I can”

This morning was definitely one of those when you felt some warm and cozy in your bed and argued with yourself to just keep snoozing. When my alarm went off at 5 am, all I could think about was pulling the covers over my head and resuming the fetal position.

But, thats why it is so good to have friends that push you out of bed and keep you accountable.

I knew that I would be meeting Stacia and Val this morning for our couch potato to  5k training. I later found out that Jenny and Tina would also be meeting us for about a mile after their 3 mile run.

Today, was a big day marking a HUGE step for both Stacia and Val. We would be running for 1/2 mile, then walking 1/4 of a mile. This is a big jump for them both! I knew going into it that I would have to stay on Stacia to sloooow down. This girl is pretty fast to be starting out and keeps ME winded.

But, I must say I was so proud of her as she followed my lead and kept in check. And not only was this the furthest they had gone running, it is also the first time we didn’t have to stop at 2 miles, walk for a while then resume the run. It was a cool morning with lots of head wind and I think it actually helped. But this is seriously mostly due to their hard work and dedication and it is paying off in a big way. I am seriously so proud of them both and so happy to get to work with them!

Oh and did I mention they have both lost over 40 pounds since January? They both trained and completed the Indy Mini 1/2 marathon in May walking the entire race!

Seriously, I need their determination!!

A recent article in Runner’s World suggests running easy 70% of the time. Last year when I was full marathon training, I ran each run as hard as I could on top of Yasso’s every Wednesday. And it worked perfectly….until the day before the marathon when I found out that I had a hip stress fracture.

I thought I had learned my lesson but after just recently having surgery, I realized that I had not. So, here’s wishing me luck that I can continue to run slow and only fast on speedwork days. It may mean that I become a baby elephant like my sister, Freeing Sisyphus but I would rather be that than an injured gazelle.

Who’s with me?

Cheer Stacia and Val on by leaving them a comment of encouragement! I don’t know what I would’ve done without my encouraging friend, Summer when I was doing this same program 2 years ago. I know that I would NOT be where I am today. So, join me bloggers in pushing our friends on and showing them that just like us, they can accomplish anything they put their mind to! Maybe this time next year, they will be training one of you!