Underneath the dogwood
Oh, hail no


I'm Spent. There, I admit it.

The past several months - actually the past four years - have been exhausting. We've moved a lot. We've had disappointments and setbacks. And just when I thought there were blue skies with big, white fluffy clouds ahead, another road block.

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Along the way (thanks to Gwyneth's Goop), I picked up a book called Spent: End Exhaustion and Feel Great Again. When I read the symptoms of Spent, I said, yes, that's me. I feel like I could go to sleep for the night at around 4pm every day (though I don't seem to get there until midnight). My whole body hurts. I lack motivation to do things I really want to do. And I can't take it anymore.

So what am I doing about it? The first thing is that I'm overhauling my diet and losing some weight. I'm not following the program in Spent by itself, I'm sort of mixing it up with things I've read in another book called Eat to Live.

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While Eat to Live isn't for everybody, I think it's a good, healthy way to lose a lot of weight quickly. I've followed the program before and I know that it works. I know that it will lower my blood pressure and cholesterol and clear my head. I know that its claim to "lose 20 pounds or more in 6 weeks" is not an over promise. I know that I never felt better in my life than when I was eating all those fruits and veggies and healthy fats. My problem is sticking with it for the long haul - try and wish as I might, I'm no vegan. But I can pretend for 6-8 weeks while I figure out what to do next.

I call it my Salads as Big as Your Head Diet.

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And I am feeling better. I started last Monday and I've lost 8 pounds. And I just feel better. Not perfect, but a very definite improvement. My brain's not so cloudy. I have more energy. I feel more positive and happier. It's such a relief, I can't tell you. But I still have a long way to go. This week, I'm going to start on some of the principles outlined in Spent. I'm going to move more. I'm going to relax more. I'm thinking about how I can find my balance.

One thing that's difficult about it is feeding V. She likes a good salad - occasionally - but I find that I'm feeding her other things that I don't think are quite so good for her just because they're quick and easy. She doesn't like a lot of vegetables right now, though I continue to put them on her plate. She's beginning to flirt with cauliflower, if only because she likes the way it sounds when she says it.

So I need more recipes we all can eat. I have some good resources, but I need more.

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V and I used to bake something once a week and I wanted to start that up again now that we're in the new house. I'm looking for healthier things to make so we can still enjoy cooking together, but I get to have a little taste too. This week we made Yummy Banana-Oat Bars (click here and scroll down just a bit for the recipe).

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We used Craisins instead of raisins and it was a tasty treat.

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So I've started working on our diet and this week I'll be working on moving and relaxing more, but there is a third part to the plan - the part where I both learn to do something I've always wanted to do and use my new-found skill try to replace some of the income I lost. I've never had a job before that I loved with my whole heart, but I'm hoping this is it. I'll talk more about that in a few weeks.

If you've gotten this far, I thank you for sticking with me. I try to make a pretty blog, but real life isn't always sunshine and kittens. I do what I can to make it so. My question for you is - are you Spent? I certainly hope not, but I have the sneaking suspicion that I'm not alone in this. Is there anything you're doing about it? Got any veggie-centric recipes or websites for me? I'd love to hear from you.


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renee @ FIMBY

Good for you Maya, recognizing the problem before it runs you into the ground.

Just to encourage you, our family follows a mostly eat to live eating style. Only we call it plant-based eating or sometimes I'll call us "house vegans" because we eat this way at home but don't restrict ourselves to a purely vegan diet. It's not about the "veganness" it's about the overall quality of nutrition (the nutritional excellence message). Maybe aim for that for the long term.

And yes, I know all about the salads as big as your head. Our family eats dinner plate (3 kiddos included) sized salads most days for lunch. Suppers are veggie & bean based meals with potatoes, noodles or grains. Desserts are smoothies - yum!

Kids will not starve themselves, it may take some time for her to truly enjoy the food but if you are only serving healthy food they will eat it! We always let our kiddos leave out one vegetable (our meals have many). The older two rarely do anymore. And just this week, my most-resistant vegetable eater - our 6 year old, designed a stir fry recipe with me that included kale - because she "really likes that green one". Yippee! It's working. Keep at it, it's worth it. Dr. Fuhrman's book Disease Proof your Child might help in this regard.

You might consider subscribing to Dr. Fuhrman's member site for more support and recipes. I've been cooking this way for a few years now so I can pull recipes out of my head and from my binders of saved favorites, but when you are getting started it might be helpful.

I also really like fat free vegan kitchen. Lots of good stuff over there! I have a few recipes on my blog, but not much. Here's a decadent eat to live style dessert:

No, life is not all sunshine and kittens but fueling your body and brain with good food sure helps matters!

Sorry this was so long. Feel free to e-mail me if you need support or have questions.


Hi Sunshine!

First off, you are a rockstar. Seriously. Good for you for taking things into your own hands and resolving for change. I think it's going to be nothing but awesome for you.

Second, we're similar to the poster above. We eat mostly vegetable based foods at home, which Shaun eating some meat and me staying mostly vegetarian. (I really like the occasional cheese and I like yogurt in my smoothies, so vegan isn't really for me). Anyway, check out the Vegetarian Times website. They have tons and tons of recipes that are healthy and DELICIOUS. I haven't made anything yet that I didn't like. The two recipes I posted on the blog are our favorites. (Seriously? That quinoa squash was astoundingly tasty).

(And quinoa is a seed, not a grain, so that's not even a carb).

For V, check out the tofu cubes recipe on Zrecs. I tried it with the kids and Bean likes it. C is hesitant but will eat it if hungry, (she's a picky pickle). Other things that are good are sweet potato fries, (just put strips in the oven lightly sprinkled with olive oil), and hummus for dipping veggies. (And cooking them works better for when they're hesitant with the veg... works well for C.. bean eats most veggies raw). I have a good recipe for a tofu dip that is similar to a ranch that I'll send you too.

With Bean, I started getting her to pick out new veggie at the grocery store and that usual helped her be more enthused.

Also, (and people can argue me up and down with this, I DONT CARE), when she wants a snack while watching TV, pop some veggies in a bowl and nonchalantly hand them to her. The distraction tends to work well and before they know it, a whole bowl of frozen peas and frozen soybeans are GONE.

Oh! And Bean entered a picky stage awhile ago, so I started making food fun for her. I'm a big fan of eating with my eyes and thought that kids are probably the same. So I'd make her a plate, bento-style, and she got a huge kick out of that. (a face made with broccoli hair, olive eyes, a cherry tomato smile, and some carrots for ears with a dip nose... stuff like that).

Also, when she's really resistant, (and this is also controversial), there's always the option of blending veggies into her food... pureed squash in her pancakes, etc. I haven't had to do this, but I think that if done carefully, it could acclimate the palette to the tastes of veggies previously untried.

Green smoothies go over well if she doesn't mind the textures.

And when we can't get much in the way of veggies, we tend to ride on fruit for awhile before trying again.

From what I remember, V is a GOOD eater (especially compared to most toddlers), so I wouldn't stress too much. I think growing the food this summer is going to captivate her, so that'll help too. Go grab some pea seeds and try to get them sprouting before it's too hot! Plant 'em next to a fence. You can pick peas from the vine and they're sweeter than anything from the store by a LONG shot. Plus, they're incredibly hardy til it's hot.

Good grief, I should have just emailed you. :)

*hugs* you're awesome. I'm proud of you! (And inspired to make a salad.. I'm starving!)

maya | springtree road

@renee I have Disease Proof Your Child - I just need to go through it and pick out some recipes. I'm totally sold on the concept, though. We'll get there. Part of my problem is feeling too run down to really cook anything. That's why I've just been doing a lot of salads and then cooking something a couple of nights in between.

For me, the biggest problem is not knowing anyone else who eats like this. When we go to brunch at the parents' house, it's hard for me to withstand the yummies. So for the time being, we're going to go when there's no eating going on. Later on, we'll go - when I feel better.

I would love to join Dr. F's site - but $99 is a bit steep for me right now. Maybe later. I just need to make my own recipe book and start gathering recipes. If there's anything your family eats that you think would be a really fantastic introduction to this style of eating, please send it to me. I'll make it and post it on the blog. :)

@jen - good ideas, as always. i want to do these things, but am waiting for more energy to return. i've been wanting to make that quinoa squash recipe - i have had it saved since you posted it. :) V didn't like that zrecs tofu, though. i'm not much of a tofu eater either - unless it's deep fat fried or some other awfulness. but i would love the "ranch" dip recipe.


With V why not get yourself 1 or 2 vegetarian cookbooks. You'd be amazed at how delicious veggies can be when using these great ethnic recipes -- kids won't even know they're eating 'veggies'. Usually it's the blah taste the way N. Americans tend to cook veggies. Honestly, try the vegetarian cookbooks and you'll be surprised. Even my husband who, before we got together, didn't eat vegetables, now absolutely LOVES veggies -- but I don't make them ordinary. Give it a try -- see what you think :) I hope that helps.
Happy Earth Day!


what a wonderful post ..glad to hear you have lost weight...that will encourage you more...and your photos are wonderful with each step !

i have a veggie-bean soup that comes out of cans into a crock pot and that is it easy & quick...i eat it hot over fresh spinach or a cold soup for lunch..if you want the recipe let me know...i double it

ps sunshine and kittens are not the real world!


I think I will be joining you on this journey to revitalization. It is long overdue. I remember saying to Chris, when Willa was about ten months old, that I was at the end of my rope and needed to relax and recharge or I'd go mad. Willa is now six and a half, and I keep finding more and more rope to be at the end of! Enough!

I like the Feeding the Whole Family cookbook and one called Better than Peanut Butter and Jelly.

Recent blog post: She's a Cool Rider


This is a really great post. Spent I am not, but stressed I am. I have added more exercise, but I have to stop stress eating. I write this after just finishing my frosted mocha beverage for the caffeine boost. Just kicking the adrenals into high gear. Thank you for sharing your story. It is inspiring and thought provoking. I am going to try a little harder on tackling that stress eating.


Like Natalie, I am not spent, but am stressed too much of the time. We are not vegans, but we do eat pretty healthy. I cook dinner every night, except for Friday, which is take-out night for us. We don't like heavy, fatty foods so I cook light. One thing I really need more of is exercise, and I think this would help with the stress. Motivation to exercise? I just don't seem to have it.


I am spent and have been for several years, I think. I went to my doctor once and told him I was tired of being tired and he said go to bed, but going to bed early doesn't solve any problems because then I wake up that much earlier and I don't sleep well as it is and I have two dogs who like to sleep on the bed, right up against me so I can't roll over and then when I try to roll over one of them decides to bark and bark (actually he just barks because he likes to bark) and then the other one gets all excited because I'm yelling for the first one to shut the heck up and the neighbors can probably hear me and now they are mad at me for waking them up and when I finally get back to sleep the alarm goes off and it is time to get up and get ready for work! Wow! How was that for a run-on sentence? Ha! It actually is kind of like that.

I've got a recipe for ranch dip that uses cottage cheese and a little bit of lemon juice that substitutes for sour cream. Tastes great and has practically no calories. I'll have to think about what recipes I do have.

Congrats on your weight loss! I, too, am working on losing weight and have lost a little over 12 pounds so far, but I've got a long way to go. I can tell a difference already. My tight jeans that were a little uncomfortable to wear are now baggy. Some things that were getting difficult to do are getting easier to accomplish. I do need to incorporate some physical activity, as I sit here looking at my exercise bike. I have been busy with yard word, which helps.

I don't like cooking just for myself, so in the evenings my meal lately is a big bowl of slightly frozen strawberries with some non-fat vanilla yogurt on top. So good! Minestrone soup is really good and easy to make - that might be an option. You can add meat or not - I usually don't.

Recent blog post: Renewal


hey maya,

I have a very hectic work schedule, so going to gym is a very tough thing. But i do yoga at home. Suryanakaskara 15 times a day.
I am sure if you google/you tube you will find zillion videos. Yoga heals body mind and soul.

Currently in India all the bollywood actress are in size 0 craze and apprently most of them do yoga and suryanamaskara is what they do.

And i am a born veggie..so maybe i can help you with recipes.


I really like you (even though I've never met you!)Good for you and good luck to you. You have inspired me, my diet isn't what I want it to be either and yes I think I am a little spent.Must do something about it.
My youngest daughter (9) is dreadful with food, doesn't like vegies at all, doesn't like anything much(apart from roast potatoes, fish fingers and fish cakes)!!! But I am hoping she will grow out of it. My husband was the same when he was little(inherited taste buds??!)and he is so healthy now.
Wishing you well.x


I have to try those bars, they look so good. Hmm, yes, the cranberry replacement will suit me much better than 'ol raisins. I think these salads might be good to try: href=http://beautythatmoves.typepad.com/beauty_that_moves/2009/04/grain-salads.html>grain salads


Hey Maya :) I'm late to this post, but glad that you are feeling better. I've been feeling kind of run-down and tired lately, so I started eating mini-meals - small 100 calorie meals every waking hour, up to 16 hours. I've lost weight, and I'm not nearly as tired since I started it a couple of weeks ago. I found this plan in a magazine and my husband is doing it now, too. Let me know if you'd like to see the list of mini meals. :)

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I am sending you a huge, gigantic, hug. :)

I did like starting my day with a green smoothie (greens + bananas + fruit).

Though .. I bought a bunch of strange greens at the farmers' market on saturday and have been saute'ing them in olive oil and topping with sea salt. Also yummy.


That looks awfully healthy...and yummy.

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