Dry January

I decided to take a full month off of wines and ciders after hitting it hard during the holidays. Rene was kind enough to join me on the journey. It fits right into our Paleo habits, so why not? Well, 30 days are wrapping up and I’m not too parched. Since mealtime didn’t revolve around a glass of wine, we focused on cooking at home and we also supplemented the month with Whole 30 meals from Kitchfix 2-3 times per week. We have been eating delicious Kitchfix food for about 4 years and it’s cool Kitchfix does a specific Whole 30 meal plan to support all the New Years resolutions out there. I’m definitely thankful they are around!
The big question… will dry January lead to a wet February? Lots of celebration stuff going on in Feb, like the Cubs Spring Training opener, my birthday (hint, hint), Valentines Day, Cider Summit 2018, four potential Friday Happy Hours, you get the drift. So, we will see. But, more importantly, was it worth taking a month away from adult beverages? If you would have asked me a week ago, it may have been a different answer. Here is a snapshot of the month: Week 1 – no biggie. I had enough champagne at a New Years Day party to carry me easily into 2019. Quite frankly, I was done with it after that party! Week 2 – there are some cold Stem ciders in the refrigerator door. They look mighty refreshing, but I’m really just looking for something to drink besides water. Enjoying a Dr Gundry soda, kombucha or just a sparkling water is a fitting replacement. Week 3 – I wouldn’t mind a nice glass of red wine. We made a kick ass pot roast in the Instant Pot and a nice deep red California wine would pair very nicely with it. I’m not really missing it enough to give in to temptation. But, I am realizing that I really don’t feel much different. It has been 3 full weeks and I’m sleeping about the same, mental clarity is about the same, I have same sinus issues I’ve always had. I do feel extra tired and lethargic, so that sucks. Best case scenario is that I saved some money by not buying any bottles of wine this month. Week 4 – The first day was just a carry over from week 3. But… yesterday and today were bonkers! I was in the zone all day long, woke up early without an alarm, super productive, tons of energy, extra cheery mood that was borderline annoying, overall perfect days. Did the dry January magic just kick in at the last minute? Whatever it is, I like it and will see how long it lasts! Because of the last two days, I’m going to carry over a “dryish” practice into Feb. I’ll do some celebration and social imbibing, but will limit a lot more than before. Things I learned from the month… 1) I don’t need to have a glass of wine with dinner every night. That was just a bad habit I got into. I just needed to break the association between dinner and stemware. 2) I can still have fun without a bevie. I went to a Warren Zevon tribute concert and just drank sparkling water. It’s Zevon, so usually beverages are in order, but I still had a great time enjoying the music and felt pretty damn good the next day. 3) Give things like Whole 30 some time to see the true effects. I eat really clean anyway, so the food part didn’t make much difference. It took a full 30 days for me to see any benefit from the rest. So be patient, give it time and don’t give up!

Wine Specials
Last Day of the Month Temptation
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Charcoal is the New Black

I recently noticed the array of charcoal based and charcoal infused products on the market. When I saw a Proactiv commercial with a charcoal bristle cleansing brush over the weekend, I realized that charcoal has finally jumped the shark. Charcoal is gaining popularity lately for its deep cleaning and detoxification properties. In my own medicine cabinet, I have charcoal capsules, charcoal tooth powder, charcoal face mask goop, and even charcoal deodorant. Intrigued by the concept, I even tried a charcoal based kombucha. That particular yeasty, vinegar tinged, grayish elixir should only be consumed on a dare. Blah! Our water pitcher has a charcoal based filter and our air purifier has a charcoal pre-filter designed to remove odors from the air. The burning question (pun intended)… Does charcoal actually work? Well, aside from the charcoal kombucha, I’m definitely a fan.

I take the charcoal capsules on a regular basis for the mild detox effects. The charcoal traps toxins in your system and helps you get rid of them rather than absorb them into your body. Charcoal capsules are not a new concept. I was taking them 20 years ago to mitigate hangover effects from a long nights out coupled with cheap booze. It definitely works! The impurities in the alcohol bind to the charcoal bits and don’t have a chance to wreck your precious weekend with a brutal hangover. These days, I take charcoal capsules to detox all the big city car exhaust, brake dust and other crap in the air I’m breathing. I buy the Bulletproof brand capsules, which are made from coconut shells, but there are a lot of good ones out there. Just be sure to check that they are all natural without any other ingredients and not made by Kingsford for your Weber grill. Also, you want charcoal that is “activated”. By activated, it means that the charcoal has been processed at high heat, which makes it more porous and effective at trapping the nasties. You can actually break open the capsules to DIY a facial cleansing mask, add to your toothpaste, etc. I did that for awhile and then decided to just buy the dedicated products.

The Dental Duty charcoal tooth powder is a fun one. Yeah, I have “off-white” teeth, maybe a tinge yellow. I definitely don’t have the sparkling pearly whites that you see on tv. Rather than using toxic tooth whitening products, the charcoal tooth powder is a natural alternative. While brushing with the charcoal tooth power, your teeth look like they time warped from 17th century Great Britain. After you rinse out the dark gray slurry, your teeth are smooth, shiny and a tad more white. They continue to get brighter after several uses. I use the tooth powder a couple times a week after brushing with my regular toothpaste.

The Fine Vine charcoal face mask that I use is clay based, so it is more like a mud mask then the fancy clay masks you see people peeling off on commercials. The mask also works great. I use it about once a week. You put it on thick and wait 30 min for it to dry. It dries to a nice dark gray and tingles slightly. Warning: the face recognition on your phone will not work when you have the mask on. When you wash it off, your complexion will be noticeably brighter and will feel deep down clean. Smart phone facial recognition will also return to normal. I tend toward oily skin and this stuff works great to even me out and keep that complexion clear.

The last product for today is the Primally Pure charcoal deodorant. This stuff is amazing. I’ve been using Primally Pure deodorants for 2 years and they have always exceeded my expectations. The charcoal deodorant is new to their line up and is my new fave. Obviously, this is a daily use product, but I don’t have to worry about any errant pit odor with their products. Not even after a hot yoga class. All good!
Any interesting charcoal products you have used or would recommend trying? I’m game!

Fun fact: Old St Nick gives out coal to the bad kids and charcoal to the good kids 🙂

Charcoals
Charcoals

Feeling Joovvy

The Joovv is up and running!

Unboxing/ Set up

Very easy to set up… well packaged, super high quality machine.  I’m relieved that it doesn’t look like something I cobbled together in the basement.  From the photos online, I expected it to be silver, but it’s white.  White goes better with the walls anyway!  There was a little Joovv branded timer with a handy magnet on the back that I didn’t expect.  Bonus!  The set-up literally took 5 minutes with no tools needed.  You screw the stainless tension lines to the top threaded posts, connect a carabiner to the lines, slide the mounting peg over the top of the door and clip the pulley carabiner to that and clip the rope carabiner to the tension line carabiner.  Easy Peasy.  What’s the pulley for, you may ask?  Well, it is so you can use the Joovv at different heights to treat your whole body.  I may swap the black pulley rope for a white one just so it doesn’t look so out of place.  My eye goes right to the rope and it’s driving me crazy aesthetically.  Don’t worry, I’ll get over it 🙂 Also, with the pulley contraption in place, I’m starting to see the benefit of the larger Joovv Max and not having to adjust height. I still can’t get over the price difference between Joovv Original and Max, though.  For now, my power cable routing looks a little temporary and awkward, but I’ll eventually find a more permanent place for the Joovv and mount it to a wall with a more streamlined layout.  That is, if results come in as expected. 

1st Use

Holy F the Joovv is bright! Much, much brighter than I expected.  It has a nice warming effect on the body as well.  There are little fans that you can hear whirring inside the case to keep the machine cool. The digital timer they included with the Joovv works great and the display is easy to see.  I just did a 5 min treatment sans shirt… and pants.   I have some sinus congestion right now from all the crazy weather fluctuations. Maybe the Joovv will give some relief? Treatment results are supposed to come after 8-12 weeks of sessions, but fingers crossed to see positive results sooner.  Today was a test, only a test. 

1st Actual Use

Now I’ve had time to read through the Starter Guide.  Based on my goals, I did a full body treatment.  7 min front, 7 min back, 3 min each side.  I listened to a Ben Greenfield podcast to kill the time.  While Joovving, I was also thinking of different ways to multitask and get more benefit.  I did some alternate nostril breathing when my back was being treated, then box breathing when my frontal regions were in the light.  I may also incorporate an earthing mat to stand on during treatment.  I also took some “before” pics today so I can measure physical results.  I’ll keep those to myself unless there is some dramatic improvement.

Upcoming Joovv topics:

My Daily Regimen

Short Term Results

That’s all for now.  In the mean time, keep calm and Joovv on!

Joovv Glow
Joovv Hallway Glow

#Joovvgoals

We just received our eagerly anticipated Joovv light yesterday!  As excited as I am to try it, my Joovv is still sitting in the box because I wanted to document my outrageous goals for this device before I get distracted and forget what they are.  Quick background… I spent over a week researching infrared saunas, then red light therapy. I watched endless videos and listened to the podcasts.  In the end, the Joovvv light came out on top for me.  From the online testimonials, people love it and seemingly can’t live without it.   The Joovv has the endorsement of some highly respected doctors, trainers, bloggers, bio-hackers and we had friends use Joovv lights at RUNGA 2017 in Panama.  It also has a 60 day return policy, so I’m going to put it through the paces for the next 60 days and see which of my goals are realized.  I chose the Joovv Original with the Combo red light and UV.  We do have a steam sauna in our condo building, so I thought the red light, UV and being able to add in the steam sauna to the mix would be really good for health and recovery.

Joovv Waiting to be Unboxed

So, why did I buy this and what am I hoping to achieve?

Chuck’s Joovv Goals

-Quicker muscle recovery

-Improved energy levels

-Hair regrowth (please!)

-Improved skin tone and complexion

-Getting rid of Excalibur once and for all (this will be explained at a later date)

-Improved eyesight (in my mid 40’s and near vision is getting further away. Maybe a reduction in “floaters” as a bonus)

-I’ll probably shine it on my balls “Ben Greenfield style” just to see what all the hype is about.  By “probably”, I meant definitely.

For what it’s worth, I paid full retail for the Joovv light and they have no idea that I’m blogging about the results. I’ll be adding to the following topics as they happen!

Unboxing/ Set up

1st Use Impressions

My Daily Regimen

How It is Going… Positives, Negatives?

Overall Results

Stay tuned!!

Introducing “The Weirds”

Wow wow wow! It is our 5 year anniversary or living a Paleo lifestyle. I’m happy to report that Paleo principles work and I truly feel better than I ever have.  I feel stronger, healthier and more alive than I did 10 years ago.  I even look younger now than I did in 10 yr old photos. It is so crazy the changes that clean eating and living can make.  Rene and I have come a long way in the past 5 years.  Things that are just a normal part of our daily routine, I would have scoffed at and poked fun at before.  When I look at fond Facebook memories from 6-10 years ago, I see a clueless ball of inflammation having an absolute blast eating deep fried Mac and cheese bites washed down by a flight of craft beer.  We originally started our Paleo journey when Rene was diagnosed with MS in 2013.  I am ecstatic to report that she has been largely symptom free and 100% prescription drug free ever since following the Wahls Protocol. For me, I have been extremely busy between real estate, photography and amateur bio-hacking.  So…. the blog has been dormant for far too long.  For the rest of 2018, we are making an effort to help others out with their health and wellness journeys.  We will be looking back over the past 5 years and writing about what has worked, what we have learned and what we can’t live without.  Also fun will be to explore the products and protocols that didn’t make it into our routines. 

Without further ado, I’d like to introduce you to “The Weirds”.  We will be delving into topics like dry skin brushing, PEMF therapy, muscle testing, organ meats, Bulletproof Coffee, detoxing your home, charcoal tooth powder, gong baths, earthing, sleep, meditation, podcasts/ resources, EMF testing, structured water, deodorant, squatty potty, skin care, cupping, traveling, cold therapy, myofacial release, toe spacers, bentonite clay, electro muscular stimulation, oil pulling, digital detox, red light therapy, water filtration, the Human Charger, meal prep tools, favorite foods/ snacks, supplements and tons of other stuff!

At Universal Studios CA with our Minion, of course.

Stitch Fix Box Number 11

You win some, you lose some. Last month I raved about box number 10, but this month didn’t have as many keepers. Only 1 item was saved from the return bag. No bigs. I expect this to happen from time to time and it helps your stylist understand what you like or how your preferences might be changing. After 11 fixes, I am still super excited to see that brown and blue box sitting in my lobby. Let’s get down to bizness:

Fate: Gabby Mesh Detail Blouse – $48.00.  Status:  SENT BACK

This was a cute shirt and I loved the detail on the top.  I’m always looking for good layering tops to pair with blazers and sweaters or wear on their own.  I thought this one was just a little bit too sheer and it was also snug across the chest and waist.  I would have preferred it to look more loose and flowy at the bottom.

White Shell 1

Kut From The Kloth: Aberdine Straight Leg Jean – $88.00.  Status:  SENT BACK

I’ll admit that “WTF” was the first thought I had when I pulled these out of the box.  I still thought that when I initially tried them on.  The size was listed as an ankle.  Was it supposed to be like a capri fit or a normal, regular fit?  It was neither.  I didn’t quite like where the length hit.  Also, the color was quite similar to the distressed pair of jeans I kept from my last fix and I really didn’t need another pair of medium rinse jeans.  I’ll also admit that they did sort of grow on me.  They were super comfortable and fit pretty perfectly (unblemished track record, stitch fix!).  The next day I saw a pair almost exactly like them on Anthropologie.  Maybe this length is the new style.

Jeans Blog

Gilli: Kadence Cowl Drape Front Dress – $64.00.  Status:  SENT BACK

This dress made me feel like I was getting ready to go sing in the church choir.  It just looked too conservative and matronly on me.  I did not like where the length hit either. I’d rather have it be above the knee (maybe at the knee) or a midi length.  Right under the knee is not a good look on me, especially since I’m on the shorter side.

Dress 1

Zad: Val Chandelier Earring – $28.00.  Status:  KEPT

These earrings are cute and match my style. I don’t think I would have normally paid $28 for these.  Since I didn’t keep anything else from this fix and the $20 styling fee is credited back if you purchase any items, it made sense for me to keep these.  In my mind, this math made them $8.  I’ve never been good at math, so that may or may not make sense. I later noticed that these looked like the same earrings crazy Kelsey was wearing on the Bachelor: After the Final Rose.  After googling I found that they are different (phew!)

earrings blog

Honey Punch: Renoir Kimono – $44.00.  Status:  SENT BACK

This was a piece I requested specifically in my last note to my stylist.  I saw some really cute ones and pinned them to my style board on Pinterest (which your stylist can refer to).  I should have been more specific because I wanted a multi color, patterned or floral one.  Since I am in black/white/gray 99% of the time, I can see why I was sent this one. I’d rather have one I could wear with black to spice up an outfit.  I wasn’t a big fan of the stark black and white and I’m kind of over chevrons.

Kimono Blog

That’s it for March!  How have your fixes been lately?  I love reading other blogs, so leave links to your most recent reviews in the comments if you have one!

Receive your own box by signing up here.  Happy Shopping!

RPM Steak – Paleo Date Night Review

I’ve mentioned previously that we don’t go out to eat all that often anymore.  It’s difficult to find restaurants with gluten free, paleo options that we trust.  This weekend, though, we had an amazing dining experience at RPM Steak right here in Chicago.  Winner, winner, grass fed meat dinner!

RPM Steak has been quite the hot spot since it opened last year.  Co owners Bill and Guiliana Rancic have created a beautiful dining venue in the heart of River North that is attracting foodies, celebrities and even President Obama who dined there last October.  If you want to get a table on a weekend, you can expect to wait months for a reservation.  On a whim, I searched on open table Saturday afternoon. An 8:30pm table for 2 popped up  – WHAT?!  Before I knew it, we were dressed in our finest impromptu date night attire and an uber taxi was whisking us up Dearborn.

The restaurant itself is beautiful.  It’s has an open concept, but the darker colors and wood tones keep it comfortable, yet swanky.  If you’ve been to RPM Italian, it’s almost the inverse of their bright white, but just as sleek.  They were running slightly behind, so we headed to the four-sided open bar. There are booths that flank three sides and people sitting and standing about 2 rows deep all around the bar.  It was crowded, but does that matter when you’re there to be IN the scene?  I didn’t think so.  We ordered a glass each of the Sonoma County, CA Complicated Chardonnay to start.  The bar area started to thin out a tiny bit when our table was ready around 9pm.

Find the Hidden Red Shoe - It's Good Luck!
Find the Hidden Red Shoe – It’s Good Luck!

We sat down and were presented with the gluten free menus (which I requested in the reservation). There is really not that much difference with the regular menu as their gluten free menu is huge and impressive.  We were then greeted by our AMAZING server, Chrissy (or Krissy?  sorry!) who told us she is Celiac and we can rest assured that they take gluten free seriously.  Chrissy then sent over one of their five sommeliers to help us navigate the extremely extensive wine list.  Once that order of business was complete, we turned our attention back to the dinner menu.  We decided on:

Appetizers

  • Oysters:  Sourced from the west coast – you get 6 for $18.  These were some of the best oysters I’ve had.  They come topped with a very light sort of ceviche relish that included jalapeno, cucumber, lemon and lime juice.  I would go back and just order these with a glass of champs!
  • Thick cut bacon:  Chrissy told us this dish is life changing and she was right.  It had a nice sweet maple glaze and in a way, it reminded me of french toast – it was that thick!
RPM Thick Cut Maple Bacon
Apps from Heaven

 

Main Course

  • 20 oz. Grass Fed Bone in Ribeye (sourced from Slagel Farms):  Even though there is a bone in it, this steak is HUGE!  I thought Chuck would definitely be bringing some home, but he powered through and ate the whole thing.  I had a bite and it was seasoned perfectly and very juicy.  He also ordered the butter and bone marrow sauce to complement it.
  • 8 oz. Grass Fed Bison Filet (sourced from High Plains):  I expect bison to be leaner than other meats and it was, but was still full of flavor and tender.  This was a generous, thick cut portion and as much as I wanted to finish it, I did have to give Chuck my last few bites (which he ate on top of his 20 oz. without a problem 🙂 )

Sides

  • Hen of the Woods Mushrooms:  You don’t often see these on a menu and they are Chuck’s favorite mushroom, so we had to get them.  They had a delicious woody flavor, as you’d expect, and were just divine.  The serving dish didn’t move far from Chuck’s setting and I had to strategically grab some while he was busy chewing.
  • Roasted Cauliflower:  Sounds boring, but it’s one of our staple, cruciferous vegetables.  This was like no cauli I’ve had before.  The roasted florets were very soft and came in a very light tomato type of sauce with lime.  Sounds odd, but it worked really well.

RPM Steak hit it out of the park for us on all counts:  food (with bonafide paleo options), service and ambience.  It is also a bonus that it is part of the Lettuce Entertain You group of restaurants.  We had some gift cards that we were able to use which softens the blow when the check comes.  It is spendy, but it is worth checking out.  Don’t forget to request Chrissy as your server – she is the best! Thank you RPM Steak for an awesome date night!

Surprise! Chef Josh “Live” – Kitchfix in our Kitch

Before we were Paleo, we’d eat out or order food at least 5 nights of the week. These days it is a big deal if we go out once or twice a month. There is so much involved in going out now like researching menus ahead of time, worrying about cross contamination and hoping the wait staff truly knows what dietary restrictions mean. Now that we cook so often, we’ve really honed our skills. Because we use high quality ingredients, we often find that we prefer our own food to a restaurant. In spite of all of this, Chuck said we were going out to dinner on my birthday last month. He wouldn’t give me any details, but assured me it was completely Paleo compliant. We are very strict with diet so I was really curious and excited.

I came home after work and patiently waited for him to finish a real estate showing in our building so we could head out. I was sitting at our kitchen island drinking a cup of bone broth when he got back. Then, I noticed that Chef Josh Katt was walking in behind him. I recognized him as the chef behind Kitchfix, a service that delivers pre-made food including Paleo friendly options. We order from them every single week and had met Josh before. “Weird” I thought, “was his showing with Josh Katt?!” That’s when Josh said “Hey! I’m going to be cooking for you tonight!” Shut the front door! This was totally a dream come true. You cavemen and women know that preparing Paleo meals day after day can get tedious and laborious. I’ve always wanted someone to just come over and cook me dinner without having to worry about any part of it. Chuck hit this one out of the park! After freaking out, I swapped my dress for comfy clothes and my bone broth for red wine. Although Josh said we could sit at the table and he’d serve us, we opted to remain at the island. That way we could all talk together and watch him create a 3 course masterpiece. He pulled out tons of ingredients that he brought and started cooking. It was amazing. Our menu consisted of:

First Course – Seared scallops with chorizo and bacon crumbles

CJK First Course

Second Course – Lamb chops, brussel sprouts, micro-greens and a perfectly spicy sauce

CJK Main Course

Third Course – Pumpkin crème brulee in a pumpkin garnished with strawberries, pomegranate, diced apple and bacon.

CJK Pumpkin Creme Brulee_

Chef Josh also left us with a box of their Kitchfix cookies (delicious!) and gave us some of their Kitchfix Paleo granola (which you can find at many Mariano’s grocery stores around the city!) Thank you, Chuck, for making my birthday so special and for always knowing just what I want (or need). Thank you, Chef Josh, for taking the time to cook for us. Your food is amazing and we had the best night!

For those of you who live in the Chicago area and want to try Kitchfix yourself, here is our referral link.

We’d love to know what you think!

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