Monday, October 28, 2013

Good-bye to Grain Brain!

The following post is sponsored by FitFluential LLC on behalf of Grain Brain. Opinions expressed are entirely my own!

Have you heard of Grain Brain? The full title is Grain Brain: The Surprising Truth About Wheat, Carbs, and Sugar -- Your Brain's Silent Killers, a new book by Dr. David Perlmutter, outlining lifestyle changes you can make today to keep your brain healthy, vibrant and sharp. Last week I received a copy to read and review. I also received an invitation to join Dr. Perlmutter's Grain Brain Challenge, a 4-week challenge designed to improve brain health through some diet, exercise and sleep recommendations.

I gladly accepted the invitation and agreed to take on the challenge.


The timing couldn't be more perfect because I'm not training for any races right now, so I don't need to freak out about changing up my diet. And, as you'll see, Dr. Perlmutter's dietary recommendations really aren't that different from what I'm doing now anyway. But I'll get into that a little more later. 

Also, although I've been really good with my diet for the past few months, lately I've been slipping a little more than usual. Since I was diagnosed with Lyme disease again in September, I started feeling a little sorry for myself. I felt like it was unfair, like I shouldn't be dealing with Lyme again, especially after my hip and blah, blah, blah, whine, whine, whine . . .

But, really? It was just an excuse to eat more sweet potato chips and trail mix.

So, the Grain Brain challenge is -- in my opinion -- just what this happy runner needs to get things back on track. And, hey, if my brain is going to benefit? Well, huge win right there.

OK, so, now you know that I'm in. But what exactly is the challenge?

Good question. Here's the deal. In the book Grain Brain, Dr. Perlmutter makes a very strong and well-supported case that grains are pretty much the root of all evil when it comes to your brain. Sure, he uses all sorts of more refined, scientific and medical terms but, basically? Grains = evil. Fat, on the other hand, is the exact opposite. Not evil at all, despite what the medical establishment would have you believe.

"The diet heart hypothesis that suggests that a high intake of fat or cholesterol causes heart disease has been repeatedly shown to be wrong, and yet, for complicated reasons of pride, profit, and prejudice, the hypothesis continues to be exploited by scientists, fund-raising enterprises, food companies, and even government agencies. The public is being deceived by the greatest health scam of the century." -- Dr. George V. Mann, one of the participating researchers in the famed Framingham Heart Study (from Grain Brain, page 78)
Fat, in fact, is and always has been a fundamental pillar of our nutrition. Good fats, like DHA omega-3 (found in fatty fish and algae) help reduce inflammation and certain vitamins, like A, D, E, and K, require fat in order to be absorbed properly. This is important because, as Dr. Perlmutter points out, the root of many brain conditions is inflammation, which can be triggered by carbs, especially those containing gluten and that are high in sugar. 

The first few chapters of Grain Brain lay out Dr. Perlmutter's claims, like the above, and offer support through multiple studies and reports and Dr. Perlmutter's own observations. In addition to discussing why our brains need fat, and why it isn't the big bad cause of heart disease, he also explains the connection between the grain-and-processed-crap-heavy standard American diet and increased risk of Alzheimer's disease and other brain conditions.

It is all extremely interesting to me -- especially because it is in-line with what my doctor prescribed to help repair my nerve damage and it fits with other research and reading I have done. I've been following a mostly sugar-free diet since January and have been (mostly) Paleo since early May. The dietary changes have made a big difference in my life. I'm ready to try out what Dr. Perlmutter prescribes in Grain Brain.

So here it is.

About the Challenge

The Grain Brain Challenge is a 4-week challenge to make some lifestyle changes to benefit your brain. It starts with some supplements that Dr. Perlmutter actually recommends taking for life. As in, forever.

For the challenge, I'll be taking:
  • GNC Preventive Nutrition resVida, which contains trans-resveratrol
  • Spring Valley Omega-3 Fish Oil Soft gels with 1,000mg of DHA and EPA
  • BrainStrong DHA with 900 mg DHA from algae

Some of the supplements that I'll be taking during the challenge.

These will supplement what I already take (and that Dr. Perlmutter recommends):
  • Alpha-lipoic acid
  • Probiotics
  • Vitamin D
  • Coconut oil
Each week of the challenge has a different focus and they look like this:

Week 1: Focus on Food

Shift your body away from relying on carbs for fuel and add brain-boosting supplements to your daily regimen.

Week 2: Focus on Exercise

Incorporate a fitness routine into your schedule if you don't already have one. (Got that one covered!)

Week 3: Focus on Sleep

Work on getting restful, routine sleep seven days a week.

Week 4: Put it all Together

Establish a new rhythm and maintain healthy habits for life.

The big thing, of course, is the food. Isn't it always? Here is the What to Eat and Not to Eat from Grain Brain:

Foods Allowed:
  • Healthy Fats – extra virgin olive oil, sesame oil, coconut oil, organic butter, almond milk, avocados, nuts and nut butters, cheese (except blue cheese) sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds
  • Herbs, seasonings, and condiments
  • Low-sugar fruits and vegetables – avocado, bell peppers, cucumber, tomatoes, zucchini, pumpkin, lemons, limes, leafy greens and lettuce, spinach, broccoli, onions, Brussels sprouts, green beans, celery, garlic, asparagus
  • Protein – whole eggs, wild fish, grass-fed meat, fowl, poultry, pork
Foods Not Allowed:
  • Gluten including whole-grain and whole-wheat forms of bread, noodles, pasta, pastries, baked goods, and cereals
  • Processed carbs, sugars, and starch – corn, potatoes, sweet potatoes, chips, crackers, pastries, muffins, pizza dough, cakes, doughnuts, ice cream, jelly, processes cheese spreads, juices, honey, sugar, corn syrup
  • Packaged food labeled “fat free” or “low fat” except for things like water, mustard, balsamic vinegar
  • Margarine, vegetable shortening, cooking oil
  • Soy – soy burgers, soy nuggets, soy hot dogs, etc.

OK. Most of that, to me, is no problem. No problem at all. I have already ditched the bread, pasta baked goods and cereals. Margarine, corn syrup, soy? Yuck. Ditched those, too.

But . . . sweet potatoes?


It is going to be a rough 4 weeks without my beloved sweet potatoes. And, quite honestly, I'm going to have a hard time giving up my daily bananas and dried cranberries. I had best be getting this brain in super-sharp shape!

We'll see how it all shakes out. I'm committed to 4 weeks and I'm ready for it! I'm not totally sold on adding dairy back in to my diet so I'll have to figure that one out. Maybe I'll experiment and maybe it will be fine. Who knows? I guess I will at the end of 4 weeks!

I'll report on the challenge from time to time. (You can't wait, can you?!?) In the meantime, if you're interested in following how the challenge is working out for others, pop over to Twitter or Instagram and the hashtags #GrainBrain or #GBChallenge.

Have you read Grain Brain?
 Do you have experience -- good or bad -- with giving up grains and sugar? 

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Goddess Garden Organics winner!

I'm so late with this winner post! Life has just really been getting in the way lately :-)

Before I announce the winner, let me thank everyone who entered -- and all of you who stop by to read my reviews and enter my giveaways. I appreciate the support!

Now, I chose the winner using and the winner is . . .

Heather @ runodonnell


Shoot me an email (felicehalf [at] yahoo [dot] com) with your mailing address so you can get your new lotion.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Want to read more from The Happy Runner? Stop over HERE for more giveaways, reviews, and running- and parenting-related posts.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Goddess Garden Organics review and giveaway!

I received this product for free as part of a review and giveaway opportunity with Bookieboo, LLC. The opinions in my review are honest and my own.

*     *    *

Two things about me: 1) I buy organic stuff -- mostly food but I've been branching out to cosmetics, and 2) I'm a daily sunscreen user. Given these two things, you'd think a product like the Goddess Garden Organics daily lotion (SPF 15) would be a perfect match for me.

You'd be right.

I was invited to sample the daily lotion and opted to try out the Tangerine Lavender scent. I was a little unsure about whether it would really work as a daily lotion. I've used plenty of physical sunblocks in the past and they are all almost always leave my skin pasty white. Like, scary white.

So, the first time I tried the Goddess Garden Organics lotion was when I was heading out for a run. A solo run. A run where no one would see me and freak out if I happened to look a little like the walking dead.

No worries. The lotion goes one really white but -- pleasant surprise! -- it rubs-in quickly and easily. No walking-dead, pasty-white skin! I used it on my face, neck and arms and it worked well.

The scent starts out a little on the strong side but by the time you rub the lotion in, it is barely noticeable -- good thing, because I don't like too much scent in my lotions.  

And . . . it doesn't hurt that the packaging is pretty. Check it out:

Pretty, right? A nice addition to my vanity. 

Anyway, overall, I like the Goddess Garden Organics lotion. I tried all three scents -- I was sent a full size Tangerine Lavender and samples of Grapefruit Bergamot and Lavender Mint -- and Tangerine Lavender is definitely my favorite. 

The company is interesting, too. A Boulder-based company, Goddess Garden Organics was started by Nova Covington in response to her daughter's allergy to the chemicals in regular skincare products. Boo to yucky chemicals!!  You can read more about the company on their web site. You can also follow their social media channels:

And now . . . The Giveaway!

One lucky reader will win a  full-size 8oz tube of the daily lotion of their choice (retail value of $18.99). To enter, please leave me a comment and let me know which scent you would choose: Tangerine Lavender, Lavender Mint or Grapefruit Bergamot.

This giveaway is open to US residents only. Please allow 4-6 weeks for prize delivery.

Additional entries:

As always, you can gain extra entries. Remember, though, you must complete the required entry first! And, yes, I'll check. (Leave one comment per entry for the additional ones to count.) So, here's what to do:

  • Follow me on Pinterest, or let me know that you already do (leave a comment)
  • Pin the image from this post to share the giveaway on Pinterest (leave a comment)
  • Follow me on Twitter, or let me know that you already do (leave a comment)
  • Follow me on Instagram, or let me know that you already do (leave a comment)
  • Link to this giveaway from your blog (leave a comment)

This giveaway will run through Thursday, October 17 at 11:59pm EST and the winner -- chosen at random from all eligible entries -- will be announced on Friday. The winner will have 48 hours to contact me or I'll choose another winner.

Good luck!

Want to read more from The Happy Runner? Stop over HERE for more giveaways, reviews, and running- and parenting-related posts.