Living LEAP: Phase 2 & the start of 3

Don’t know what LEAP/MRT is? Missed the start of this series? Click here to catch up!

I moved into Phase 2 about 2.5 weeks ago and have recently started Phase 3. I’ll admit I did skip over a few food items from my lists for Phases 2 & 3 (soybeans and millet, yeah… didn’t excite me) and only half-heartedly tried a few others (squash, papaya) – so I intend to go slowly through Phase 3 and maybe re-test a few from Phase 2 that I didn’t quite give due diligence.

The foods I can introduce during Phase 2 include:

soybeans (whole), millet, corn, avocado, asparagus, lima beans, squash, plum, grapefruit, cocoa, cow’s milk, honey, vanilla, and baking soda

So far, from Phase 2, I have successfully tested / added back:

asparagus, avocado, lima beans, plums, cow’s milk, corn, and baking soda (I use for cleaning and mix with coconut oil as a face scrub occasionally), honey, vanilla, and cocoa

The foods I can introduce during Phase 3 include:

clam, tuna, shrimp, rye, barley, amaranth, cranberry, papaya, honeydew melon, whey, cane sugar, carob, garlic, parsley

So far, from Phase 3, I have successfully tested / added back: 

honeydew melon, shrimp, squash, cranberry, cane sugar, papaya, tuna

How I’m feeling: I have had a few small headaches during Phase 2 & 3 but am unable to tell if that’s due to lack of sleep/water or stress (jaw clenching) or a certain food. I plan to backtrack through my food journal, re-test a few things, and make note of my moods & situations to see if I can pinpoint the problem. Besides the occasional headache, I am feeling really really good. Losing a little more weight here and there. I should stress again that this is not my goal or reason for doing LEAP – it’s a perk. As is clearer skin and a little more energy. My main purpose for doing the MRT testing and following through with LEAP meal plan is to get my GI issues under control, which (knock on wood) have so far been non-existent since participating in LEAP. Yay!

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What I’ve been eating:

  • grilled pork and green beans with coconut aminos (an alternative to soy sauce and oh so tasty!)
  • shrimp/scallops with corn noodle pasta in butter and feta cheese sauce with lima beans on the side
  • pork tenderloin made in the crockpot with a little apple juice served with roasted carrots and potatoes
  • beef soup with corn, carrots, and 100% buckwheat noodles
  • asparagus (sometimes wrapped in prosciutto) with side of oven-roasted squash, green apples, sweet potatoes topped with cinnamon-honey butter
  • polenta pizza (polenta slices rubbed with olive oil & topped with tomato sauce and goat cheese)
  • steak, green beans, and sweet potatoes
  • snacks: fresh fruit, roasted almonds with a sprinkle of salt, dried apricots & prunes, avocado, yogurt, chocolate pudding (made from avocados, honey, milk, cocoa powder + vanilla), jello (made from cranberry juice, frozen raspberries, and Great Lakes Unflavored Gelatin - read about the many benefits of gelatin here), chocolate from Alter Eco and Theo Chocolate (no soy lecithin in these delicious treats!)

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What I’ve been using: 

Alaffia Everyday Shea Moisturizing Shampoo (Lavender)

As I mentioned in Phase 1, this was the first shampoo I started using and I did so for about a month. Initially, I complained about how quickly my hair got oily but that is all part of the detox that comes with switching from chemical products to natural. Eventually it balanced out and I could go three days without washing and with very minimal oil. It was nice. I learned though some research that it is best when using natural shampoos to actually shampoo twice. The first shampoo is the cleanse the hair and scalp and get rid of any debris. The second shampoo stimulates and nourishes the scalp/hair follicles and activates your oil glands.

Morrocco Method (Shampoo, Conditioner, leave-in conditioner)

My new love! Although Alaffia was doing a decent job, my hair was still kind of dull and not as soft and smooth as it used to be when I was using my chemical-filled Aussie products (pre-LEAP). Then I stumbled upon Morrocco Method; a company that makes wild-​crafted, raw, vegan, and gluten-​free hair care products. I found a coupon online and ordered sample size bottles of their Heavenly Chi shampoo, Chi Instant conditioner, and Diamond Crystal Mist leave-in conditioner/moisturizer. Been using for about a week now and adore the way my hair feels! Well, that is when it behaves. My scalp is still detoxing all the sulfates/chemicals so it still gets oily/matted on occasion. But on days it’s behaving and not throwing a tantrum my hair’s soft, light, and not weighed down (which is how the shea butter in Alaffia sometimes made me feel).

Morrocco Method’s best seller is their Apple Cider Vinegar Shampoo which I’d love to try but sadly it has sesame in it (a sensitivity of mine). But if you wanted to try a product that might be the place to start, otherwise they have some sample kits you can purchase. I love that their products are free of sulfates, parabens, and chemicals AND that you can actually recognize the ingredients. It’s definitely a transition using Morrocco Method products because natural shampoos don’t sudse/foam up and it actually feels a bit like you’re washing your hair with mud. But trust me – so worth it! :) They even have a $13 sample pack with 5 shampoos if you’d like to give it a try.

Bare Minerals Makeup

I’ve been hearing rave reviews from family and friends so I decided to order a starter kit for Bare Minerals. The nice thing is that the majority of their products don’t have anything I’m sensitive too! And, I really like the way it’s made my skin look and feel. Sadly, I recently ran across this article that points out a few of the not so good things about Bare Minerals. Womp womp. Turns out I’ve got much to learn about the world of natural (and so-called natural) makeup. But, baby steps! I plan to use Bare Minerals until I run out then hopefully switch to some safer but similar products if I can find them. For a decent list of natural makeup options click here. I’d like to look into trying 100% Pure or Cowgirl Dirt but will have to be careful that they don’t contain oats, rice, etc. since these are things I’m sensitive to and are often used in natural makeup. A great site where you can check ingredients in makeup and other beauty products is EWG’s Skin Deep database.

I’m also still using all other products I listed in my Phase 1 recap.

So, that’s what’s been going on over here!

Again, if you have any questions about things I’ve written about or about MRT/LEAP in general just let me know.

Wishing you all good health and happiness!

Easy Canvas Prints Review + Coupon

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post. I was provided a canvas in return for my honest review. I received no monetary compensation. All opinions are my own.

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I’m pretty awful about getting photos printed and put into frames so when I found out that Easy Canvas Prints, a company that produces quality canvas prints, was looking for reviewers to try out their product I jumped at the chance.

I chose an 8×10 canvas (made of durable cotton-based material) and let me tell you – the ordering process was seamless. All their options are easily displayed and explained. You can upload photos from your computer or import them from Facebook or Instagram. You can choose to embellish the sides of your canvas with a continuation of your photo, a mirror of your image, or stick with a solid color. Before you submit your order they also offer a preview of what your canvas will look like so you can adjust the cropping if necessary. And shipping was fast and reliable (they send you a tracking number to you so can stalk your precious photo from their site to your front step).

The image I used was from Instagram and I’m pretty impressed with the quality considering it was an iPhone photo with a filter. Kind of turned out pop art-y which I love! Perfect for the modern aesthetic we have going on in our apartment.

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Easy Canvas Prints products come with saw-tooth hangers installed already for quick + easy hanging.

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You can see the canvas detail in the image below as well as the glossy finish in the sunlight.

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I’m very happy with how it turned out and would recommend Easy Canvas Prints to anyone looking to order this kind of print.

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Like to give Easy Canvas Prints a try?

The lovely folks at Easy Canvas Prints have given me two coupon codes to share with you!

Use the code: 50FREESHIP to receive 50% off your canvas purchase and get free shipping

Use the code: BOGOMONTH to buy one canvas get one free plus free shipping too

Happy shopping!

weekend review

Last weekend I…

…went shopping with a coworker-friend. Found some cute spring/summer tops at Goodwill and also bought two absolutely comfortable flats at Aerosole - I totally get why people only shop there! Great quality, so comfortable, affordable, and stylish. And no, I’m not getting paid to say that :)

…grabbed groceries at Whole Foods by myself – so much fun wandering the aisle and finding new things to eat that fit into my LEAP plan. Hello quinoa noodles and coconut aminos!

…went out to dinner with Mr.C

…attended the always fun MN Blogger’s Favorite Things Party hosted by Lo and Dawn.

Last year’s was a blast and this year was even better – great food, unique items, and more bloggers in attendance. So nice to see old faces and meet all the newbies!

The premise of the party is simple – we each bring 3 versions of our favorite thing to share, draw names and pick out 3 new favorite things from the collection to take home.

I brought tiny mason jars filled with a coconut oil & sugar scrub I made and I left with a few chocolate bars, a notebook, and a Norwex cloth. I’m especially excited to try my new Norwex as I have friends and coworkers that rave about. (If you’re interested in trying Norwex products, another MN Blogger, the very sweet Bridget, sells them. Shoot her an email to find out more!)

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Back: Becky | Becky | Carolyn | Melissa | Diana  | Jameson | Andrea | Jen | Leah | Melissa | Sarah | Lauren | Zhenya

Middle: Robert | Dawn | Jasmine | Katie | Brittany | Syndal | Jenn

Front: Kelly | Me | Lindsey | Krysty (with sweet little Hadley)

(photo credit goes to Robert – check out his amazing photography here)

I had great time and cannot wait for the next meet-up.

Happy Friday and hope you all have a good weekend.

currently

Listening… to this playlist I recently compiled. Also – Super Mash Bros.

Reading… theSkimm. I’m notorious for being out of the loop when it comes to the news and what’s happening in the world. Not anymore! TheSkimm is a great daily newsletter that sends handcrafted summaries of the top news stories right to your inbox. Give it a try. I guarantee you’ll love the fresh and snappy tone!

Eating… random concoctions based on my LEAP meal plan. I’m finally onto Phase 2! This week I made a tasty pasta dish with 100% corn noodles and scallops in a butter & feta sauce with chocolate avocado pudding for dessert. I often post my plates on Instagram – so if you’re into that I’d love to have you follow along!

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Watching… Top of the Lake on Netflix. Elisabeth Moss stars in this mini-series mystery that originally aired on the Sundance channel. Powerful, haunting, edgy. Disturbing but beautiful. Great acting by all! Holly Hunter, Peter Mullen, and David Wenham also star.

Waiting… for the mail to come! I’m switching up my makeup and giving BareMinerals a try since their ingredients don’t contain anything I’m sensitive to. I’m also getting samples of a new natural shampoo/conditioner to try – Morrocco Method. Reviews to come!

Enjoying… my purple tipped hair. I’ve never dyed it before and really needed a change to shake off the winter gloom. Thanks to Splat’s semi permanent “Lusty Lavender” and help from Mr.C I’m now sporting some fancy colorful locks. Probably won’t color it again (unless I use henna) since I’m trying to go natural with my products and such.

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Trying… to curb my antsy-ness. A few times of year a switch flips and I need change. Now. Nownownow! Bouncing around from idea to idea and wanting to do everything… immediately! New hair, another tattoo, rearranging furniture, tossing my wardrobe upside down, get on the road, book a flight, have an adventure… can it all happen today? Please? :) My mind/body/soul apparently needs it.

Feeling… accomplished! Mr.C & I are continuing to chip away at our student loans and, guys, we just dropped under $20K! Only $19,198 to go!

Clicking… 17 things you suddenly start doing when you get an office job (pretty accurate and hilarious!), What Do Millennials Eat and Drink? (so spot on, especially here in the city! Mr.C has even started preferring craft beers over his old standby Bud Light), and Akinator (an online “game” that can guess any real or fictional character you’re thinking of by asking just 20 questions. It hasn’t been wrong for me once!).

So that’s me…what’s current with you guys?

Have a good weekend + and soak up the warmer weather!

xo – meg

Living LEAP: Phase 2

Don’t know what LEAP/MRT is? Missed the start of this series? Click here to catch up!

After spending 15 days on Phase 1, I finally moved to Phase 2 – the stage where you start introducing one new food from your list every 1-2 days.

It took me awhile to move on to Phase 2 because I was battling a cold and then kept getting stomach aches. It turns out that although mushrooms are listed as green/safe on my test results my body is not a fan and hence the stomach aches. The reason for this may be because of underlying factors that the MRT test can’t take into account, such as a mold / yeast / candidate sensitivity that mushrooms could actually be exacerbating. So I’ll keep mushrooms out of my diet and retest them again later.

The foods I can introduce during Phase 2 include:

soybeans (whole), millet, corn, avocado, asparagus, lima beans, squash, plum, grapefruit, cocoa, cow’s milk, honey, vanilla, and baking soda

So far I have successfully tested / added back:

asparagus, avocado, lima beans, plums, cow’s milk, corn, and baking soda (I use for cleaning and mix with coconut oil as a face scrub occasionally)

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Left: lamb, green beans, mashed potatoes/cauliflower
Right: burger, feta, avocado, corn on the cob

Very happy about asparagus and corn! I’m also excited about cow’s milk because although I’m not a big milk drinker – it’s nice for cooking…and chocolate. I cannot wait until I get enough food items/ingredients back into my diet that I can start having chocolate again (only if it’s lecithin free of course!).

How I’m feeling: Great! My GI issues are practically nonexistent. Phase 1 got very boring toward the end but starting Phase 2 gets you motivated and excited to keep moving forward. I’ve continued to lose weight since Phase 1 (total of 10lbs now) but have hit a plateau recently. I definitely need to get back in the habit of exercising again!

I’ll keep you updated as I continue with Phase 2 and keep expanding my menu (yay!).

In closing, I’d like to address a few reader questions. If you have anything you’d like to ask – comment below or shoot me an email. I’ll be happy to share my experience or help you find the information you’re looking for. Thanks to Anndee for wondering…

What foods on your red list will you miss the most?

The “red” foods I miss the most are salmon, crab, and lemon. I mean, yum! I hope one day I’ll be able to add them back to my diet even if it’s in small, occasional amounts. The biggest impact on my life though has been avoiding lecithin, salicylic acid, and sodium metabisulfite. As I mentioned here, they are in so many things and now influence not only my eating decisions but my beauty & hygiene ones as well.

Have you had to deal with eating out or cooking for others?

Cooking for others: Since Mr.C & I work opposite shifts and we don’t have kids, I don’t have to deal a lot with this. But when it comes to leftovers or weekends, Mr.C does eat some of the meals I make (pot roasts, burgers, sweet potatoes, etc) and has been slowly embracing healthy eating too. How restrictive your Phase 1 menu is will probably influence on how many of your meals you’ll be able to share with others/family. But once you get the Phase 2, 3, and beyond it’ll be much easier for you to make dishes or meals that will appeal to more people. In the meantime, you could always make a main dish that you features items you can eat safely and then side dishes that appeal to the others. Or make “easy” meals for the rest of the family (crock pot meals, soups, etc) so you can focus on meals for yourself and not get burnt out on cooking so many different dishes.

Eating out: I have eaten out twice since starting LEAP. One was at the very beginning of Phase 1 and it was not a great experience. We went to a buffet for someone’s birthday and while in theory it should have been nice with so many options (I must be able to find something to eat right?) it actually wasn’t. So much of the options were still made with boxed/processed mixes or seasoned with something I couldn’t have, it was a challenge. I ended up drinking water and eating steak, carrots from the salad bar, and mandarin oranges. My second experience was much better and it helped that it was at a higher end restaurant where they were making things fresh to order. I was able to get oven roasted tilapia with asparagus and specify that I only wanted it cooked with olive oil or butter, salt and pepper. It tasted amazing.

The key to eating out is definitely advanced planning. Review menu prior to visiting the restaurant, bring a list of your sensitivities, and tell the waiter about them or verify the ingredients in a meal before ordering. Avoiding a restaurant during peak dining times may help the kitchen be more capable of meeting your dietary needs. You can also think about eating something at home before going out and then just getting a side dish or appetizer (something small but safe). This way you can still enjoy the outing and social aspects without worry and being nice to your dining out budget. :)

Have you found any websites or other resources that have helped with recipes?

Pinterest, as always, is a great resource. There are even a few LEAP/MRT specific boards. I also googled around to find other bloggers who did LEAP/MRT. And don’t be afraid to take some of your favorite recipes and work on making substitutions for the foods/ingredients you are trying to avoid!

My dietitian also gave me some websites that have been very helpful:

Hopefully those of you out there doing LEAP or thinking of starting will find these resources helpful. Or even those of you who are just looking to eat healthier! Healthy, happy humans for the win, amiright?!

- meg

Fairlife | Giveaway Winner Announced!

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The Fairlife Magic Bullet Blender Giveaway has ended.

Thank you to everyone who took the time to enter the drawing, leave comments, and learn more about Fairlife milk.

Congratulations to Angela! I will be contacting you via email shortly to arrange delivery of your new blender!

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For more Fairlife visit: Website | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook | Pinterest

Fairlife | Magic Bullet Blender Giveaway! (CLOSED)

photo 1Last weekend, Mr.C & I attended a workout + smoothie tasting event hosted by Fairlife.

Click here to learn about Fairlife and read our review of their tasty product. Fairlife Milk has 50% more protein, 50% more calcium, and 50% less sugar than ordinary milk. Plus, it’s lactose free! All of this nutrition is added naturally thanks to their unique filtering process. Cool right?!

Wanna know what’s even cooler?

Fairlife is giving away Magic Bullet Blender to one of you lovely readers!

That’s right! Fairlife’s motto is “believe in better” and since they really want to help people live healthier, better lives, they thought this would be a great way to share their passion. Think of all the delicious, quick, healthy treats you’ll be able to whip up!

Click below to enter to win a Magic Bullet Blender c/o Fairlife:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

This giveaway is open to U.S. residents only (and no PO Boxes – sorry).

Thanks again to Fairlife! And good luck. :)