Hello SUP Peeps!
We are planning and scheming for our first SUP retreat in Key West. The dates are set and the tides are right for May 11- 15. Fly in on Wednesday night and get cozy in your digs. Thursday, Friday, and Saturday you will be guided on magical tours on your paddleboard through mangrove lined islands, crystal clear water, and see a wide array of sea life and nature. Good eats, good drinks, and good company. Stay Sunday to enjoy Ft Zachary beach. All the details released soon. Join our facebook group to get weekly updates:
Post 1 – 8/29/15
Trimming the Animal Fat
This blog post is dedicated to a pretty major lifestyle change that has been occurring in small steps over my lifetime. Cutting down on animal products. I have been a health-conscious eater since 18 years old. I’ve worked in health food stores, on organic farms, in farm to table restaurants (back in the last millennium before it was a thing), tried vegetarianism for 4 years in my 20’s, and have continually eaten organic, locally and sustainably. Yet there is still habitual thinking to amend.
Here I am with some friends in Asheville, NC in my early 20’s. Here was a farm to table meal, all food supplied by local farms, including the flowers picked from Anne’s farm (the gal with the wide eyes on the right).
I have a sugar addiction, as you may have noticed with my infinite number of chocolate chip cookie and Talenti Ice cream posts. I’ve been trimming the sugar intake for decades. And I’m still working on it. Just because I’ve replaced ‘white death’ with agave sugar, doesn’t mean I’m sugar -free. Still a struggle to not over-consume Agave in my coffee. But I have made So. Much. Progress. And thats the important bit- that I’m still working on it, consciously.
So now I realize I may be overly- reliant on animal products as well, a lesser issue than sugar addiction, but one to examine closer. I convinced myself as an athlete, professional dancer, and active person in general, that I need gobs of animal protein to sustain energy. The problem is, as I research the industry, I get really really really upset. Animal cruelty is rampant. It’s a sick industry. So I decided to look into farms that not only feed their animals appropriate food (read: not grain), treat the animals humanely, and do their darndest to keep pollution at bay. I watched many of the growing documentaries about food consumption, such as Vegucated, Fed Up and Forks over Knives (Netflix), to get more perspective on the issue. I’ve also been researching articles on nutritional supplements that can take the place of animal protein.
At first I was determined to cut out all animal products, but I changed my mind. First of all, that never works. When you ask someone to change a lifelong habit overnight results are usually temporary. SO I have decided to take the weaning method as my chosen path. Already this morning I replaced cow yogurt with coconut yogurt. I’m not totally disappointed, but not jumping up and down for joy either. This may take some time. I am still cutting down on sugars so I decided to have coffee with a bit of coconut cream and a bit of half and half. I had a few sips without sugar to alter the habit of my palette demanding sweet coffee. I ended up adding a dollop of agave and then it tasted hella sweet, so there is progress already. I can recondition my flavor expectations. Word.
My first restocking mission was to add more greens and less cheese and meat so here is what my fridge looks like:
If you look close, cream cheese has not been eliminated yet. That’s going to be a hard fought battle. However, as I believe movement should be varied and holistic, the diet should be similar. This all or nothing view on food (and life) is unnatural. I think getting protein from many sources is a great first step.
I plan to update this blog entry regularly on my progress. This will keep me accountable and mindful. I will be offering ideas and suggestions on better food choices for both your body and your world, and doing some field research on farms and foods. So while some of you are dressing in Game of Thrones costumes for Dragon Con, I will be staying at White Oak Pastures in South Georgia to witness first hand what humane and sustainable animal husbandry looks like. (But not before I take a peek Friday night at the costumes in downtown Atlanta!)
When making changes in a habitual practice, its all about pacing. This blog may stretch on for some time. Or maybe my body will adapt to this paradigm of less dependency on animals as food right away. Wishful thinking never hurts. Watch Forks over Knives if you haven’t already; its a pretty convincing case for shedding that animal fat from your life. Your wallet will also thank you, as wallets prefer to be curvaceous.
Lastly, I want to thank my sister, Christiane, who is a Vegan and dedicates every extra hour in her day to baking Gluten free and Vegan treats to a growing number of conscious eaters in the Raleigh Durham area. She has been a very instrumental influence in swaying me to trim the animal fat. Check her site if you are ever in the triangle of NC: http://www.joiedevegan.net/
Post 2 – 9/2/15
Sugar is Everywhere
If you have done any research on Sugar, you may know it sets off the same pleasure center of the brain as cocaine. Tests done on lab mice have shown they become more addicted to sugar than cocaine, when given a choice between the two. Yikes. I started reading labels, and found some form of sugar in numerous packaged foods, even the lovely organic, gluten free granolas and such at whole foods. It took me double time in the grocery to leave the store with sugar free items. I was beaming with pride when I chose Coconut milk ice cream over Talenti, then I looked on the back and found that big ol’ sugar ingredient.
It’s still good tho…
So I found Coconut Dream Mint Chocolate Chip Sugar Free with Stevia and I actually Loved it. Progress. One sugar-tempering step at a time. It’s amazing how deceiving labels are as you can see below the Juice which looks so healthy – may as well just be a Coke. It breaks down almost identically in the body. Whole foods are really the way to go. Eat the fruit with the fiber, then your blood sugar doesn’t freak. These images below are stats from the documentary on childhood obesity, Fed Up, a great education in the food industry. The diabetes stats blew my mind. But I am not surprised.
Cutting out the fat means cutting out the sugar too. I’ve never been a fan of soda, so that’s not a trial for me, but I can’t believe how pervasive sweeteners are in most packages foods. High fructose corn syrup is not the only villian – even organic cane sugar spikes your Insulin. I’m just so sympathetic to the misinformed public who thinks fast food is a bargain or a convenient choice. Education is a must. If people knew how much money they could save over a lifetime in food and medical costs alone if they chose a plant based, whole foods diet, I think most people would make that choice. Now for a healthy image to clear your palette:
8 notches of Saturation added to this Salmon salad. Enjoy.
Post 3 – 9/5/15
Pasture to Plate, a visit to White Oak Pastures
This weekend, we took a trip to the country. Down historic highway 27 to South Georgia. My amigo Chris came with me. I have been doing research on the meat and dairy industries, and the health affects of animal foods versus plant based diets. I wanted to see first hand what a sustainable, humanitarian, ecologically sound factory farm looks like.
From their website: “…Practicing the Serengeti Grazing Model, we rotate complimentary animal species side-by-side through our pastures. The cows graze the grass, the sheep eat the weeds, and the chickens peck at the grubs and insects. All three species naturally fertilize the land, and our soil is again a living organic medium that teems with life.” They have chosen to be mindful stewards of the land and to change the paradigm of animal farming.
After arriving right in time for the official tour of the abattoirs and organic farm, we had the good fortune to get the unofficial pasture tour. Will Harris, the man behind the FM (freakin’ magic) himself, picked us up in the mean streets of Bluffton. We were wandering around the old town prospecting where I would open a dance studio. He had a couple in the truck who were restauranteurs from St Martin. I was like an annoying groupie who watched too many videos of Will Harris describing how Nature abhors a monoculture. Chris was making fun of me silently the whole time I was asking nerdy agriculture questions.
It was mesmerizing to be in a small traditional southern town where a progressive, back to nature, science-based approach to holistic, full – transparency sustainable farming was the dominant view. We learned a lot about farm life, species of grasses, compost, herding animals, regulations, living in sync with the elements, bats, breeding flies for chicken food, work ethic, the benefits of coffee and wine, and the difference between love for food animals and love for companion animals.
I feel more informed and able to make conscious choices about the animal products I consume. I am still trying to trim the animal products from my diet and get a greater variety of foods, while relying less on animal protein to sustain energy. However, when I chose to consume cow, poultry, fish, and hog, I want to chose wisely and humanely. I highly encourage a visit to White Oak Pastures. It’s just 3 hours from Atlanta, it’s peaceful, educational, delicious, unique, and the cabins are comfortable and cozy. The quite night awaits you.
Post 4 – 10/29/15
Variability & Keepin’ it fresh
I believe that to cultivate a balance of healthy familiarity and diversity in your daily routine, specifically applied to your health, will encourage lifelong health and prosperity. After a lifetime of obsessive athletics and professional dance, I finally slowed down long enough to discover the restorative movement practices of pilates, yoga, deep stretch, and self myofascial release (foam rolling). Balancing my body opened my eyes to the benefits of changing things up, keeping things fresh. It’s a mantra that guides everything I do now; meal planning, what side of the bed I sleep on, how I fold my towels, which emojis I choose. I want to persuade you to adopt my mantra.
In evolution, aka natural selection, change and variation is inevitable and natural. Being able to adapt to the environment produces better outcomes for the organism. So why do we humans get caught up in the net of constancy and habit? We crave certainty and search for patterns that could reveal homeostasis in our lives, but quite often the natural order of things involves constant change with short terms of consistency. I tend to fare better when I think of life and living as H20. Metaphorically speaking, we are like elements that change according to the forces and molecules around us, like ice turns to water turns to vapor.
How does this idea of change and variability concern our health physiologically and emotionally? No two bodies or minds are exactly alike, and we are products of our genetics, upbringing, and our own wills. One of a kind. As a personal trainer and health advisor, I see extreme diversity among my clients. Having a systematic approach to healthy movement is textbook for creating functional biomechanics in these bodies, but keeping the motivation and enthusiasm for activity consistent is always a creative process for me. Ideally, my clients should be learning something about themselves through this process and developing a lifelong habit of self care through my facilitation. They need to cultivate the will to stay healthy. I can formulate the perfect plan, but the challenge is how to get the client to see it through.
Fitness fads are viewed by health care professionals as flavors of the month and can be truly exciting (when safe and effective) but must only be considered if they are a means to keep clients upbeat about their motor learning and neuromuscular development. Keeping it fresh through mixed modalities entertains the mind and is healthy for the body. A wow factor and some neural stimulation evokes a continued interest in movement. Effective research based training is essential, but there has to be some pizzazz to keep people coming back.
In addition to creating boredom, continually doing the same type of exercise, like running marathons or doing bootcamps, creates distinct repetitive stress patterns in the body. In her book, Move your DNA, Biomechanist Katy Bowman explains, “Even if you’re a great exerciser- maybe you bike or jog religiously- only the muscles you’ve used for that specific exercise garner any benefits. Over time, heavy use of your body in one particular pattern makes strong tissues next to weaker ones, which creates an environment where an injury can slowly develop”. She also advocates mixing it up because ”a repetitive environment breeds mindlessness”. Variability in the form of cross training may be the best advice promoted by sports medicine professionals.
Unless you are a professional athlete who must develop a specific adaptation or skill in the body, such as hitting a baseball, you have the luxury of using movement to develop your most functional and highly adapted body. So why just run, or bike, or swim? Do all of them and add new movements whenever possible.
Your muscles are a miracle; they are capable of elasticity, strength and stability, can produce powerful force, and have a memory for incredibly diverse patterns of movement. The range is from contortionist to olympic lifter. You are capable of myriad movements and shapes so try something new and surprise yourself with your body’s innate ability for adaptation. And most importantly, do things that switch you on, challenge you in the best way, and keep your active life fresh and fun.
How to keep it fresh:
- Try new things. Get on Class Pass or Living Social and try new activities. When something speaks to you go back! Even if it’s kind of scary, and especially if it’s scary!
- Find a friend or two to keep you accountable. A crew keeps the energy up, but make sure you aren’t the only one steering the ship; recruit friends who motivate you and who you can motivate in return.
- Hire a coach. Invest in someone who knows more than you do and can give you assessments, goals, and real informed information about your body. That can be a physician, massage therapist, health coach, life coach, personal trainer, pilates teacher, chiropractor, or physical therapist.
- Be mindful. Easier said than done, I know. Catch yourself doing repetitive mindless actions and change them. You don’t have to give up all your creature comforts, but change one time to time. Drink Green Tea instead of coffee; let your hair grow out; or brush your teeth left to right. You will see the world through new eyes.
- Change up your workout routine!! Try a dance class to move your joints and lift your spirits. Go trail running and get off that concrete. Go rent a paddleboard. Try rollerskating instead of bar hopping. Jump on a trampoline into a pool then slide down a slip ‘n slide. Come rock climbing with me! Join a tennis team, or bowling instead of group bar crawls.
Now, get fresh and get moving.
In health and happiness,
Maria, Rose and Kite Fitness