Category Archives: What Goes in the Pie-Hole

Mother’s Day Lunch

I stood by the ‘Please Wait to be Seated’ sign at the entry of the restaurant. It was a perfect afternoon to sit on an outdoor patio. The small restaurant seemed busy. Several of it’s few tables where already occupied.

Table for one?” the young server asked.

“Yes please,” I replied.

The table had a wonderful view. There were mother’s day greetings written in crayon on one of those brown paper tablecloths. The sun was warm on my shoulders.

I looked at the menu. Lots of simple, hearty fare, which would suit me just fine. It was almost two o’clock. I was good and hungry.

The server returned for my drink order. Water with a straw, please. Then I ordered the crackers and grapes for an appetizer. She disappeared back into the kitchen.

Through the patio door to the kitchen, I could hear the chef at work. She hollered “ORDER UP”, and the server emerged with my water, grapes and crackers.

Then she came back for my main course order. I requested the mac ‘n cheese and scrambled egg. For my side, I chose the cucumber.

After about 5 minutes the server returned with some questions from the chef. In particular, she wanted to know how to know when water is boiling (“how big should the bubbles be”) and if it “goes faster” with a lid on the pot.

I continued to wait in the sun, occasionally closing my eyes behind my sunglasses. My stomach growled. With crackers and grapes consumed, I called for the server and asked her if – though not on the menu – I might have some Kettle Chips. She said they didn’t have any. I said I thought there might be some on in the back of the pantry. She checked with the chef, who said no there’s none in the pantry. I suggested they might be on the second shelf from the bottom, sort of hidden near the back. There was some chatter and slamming doors from the kitchen. Eventually a bowl of sea-salt Kettle Chips was delivered to my table. Talk about service.

As I sat nibbling my chips, I heard raised voices in the kitchen. The chef seemed to be getting upset. Something about the server needing to help more. I peaked through the window and could see the server lying on the couch reading a comic while eating from the bag of Kettle Chips. Then I saw the chef trying to drag the server off the couch by the arm, amidst shouting protest. Then the chef stormed out, yelling she needed more help and wanted things to be perfect.

Ignoring the ‘Staff Only’ sign, I sneaked through the kitchen and found the chef in her bedroom. I gave her a hug, ensuring her that things were indeed perfect. In fact they could not be more perfect. A few deep breaths and re-hiding of the Kettle Chips later, order was restored. Frankly, we all get a little nuts around the Kettle Chips.

I went back to my table. Happy chatter and clanging resumed in the kitchen. There was another “ORDER UP” and out came the server with mac ‘n cheese and cucumbers. I asked the chef and server if they could join me for lunch. To my delight, they did.  There were no scrambled eggs, but I didn’t mention that. Because it was perfect.

mothers day lunch

 

Diary of a Detox

Amongst other things, I am a food-explorer.

What this means is that I’m super-interested in food and love food, but I don’t follow any particular dietary camp or dogma.  And that sometimes I find myself “exploring” a box of Girl Guide cookies. 

I’ve tried a lot of different food approaches, and what I’ve come to realize is this: there’s no right way. What’s right looks and feels different for everyone. These days, I tend to regularly eat veggies, fruit, whole grains, fish, eggs, chicken, dark chocolate (blah, blah, blah….whatever.) Sometimes I eat cheese and bread and cake (congratulations). I eat whatever strikes my fancy when out with family and friends and when on vacation (so what). Mostly I eat for energy, health, nutrition, stamina, longevity, joy, balance and social connection. Occasionally I eat for comfort and stress relief (see: Girl Guide cookies).  

Here’s a piece wrote about year ago, about going on a cleanse. I wouldn’t have written this today. The idea of needing a cleanse to “right some wrongs” resonates less for me. Because there is no “wrong”. There’s just life. And doing your best in each moment. And it’s just food. And we’ve all got other work to do. And frankly it’s all up in the goddamn air.

****

Recently, I did a cleanse. While this was part of my on-going process of investigative nutrition, let’s be frank, this was also about righting some wrongs after an all-inclusive Mexican vacation. I chose the Wild-Rose Herbal D-Tox, a 12-day protocol of herbal supplementation and foods to balance system acidity/alkalinity. It meant cutting out dairy, sugar/sweeteners, flour products, alcohol and tropical fruits. What’s left? Food was 80% from a prescribed list of vegetables, nuts, fruits, and select grains; and 20% protein sources. I jumped in with abandon, hoping the result would be a good old internal scrub down.  I was also hoping it would silence the part of my brain accustomed to eating churros twice a day.

Day T-1. Wildly excited about the cleanse. Feeling proud for having boiled vats of brown rice, baked chicken breasts, and for strategically removing (i.e., eating) hidden stashes of chocolate in advance. Very confident I’ll stick this out. Mostly because this cleanse involve eating lots. I can handle firm restrictions of food types, as long I don’t have to go hungry. I’m confident this won’t be like the last cleanse my husband and I tried. The one that required us to consume only diluted apple juice and celery water for the first several days. The one where my husband called me at 10:30 a.m. on the first day from the Wendy’s drive-thru with the slightly frantic declaration “I’m out”.

Day 1 – Seven minutes in, first major obstacle: the scourge that is black coffee. Mercifully, we had coconut milk. Coconuts are nuts, right? (Or fruit?).  Not on approved list; don’t care. Coconut milk happened. Other than that, day ticked along. Took batch of mysterious supplements twice daily. Low energy mid-afternoon. A few weird rumbles in the stomach, but nothing dramatic.

Day 2 – Worried about dinner at our friends’ house. Had cleanse-approved snack and supplements beforehand. Practiced ‘not for me, thanks’ mantra. But victory! Pretty much everything at dinner was cleanse-approved: chicken, broccolini, potatoes, kale salad.  Said no to ice cream and pie and stuck with strawberries. Am cleansing superstar! Home just in time for first cleanse-induced shuddering of the bowels in glorious privacy of own home.

Day 4 – Eating lots of lots of greens, brown rice, fish, yams, and almonds. Turns out eating apples, yams, and almond butter make me happy. Who knew?

Day 6 – Love affair with yams is deepening. Took 20 minute break during day specifically to “bake squash and yams” so readily available in fridge. I’m not even craving sweets or bread. Likely due to massive consumption of yams.

Day 7 – Date night. Menu navigation required. Had grilled salmon, vegetables and a baked potato with butter (cleanse allows butter!). I haven’t had a baked potato with butter in years. Why is this not harder?

Day 8 – I miss vinegar. And salsa.

Day 10 – New love affair happening: rice cakes with almond butter, raspberries and cinnamon.  Cannot get over that this is what I’m craving. Thought this was going to be brutal, but it’s not. I feel fantastic.

Day 12 –Wondering if I should carry on?

At the end of 12 days, my system felt calibrated, my body lighter, and my taste buds tuned. Just maybe, the body is meant to thrive on whole, simple food.  Go figure. I now see this style of eating as a tool kit for times when nutritional course-correction is required. I eased some things back in though. Like salsa on my eggs, vinegar in my dressings, dairy on occasion. But I’m still putting coconut milk in my coffee. And churros? Not yet, but we’ll see*.

****

*April 2015. Just back from Mexico again. Churros….check.

“Integrated Fitness”

I’m not entirely sure what I mean by the title of this post: Integrated fitness.

But bear with me. Let’s see where it goes.

A few months back, I did fitness assessment at my local Goodlife Fitness. I wrote about it here.

The message that I took from that day is the importance of more than just physical fitness. This is nothing new. It’s the idea that real, fulsome fitness practices go beyond the physical workout, and even beyond nutrition. It’s about the big ball of everything that contributes to one feeling “well”…movement, food, nutrients, stress management, sleep, connection, stretching, mind set, staying present.  All at once.

But, man, working on all the stuff all at the same time is hard.

It’s been a busy few weeks for me at work. I’m finally seeing the finish line this weekend. I know…whatever. Big whoop. We’re all busy and running around like crazy people half the time.

The the last time I had a work stretch like this, I slept little, ate poorly, and didn’t work out. I worked 19 hours a day over a period of about 2 weeks. Within days I got a cold. I was a hacking, agitated, exhausted train wreck by the time project was done.

This time I swore I would do it differently. And in some respects, I did.

Over the last two weeks, I didn’t miss a workout. Even if it was just 30 minutes, I got a blast of adrenalin and good old sweat each day. That helped me feel sane.

I slept. Though I had a few mornings of bolting awake (and getting up for the day) at 3:30 a.m., with the to-do list bombarding my mind, more nights than not I got some decent shut-eye.

I ate ok. Though I had my moments of carbohydrate-related stress-relief. For example, my body is suggesting I could have done without the large volumes of pizza and cookies yesterday.

I made time to take my kids to school and pick them up, and take them to swimming and dancing and such. My husband and I said more than “hey, how’s it going?” to one another on occasion.

So all in all, I’ve emerged out of this period relatively unscathed.

Yet I feel slightly off.

So this is what I know…

“Integrated fitness” is hard. You can do a lot of things right, yet still feel slightly off. “Slightly off” I believe is a part of the human experience. No need to panic. I think it just means that the next choice, the next decision will be driven by the next immediate need. Like for me, that means…for the love of God…I won’t eat pizza and cookies today. I will eat vegetables and fruit. And drink a lot of water. Then I will get some exercise. And I will hug my kids. And hold hands with my husband. And I won’t work (much).

Then I’ll get some fresh air.

And I’ll notice how the fresh blanket of snow that fell last night glints in the sun.

And I will count my blessings.

Yeah, you know…I will integrate.

Deep wellness, in the end, is more than the sum of its parts.

This post was written as part of the GoodLife Fitness Blogger Ambassador Program, however all opinions expressed are my own

 

 

Zico! (Bless You)

I’m no food blogger, but I’m into food.

I think a lot about food. I eat a lot of food. I am on a never-ending journey to figure out how best to eat for me. To find the way that will give me energy, fuel my sports and workouts, keep me relatively lean and give me joy.

Occasionally I get an opportunity to try a new type of food. I’ve heard a lot about coconut water, but I’ve never paid attention to it (though my husband occasionally drinks it). But I like the idea of it. I’ve read about athletes using it during races or workouts as a natural alternative to those sports/energy drinks that are essentially sugar and food colouring.

So I was pretty pumped when this arrived in the mail from the good people at Zico.

photo 1

We love the popsicle making kit!! Our experiment went like this…

photo 5

 

photo 3

The results were great! A way better alternative for the kids than boxed fudgsicles. And look at me all making up recipes. It made me feel a little like Martha Stewart. However, the neighbour kid declared them too “banana-y”. Seriously, neighbour kid, don’t kill my buzz. I am a culinary genius. That is the story I’m sticking with.

And the girls loved the chocolate stuff straight up. Go figure. Add a little cocoa and extra sugar and anything is glorious. But, hey, that’s basically the way of the universe.

photo 4

Thank you Zico!! Three cheers for healthy alternatives and fun new foods.

We now return to our regular programming.

 

Feed the Human Real Food Challenge #2: Making “Granola” or “Protein” Bars

OK, in the Feed the Human Podcast 003, I was challenged to make my own “granola” or “protein bars”.

I used to buy/eat a lot of protein bars. Over the years, I’ve experimented with many kinds. They are a easy-to-carry snack when on the go. They satisfy my sweet “give me dessert or give me death” tooth.  I also use bars during long training runs. I eat less of them now.  Part of my nutritional journey has been realizing that so many bars are loaded with sugar, fake sweeteners, weird oils and emulsifiers, and a lot of strange ingredients I can’t pronounce. These days, we keep Elevate Me bars and Lara Bars in the house (as they have pretty clean ingredient lists) for snack-and-go emergencies, but that’s pretty much it.

Knowing I use them, Sandy from Feed the Human challenged me to make my own bars. She gave me a recipe from Danielle Walker’s Against All Grain website, for Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter “Granola” Bars. See the recipe here.

The ingredients are simple and sound mouthwatering: peanut butter (or almond butter; I used almond); coconut oil; vanilla; honey; a whack of different kinds of nuts; dates; sunflower seeds; coconut; and some dark chocolate chips.

I pretty much want to live in that bar.

Here’s how I fared in their construction.

Step one. The wet stuff. So far, so good.

Step one. Melt the wet stuff. So far, so good. Note dirty pan from breakfast in the background. Nice.

Step 2. Chop the nuts in food processor. Add in wet stuff.

Step 2. Chop the nuts in food processor. Add in wet stuff. Am turning into food processing Ninja.

Press into pan. Put in freezer for 2 hours.

Press into pan. Kind of want to eat whole batch right from pan in this moment. However, put in freezer for 2 hours.

Take out of pan...

Take out of freezer and pan…

...and cut into bar sized pieces.

…and cut into bar sized pieces.

Wrap and store in fridge.

Wrap and store in fridge.

Wow, those are terrible pictures.

You know those lovely food/recipe blogs where everything is basked in warm light, the kitchen counter is spotless, and there are beautiful linens or summery vases of tulips in the background? (I mean, how beautiful is Danielle’s Against All Grain site?).

Yeah, this isn’t one of those blogs. I love food blogs, but this is real, seat-of-the-pants, I’ve-got-15-minutes-to-make-this-happen, my-kitchen-is-a-mess, life.

But the result was great! The bars were delish. My kids and husband liked them. And in theory, you could throw whatever ingredients you wanted in (e.g. chia seeds, gogi berries, chopped figs, etc.).  I did find they got a little soft when out of the fridge for too long, but they held together. I think next time I will freeze them. That way I could grab one from the freezer when heading out the door, and they’d likely be perfect a few hours later when emerging from my purse. Given the nut base, however, they are not a good grab for my kids’ school lunches. I’d really like to find a nut-free bar I can make that the kids can bring to school.

I will make these, and likely bars like them, again. Easy, delicious, real ingredients, satisfying.

This whole experience bolsters my deep-seated suspicion that I am, in fact, a culinary wizard.

Real Food Challenge #1: a Discourse on Mayonnaise (You’re Welcome)

One of the things we’re doing over at the Feed the Human Podcast is a little diddy called the Real Food Challenge.

This is the part where I – as unknowing podcast sidekick – get a simple, do-able (in theory) task related to a change in food habits or a swap to a whole or more nutrient-dense food. The goal is to see if I can get it done, how tricky it is, and if I would continue it as a practice in my daily life. The bigger point is to spur conversation about little things anyone (i.e., you) can try to make a positive shift in their food choices.

So Real Food Challenge #1….drum-roll…make my own mayonnaise.

I’ll say it again…MAYONNAISE.  I’m writing about condiments. Yeah!

My instinctive reaction was…huh? Followed by…sure OK.  Let me give you some important background on my relationship with mayonnaise.  The approximate time before this challenge that I have spent thinking about mayonnaise in my life is about 35 seconds.  I don’t eat a lot of mayo. In fact, no-one in our house does. But it is one of those things we keep around in the event of a tuna salad or avocado-on-toast emergency. Let me put it this way: the almost-full jar I just dug out of our fridge is 9 months past the expiry date. And that fact that it still resembles mayo well past expiry is the point that Sandy at Feed the Human is making. Store bought mayo has extra weird ingredients that mayo needn’t have.  For example, it’s not clear to me what role modified corn starch plays in mayo.

Expiry: June 2013

Expiry: June 2013

So I pulled out my gleaming, year-old, woefully underutilized food processor, and the 5 simple ingredients that fresh, actual mayo requires: one egg, lemon juice, mustard, salt and olive oil. And I got to work.

Check out the recipe (from Melissa  Joulwan and her book Well Fed ) here.

mayo1

It took all of 5 five minutes, and I had a vat of homemade mayo.

Just like magic

Just like magic

 

It was seriously easy.  The “hardest” (i.e., not hard) part was that I had to pour the olive oil very slowly into the food processor. Like the pouring part takes 4 of the 5 minutes. You need a very slow drizzle, so that the magic emulsification can happen. The whole thing made me feel like a culinary superstar.

My error, however, was using extra virgin olive oil, instead of light olive oil (extra virgin was all I had in the house). So it turned out yellow-ish and quite strong tasting.  But that is an easy remedy for next time.

My conclusions on making homemade mayo are as such:

  • it’s dead easy;
  • anyone with a food processor and 5 minutes could do it;
  • I would do it again (I have already bought the light olive oil as a pantry staple);
  • anyone who loves and regularly uses mayo should try it.

And so ends my treatise on mayonnaise (now, that is a sentence I never thought I’d write).

Tuna salad, anyone?

 

 

Feed the Human – the podcast!

I’m excited to announce that I’m co-hosting a new health and wellness podcast called Feed The Human!

 

Feed the Human is the brain child of my friend Sandy. She is a nutrition junkie, ancestral health enthusiast and soon-to-be Holistic Nutritionist. Feed the Human is where Sandy shares her passion, knowledge and ideas about nutrition and healthy eating and a range of information that will support her emerging nutritional consulting practice.

And because she is thoroughly modern, the Feed the Human Podcast is part of the process of information sharing. We’ll be having a long-form conversation about food, movement and the pursuit of wellness.

What’s my role in all this? I am the all-purpose side-kick and fitness junkie. Think Ed McMahon to her Johnny Carson. Or Paul Schaffer to her David Letterman (except with less piano). She, the learned nutrition philosopher and I, the slightly impatient sidekick who just wants to work-out and know what to eat.

Together, we are going behind the science, the sound-bites, the fads. We are two regular moms getting real about the joys and struggles of pursuing health in our busy lives, and working to help you become the best version of yourself. And we’re having fun in the process.

The first two podcasts are up. Check them out below. The Real Food Challenges have  begun (I will be blogging about how I fared on the challenges). And our first guest is coming soon!

Podcast 001 is here.

Podcast 002 is here.

(Note the optimistic numbering system)

We’ll be up on iTunes soon, for your downloading pleasure.

We are just getting going and figuring things out technically (so don’t mind the odd glitch and weird sounds). But, dammit, we will not let perfection be the enemy of good.  The conversation starts now.  And look…we have head phones. Just like Frasier and Roz.

Because we are serious social media moguls, we thought we’d better get some proper photos taken. That way, our photo on iTunes wouldn’t be one of Sandy’s family portraits with a selfie of me photo-shopped into the background. So off we went to Riverwood Photography where Sean worked his magic.  We wanted a photo that would show two people with different perspectives, but having fun. Connected,  but not always agreeing. A ying and yang vibe. Don’t judge me that all I could think of for inspiration was an old ABBA album cover, etched somewhere in the recesses of my mind.  Remember this one?

The photo shoot was great fun, and I think we go our iTunes shot.

Was the final picture ABBA-inspired or not?  You’ll have to wait and see!

Thoughts on Becoming Superhuman

Superhuman.  I’ve heard the phrase around a lot lately.

Before a few weeks ago, I’d heard it mostly in relation to the Tim Ferriss book The 4-Hour Body: An Uncommon Guide to Rapid Fat Loss, Incredible Sex and Becoming Superhuman.  It’s a massive book with random chapters on fat loss, exercise, sleep, sex, life efficiency, and…er… how to be a better swimmer.  The dude seems a little nuts.  And I dig that.  The big message (I think): to really feel and perform your best in whatever areas matter to you, you’ve got to experiment and focus.  This feeds into my big-picture goal for the year…to experiment my way toward big, fat, deep, joyous health (I wrote about that here and here).

But what does being superhuman feel like? How do I know when I’m there? That’s not entirely clear.

So when I heard about Ben Greenfield’s March 8-9th conference “Becoming Superhuman“, I was intrigued.  May be I could get some tips and tricks.  The line up of speakers was impressive – naturopathic doctors, surgeons, wellness experts, bio-hackers, an ex-Olympian performance coach, nutritionists, fat loss gurus, a neurofeedback specialist, world-renowned endurance coaches. And Mr. Greenfield himself is a top endurance triathlete, coach,  and fitness expert.  That’s good company.  So a friend and I packed our bags and notebooks and scooted off to Spokane.

I was thinking the conference might be filled with hardcore Ironman Triathletes and endurance runners looking for the holy grail.  Or fitness and  health  professionals looking for the latest scientific nuggets.  And it some respect it was.  But it was more than that.  This was a conference for anyone who cares about their health and feeling optimal.  The  fact that a couple of moms from Canada – and up-and-coming podcasters – who are into nutrition and fitness showed up was cool.  This information is for everyone.  My mind was officially blown.

I won’t recap the whole event.  Ben Greenfield has as great summary here (Ben Greenfield Fitness Becoming Superhuman Live Event re-cap).  And Feed the Human has an excellent re-cap here.  But there were things that struck me deeply and have me thinking.

 

  • Sometimes Being Uncomfortable is OK.  Ray Cronise is an ex-NASA Engineer who now lives in the world of weight-loss experimentation through thermogenesis (think cold exposure).  He spoke about the idea is that one’s “thermal load” is key to the body composition equation, along with nutrition and exercise (see this article in a recent Wired Magazine).  Ray lost 50 lbs by experimenting with being cold and is helping others achieve results.  When you’re cold your body has to expend extra energy to maintain it core temperature; this helps burn fat.  He prescribes contrast showers (10 seconds warm followed by 10 seconds cold, repeat 10 times), taking shiver walks (cover your extremities, but leave the parka at home), sleeping with a sheet not a comforter, and dunks in a cold tub.  There was also some discussion about colder body temperatures at bed time promoting sleep (think cold shower, not hot bath, before bed). I was struck by the message that it’s OK to feel uncomfortable a little bit.  In our western world with heated homes and endless food supply, we have forgotten how to tolerate being even slightly uncomfortable.   “We live in a world where winter never comes“.  This endless and unnatural comfort is showing up on our collective Western body.

 

  • Ultimate fitness is not about how much stress you can tolerate.  Dr. Todd Schlapfer is a naturopathic doctor who works personally with Ben.  He spoke gently and passionately about the mounting evidence that endurance or extreme sports are not resulting in optimum health (a brave message to a room full of endurance athletes!).  Intensity of exercise is more important than duration (he thinks anything more than 30-60 minutes a day gets into the extreme).  I’ve heard that many times before, but I loved his deeper message.  “Fitness is not about how much stress you can tolerate; it is about how easily and effortless you move through life.”  “We must embrace ‘whole-life fitness’ and move a way from competetive, heroic forms of exercise.”  “We must make sense of the ‘why’ behind our fitness”.  I loved that.  He left me quietly pondering the “why” behind my exercise practices.  Why do I want to shave two minutes off my triathlon time?  Why do I run, bike, lift heavy stuff at all?  I know I have  reasons, but I can’t articulate them clearly or quickly.  I think “why?’ is a fundamental question for us all.

 

  • Our brains and bodies need dietary fat.  Nora Gedgaudas is a holistic nutritionist, neurofeedback specialist, and author of “Primal Body, Primal Mind: Beyond the Paleo Diet for Total Health and a Longer Life”. She spoke about how our carbohydrate-laden western diets have made many people highly reliant on glucose for fuel.  But we can be using fat as a primary source of fuel.  Carbohydrates are like kindling.  They provide a quick burst of fuel, but are very inefficient; we have to stoke the fire often.  But fats are like a slow-burning log.  Throw fat on the fire, walk away, and live your life without energy imbalances.   “Carbohydrates are kindling; fats are the logs.” Glucose is great in an emergency (think anaerobic exercise), but fat is the brain’s super-fuel and helps stabilize neurological function (brain fog anyone?).  The bigger issue may be how our stress-filled lives put our brains in a constant state of emergency or “fight or flight”, which can accentuate sugar and carb cravings.   Have I every really allowed myself to get “fat-adapted” and see how I feel? How many carbohydrates do I really need to fuel my fitness/sports activities, my brain function, and my optimal self? How am I proactively managing my stress? Suddenly, I’m not so sure. Some experimentation may be in order.

There was so much more…hormones, mental fitness, digestion, recovery, sleep. I’m still trying to process all I heard and figure out what it means to me.

But a few things are clear.  Firstly, to become Superhuman – or to find optimal health and performance – is a personal journey.  It will be different for all of us.  Secondly, being Superhuman is not about the shape of our bodies, or how fast they move.  It’s about how we feel in them.  As Ben Greenfield says “it is about finding the ultimate balance of health, energy and life”.  Thirdly, living optimally is complex and requires integation.  Big change requires lots of little steps in many different areas and a lot of balloon-squeezing. We likely cannot achieve it all at once.  Becoming Superhuman takes patience, inquiry, and time.

In the end, I believe each of us needs to develop a suite of personal wellness indicators that measure our whole-life fitness.  Then we need to observe them and stay present to them over time.  Sure, we can work with doctors, trainers, and health professionals for ideas and guidance.  We can look to other athletes for motivation and inspiration.  But ultimately we’ve got to own our own journeys.  And we’ve got to be accountable for our own outcomes.

For me, I’m learning that my personal wellness indicators need to go beyond the surface ones that I have – until now – focused on (things like the scale, body fat percentage, amount of weight I can lift, and race times).  I need to learn more about my heart rate variability, my hormone levels, my cholesterol levels…and other physical things going on in my body.  I also need to find ways of monitoring my stress, mental clarity, food sensitivities, spiritual self…and so on.  My sense of wellness must become vast and wide.

So deep thinking has begun.  What does being Superhuman mean – what does it feel like – to me?  What will my personal wellness indicators be?  What are yours?

And so this journey continues.

Biohacking Begins: The Detox

 

I’m kicking off my nourishment-related health goals for 2013 by working with a naturopath.

We’ve done some blood work.  Checked my hormone levels.  We did a test to figure out if I have any food allergies or sensitivities.

The bio-hacking has begun.

To start in true January fashion, I – along with half of the western hemisphere – am doing a guided detox.  The detox is about pinpointing how certain foods affect me.

I’m feeling different about working with a naturopath than I have about working with coaches and trainers.  There’s no set program or magic way.  There is only inquiry.  We do some research together, and I learn to design my own long-term template.  I think of my naturopath as a wise guide.  Someone who can help me better understand my physiology in a holistic and gentle manner. But I am the captain.  Ahoy.

The detox plan – the starting research – looks like this:

  • We start with a list of recommended foods in a range of categories: vegetables, most fruit,  fresh meats, nuts, good fats, non-gluten grain, and spices.  There is also a list of ‘not alloweds’: dairy, sugar, gluten, soy, alcohol, or processed stuff.  On good days, this is actually not far from how I eat now.  Emphasis on good days.
  • In the first week, we  – day by day – strip away certain of the allowed food groups.
  • We observe.
  • Then in the following five weeks, we go through a process of adding back food groups one by one.
  • We observe.

My naturopath will observe physiological indicators – you know, numbers and stuff.  I will observe other things.  How do I feel?  What’s happening with my energy, cravings, fatigue, gut response, joint stiffness, congestion?

(Joint stiffness!  Gut response!  Congestion! Fun!)

Bottom line: my biggest job in this whole initial thing is to pay attention.  I dig that.

By the way, it turns out this isn’t about allergies.  I’ve learned from the testing that I don’t have allergies or many physical food sensitivities.

But my one food sensitivity, which was pretty high on the reaction scale?  Eggs.  EGGS!!  Like, eggs that I eat most days for breakfast and eggs that are found in most baked goods.  I’m still reeling from this news and pondering a life without eggs.  I may have to do some introspective writing on the eggless life.  The Eggless Life… I can see it now.  I think I will ask Cate Blanchett to play me in the movie.

So, the inquiry and observation in on.  Yesterday was day one.  Today, I strip out meat and fish for a few days.  My protein is coming from some gritty shakes.  Which my seven-year old daughter –  after trying a sip this morning – thought tasted like “chunky milk and potatoes”.

Lucky me.

 

 

Big, Fat, Deep, Joyful Health

Against expert advice that says New Year’s resolutions should be specific and actionable, this year I’m going with big sweeping concepts.

That’s because lately I’ve been in a big, sweeping concept sort of mood.

I’ve been thinking a lot about my health.

Over the last few years I’ve been really focused on my fitness.  I’ve been “getting in shape”, “eating clean”, “working out”, “training”.  All well and good, and these concepts resonated for a while.

But am I healthy?  This question has been nagging me.  What does “being healthy” even mean? I’m not ill or overweight.  I’m fit.  But sometimes – a lot of times – I don’t feel like I’m there.

Because it’s fun and sexy, let’s quote the World Health Organization.

The WHO says health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.  I perused around their website a bit.  Nowhere did they say anything about “getting a six pack” or “taking two minutes off your triathlon time”.  Weird.

My personal health narrative is changing.  “Being in shape” is no longer enough.  The body aesthetic is no longer meaningful. Performance goals are less important.  I’m seeking a bigger sense of health.  A feeling of health.  I’m learning, slowly, there are so many pieces of the puzzle. And they all matter immensely.

So this year I’m going deeper.  Yet at the same time I’m lightening up. My goal for the year is to maximize the following:

Nourishment.  This is a big one for me.  It’s weird.  I’ve been eating my whole life, yet some days I feel still don’t know how to eat.  I’ve tried a lot of theories and plans, and I have seen “results”.  But looking back, I find I swing between restriction and overindulgence, awareness and lack of awareness, caring and not caring.  I have yet to find a simple way to eat that optimizes how well I feel and then live it consistently.

So this year I’m going to do some personal experimentation, some bio-hacking if you will. I’m going to pay close attention to hunger, levels of energy, cravings.  No more white-knuckling and praying for willpower.  Do I have food intolerances?  What do I need more of? How do I reduce toxins and stuff that isn’t even really food? Does what and how I eat reflect my core values?

Bottom line: I want to learn how to nourish myself, not just eat.  And I want to support my kids and husband in their sense of nourishment.

Rest.  This is another big one.  Anyone else out there exhausted? Like all the time?  For me, this means physical rest as well as mental.  Sleeping more and sleeping better.  Unplugging more.  Not “doing stuff” all the time.  Stopping the chase.  For me, it is about recognizing there is a point in the day where there is simply nothing more do be had.  At that point, I will train myself to stop.  I will turn off my mind.  And I will rest.

Connection.  I am blessed with great friends.  Some live near, some live far.  But here’s the thing.  I rarely see them.  I get that everyone is busy.  We’re all working, raising kids, taking care of homes and businesses, and such.  We’re all running around like crazy.  But  this year I’m going to book more time with my friends.  Regular time.  What’s-going-on-with-you time. Let-me-see-the-whites-of-your-eyes-time.  More dinners together.  More fitness stuff together.   More little trips.  This may be the year I personally initiate the renaissance of the potluck.  My world needs more potlucks.

Presence. I have a habit – as I think many do – of looking down the line.  What’s going on this afternoon?  Next week? What’s for dinner? What’s next on the list?  Oooh, that (new idea, food, place, whatever) sounds good.  How do I solve this uncomfortable problem? I spend more time in the future than the present.

I want to improve my ability to see, feel, and appreciate what is right here, right now.  In a sense, it’s tied back to the rest concept.  There is enough right now.  No more is required.  And I can handle whatever is right in front of me.  It’s all ok; in fact, it’s all wondrously perfect.  This doesn’t mean giving up or settling.  For me,  it means appreciation and acceptance while moving consciously with the flow of life.

Movement. I feel like I kind of have this down in a way that is working for me.  I love to move everyday.  I like to run.  Bike.  Jump. Swim. Lift, push and pull heavy things.  I like to sweat, and to feel strong and nimble.  I’m going to keep doing what I do.  But I’m going to ease up. I’m learning that more and longer is not better.  You cannot outsmart your body, and it will ultimately shout back when you push it too hard.  I’m going to play with the movement I love.  And I’m going to walk more.  And stretch.

Joy.  I’m grateful to know this feeling – those rare but sparkling moments of aligned perfection.  But I’ve noticed it hasn’t been coming around as much lately.  I hope my old friend joy will show up more as I work on all of the above.  For me, joy comes with laughter, levity, authenticity, connection, compassion, and creativity.  This year I’m going for maximum joy-buzz. Yo.

So there you have my new years resolutions.  Nourishment.  Rest. Connection. Presence. Movement. Joy.  And the maximization thereof.  All totally high level.  For now, all completely unactionable.

I’m not sure what form this will all take.  But I believe progress in these areas will show up on the body. And in the mind and soul. I’m hoping it will foster a deeper sense of health.

Big, fat, deep, joyful health.  Yeah, that sounds good.

Happy new year!

 

 

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