Monday, 28 July 2014

Monday Motivation



My New Roots
Not 100% plant-based but a beautiful blog with some fantastic recipes. Sarah B is a Holistic Nutritionist and Certified Nutritional Practitioner. 

Choosing Raw
Gena is a Certified Clinical Nutritionist and her treasure trove of a site reflects that. Gorgeous.

Nutrition Stripped
Mckel's site will appeal to those of you who are also fans of design and styling - it's beautiful! Her qualifications are numerous and listed on her About page for anyone interested. Elsewhere there's a wealth of information on nutrition, recipes and lifestyle too. Like a big old glossy magazine of goodness.

Thrive Forward
Brendan Brazier is an endurance athlete, vegan and author of  the Thrive book trilogy (Thrive, Thrive Fitness, and Thrive Foods). He now has this site which is packed full of resources. 

Nutribullet UK/ Nutribullet US
I can't stretch to a Vitamix or other superduper blender and what's more I don't need to. This thing is brilliant. Easy to use, easy to clean, doesn't take up much space, will reduce virtually any food imaginable to a smooth liquid. I love it. Evie loves it and uses it. My eight year old nephew just asked my sister if he could have one for his birthday.

Rich Roll's podcasts
I know I keep going on about them but seriously, there's now 97 and I'm listening to one a day to keep me on track over the first couple of months of transitioning. Rich interviews people from all walks of life - athletes, nutrition experts, authors, poets, chefs, musicians, filmmakers - most of whom have a story to tell about a switch to a plant-based diet but all are inspiring. Also, he's Chris the DJ for 2014. #winning


Sunday, 27 July 2014

Whole


One week into my new way of eating and I feel so good. I'm not going to put forward a mere seven days as any kind of result but at this stage, it's looking and tasting good. Dieting to lose weight doesn't work for me and I've only tried it maybe three or four times in the last 30 years and never got past a couple of weeks. Lack of sustainability, joy and frankly, a f*** about fitting into the aesthetic standards of a twisted culture have always had me heading back to the Galaxy bars pretty quickly. To be fair, as a 5' 9" ectomorph, who had years of intense exercise, I didn't really have to think about it for decades but this pesky middle-age is where your sins are sure to catch you up.

Still, I was just the right side of healthy according to the charts. Just. And not too miserable to be in clothes two dress sizes up from my fighting weight. But I was beginning to get anxious about my health. I'm 51 and I have an eight year old daughter. I'm approaching that age when your peers sometimes 'die young' - brutal but true. The thought of Evie being motherless for the second time in her young life is horrific. The thought of leaving this beautiful life too soon, almost as bad. At this stage I can't rest on my past to carry me forward. That momentum is gone. I need to be proactive and committed.

My personal opinions on farming sentient beings to make sandwiches and pies are clear: it's despicable to me. Widely reported facts on environmental issues are also clear to me: more than 50% of global human-caused greenhouse gases can be attributed to livestock produced for food industry and their by-products.You can save more water by not eating a kilo of beef than you do by not showering for an entire year. What I'm saying is this: my motivation for not eating animal products is about doing what's right for the health of me, other beings AND the planet. Micro and macro. Deep ecology stylee - we are all one.

I went looking for inspiration to help me set new ways of living and found it primarily among plant-fuelled athletes who manage to mix scientific research, 'green living' and a spiritual take on life that has my heart singing in recognition. I'm no athlete, nor will I ever be, but these people are about pushing the boundaries of possibility over the horizon. At any age. It makes switching my meal plan around a bit feel like a very simple task.

What I wasn't expecting was to enjoy it so much because I have never been any kind of cook. I'm more of a heater. If it's quick, in a jar or a bag, and vegetarian, I'd eat it. Make it full of fat and sugar and ideally chocolate-flavoured and I would devour it. Sometimes several times a day. Comfort eating was a speciality. Carbs were always perfect for inducing just enough of a sugar coma to numb off those annoying bites at your psyche that your intuition uses to try to steer you right. They also helped keep me still if I had to sit at a desk or in any one place for more than five minutes. And they taste yummy. All I had to do was keep copping out of any kind of response to the dairy industry and its inherent horrors. Pass me a packet of chocolate digestives and I'd have that sucker unconscious in moments.

'But I LOVE pizza with cheese on it' was never one iota different to my much-loathed,'But I could never give up bacon' and I was only ever one bowl of ice cream away from having to face that fact.

This last week I've eaten #rawtilfour. Raw wholefoods for breakfast, lunch and snacks. Some of it whizzed into veg smoothies in my beloved Nutribullet (without which I would've been struggling) but most just chopped up and eaten with some fresh hummus (food of the gods). In the evenings I've cooked, like properly and everything, a vegan hot meal for us all. I've been interested to note that as delicious as that meal has been, I clearly only need about a third of the portion I've been dishing up because that heavy, 'let me sleep' feeling comes straight back when I eat it. Maybe it's that I'm getting so much from the raw food that my body doesn't need much more. Whatever, I find myself wishing I'd stayed with raw but that probably won't last past this spell of very hot weather we're enjoying.

Here's the result so far: much more energy, better sleep, better mood, lighter conscience, piqued interest in plants and their qualities, an enjoyment of meal prep, wicked strong willpower that had me easily refusing multiple cakes and biscuits at the office (always a weak spot) and, incidentally, a weight loss of five and a half pounds. The thing is, I don't WANT to eat any other way at this point. It's too damn tasty and enjoyable. I've even found myself wandering the fields thinking about how I can improve a recipe. WHO AM I?

Also, I'm proud of myself. And that doesn't happen too often I can tell you.

My short term goal is to lift my energy and lower my weight to a point where I want to move more and then I'm going to start running. Walking and running. One crappy run after another until I reach a good one. I came so close to writing off this amazing body as just another victim to the 'disease of ageing' before I woke up and saw I was falling into that trap.

Just one week. No big deal. Except it is a big deal. And I'm excited to see where it takes me.

Monday, 21 July 2014

Monday motivation


While I'm busy reading up on everything I want to know to turn around my health and fitness (as someone with a strong geek streak, this stuff has always been fascinating to me) I'm finding so many good new things. Here's a few of them:

1: The Rich Roll Podcasts
Rich Roll is in his own words,"a 47-year old, accomplished vegan ultra-endurance athlete and former entertainment attorney turned full-time wellness & plant-based nutrition advocate, motivational speaker, husband, father of 4 and inspiration to people worldwide as a transformative example of courageous and healthy living." Besides being an inspiration, having turned his life around at 40, he has a very cool wife and records excellent podcasts with a wide range of people. I love them. I also love listening to the male perspective for a change. I do love my girlfriends but I was raised with three brothers and have always enjoyed male friendships too. Some days it's just plain refreshing.

2: The Power of Meditative Running
Good article on running and relevantly, running after 50. I've tried running a few times and failed miserably. With an emphasis on the miserable. But I still think I'd love it. I still believe I'd love it. So I'm concentrating initially on fuelling my body so that I have the energy to run and then I'm doing it.

3: Wendy Palmer
From her website: "Wendy Palmer holds a sixth degree black belt in Aikido and has practiced mindfulness for over 35 years. She is the founder of Leadership Embodiment a coaching program that uses principles from the non-violent Japanese martial art of Aikido and mindfulness." This is a talk entitled Mastery and Mystery that she gave at the DO Lectures. Besides being all round inspiring, what Wendy says about having successfully embraced certain spiritual practices in her heart and mind only to find that her body still wanted to slap people really made me laugh. And relate. Integration and holistic awareness are what I'm after too.

4: Stand Up For Pits
Comedian and actor Rebecca Corry is a lifelong dog lover who fell in love with her adopted Pit Bull, Angel and used that love to found Stand Up For Pits. The link will tell you more about the organisation. I am always inspired by people who give themselves to a cause they hold in their heart and Rebecca and her One million PIBBLE March is a shining example. Love love love. Because Angel.

5: Moira McLaughlin
Moira's blog, Dog Art Today, is a long, long term favourite of mine and I'm excited to see that her own work now features, thanks primarily to her involvement with the launch of artists' collective DANK in Nevada City, California. The post I've linked to features a wonderful piece called 'Tyler Foote Finds: A Compendium of My Ignorance'. Tyler Foote is Moira's trusty and handsome four-legged companion who came into her life after the passing of her beloved Darby.

6: Raleigh Ritchie
I already loved this song and then I discovered that Raleigh Ritchie is the alter ego of actor Jacob Anderson, who I know as none other than Grey Worm, Commander of the Unsullied. Who knew?

Friday, 18 July 2014

In the green

The world - at least in the part where I live - seems to be bursting at the seams with Life. Beyond the usual even. I've spent a lot of time this week in the copse across the field from us. It's only about 10-12 acres I'd guess but it's surrounded by small hedged fields and Chalfield stream flows down the western border. Also, it's private property so I can head in there and not think about other people. The dogs get a great work out, climbing and tracking and swimming and running, and I get to sit by the stream and just be around this:



Yesterday was a magical day. Early morning brought a Great Spotted Woodpecker to our feeder. I've never seen one up close before and it was enchanting. Only a juvenile - you can tell by the fact they have a red flash on top of their heads that's replaced by black feathers as they mature - it was a real delight.

Later, as I was preparing dinner, I looked out of the kitchen window into the sun-trap of our back garden and saw what looked like a mini scene from The Battle of Britain. Hundreds and hundreds of flying ants taking off from three sites under the cobbled pathway. It must be a huge ant empire under there! The emergence took about 20 minutes and then another happened an hour or so later. With the sun glistening off their wings as they took off to found new colonies, these ant queens on their nuptial flight were a vision. The Swallows certainly thought so as the sky filled with them diving and swooping for a special treat.

As the sun dropped a little I took the dogs down to the stream and sat on the bank watching them swim and play while jewel-coloured damselflies (Beautiful Demoiselles) circled above them. Suddenly an even brighter flash of colour almost brushed my eyelashes: a Kingfisher flew right past my face and off down the stream.

The day was finished with a truly spectacular storm with lightning so bright I can't describe it.

I love the days, and there are so many of them, when I'm reminded that the human race is just a tiny aspect of All That Is, even if it's disproportionately powerful.

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Label-free


Yesterday I put on a new t-shirt that still had the tag in it. Not on one of those itchy plastic things that you can snap, but a good strong piece of string. My scissors were downstairs so I made a mental note to cut it off before I left the house. When I undressed for a bath last night I remembered. All day, with a tag. A big tag. As I stared at it I realised something...I didn't care. Did anyone die because of my tag? Was my day ruined by my tag? No. So who cares?

Then I realised that no one would've noticed anyway because I am, after all, over 35. According to one 'news story' I read this week, that means I am invisible. (Also, the average age of the first time mother has hit 30 for the first time ever so that's a pretty small window. How much do they pay these people?)

I was probably in my mid-forties when I first became aware that I was no longer getting the oh so tiresome 'would I or wouldn't I?' assessment. And lo, it was good. I've never needed that kind of validation and it may be 'biology' and often subconsciously done but it annoyed the heck out of me. So I suppose it was only a matter of time before it occurred to me that the newer, wider-ranging invisibility that comes with newer, wider-ranging wrinkles is indeed as freeing as those ahead of me have reported.

Hell, I can walk down the street with a tag hanging out of my clothes and some people might imagine that it says 'Batty Woman Of A Certain Age' but most won't even register my existence.

Just imagine what I could get up to. It's like being given a superpower! A whole new world of non-accountability is opening up before me and I'll admit I'm loving the idea. Like a cross between the Invisible Woman and the Silence.

I'm thinking I shall be A Force For Good.

Mostly.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Sweet


The biggest hill for me to climb is going to be my diet. I very much do not want to be consuming dairy and I do pretty well on the obvious stuff. We use nut/rice milks and I don't eat cheese, ice cream, butter, dairy-based margarine etc but damn that stuff sneaks in as an ingredient everywhere. It's in a lot of the things we eat as family staples and I am horribly lazy about the concept of doing two sets of shopping and two sets of cooking. Also, that costs more. Not much more, but more. Still, none of these things are even slightly important in the face of what I want to avoid supporting with my hard-earned pennies. It's all worth it for the animals involved and also, to be honest, the raising of my own vibration.

Which brings me to sugar because that makes me vibrate in what feels like the yummiest way, even as it poisons my body. I am a sugar lover almost from birth - my mother is still, 50 years on, an inveterate sugar dealer and I have to beat her back with a stick while she waves sweets at my daughter and calls them affection. #harsh #buttrue. Sugar has always been my nemesis. To battle it I'll have to call on some serious plant power but also do some major rewiring. I'm half joking/half thinking that I'm looking at a lifelong 'recovery' situation.

Giving up eating flesh was the easiest thing ever. Giving up cigarettes - on my fourth or fifth attempt - was only short term tough. I drink a unit of alcohol maybe twice a month on average; not every month. The dairy I can beat. I do not really have an addictive nature so as daunting as it may seem, my fight with sugar will not involve me fighting myself. But I've caved twice today already and it's only midday.

I'm going to try one day at a time. Re-educate my taste buds even if they do not wish to be re-educated.

Monday, 14 July 2014

Monday


In the spirit of not making a plan but instead allowing myself to go with the ebb and flow of Life for a while, with only my intuition as a lazy rudder, these are the things that I'm sensing in the swell this week:

  • My goodcrazy love for my daughter who just shines. I look at her face and everything explodes with joy.
  • My love of dancing. One of these days I'm going to end up in an accident if I don't rein in the car dancing just a teeny bit. And I'm thinking, if I'm not quite ready for regular gym again yet, maybe I should find a dance class where I'd be welcome because to be honest, I still got skillz.
  • My ability to sometimes be That Woman. The one who is very happy when she looks in the mirror and sees the hair and eyebrow game are damn strong today.
  • Oak trees. One specifically. And maybe its time to do that shamanic thing I was supposed to do months ago but didn't because I couldn't find The Tree. She found me. She took her sweet time but I guess when you're hundreds of years old six months is but a blink of an acorn. Also: she's been reeling me in for about 15 years now, no kidding. Yesterday she finally spoke.
  • Passion for something that means you don't care who you piss off because the message is more important than someone else's comfort levels (and a person's comfort levels are their own responsibility anyway).

As agendas go, it's pretty interesting.








Sunday, 13 July 2014

Just start



This is the fifth time I've opened a Blogger window to write a post. Specifically this post. Knowing the only way to get something done is to just start, I'm just starting.

This year I had a winter of staying home, literally and figuratively. I withdrew from the internet a little and lowered my expectations of myself. Allowed myself to 'live winter': rest, assess, relax, plan, be in quietness. Spring came and I got the usual fire in my belly as the sun got higher but every time I approached a path I'd get a feeling of,'Yeah that's really good and all but no, it's not that one. Don't do that. Step away. It's coming.' Not a big drama, just a gentle nudge and a kind reminder of..something.

I chose to be patient - not easy for me - and just see what happened. What came to me on the waves. And while I waited I focused on my day-to-day life. I tried to really experience the good and bad, the gratitude and the frustration, and most of all to recognise that it is unique. And in this form, finite.

Recurring themes began to rise to the surface:

  • Passing 50 and the perception of that in the media and our society
  • My own health and fitness
  • Animal welfare, veganism etc
  • My spirituality.

Still I had no particular pull to bring it all together and act. But in the meantime I was working on my health, eating better, sleeping more, meditating and I am now in a better place. If being barely capable of movement, and forgetting my own name three days a week is Ground Zero I got there. I stayed there. And then I went to my doctor. And then I took responsibility. And now, if peak health is 100, I'm probably on about 19 and a bit.

And suddenly I'm aware that the way I was feeling was not just 'getting older' or 'being perimenopausal' or 'just life'. It was living inside a body that had been quietly abused and ignored for many years. Even the 12 years I was a fitness professional I was drinking and smoking (not just cigarettes). Despite being a vegetarian for 25 years I have eaten mountains of crap.

As John Hurt once said: no more. I can be so much better and so much more than 19 and a bit.

It's never to late to change. To evolve.

This is my evolution. My revolution.

The revolution of me.