Caffeine Free Week Tips and Pointers by lee tilghman

HI!

It's day 4 of #caffeinefreeweek.

How's everyone doing?

For me, the first two days were definitely the hardest. Day 1 might as well have been a waste of a day. I was productive for maybe about 2 hours then I felt extremely lethargic, sad, anxious, and sluggish. I couldn't get off the couch. My tension headaches were so bad, I kept applying peppermint oil like it was going out of style! I also was in a bad mood and kept asking myself, "why am I doing this?" what helped the most was scrolling through Instagram reading the #caffeinefreeweek tags. It is so inspiring to me to see so many awesome ladies participating around the world. WE GOT THIS!

I got cupped on Tuesday at The Spa on Rodeo in Beverly Hills and my headaches have been gone ever since. I think it worked in relieving tons of tension on my body!

Day 2 was a little better energy wise, but I still felt slow to remember things. I would forget people's names, misspell emails, space out and just felt pretty uninspired and unmotivated. Not my usual "LET'S DO THIS" frame of mind, which was frustrating. But, I was expecting that. 

my cup marks!

my cup marks!

Even though I successfully gave up coffee a year ago, and was caffeine free for a few months last summer, this past fall, I got really into matcha and before I knew it, was downing 1-2 matchas a day, and getting anxious if I didn't have one. It became my new morning ritual. I'd also get withdrawal headaches and didn't feel like my normal spunky self if I didn't have it by 3pm. 

I started #caffeinefreeweek to give my body a reset. Not sure if I will omit the stuff for life or not, but I am glad I am giving my body and adrenals a break (even if just from matcha). 

I wanted to put together a little blog post full of recipes, support, and pointers for those of who are participating in #caffeinefreeweek April 17-23, 2017! And if you aren't participating in this week's, maybe you can start your own and use this page to give you support!

benefits of giving up caffeine

  • better sleep
  • regulate hormones
  • decreased anxiety
  • lower blood pressure
  • healthier teeth
  • lower cortisol levels
  • more in touch with your natural rhythms and energy levels
  • easier to meditate
  • better for the environment!

What I've noticed about myself so far

  • I often turn to caffeine for a boost to get me through a "lull" or moment of inspiration
  • I've been noticeably less anxious and prone to "flight or fight" responses
  • I've been sleeping way more soundly! Normally I wake up a few times a night. Not this week!
  • My mind doesn't race when I hop into bed to go to sleep. Normally I sit in bed for an hour and think... about life. My to-do lists. What I did that day. What I didn't do.
  • I've been more in touch with my hunger cues. 
  • I'm eating slower. 
  • I've been a better driver. Less road rage. 
  • hot lemon water is a LIFE SAVER. 

Plan

You know this is not going to be easy. So, make a plan! Get prepared. Use a journal. Tell your friends. Keep yourself accountable. The more you set yourself up for success, the better you'll be!! I stuck post it notes all around my apartment with encouraging messages on them to keep going. They said things like,

YOU CAN DO THIS LEE!
7 days no caffeine? There are way harder things to do in life!

You've got this!

Believe in yourself!

I also googled reasons why giving your body a break from caffeine was a good idea and bookmarked them on my browser so when the craving strikes, I was prepared to shower myself with KNOWLEDGE!

Detox Period

What will you do to make yourself feel better? When detoxing from caffeine, it is normal to feel anxious, depressed, sluggish, lethargic, out of it, tired, irritable, constipated. These are all normal. Here are some things to do when these symptoms creep up:

  • take a hot bath
  • go for a 10 minute walk around the block. If you are in an office, get up and walk to the bathroom. 
  • take a yoga class
  • do 5-10 minutes of breath work or meditation.
  • drink a tall glass of H2O.
  • go to a sauna or get a massage. or, try cupping! I loved it
  • journal. document your experiences. writing is so therapeutic
  • google reasons why giving your body a break from caffeine is so good. it gives your adrenals a break and helps you get back on track 
  • put peppermint oil on your temples
  • take a nap!
  • call a friend
  • pick flowers
  • scroll through the #caffeinefreeweek hashtag! it's so inspiring. 

I know these symptoms can be soooo hard to manage and work through, especially when they can be avoided with just a little cup of Joe or green tea- but trust me, the benefits of giving your body a break from caffeine are endless.

Ritual

Many people are not even addicted to actual caffeine itself but the ritual of it all. It's a way to start the day! So, what will you replace with your caffeinated beverage with? Below are some substitutes!

  • Chaga Latte
  • Dandelion Root Latte
  • Ginger Tea
  • Hot water + lemon
  • Nut Butter Latte
  • Teeccino
  • Moringa Latte
  • Turmeric Latte
  • Teeccino 
  • Green Juice
  • Roobios tea blends

Check some of my recipes below for inspiration!

Favorite Non Toxic Products by lee tilghman

Ah, non toxic skincare. It seems to be all the rage right now. And for good reason.

We are finally waking up to the fact that living a healthy life goes way beyond just the food that we eat. Our skin is our largest organ, and many of the products (yes, even the ones that claim to be "natural") contain endocrine-disruptors, which are any chemicals that can harm your hormones, your brain, and your reproductive system. These products seep into our skin and can cause loads of issues immediately (dry, itchy skin) or further down the line (infertility). It's a big overtaking to get rid of all your toxic stuff. I did it all in one fell swoop. I threw away all my toxic stuff and immediately replaced it with non toxic stuff. For you, it may work to do it step by step. Everyone is different!

It can be overwhelming to be 100% non toxic. For me, I like to think of it as the 80/20 rule. I try to stay non toxic 80% of the time but I realize that living in Los Angeles in the modern world I need some wiggle room. This also will help keep me sane and from getting too obsessive (since we know how that goes!)

Disclaimer: none of the brands in this post paid me to say anything. I truly and genuinely adore these products, and want you guys to benefit from them too. I use them every day. 

Hair:

Phylia Clean Hair Shampoo Goes on light, and smells amazing! I only wash my hair 1x a week, and this stuff is the bomb. I keep it in my hair for 3 minutes before washing out. 

Phylia Conditioner This stuff was recommended to me by my friend Melissa. Her hair is amazing and I was like... I WANT on that! I've been using it for a few weeks and love it. I keep it in my hair for 5 minutes before washing out. 

Rahua Voluminous Dry Shampoo If you follow me on Instagram stories you know I am grease training my hair right now, so dry shampoo has been coming in clutch. I don't put it on every day, just 1-2x a week. 

Face:

Shamanuti Activated Charcoal Cleanser I don't wash my face every day, but when I do, it's with this stuff. It smells like patchouli, lavender, and all that's good in the world. Plus it's charcoal so it's cool. 

Ursa Major Golden Hour Recovery Cream This stuff is sooo creamy and good. I put it on every night before bed. 

S.W. Basics Makeup Remover Love this stuff! It works so well and gets all my makeup off. Be careful as sometimes if you get it in your eyes it will sting (at least on me). The ingredients are so safe and I feel great using this product. 

Body:

Plant Apothecary Body Wash in Calm Down This stuff smells like a dream and works wonders! It gets super sudsy and feels great on my skin. 

Primal Pit Paste Deodorant in Lavender I love this deodorant. Been using it for 3 years non stop. At first it's kind of hard getting used to applying deodorant with your hand, but its super earth friendly and you get used to it quick! I always wash my hands after applying to get the residue off my hands. I apply once in the AM and it lasts me all day, unless I am super active then I'll apply again at 2 or 3 or before going for dinner. I loveeee it. 

Le Labo Perfume Okay, this doesn't need much explaining. Le Labo smells amazing and they use no harsh chemicals in their perfumes. I love mixing Noir + Santal 33. 

Coconut Oil for moisturizer. No need to get fancy folks. Coconut oil is one of the best moisturizers around. I apply it on my skin 2-3x a week at night before bed. 

Makeup:

Ilia Sheer Vivid Tinted Moisturizer I love how sheer this is. When I apply it you can still see my freckles. If you don't like sheer stuff then I don't recommend this stuff. But I personally love it, plus it has SPF in it!

Ilia Illuminator in Sway SWAY! This stuff is good for special occasions when I want an extra 'KA-BANG!' on my face. I apply it to cheekbones, eyebrow bones and the flat of my nose. 

Lily Lolo Mascara This stuff is good. I love it, it goes on clean, comes off clean, doesn't smudge. Works as great as all the other toxic brands out there IMO!

Lily Lolo Eyeliner YES! Non toxic eyeliner. think about close your putting that ish to your eyes. So important to be natural for this one. I love the pencil. Very precise and goes on super clean. 

Lily Lolo Pressed Bronzer in Miami Beach Just a little bit goes a long way with this stuff! I adore it, though. 

Teeth:

Desert Essence Dental Floss Can't forget non toxic floss! This stuff is the best. I floss every single day, and you should too!

David's Toothepaste I was first introduced to this product at Expo West 2015. I fell in the love with the packaging but upon taking it home and trying it myself, I fell in love with pretty much everything about it. The ingredients are clean, it's not in plastic, and it leaves my teeth feeling fine and refreshed with no weird aftertaste. It's a lightly sweet flavor. 

I know it can seem so overwhelming to switch over to non toxic beauty products, but, I found it easiest to just to it all in one fell swoop. I threw out all the endocrine blocking products in my home and ordered new ones to be delivered ASAP.

What are your favorite natural beauty products?

Black Bean Dip by lee tilghman

The dips of all dips. Spread this stuff on your sandwiches, top your tacos with it, your eggs, macro bowls, or dip your roasted veggies into. 

This is so addictive and SO easy to make. I literally make a batch each week and it never lasts more than a few days!

Ingredients:

  • 1 can organic canned black beans
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp paprika (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp coriander (optional)
  • 2 TBSP olive oil
  • ~1/4 cup water
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 tsp sea salt

Instructions:

Drain and rinse black beans well. Add all ingredients to a food processor and blitz for 2 minutes. Store in a tightly sealed container for up to three days in the fridge!

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How I Quit Coffee by lee tilghman

Coffee. It's what fuels our society.

It's how 54% of Americans begin their day. 

It's more than just a drink, it's culture, it's family, it's social. It's kind of like alcohol. 

It's also extremely addictive.

If you read my adrenal fatigue blog post last week, you will know that giving up coffee was so important in my quest to re-balance my hormones, heal my PCOS, and reverse my adrenal fatigue. 

My Coffee History

I started drinking coffee as a 16 year old. As soon as we got our driver's licenses, my friends and I would make daily stops at the Dunkin' Donuts before school started each day. It was such a fun ritual. I'd get a medium hazelnut or French vanilla coffee with skim milk. LOL, those were the days!
Before I knew it, coffee was a part of my every day life. I never experienced any issues with it, unless of course I didn't have it one day, then I'd get a withdrawal headache as my body began detoxing from the caffeine addiction. I even drank it some nights before going out and had no issues even sleeping.

But suddenly, when I turned 24, coffee started to make me feel jittery. I'd feel a "high" for about 30 minutes upon drinking, then I'd sweat immediately after drinking it. I'd become noticeably more agitated on days that I drank it. I'd also be an anxious mess the entire day, and stress eat and feel really anxious and sometimes depressed. This was the beginning of my adrenal fatigue.

And because coffee stimulates those adrenals, it puts your body under so much stress. It's no wonder I was so irritable! 

Why Eliminate it?

Well, first off....Coffee is a stimulant, and any sort of stimulant is a major no-no for those of us with PCOS. Coffee has an immediate effect on insulin sensitivity and can make your body insulin resistant upon consumption. 

Secondly, coffee gets your adrenaline pumping and causes your body to do crazy things. It drains your adrenals and puts your body under a state of stress. It increases your heart rate, dilates your pupils, increases sensitivity to external sensors including sound, light, and touch. Have you ever jumped out of your seat when someone approached you soon after coffee?

Now you know why. 

Thirdly, it's a strong drug and addictive AF! I didn't like the idea of relying so heavily on a beverage everyday to feel good and energized. 

I want to share some of the tricks that I used in order to quit my coffee addiction. 

To be 100% transparent, I still drink caffeine in the form of matcha, green tea, and cacao.

How I Quit

I'd love to sit down and tell you that I quit coffee the day that I started to experience these negative symptoms associated with caffeine. However, I'd be lying to you. 

With any addiction, I was in denial for a bit. Deep down, I KNEW that coffee was totally messing up my body and making me super anxious, but I couldn't imagine living without it. I also wasn't really trying. It was so tough because though coffee made me feel super anxious, irritated and stressed out, I still preferred that over the insane headache and overall crappy feeling I'd get if I didn't even have a cup.

Quitting coffee was like choosing between the lesser of two evils.

After I moved to Los Angeles I did some research and realized how important quitting coffee was in my quest to heal my body and find balance. I picked up my yoga practice around this time, which helped me to feel grounded, safe, and secure as I transitioned to a life in a new city. I think the feeling of groundedness that yoga provided me with gave me a reference for how good I COULD feel, and how coffee just completely lifted me away from the sense of calm and security and authentic LEE. 

Tips for Quitting

So, about a year later, I decided to quit coffee. Below are my tips for quitting. 

  1. Set a date, and stick to it.
    • When I was ready to cut out coffee, I set a date 30 days in advance that would be first day without coffee, and I stuck to that. I marked it in my calendar, told all my friends, and really held myself accountable. I still remember the day. It was January 4, 2016. I quit coffee cold turkey, no weaning off. This worked best for me, though everybody is different.
  2. Replace it with chai tea
    • I knew going cold turkey without caffeine would be too much, so I did bought tons of Tazo Chai Tea from Starbucks to make myself at home. And boy, did I drink tons of it. Upon waking, I'd immediately boil water and steep some chai tea for myself. I'd keep refilling the water using the same tea bag for a few hours until it was so water-y and I'd strain all the tea from the leaves. I was a chai junkie! Chai gave me a steady burst of energy without the jitters of coffee. Also, the aroma and ritual of chai was very reminiscent of coffee. It has warming spices like cinnamon and cardamom that reminded me of coffee. 
  3. Incorporating herbs
    • A week into my new life sans-coffee, I purchased Ashwagandha from Sunpotion, and added 1 tsp of this to my chai tea. Ashwagandha is a powdered herb that helps relieve stress and anxiety. It helped me ease anxiety and diminish the coffee withdrawals.  
  4. Yoga
    • My first day quitting coffee also happened to be the first day of my yoga teacher training. Coincidence? I think NOT! I purposefully chose that day because practicing yoga filled a void inside me that I was filling with the ritual of coffee. Yoga made me feel more connected to myself and my purpose. I also felt physically better after practicing. So, I chose this time to quit coffee since I knew I'd be doing tons of yoga. You don't have to take on yoga teacher training in order to quit coffee, but I do suggest doing yoga as it helps with the detox period, and it helps you stay calm and collected during this stressful time. 
  5. Drink tons of water
    • WATER. It's what we are (mostly) made of! Quitting coffee was a great excuse to step up my hydration game. I started drinking 3-4 liters a day, and that helped me feel more alert, decrease the headaches, feel awake in the AM, and just better all around. I mean, what does water NOT cure?
  6. Switch to herbal tea in the afternoon
    • When I say I drank tons of tea, I mean I drank tons. I would go through about 2-3 boxes of tea each week. I was obsessed with Tazo’s Chai, but would always have a few cups of Celestial Seasonings Spiced Cinnamon Apple after 12 noon to avoid too much caffeine and disrupting my sleep patterns. In retrospect, I would probably go with organic teas and ones without “natural flavorings” but this was before I was exposed to all of this (Thank you, Womancode, for making me change the way i see life).
  7. Avoid coffee shops and other triggers your first few months
    • This was especially important because coffee shops were triggering for me. I mean, think about it. It's like an alcoholic walking into a liquor store. The familiar smells of espresso were almost too tempting to bear. I knew this because right outside my apartment is an adorable coffee shop that I had frequented a few times a week, and when I quit coffee, walking by that shop was really hard because of the smell. Instead of meeting friends for coffee, I suggested we go for a meal, a hike, or a yoga class.
  8. Find a support group
    • Tell friends. Get support. Coffee (and all caffeine) is a drug, and getting of it is not easy. Prepare yourself! If you're thinking of quitting, join my #caffeienefreeweek April 17-24. You don't have to sign up, just share your experiences every day for 7 days using the hashtag #caffeienefreeweek. 
  9. Adopt new rituals
    • As we all know, part of the allure of coffee is the ritual of coffee itself. It's important to note this so you are prepared. If you used to wake up everyday and immediately start brewing yourself a cup of coffee, you need to replace that with something else or it will be really hard. I suggest fixing yourself a cup of hot water with lemon, going on a quick walk, meditating, listening to a podcast or heading right to the gym to workout (sweating will naturally increase your energy!). Believe it or not, it's easier for us to adopt new rituals when we are outside of our normal routine. For instance, if you're heading on vacation soon, that's a good time to cut out coffee since you're already going to be doing something outside of your normal routine.

The above tips helped me in successfully quitting coffee.

Like I said, I still drink caffeine in the form of matcha and green tea, kombucha, as well as the occasional black tea (I do love earl grey!)

For me, matcha is my #1. I love the way it gives me a steady energetic creative flow, keeps me focused without the jitters, and I don't experience a come down. Sometimes if I drink too much of it, I can feel the effects of over-caffeination coming on, which is why I definitely monitor it and don't drink it after 1pm in the afternoon. 

Matcha also has a slew of other health benefits:

  • high in antioxidants
  • improves mental focus + clarity
  • detoxifying properties
  • good for hair skin + nails!
  • contains an amino acid known as L-Theanine which promotes the production of alpha waves in the brain
  • induces relaxation without the inherent drowsiness caused by other “downers"

Speaking of giving up coffee, I am going to host a virtual #caffeinefreeweek on instagram next month. It begins April 17 and will go through April 24th. We are going to completely detox from all forms of caffeine: coffee, matcha, black tea, white tea, even kombucha! If you're interested, join! I'm really looking forward to documenting sharing our experiences together. I'll be giving daily updates on my instagram stories. All you need to do it tag your post #caffeinefreeweek and you're good!

I hope this helps you in your quest to give up "the juice"! 

My Classic Cauliflower Blueberry Smoothie by lee tilghman

This classic, lightly sweetened mostly-cauliflower smoothie is a great introductory smoothie for those wishing to try a vegetable-based smoothie. It's smooth, thick, and creamy. Trust me, you won't even miss the banana! This is one of my all time favorite smoothies, and a regular occurrence in my breakfast rotation. 

Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp almond butter
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen organic cauliflower (I buy organic, pre washed raw cauliflower florets from @wholefoods)
  • 2 scoop vanilla @cleanprogram protein powder
  • 3/4 cup frozen organic blueberries
  • 1/2 cup my homemade hemp milk
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/4 frozen avocado
  • 1/2 tsp organic cinnamon

Instructions

  1. Blend for 3 minutes on high in your @vitamix.

  2. Pour into a glass and top with 1 tbsp coconut flakes, 1 tsp pistachios, and 1 tsp cashew butter.

Adrenal Fatigue: My Story by lee tilghman

Adrenal Fatigue is not foreign to me. I suffered with serious adrenal fatigue for about 16 months when I hit my mid-twenties. Until then, my go-go lifestyle was something I treasured and held high. I liked always being pumped up and having something to do and somewhere to go. I hated the idea of slowing down or falling behind. But then, my hormones caught up to me, and I tried everything but the only thing that worked SLOWING DOWN. 

Background:

After I graduated from college, I moved to new york city for my dream job as the executive assistant to a restauranteur. We owned and operated some of the most successful and hippest restaurants in New York City. 

During this time, was living a very high fast paced lifestyle - though the job was fun, it was very stressful with long hours and emailing on nights and weekends. While at the office, I was drinking cups and cups of coffee (probably 3-4 a day), and running from meeting to meeting. I was staying out late with clients, and on the weekends I was playing catch up just to keep track of my life.

In terms of my diet, I would go through really intense periods of heavily restricting and under eating/overexercising and then switching to periods of no exercise at all compiled with heavy drinking and eating whatever I wanted. This was a very toxic mental and physical cycle that I didn’t know how to get out of, and was too embarrassed to ask for help with. I didn’t feel “sick enough” to go back into in patient treatment, but I knew I was having trouble achieving balance. It was pretty isolating, if I’m being honest. 

I didn’t know it at the time but this was putting my body under a tremendous amount of stress. I was also depressed that I couldn’t get myself to maintain my weight. I was either underweight or had an extra 5 lbs or so on me. As someone who’s had an eating disorder, this was always the hardest part. 

Throughout this really stressful year of my life, I was working out pretty regularly, but it was never with a healthy mindset. I'd push myself to the point of overexercise and injury, I definitely was not listening to my body. I got really bored with the elliptical and my gym routine, so I began running as a way to deal with all the stress. 

Running was my getaway from the reality of my stressful job. I soon built up strength and was running 8 or 9 miles at a time. 

How I found out I had adrenal fatigue:

ExhaustionRunning made me feel strong, energized and empowered. I knew there was an issue when I would go out for a run and within 3/4 of a mile, I felt about as wiped as I did when I went on my longer runs. What was happening? Even after rest days, 1 mile felt like 10 miles on my body. I could literally not run. My body was screaming at me to stop. I ended up fighting through the fatigue the first month or so and injuring my ankle, only making matters worse (a friendly reminder to always listen to your body!)

Sleeping issues: I would stay up pretty late at night with racing thoughts and anxieties, and then when I finally fell asleep, it was so hard for me to get out of bed in the morning. As someone who’s naturally a morning person, this was very strange for me.

Fatigue: Oh man, the fatigue! If you have adrenal fatigue, you know how energy depleting it can be. I’m not talking about regular fatigue if you’ve had a long week or if you didn’t sleep much the night before. That's part of life and happens sometimes. The fatigue that accompanies adrenal fatigue is unlike anything else you ever imagined. It feels like suddenly you are completely zapped of your energy. 

I get kind of choked up when I think about the state that I was in. It was a dark place. The fatigue was getting in the way of my life: I was scared of making plans, and I absolutely dreading the 3:00PM hour, since that's when it would usually set in. On some days, I could still power through, but on others, I would get hit with what I like to call the Fatigue Blanket. On these days, I was completely useless. Sometimes I’d have to get into bed and take a nap. Others, I’d just lay on the couch feeling completely wiped out and too tired to even fix myself a healthy meal. I would develop migraines and it would be hard to carry conversations, look at light, or be outside with a lot of stimulation. 
The fatigue began when I moved to California in February 2015. It continued for over a year, and I remember the peak of the fatigue when was my mother was visiting in April 2016. I had known something was wrong with me, and was beginning to open up to my family about my health challenges.  I was so excited for her visit. One day, we drove out to the West side to go to the Getty Museum. We were having a great day together, and then suddenly, as we were leaving a coffee shop, I felt the initial signs of the fatigue blanket coming on. I grew anxious and felt so horrible that my mother and I had come all the way out from the east coast and was so excited to see the museum. However, I knew how rough these fatigue blankets were. We arrived at the museum, and I explained to her what was happening. She was so understanding and we walked around the museum for about 10 minutes before having to turn around drive back to the east side. I remember I couldn't even drive, that’s how depleted I felt.

Mood swings: Bouts of feeling extremely overwhelmed followed closely with weeks of depression and feeling completely powerless. This was extremely difficult. It was as if I didn't know how to tackle my own life. 

Getting Better

Cutting out Coffee: Coffee was one of the largest culprits of my adrenal fatigue. I decided to go cold turkey on coffee. This was probably the biggest aid in getting over my adrenal fatigue. I didn’t cut out caffeine completely, I switched over to chai tea. But somehow the caffeine from black tea didn’t shock my body as badly as coffee did. I’ll share how I quit coffee on another blog post. Quitting coffee wasn’t easy, but it was so worth it. 

How I exercised with adrenal fatigue: I followed Alisa Vitti’s (the author of Womancode) directions very closely for this part.  Alisa explains that contrary to popular belief, extreme cardio and intense working out with adrenal fatigue can actually lead to weight gain. It was scary to trust this but at point I had nothing to lose. For those of with adrenal fatigue, it is not uncommon to have an extra 10 pounds around the midsection. This was so difficult for me because during the height of my adrenal fatigue, I was literally exercising to my highest capabilities. I was doing the BBG workouts (bikini body guide) and attempting to go on runs, but nothing was working. I was pushing myself so hard and getting so down on myself for not being able to shed that extra weight. In January 2016 I signed up for a 30 day intensive 200 hour Yoga Teacher Training at Yogaworks. It was during this time that cut out cardio, dairy, animal products, coffee, and alcohol completely. We were doing yoga 2x a day for 30 days straight. Sometimes after yoga I’d go on a little walk (about 20 minutes long). On weekends I’d sometimes go on moderate hikes with friends or take rest days. This break from high intensity cardio was exactly what my body needed. Throughout teacher training, I noticed that some of the stubborn weight around my midsection was falling off, which literally shocked me. That’s when I really realized that my extra 10 lbs. was deeper than just my food and exercise. It was hormonally based. That’s why it breaks my heart when doctors just tell people in order to be healthy you need to eat healthy and exercise. No, you need to balance your hormones too!

Yoga: The yoga also helped healed my adrenals and reduce the amount of stress in my life. Through breath and movement, yoga helped me gain a deeper understanding of myself and helped me fall in love with myself again which is such an important thing. Yoga helped me get out of my head, move my body, and develop healthier coping mechanisms. After my yoga teacher training was over, I continued to do yoga 4x a week and LISS 3x a week. I also began taking restorative yoga and kundalini classes, which was something I would always skip over before when glancing at the schedule.I didn’t know it at the time, but restorative yoga helped me relieve a ton of stress that I was carrying around and helped me achieve balance by undoing all those crazy years of intense cardio

Cutting out Sugar/Gluten In February 2016 right after my yoga TT is when I was diagnosed with PCOS and got my blood tested which is when they saw that I had high levels of DHEA (the hormones produced by adrenals) The doctors told me to go back on birth control but I refused. This is when I started doing some my own research on how to heal my adrenals and reverse PCOS. I read that it had a lot to do my diet, and thats when I had to do a really honest check-in with my diet. I realized I was still eating a substantial amount of carbohydrates and sugar (even the healthy ones from sweet potatoes, bananas, grapes) and was still experiencing these crazy days of fatigue and brain fog that would almost leave my paralyzed. In March 2016, my best friend and I decided to do a 21 day elimination diet. We eliminated gluten, dairy, soy, dates, bananas. During these 21 days, I felt completely amazing. It was then that I realized how much diet affected me. I decided to keep all of these triggers out of my diet for a substantial amount of time while my body healed. To this day I keep these foods to a minimum. Keep in mind that this is what worked for MY body, and won't necessary work for yours. We are all different!

I read Womancode and realized that my carb and fruit-laden breakfasts with almond butter were not only spiking my insulin and cortisol levels but I had developed a serious intolerance to sugar and high glycemic fruits and they just left me feeling plain crummy. I did almost 1 month straight of no sugar and felt amazing. My skin cleared up and my energy levels were through the roof. I then saw first hand that I was indeed insulin resistant and all the PCOS pieces began falling together. 

Herbs and Supplements: I also take a few different herbs and supplements to help me with my adrenal fatigue, including magnesium (helps you relax and relieve iBS-C), ashwagandha (stress reliever), cinnamon, and chaga and reishi mushrooms. I get most of these herbs and supplements on Amazon or from Sun Potion. You have to experiment and see what fits you.

Limiting Stress: this may sound general and vague, but limiting or watching my stress levels really helped me get over my adrenal fatigue. This includes daily rituals like journaling, baths, or self care routines like manicures or face masks. It's different for everyone, but adapting habits that you know help relieve your stress and incorporating them into your every day routine is essential to living a healthy and well balanced life.

Drawing Boundaries: I had to learn to say NO to more events to make sure I am not overexerting myself and not burning the candles at both ends. This is a very common practice amongst people in this day in age. Learning to say no is one of the biggest forms of self love I have ever cultivated.

I know how overwhelming it can be to find out you have adrenal fatigue. It's also scary because there is no "quick fix", which is what we are so used to. But know that it IS possible to heal your adrenal fatigue naturally. You have to take one thing at a time, and adopt new lifestyle habits. To this day, I stay away from coffee and make sure I get 5-10 minutes a day to myself to practice some form of self love of self care, whether it be a bath, a meditation or breath work session, or something else from my list. There is also plenty of other information in how to get over adrenal fatigue in the book Womancode by Alisa Vitti

What is your experience with adrenal fatigue? How have you managed to get over it?

Mint Chocolate Chip Cauliflower Smoothie Bowl by lee tilghman

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup raw cashews
  • 1 c. Frozen organic @wholefoodscauliflower florets (don’t need to steam or wash these)
  • 1/4 cup fresh mint leaves (or 4 drops food grade peppermint essential oil)
  • 1 1/2 c. Hemp milk
  • 1 serving @cleanprogram vanilla protein
  • Handful organic baby spinach
  • 1-2 tbsp raw cacao nibs

Instructions

  1. Blend every thing but the cacao nibs in your @vitamix for two minutes. Use the tamper because this is going to be thick! The last 10 seconds, add the cacao nibs. Pour into a bowl and top with more cacao nibs mint, and coconut chips!

Bulletproof Matcha Latte by lee tilghman

You've probably seen bulletproof coffee blowing up around Instagram. 

What is bulletproof? Bulletproof is a diet originally founded by David Asprey 20 years ago. It's a way of eating that relies on quality protein, healthy fats and anti-inflammatory foods. It boasts optimal brain function, energy levels, sleeping schedules, and fat-burning techniques.

A bulletproof latte is usually blended coffee with ghee and MCT oil. But did you know you don't need coffee to indulge in these delicious drinks? I first got into Bulletproof last year.

Though I don't follow the diet to a T, I have first hand seen some amazing results by incorporating these bulletproof matcha latte's into my diet for energy and focus. I do not drink them every day as they are pretty intense (and caffeinated), they are more like a once a week treat. I usually drink these alongside a small, light breakfast like a piece of toast or a small smoothie. 

I drink a lot of matcha, and love Harney & Son's Matcha Unjonotomo, it's super high grade, very green, and tastes like a dream. All of their matcha is great though. 

Since I don't drink coffee, this bulletproof matcha is a delicious alternative. Sometimes I add MCT oil, sometimes I don't. You'll also notice that 2 of the ingredients below have asterisks next to them, and thats because they are totally optional. They are not needed to make a bulletproof latte. I like to include them in with them as they make my drink taste better and I also love the benefits. However, they are not necessary, so keep that in mind. Cordyceps is good for hormone balance, and tocos is good for energy and spirit, and also adds a very hint of sweetness. Tocos is rice bran solubles. 

My bulletproof matcha latte gives you sustainable energy and focus without making you jitter-y. Enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp Harney & Son's Matcha Unjonotomo
  • 1 scoop collagen powder (I use Vital Proteins)
  • 1 tsp ghee
  • 1 tsp MCT oil
  • 1/3 c. hemp milk
  • 1 1/2 c. almost boiling water
  • 2 tsp tocos (I use Sun Potion)*
  • 1 tsp cordyceps (I use Sun Potion)*

Instructions

  1. First, measure out 1 tbsp of Harney & Son's matcha and sift it through a strainer and directly into your blender (I use a Vitamix). This removes clumps. I use this strainer. 
  2. Next, add your near-boiling water. 
  3.  Next, add your collagen, ghee, hemp milk, and MCT oil 
  4. Add tocos and cordyceps if using.
  5. Secure the top of your blender well, and blend on low-medium for about 3 minutes.
  6. Pour into a mug and enjoy immediately!

Zucchini Acai Smoothie by lee tilghman

Another vegetable-based smoothie for the books.

Been working on this one for weeks and finally nailed it. It's creamy, smooth, not too sweet, and full of vegetables. It's the perfect way to start the morning. 

Why no bananas? Well, I remember thinking smoothie bowls full of bananas were so healthy for me. Within a year of this way of eating, I became intolerant to bananas and realized all my other strange symptoms (brain fog, bloat, acne, stress, inability to focus, fatigue) stemmed from the way I was eating. Even though it's healthy sugar, my body was still on fructose overload. I was following other peoples advice (fruit-heavy breakfasts) and it wasn't until I was diagnosed with PCOS, that I began educating myself and really LISTENED to my body.  I then realized I needed to lower my sugar and up my fats and proteins. And now i know... for PCOS, my blood sugar and my hormones, i just feel better when i eat start the day low sugar. everyone's body is different, and I urge you to play around to figure out what works for YOU. and with that, i present to you this veg-based acai smoothie!

Ingredients

  • 1 unsweetened @sambazon acai packet
  • 2 scoops vanilla @cleanprogram protein powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 cup frozen sliced raw zucchini
  • 2/3 cup hemp milk
  • 1/3 cup blueberries

Instructions

  1. Simply place all of the ingredients in a blender and blend for 3 minutes until well mixed.
  2. Top with some coconut chips for a nice low-sugar toppings. Also, some almond butter if you have some on top never hurt anyone.

Coconut Fat Balls by lee tilghman

My beloved fat ball recipe is here. I first posted about them on instagram but they became so popular they needed their own post on my page. I hope you enjoy them! High in fat + protein and low in sugar, these balls are to die for. I always have some on hand!

ingredients

  • 1 cup coconut shreds
  • 1/2 c. Coconut oil, melted
  • 1/4 cup coconut butter
  • 1/4 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/4 cup pepitas
  • 1/2 cup cashews
  • 1/2 cup almonds
  • 2 tbsp cacao nibs
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 3 medjool dates (pitted)
  • 1/3 c. almond milk

instructions

  1. Blend everything in a food processor until dough is achieved. Dough will be wet, that’s good!
  2. Roll into bite sized balls then lay flat on a air-tight container and freeze. They last for months but they're so delicious I bet they won't. 
  3. Remove from freezer and let thaw 6 minutes before eating for optimal deliciousness!

Notes: 

  • feel free to remove the dates for ultimate low sugar. 
  • feel free to also add vital proteins collagen or a scoop of your protein powder.

Life with PCOS by lee tilghman

Last year, When I first found out I had PCOS in February 2016, I cried in the lobby of my endocrinologists office as I quick googled some of the facts.

I felt so hopeless.

Alone.

Desperate for answers.

Upon googling "PCOS", I read what it can lead to "Insulin resistance, infertility, weight gain, chronic cystic acne, mood swings..."

And to only make matters worse. there was almost NO information on the internet about it, and nobody on here was speaking about it either. (Remember, this about a year ago, so a lot more awareness has been put up since them) 

Being in the health and wellness world as part of my career, I was pretty shocked I had it. But I couldn't help but realize, I was also grateful. So many of may unexplainable issues were finally solved, and I could put a name to my annoying symptoms that were holding me back from living my best life.

Before I go into it, it is important to note that I was taking birth control (the "Pill") from 2010-2014).

Now. Here is my PCOS story. 

How I found out I had PCOS:

  1.  Stress + Anxiety: I first noticed this change in my body in November 2014. It started with coffee. I had been drinking coffee since I was in high school at age 16. It had never affected me negatively, not once in my life. I could drink 1 or 2 cups a day, or even 3 or 4. I was addicted to caffeine and pretty oblivious of my coffee intake. But then, it changed. I noticed whenever I drank coffee I'd be profoundly more anxious the whole day. I'd be on-edge, moody, or short with people and impatient with myself. I also noticed how immediately after drinking coffee, I would sweat out of my armpits. And not normal stress, it was adrenal stress sweat. It smelt bad and it was my body's way of saying "AHHH! We are on overdrive!"  My friend told me that fall that she had the same issue, but had switched over to green tea and kept raving about its effects. No jitters, no crash, no nothing. She loved it. I wasn't ready to give up coffee though. I continued to drink it and come up with excuses as to why I shouldn't give it up. I I LOVED my coffee. First thing in the morning, everyday before a workout, it was me and my coffee. I loved sitting in coffee shops and sipping an americano. I loved getting up from work and walking down the block for a almond milk latte. I loved cold brew in the summer. It was my way of connecting with people and my city.  Coffee made me so jittery and jumpy, and not a good kind of way. Then, I'd CRASH at 3:00 or 4:00PM. I'd be so tired and completely unproductive at work, normally grabbing for a snack/small meal or another cup of Joe. The fatigue was so serious sometimes I'd need to take a nap after work just to make dinner. It took me a full year to eventually give up coffee. More on that in another post.
  2. Extra Weight: Although I was exercising heavily and eating "healthy", I gained about 10 lbs around my midsection that I just could not shake off. I had not changed anything in my diet, and the rest of my body had not gained fat. Normally this is hormonal (stubborn weight around the midsection)
  3. Embarassing hair growth: Ready for realness? I was growing hair in places that not many women "should" grow hair. This was definitely something I was by far the most embarrassed by, as I feel like it's a topic many women do NOT speak about...ever. Many women grow facial hair but never speak about it to each other. I was so humiliated by some of my hair growth and felt so alone and embarrassed. I also didn't feel like a woman. This was the toughest side effect of PCOS. 
  4. Uh... period? Where art thou? I wasn't getting a regular period.
  5. Stubborn Chin + Jawline Acne: I kept getting small pimples around my chin and jawline. This was strange because I had always had fairly clear skin with no issues. I thought it was from doing a lot of yoga (I was doing tons of yoga at the time) but it wasn't making sense because I wasn't breaking sweats in my yoga class, plus I was washing my face/neck after every class to get the bacteria off, but nothing was helping. I did some research and found out that jawline and chin acne is normally due to hormonal imbalance. It was starting to come together.
  6. Food Intolerances: During this time, I was eating smoothie bowls for breakfast 4x a week. I would load the smoothie bowl up with 1 1/2-2 bananas and another fruit, then top it with more fresh fruit and banana. I don't even WANT to know how many grams of sugar I was consuming, but it definitely was not helping my hormone hinderance. All that sugar was definitely disrupting my hormones. The banana-laden smoothies also led me to become intolerant to bananas, so my gut lining and digestion were wayyy off. Read my post about how I found out about my food intolerance by going here: http://www.leefromamerica.com/recipes/2016/8/22/my-experience-with-food-intolerances-part-i
  7. Adrenal fatigue: I've always been an active gal. Growing up I played sports. In NYC I ran miles at a time. But suddenly, my body was so tired and run down, when I'd show up at the gym, I could barely even do 6 minutes on the treadmill without feeling faint. I'd try to go on runs like I used to and my body was literally screaming at me to stop. I later learned that this is due to adrenal fatigue. My body was already in such a stressed out state it didn't want anymore cardio or else it would be in a bad place. 

All these symptoms piled up and they were not making sense. I could tell something was off. 

making a change

In April 2016, I finally decided to go to an endocrinologist. She asked me my symptoms and ran a blood test, and diagnosed me with PCOS. 

"What can I do?" I asked her.

She told me it was completely incurable, and told me birth control was the only way to keep symptoms at bay.

I was determined not to go this route, as I really didn't want to take artificial hormones to fix a hormonal issue. This just did not make sense to me. That's when I asked a friend about PCOS who recommended the book Womancode by Alisa Vitti to me. I ordered it that night and read the whole thing in 3 days. I learned so much from that book, and followed her 4 day detox and learned so much about feminine energy and how important it is to honor our cycles and listen to our bodies when they tell us to slow down.

Most importantly, I through reading her book and experimenting with different lifestyles on my own, I have found the following lifestyle changes have helped me immensely in reducing my PCOS symptoms. 

Things I do to keep PCOS at bay:

  • incorporating stress relieving techniques into my every day life:
    • nightly baths, cups of herbal tea in the afternoon
    • journaling 3x a week
    • going for long walks when stressed
    • aromatherapy (essential oils)
    • surrounding myself with strong, supportive friends and family who respect my lifestyle and choices
    • massages every 2 months
    • making sure I am achieving a healthy work/life balance
    • yoga
    • meditation (I use the calm app)
  • limiting and cutting down my sugar consumption; even if it's from natural sources such as dates, bananas, grapefruits, green juice
  •  cutting out alcohol completely
  • once my adrenals healed, maintaining an active lifestyle through rotating LISS, cardio, HIIT, and strength training, with regular rest days
  • omitting gluten and soy. these are toxic triggers that can slowly break down our systems. Soy being especially bad for those of us with hormonal and balances.
  • watching my caffeine intake
  • eating a wide variety of foods (never eating the same thing everyday for more than a few days) this helps keep our system balanced and helps to stave off food intolerances and allergies.
  • omitting bananas and high carb fruits from my diet (this has worked for me, but may not be necessary for everyone) (I still eat blueberries and raspberries pretty regularly but only have 1 serving a day if so) as this spikes our blood sugar and produces insulin 
  • making sure my meals are balanced. I do this by watching my carbohydrate intake throughout the day, limiting my sugar (yes, even natural sugar), and making sure there is sufficient amounts of protein and healthy fats at each meal and snack
  • trying not to ingest too many carbohydrates for dinner (for instance, if I want a sweet potato, I eat it for breakfast or lunch, rarely will I eat one for dinner)
    • if I do eat a carb-heavy dinner, the next day I workout, eat higher in protein and fat, and move on with life! I don't dwell. 
  • making sure I don't go too long without eating. This causes blood sugar levels to drop and bad things can happen. (IE: HANGER!) I always come prepared with snacks when I leave the house or go somewhere. You never know!
  • LED light therapy (post coming up soon about that!)
  • doing an elimination diet once a year to re-set my system. I love Clean Program
  • following the WomanCode Protocol listed in Alisa Vitti's book. 
  • taking herbs such as Ashwagandha, cordyceps, reishi, and chaga from Sun Potion. I love adding them to my morning tea.
  • listening to and honoring my female intuition. 
  • syncing with my cycles (even if I am not getting my actual period, I still honor the natural cycle of my body)
  • ridding my home and skincare products of endocrine disruptors (or toxins) that can lead to hormone imbalance. There is a whole section about this and how to sweep your home in the book Womancode. 
  • eating breakfast within 90 minutes of waking up
  • always making sure I have food in my stomach before consuming caffeine first thing in the morning

Some of my favorite PCOS friendly meals:

going on with life

Living with PCOS can seem very daunting, lonely, and scary. However, there are ways we can help it. We DO have control. We can make a difference. And it starts with YOU.

I was so heartbroken when I found out I had PCOS. It wasn't until I I read more about it and educated myself that I felt better mentally and then physically. Once I bean taking steps toward improving my health, the more empowered I felt. The more research I did, the better I felt. Now, I feel great. I definitely still need to be weary of PCOS "flare ups" (or symptoms that creep up if I don't follow the guidelines I listed above) as I know I am susceptible, but I feel so much more on top of it. I KNOW I need to do to what's best for me.

I don't identify myself by it or let PCOS label me. I am not PCOS. This was really important in my healing process in getting past it. The things we think are more powerful than the words we speak. 

If you are dealing with PCOS, you are not alone. Talk to people. Get support. Be open and honest about your problems. And remember friends, not talking about our issues only feeds the shame/isolation game.

I hope this post was helpful, and that you feel more at ease now after reading. 

Why I Re-Incorporated Meat Again by lee tilghman

This post took me some time to write. I wasn't sure how to put into words how/why I decided to eat meat again after 13 months meat-free.

Here's the honest, full story, 100% upfront.

Let's start from the beginning.

veganism

I started researching the vegan diet circa summer 2014, after getting really into running.

I followed many vegan bloggers and watched how they ate plants for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. In all their captions they talked about how they said they were "thriving" and full of energy. Most healthy bloggers on Instagram and on the web were plant based in 2014. There was something incredibly sexy and alluring about the lifestyle.  It seemed to help people connect to themselves and the earth around them, and like a great one-time decision to allow me to be healthy for a lifetime. 

It may sound weird but I viewed the vegan diet as an easy way to stay healthy...for life. There were so many different viewpoints on health (low fat, zero carb...) but the vegan lifestyle seemed like a decision that I only had to make once and I'd have health. Many people think veganism is hard and inconvenient, but I found it easy to just label and identify myself as a vegan in order to stay healthy.

In 2014, I signed up for a half marathon, and began experimenting with veganism. I was successfully vegan for about 3 months, and felt great. I felt my energy skyrocket, but then it plummeted. I also found it too restrictive for my previously eating disordered self, and started to eat dairy and select meat again. 

I kept eating this way for about a year (mostly plants but eating dairy sporadically or meat when out to dinner, traveling, etc).

Fast forward to January 2016, which is when I started my yoga teacher training. I was inspired to do try veganism again after dating someone who had been vegan for 6 years. I thought becoming vegan on January 1st whilst practicing yoga everyday would be a great way to dive fully into the lifestyle.

And let me tell you, that first month I felt great. I found food prep to be super easy, I never had to buy meat and worry about it going bad/rancid. I ate peanut butter + jellies for lunch every other day and big salads for dinner. For breakfast I ate sweet potatoes with almond butter or protein smoothies. 

Then, in February 2016, my symptoms of bloat, gas, fatigue, mood swings, and irregular periods surfaced. These are symptoms the I had always experienced in my 20's, but I was much more aware of them now. In 2015, my gyno had tested my blood and urged me to go to an endocrinologist (hormone specialist) but I had put it off for so long, excusing it as a frivolous expense. I didn't feel THAT sick. But the symptoms kept getting worse. But after my teacher training, I knew I needed to go. So, I made that appointment and went to endocrinologist in March 2016.

diagnosis

My endocrinologist diagnosed me with PCOS, or polycystic ovarian syndrome on the spot. I cried, I felt hopeless, and quite frankly, angry at myself for not going sooner. 

My endocrinologist told me to go on birth control STAT, but I had already dismissed that idea completely and refused. I told my best friend who connected me with a girl in NYC who recommended reading Womancode. I bought it that night and read it in 3 days.

The Womancode protocol talks deeply about the importance of stabilizing your blood sugar in order to get your hormones regular again. It is the most important aspect of this entire process, and that starts with your diet. Before this book, I was not aware how many carbohydrates I was eating everyday. Alisa the author stresses the importance of QUALITY animal protein in getting your hormones back on track and even getting your period back.

At this point, I was still eating vegan, so it was very hard for me to swallow the fact that I may have to eat animal protein again. It took me a few weeks to stomach. 

I weighed out my options and talked to some very close girlfriends about it like Sophie Jaffe and Kacie Carter who are both certified integrative nutritionists. They both understood how hard it can be to transition to eating animal protein again after being a gung-ho vegan, even if just for a few short months. Kacie told me how important it was to feed our bodies with what they needed, so that we could help make the world a better place. I knew in my heart of hearts that this was the only way to get my PCOS reversed and my hormones back on track.

fish & eggs

In March I decided to try the elimination diet and start re-introducing eggs. I got pasture-raised eggs and starting eating them 2-3x a week and immediately starting seeing and feeling the benefits. I had more energy, less bloat, less fatigue, and my skin even cleared up. My face de-puffed! I also felt so much more satiated after my meals. It was great.

A few months later in June, I went on a trip to Kauai with my family where the fish is super fresh. On the plane, my sister asked me if I was excited to try all the poke. I got some anxiety thinking I would be "expected" to eat fish in Hawaii. I wasn't sure if I even wanted it. I decided to take it day by day, and if I wanted to try some fish, it would be okay and I would let myself. I would let my body tell me what it wanted instead of my brain.

This mindset really healed me in allowing myself to really communicate my own needs.

I tried lots of fresh fish in Hawaii and it helped me deepen my experience on the island as it is such a huge part of the culture. I also love traveling and trying new foods when traveling and I felt like I was re-connected with that part of myself again. 

I decided to incorporate fish slowly back into my diet slowly, and once I returned to LA, I bought wild caught salmon and eat it once a week. I also ate smoked salmon on occasion. Just like eggs, I truly felt amazing after eating it, and felt myself coming back to life.

Fast forward to October 2016 when I started seeing a functional health doctor via Parsley Health. Parsley and I worked together to solve tons of my issues. They were the ones who told me to steer clear of onions and garlic to ease my digestive issues (which worked overnight) and they also helped me incorporate more stress relieving techniques such as meditation and 3PM work breaks. 

After 2 months of working with Parsley I still wasn't getting my period. I spoke with my health coach and she recommended I start thinking about eating meat, and taking Collagen Peptides with my morning matcha for my hair skin and nails. She also said this could help regulate my hormones regulating and possibly aid in getting my period back. 

I started meditating on eating meat again. I knew I needed a few weeks to think about whether or not I wanted to eat collagen. I had to warm up to this idea, after having these ideologies in my head about beef. But, I started making bulletproof matcha lattes at home and enjoyed it. I still don't drink it everyday, but I'm trying!

my first meat in a year

In January 2017, I boarded a flight to Mexico City with my best girlfriend for a 4 day vacation. On the plane, my friend started talking about tacos al pastor (a traditional central Mexican style of taco containing pork from a schwarma stick) and suddenly, it piqued my interest. I realized, I wanted it too. 

In all of 2016, I had never once craved meat.

But now? I realized I wanted it. And I was going to have it!
Like I said, traveling is one of my favorite things, and trying custom foods in new cities/countries is one of life's greatest joys for me. 

So when we got to Mexico City, we found a great tacos al pastor place and I had my first meat in over a year. Let me tell you. It was SO GOOD.

It was kind of nuts to me how they served me a plain corn tortilla with just a few pieces of meat on top. Not all the other fancy stuff vegan taco places sprinkle on top. No guac, no salsa, no cabbage even. The meat itself is so juicy and flavorful you don't need all that extra stuff. It dawned on me that I had been missing out on some great tasting things for over a year. And that is how I re-introduced meat. 

making my own meat

Once I got back from Mexico City, I started the Clean Program (read my full experience here). In this program, no eggs, raw fish/sushi, pork or beef is allowed. However, organic turkey and chicken is encouraged.  Going out to a restaurant and getting meat served to you is one thing, but buying it at a butcher and going home to prep it yourself is a totally new thing.

Within 1 week of the Clean Program, I was missing the satisfying feeling eggs would give me. I also had my health coach's voice in my head my body was asking for extra protein. I couldn't just survive in beans and salmon! I knew I needed to buy some real meat. And I wanted to make it myself so I was there the entire prepping process.

I was very aware of the kind and quality of meat I would be making for my first time at home. My friend Lily of Clean Food Dirty City told me about an onion and garlic free meat spot that made delicious, organic local bone broth called Belcampo. Belcampo also offers hormone-free, organic, pasture- raised beef, chicken, pork, eggs, you name it. They are a full service butcher shop. (They're also available in SF!)

I headed to Belcampo and picked up a 3 lbs, organic, heritage chicken, 2 quarts of in-house bone broth, and a box of eggs to eat once I was done with my cleanse. 

The people at Belcampo made me feel so much better. I asked them a whirlwind if questions...

"Where did this chicken come from?"

"What did it eat?"

It made me feel really good to know that I was getting a chicken from a family farm here in California.

If you're re-introducing meat, I recommend going to a small butcher house (if available) that raises their meat ethically and sustainably (not to mention hormone-free) to get your meat so you can feel a part of the process and feel GOOD about the meat you are about to eat. I know you're not raising the meat yourself but getting as involved in the process is very important from all standpoints. Eating quality meat is important in a well balanced life. The standard American way of consuming meat 3x a day from factory farms is making our animals, planet and ourselves very sick. Supporting small businesses and butcher shops is one of the best ways we can control this inhumane and toxic industry.

I went home and brined the chicken in salt for 24 hours (per my parent's recommendation) then roasted the chicken in olive oil, salt, pepper, rosemary and lemon juice. It was the juiciest, yummiest thing I've ever tasted. The entire week, I had fresh chicken available in my fridge to add to salads, wraps, bowls, and rolls.

One day, I made a kale salad with a few pieces of chicken and some avocado. I ate this around 2:00PM. I kid you not, I was full/satisfied through 8:00PM! That has never once happened to me even when I was eating more calories as a vegan. It felt so good to be satisfied and not need an afternoon snack (and trust me, I was the queen of afternoon snacks/grazing around 3/4 pm). I knew my body was so happy to be reunited with meat again. 

So much so that I even got my period in the beginning of February for the first time in months. Was it the collagen? The meat? Who knows. 

To recap, some of the largest factors in deciding to eat meat again were:

  • regulate my hormones
  • get my period back
  • to feel satisfied after meals and not need to "graze" all afternoon (this worked!)

The takeaway of this whole thing is that our bodies are constantly changing, and it is SO important to re-evaluate our own restrictions and limits we can put on ourselves. My decision to eat meat again was 100% mine, and only came to fruition after I did the research myself and felt ready to. We need to re-learn to listen to our bodies and what it's telling us. Everyone is different and there is no right or wrong. This was just my experience, and I hope it resonates with you. 

Earthbound Organic Macro Bowl by lee tilghman

Macro bowls are for lovers.

Happy Wednesday, friends!

It’s finally getting warmer here in Los Angeles, and that means more salads. It also means more time spent outside...and notably less time spent in the kitchen. That's why today, I’m sharing a really special macro bowl recipe with you guys in partnership with TheFeedFeed & Earthbound Farm Organic - Earthbound Farm has a great new chopped salad kit that makes preparing this salad easy and something that can be done well in advance!  While this recipe calls for the Asian Chopped Kit - they also make BBQ Ranch & Southwest - all of them equally as easy to work with.

I eat a huge salad for lunch everyday, whether it's spring summer fall or winter. They are super satisfying both physically and mentally - they nourish the body and the soul.

 

If you're like me, you want to make lunch as quick as possible- without spending all morning in the kitchen. That's why I stress meal prep in this recipe (and in life) roasting the veggies in the beginning of the week and store them in glass air-tight containers. That way you can just reach for the ingredients when you’re in a pinch for a healthy lunch on-the-go.

Feel free to prep the first 9 ingredients ahead of time and store in individual containers in your fridge. Prep them the way I do below, and that way, you can make a bowl full of different goodies everyday and never get sick of the endless combo's!

Recipe:

Ingredients

  • 5 brussels sprouts, halved

  • 1/2 head broccoli, chopped into 1” pieces

  • 2 heirloom carrots, halved

  • 1/4 sweet potato, steamed

  • 1/2 sliced white button mushrooms

  • 1/3 cup purple cabbage, thinly sliced

  • 1/2 fennel bulb

  • Fennel seeds

  • 3 cherry tomatoes, halved

  • Olive oil

  • 1 cup Earthbound Organic Asian Style Chopped Salad Kit

  • Egg

  • 1 tsp coconut oil

  • Salad Kit

  • Scallions

  • 1 cup spinach

  • Sesame seeds and scallions for garnish

Instructions 

  1. Preheat oven to 425. Toss Brussels sprouts, carrots, fennel, and broccoli with 3 tbsp olive oil, salt and pepper to taste in a large mixing bowl until well coated. Place on a baking pan and bake for 35 minutes or until golden brown and fragrant.

  2. While veggies are roasting, sautée your mushrooms in 1 tbsp olive oil over medium heat in a cast iron skillet. Lightly salt them. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally until either side is translucent and lightly crusted. Set aside.

  3. Next, add 1 tbsp olive oil and 1 tsp fennel seeds to the same cast iron skillet your mushrooms just cooked in. Cook over low-medium heat until seeds are fragrant. Add sliced cabbage. Stir occasionally until tender. Set aside.

  4. Remove salad kit from the bag and assemble all the ingredients together in a clean mixing bowl, tossing with tahini dressing.

  5. Heat 1 tsp coconut oil in a cast iron pan over medium heat until hot. Splash water onto pan to see if it sizzles. Then, you know your pan is ready. Crack an egg into the middle of the pan. Let egg whites set, then spoon excess oil onto the egg whites to help them cook and brown. Remove from heat once yolk sets, about 3-4 minutes. Set aside.

  6. Place baby spinach at the bottom of your salad bowl.

  7. Next, add a small section of Earthbound Organic Chopped Salad Kit, then some mushrooms, followed by broccoli, fennel, carrots, scallions, sweet potato, Brussels, cabbage, and cherry tomatoes. Top with a fried egg. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and scallions.

  8. Drizzle with the rest of the tahini dressing. Enjoy!

This post has been sponsored by TheFeedFeed & Earthbound Farm - all opinions are my own.

Herbal Coffee Potion by lee tilghman

Frothy, creamy, rich...

Non-caffeinated herbal coffee!

This recipe is about to seriously change your day. 

You know that 3:00PM slump where you either grab a packaged snack or a cup of coffee? We've all been there. And, we all know the repercussions that continuously grabbing these items can have on our health.

Enter: my herbal coffee potion. Herbal-coffee-potion? 

Yup. It's non-caffeinated, made from dandelion root, free of sugar, and contains healthy fats, proteins, mushrooms and potions to keep the buzz going! Plus, you won't have a crash from drinking this stuff.

This recipe is so good, I bet it could even replace your caffeinated morning coffee (if, you know, that's something you are trying to give up).  Even if you're not trying to give up your daily cup of Joe, this creamy, spiced beverage is sure to warm you up on a winter's day, keeping you grounded and at ease.

Caffeine can be fine for some but for others with adrenal fatigue or imbalanced hormones, coffee is one of the biggest players in spiking up our cortisol and throwing our hormones off balance.

This cup of Joe will keep you stabilized and give you that bulletproof taste without the craziness.

I get all of my potions from Sun Potion

Herbal Coffee Potion

Makes 2 servings

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup Teeccino Dandelion Vanilla Nut
  • 1 1/2 cup water
  • 1 cup hemp milk
  • 2 tbsp organic coconut oil (or ghee)
  • 1 tbsp Sun Potion Tocos
  • 1 tsp Sun Potion Chaga
  • 1 tsp Sun Potion Reishi
  • 1/2 tsp organic cinnamon
  • option: 1 scoop Collagen Peptides
  • 1/4 tsp organic all spice for garnish

Instructions

  1. Start by bringing 1 1/2 cups water to a roaring boil. 
  2. Using a French press (or, if you're using another coffee-making machine, follow those directions), pour water over the Teeccino herbal coffee grinds. Put the top on and let seep for 5 minutes. Strain and pour the herbal coffee into a Vitamix or another high-speed blender.
  3. Next, add your hemp milk, coconut oil, tocos, chaga, reishi, and cinnamon. If you want to add collagen peptides, feel free to add that into the blender as well.
  4. Make sure the top is on sturdy. Blend on HIGH for 2 minutes.
  5. Pour into 2 cups and garnish with all spice.

Thumb cups are from Hanselmann Pottery. Hanselmann was kind enough to offer a code for my followers since so many people expressed interest in these mugs! Enter "Leefromamerica" at checkout for 10% off your order. 

My Experience with the Clean Program Elimination Diet by lee tilghman

21 days...of:

  • smoothies for breakfast and dinner and one cleanse-approved lunch a day
  • no peanut butter
  • alcohol (which wasn't an issue - I don't really drink anyway)
  • no collagen or red meat
  • no coffee or black tea
  • no eggs
  • no oranges/grapefruit/strawberries/banana
  • no soy, gluten, or dairy of any kind (not even ghee)
  • no nightshade vegetables (goji berries/tomatoes/peppers)
  • no sugar (not even honey and maple syrup)
  • no white rice or white potatoes

The Clean Program at first seemed like a lot. I was overwhelmed and really nervous to start. How would I make it? I loved eggs. I loved peanut butter. Would I be hungry all the time? Would I feel anxious? Uncertain? What would I do without all the foods listed above? How would I COPE with the world?

These questions ran through my head. But these exact questions were just proof that I needed to do this cleanse. I strapped on my big girl boots, focused on the things I COULD eat, and knew I was making the right decision. 

I knew I needed this cleanse because my digestive symptoms were SO BAD. 

Despite being a very healthy eater, I was still dealing with copious amounts of:

  • bloat
  • hives/itchy skin (especially at night)
  • uncomfortable gas
  • missing periods
  • IBS-Constipation (the.worst)
  • minor blemishes on my face
  • sugar addiction
  • hunger soon after eating a full meal
  • not feeling satisfied after eating
  • dietary/body imbalance
  • loss of focus/short attention span/fuzzy memory
  • food cravings
  • dependence on certain foods (Go Macro bars, peanut butter)
  • 3pm slump/cravings for a snack (no matter what - I wasn't listening to my body, I was eating out of comfort/boredom/low energy)

I realized that in order to reset my system and really start from the inside out, this cleanse would be the only way, and it would be worth it. I knew I'd feel amazing by the end, and I was right. Actually, within 4 days, I felt pretty freakin' amazing. 

So..what did I eat on the cleanse?

 

My Honest Experience

To give you guys the broadest range of my experience, I thought I'd outline some of the milestones that stood out to me most. I kept a journal during the process, so I'll share some highlights below. 

  • Day 1: Easy Peasy. Feeling positive the first half of the day. I exercised this morning and felt like I was pushing myself too hard so I backed off. You're supposed to go light on the exercise during week 1, silly Lee!  Later in the day I had a headache. Upon going to my.cleanprogram.com and reading some threads within their community this is very common. It's a sign of detox. I was pretty hungry this day. Knew I needed to bulk up my smoothies with more fat/protein to stay satiated longer. I go to bed at like 8:30, I am sooooooo tired and fatigued. Common symptoms of detox.
  • Day 2: Energy is still low. Quite anxious. Smoothies for breakfast are fine, but I realize how much I miss chewing at night. I feel left out/uncomfortable when eating at my boyfriend's house who is not on the cleanse, he's eating a regular dinner and I'm eating a freaking smoothie. Woe is me...
  • Day 5: I realize I've been very regular (bowel wise) for 5 days straight without taking any nightly magnesium supplements This has never happened to me in my entire adult life. I feel light and clean and clear. 
  • Day 6: Skin is clearing up. Energy levels are up. Spirits are up. I'm feeling good. Starting to eat cleanse compliant snacks around 3pm though.
  • Day 10: It's not "easy" to cleanse. Still craving actual food for dinner. But realizing how easy it is to just eat a smoothie (clean up minimized!) Took a killer yoga class and we did twists and slow vinyasas which definitely assisted in the detox-ing. 
  • Day 12: Almost 2 weeks in!! I am definitely feeling the positive outcomes of the cleanse, including ZERO bloat/gas/stomach discomfort of any kind since starting. However, I realize how important it is for me to bring cleanse-compliant snacks for myself if I'm heading out the door- I get really fuzzy/anxious when I'm hungry. Making a conscious effort to up my protein/fat for lunch so I don't get so snacks around 3/4pm. 
  • Day 13: Honestly, I feel amazing. I traveled this day and prepped HARD to make it to my trip could be cleanse-friendly. This took time and preparation but so worth it. I'm determined to finish strong! I exercised a lot day 13-16 on a running trip with Adidas so I ate plenty of cleanse compliant snacks when my body asked for them. Cashews + almonds were my best friend.
  • Day 16: The snack-cravings in the afternoon are wavering away! I have also added chicken to my diet for lunch, which helps in keeping me satiated through dinner so without even realizing it, I just keep going through the afternoon without needing a snack. Woot woot! I also had a helper comb through my household and skincare products and eliminate any products that were endocrine disruptors. There goes half my makeup shelf. Also, by dinner time I am kind of sick of the protein flavor. It's not something I'm craving. But I do it anyway. 
  • Day 17: Sick with the flu, but this elimination diet thing is probably the best way to heal fastest! Smoothies when you're sick are super good for you, they're cold/cooling on the throat, and they give your body a break from digesting so it can focus on making you feel better ASAP! Bone broth for lunch with some chicken sausage and veggies. Getting really good at making big thick smoothies for dinner and putting them in a bowl so it feels more like a meal/nightcap. Adding frozen cauliflower and avocado is a game changer. MMMmmmmm!
  • Day 21: Wow. I can't believe I've come this far! I low-key almost quit this morning..All I wanted was a bowl of cereal (I'm still sick...carb cravings) but I didn't quit 'cause I'm not a quitter! I also realized today....I love the way I look and feel. My clothes fit great. I haven't weighed myself this entire cleanse because I want to focus on how I feel rather than a number on a scale. I feel strong. Capable. And I am so ready for this to be over and to start eating some of my favorite foods again (PB, I'm looking at you!)

So...would I do it again?

HELL YES.

I think I'm going to follow Dr. Junger's advice and do this 21 day elimination diet once a year. The pros totally outweigh the cons. They give your body a break and let you really hone in on your habits (the healthy ones, and the not so healthy ones. Hey, we all have 'em!) This cleanse is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to honestly look at your habits, your dependences, and giving your body a break. I'm partly writing this post for myself so I can remind myself why I did it, so for next year when I feel scared/anxious to embark, I know it'll be worth it.

Overall, I feel:

  • lighter
  • energized
  • bloat/gas/IBS-C symptoms GONE! (this was my biggest joy)
  • more self aware
  • more aware of what I'm putting IN and ON my body
  • more SATISFIED after eating
  • not afraid of adding more protein + fat to my meals
  • knowledgable about how lunch should be our most caloric meal of the day
  • less reliant on the foods I depended on for comfort and safety'
  • like I just did a big "spring clean"...I feel rejuvenated, whole, and ready for the world.

Next phase? Reintroduction.
That means I slowly and one by one re-incorporate all of the foods that I once eliminated. THIS IS A VERY IMPORTANT ASPECT OF THE CLEANSE. You cannot just start eating everything you eliminated all at once- that would completely defeat the purposes of the entire cleanse. 

I will be starting out with re-introducting eggs. I will eat them 1-2x a day for 3 days,  wait 2 days and eat cleanse-approved foods only, then eat peanut butter 1-2x a day for 2 days, wait 2 days, etc, until I've re-incorporated everything. This is a long and meticulous process but its the only way to tell what your body is allergic to. When we eat these foods regularly, our body is getting so much assault it's hard for it to detect what's actually causing the trigger. 

I hope this was helpful. If you guys have any more questions just ask below. This post is not in any way sponsored by Clean Program - this is my honest and truthful opinion. And yes, I recommend it to EVERYONE I know. 

My Running Routine by lee tilghman

6:00AM.

Alarm clock goes off. 

My sneakers, pants, and shirt are already laid out right next to my bed. I roll over and put on my running clothes, roll out my yoga mat, do a light vinyasa flow sequence, tighten my shoes, and head out the door. 

Running is one of my all-time favorite ways to start the day. 

I run as the sun comes up - before the rest of the city awakes.

I think through my deepest problems while I run. It makes me feel accomplished, inspired, and strong.

It's my moving meditation.

I first got into running 3 years ago when I lived in New York City and worked a stressful job and needed an outlet. My first run, I could barely last a mile before going breathless. But I didn't give up. I know that nothing worth having comes easy. I slowly built up stamina, joined a running club and committed to running 3 days a week, and pretty soon I was in half marathon shape!

3 years and an (recovered) ankle injury later, running is still my favorite workout. Now that I live in LA, it's nice all year round here, so I can train 12 months out of the year. Why do I love running? It's easy, fast, and mobile. You don't need an expensive gym membership and you can bring it anywhere. My favorite running route is around the side streets of Koreatown, and usually ends at The Line Hotel to meet with friends. 

Lately when I run, I set out with zero expectations. I just like to exercise to get my blood flowing and body moving. Being in good running shape helps me in all areas of my life: it helps me stay agile during yoga, makes hiking easier and more enjoyable, and climbing a set of stairs easy-peasy. 

Apparel wise.. you guys are always asking me what my favorite shoes to run in are, and it's definitely the Nike LunarEpic Flyknit 2. First of all, it feels like your feet are running in clouds. As if that's not enough, they are great to slip on and off, making it that much easer to commit to your runs. 

I get my runner's high by tuning out, stepping one foot in front of the other, and just letting go of "mileage" or "expectation" and just paying attention to my breathing. Post run, I go for a chai almond milk latte or matcha. Then, I head home and make myself an epic breakfast. 


Videos and photos in collaboration with Nike and Coffee 'N Clothes. They came over to my apartment and I walked them through my morning routine. See the full video on my Instagram account. (link)

What's your running routine?