Apr 18

Ciao coffee & humpday links

I have this niggling concern for things at the back of my mind. They aren’t pressing or urgent or overwhelmingly concerning, so they stay at the back of my mind until I get an opportunity to act on them or until something changes and I am suddenly overwhelmed.

Recently I had the opportunity to act on a concern. I’d been wanting to give up coffee for a while and what better time to do it than off the back of my sickness leaving Seattle? I was sick anyway, so I knew that the headaches I’d experience would just assimilate into the other awful things I was feeling and the ‘withdrawals’ wouldn’t seem so bad. Perfect.

When I think of giving up coffee, I think of those people who’ve told me not to drink it. Yes, Annaliese, my beautiful shiny white toothed naturopath, I’m looking at you. These non-coffee drinkers with their healthy hair, shiny white teeth, sparkling eyes, perfect skin and calming non-caffeinated energy – are they really onto something? Do they really feel awake and alive and energetic?

I’m on day 8 of no coffee and I feel fine so far. I haven’t even substituted it for something else, I’m like completely coffee and tea free. I have no idea how long I plan on doing this for. Coffee drinkers are addicts. I’m OK with this. I like the club. But I just wanted to see what life was like on the other side for a while. I like knowing that I can do this. It makes me feel in control of my body and my life and when I’m ready to drink coffee again, I will.

Other things of late:

  • Mika has perfected the art of climbing down stairs. We never taught her this, so naturally we are amazed.
  • It is 35 degrees between 9am and 6pm. It’s a good thing these houses are built like dungeons.
  • Did you catch the salad and muffin recipes I posted on Cruz Family Kitchen?
  • Did you see that they brought Tupac back from the dead?
  • Adele pointed out that this website is the least government-looking government website she’s ever seen. I’d have to agree, it made me pretty happy.
  • If you haven’t had your day made awesome by watching Cain’s Arcade yet, please do.
  • Wouldn’t this be an awesome job?!
  • I can’t wait to watch this documentary. If you’re in Canada, you can watch it on CBC’s website I think.
  • I loved this style guide from the Economist.
  • I found a delicious use for my buckwheat noodles!

Apr 17

Balance and focus

Health is about so much more than just food and exercise.

When I think about the times that I’ve been the happiest, it’s when multiple areas of my life seem to be thriving simultaneously: my relationships are healthy, my career is challenging, I have creative outlets and spiritual practices, I’m cooking my own meals and not buying too many unnecessary things.

It’s only natural though, of course, that at any point in time one or more of these things can cease to thrive. Maybe finances are tight, or a relationship isn’t going so well. As a result I might stop running and start watching more movies. I don’t sleep so well because I’m worried and stressed and then I stop caring about what I’m putting in my body and I eat junk. It’s a vicious cycle, and it can be tackled essentially in two ways:

1. Backwards. Focus on the food. Start eating better and hence inspire myself to run again. My sleep will improve because of the exercise and then maybe I’ll have the motivation to focus on improving that relationship or tackle my finances.

2. Forwards. Really focus on the core problem. Is that relationship worth working on or not? If not, end it. If it is, work through it. The relief will be enough to pull me back on track and then everything will fall into place. Exercise, sleep and finally, food.

Obviously every situation is different and can be approached differently. It’s like a juggling act trying to balance all the things in our lives that give us fulfillment, which makes it even more important to make sure we don’t get caught up in all the junk out there that can pollute our lives.

Have you ever tried writing a list of the things that really matter to you? The things that really make you happy and that you couldn’t live without? I do this every once in a while to remind myself where I need to focus. I write down all the things that really give me energy in life and then I make a note as to how much energy I’m putting into each thing. The areas that are lacking become my areas of focus and sometimes shifting my focus to these areas can make all other things in my life seem glorious again.

Out of curiosity, where is your focus right now?

Mar 12

Finding balance

[image source]

I haven’t really talked about this too much but Ivan and I have stopped eating meat, dairy and eggs. It sounds outrageous! I know. But it’s been a process, a process of finding balance and a process of trying to make the best decisions for our bodies and this is where we’ve ended up.

It started with my sugar-free experiment. I stopped eating all sugars (including fruits/honey etc) for an entire month.  But to compensate for the no sugar, we were consuming a lot of meat, eggs, milk and cheese. It was gross. Mika’s eczema was awful, Ivan’s eczema was awful, I felt tired and my skin was breaking out.

A very long visit with a doctor was the catalyst to cutting these things out. He said that whilst we couldn’t confirm Mika had a food allergy (they won’t test her here because we’re ‘travelling’) it would be best to avoid all allergy trigger foods in her diet as well as mine (while I’m still breastfeeding) until she’s at least 2.

My parents were trialling a ‘vegan’ diet because my Dad has high cholesterol and type 1 diabetes and this is from him after 2 months of their diet:

“I have been on a ‘whole foods, plant based’ diet for two months now and have achieved a 25% reduction in my cholesterol level. What this diet means is ‘don’t eat animal protein’. It seems there is much research that shows a link between ANY animal protein (dairy, eggs, meat) and many ‘diseases of affluence’ including heart disease, diabetes, and many cancers. I cannot speak for anyone else, but my risk of CVD went down by about a third in a very short time.”

Like woah. And so Ivan and I came to the agreement that it couldn’t hurt. We agreed to eat more plants, more whole foods and less of everything else. We also agreed that we’d do this at 95%, meaning that if we were out at a friend’s house or at an event then we wouldn’t be too picky. We’d make the best choices we could, but we would still ‘live it up’ rather than ‘pass it up’ when dining with friends. Eating is, after all, a hugely social occasion.

So there you have it. It’s been 3 weeks or so already and we feel great.  I started a new blog to document our journey, it’s called the Cruz Family Kitchen. Check it out and like us on Facebook.  Hopefully you can get some inspiration for your own meal plans and if you have a wee one with allergies, I’m planning on posting what we’re feeding Mika too.

Jan 20

You Just Run: Some thoughts for starting out

What is more awesome than running around a lagoon to the original movie score from Predator?

Maybe running around a lagoon to the movie score from Predator imagining that you’re IN Predator. And oh, did I mention that I wasn’t actually wearing headphones – no – this music was being played FROM THE LOUDSPEAKERS that surround this lagoon. It’s beyond amazing. They blast epic movie scores to motivate evening runners. I.Love.It.

So as I was completing my Thursday run (I’m on week 7 you guys!!!) I was thinking about running and motivation and how freaking awesome I’m feeling compared to 7 weeks ago. And I figured I could speak with some authority on the subject of starting to run – for all you folk out there who don’t have an awesome lagoon nearby that plays inspiring movie scores to keep you moving.

Start really small

I have no doubt that you could get up tomorrow and run 10kms. Most people could. But the day after tomorrow your body would most likely disown you. So put the ego aside and start small really small. If you’ve never kept a regular running program, start with running for ten minutes every second day, building up to fifteen, then twenty minutes.

Put your shoes on

Not feeling motivated to run? That’s cool. Just convince yourself to put your shorts and shoes on, then tie up your laces. Still too hard to get out the door?

If you get too tired, walking is OK

If you can only run for 10 minutes before near-heart-attack, then bring it back to a walk. A great way to start building endurance is to alternate run/walk. Run for 2 minutes, walk for 1 minute. Repeat. Play around with this until you build endurance.

Just keep going

Honestly it’s gonna suck at first. There’s no getting around it. But just.keep.going. You won’t lose weight at first, you won’t look different at first, but you will feel different almost right away. And after the first week, everything will gradually start to get easier.

Follow a programme

It doesn’t have to be fancy. Just take a piece of paper and draw up a calendar for one month. Write down the days you plan to run and how long you plan to run for. Here’s my running programme, or if you have never done much running before, check out the programme I wrote for Ivan. There’s also heaps of running plans online that you can follow.

Find a friend or a community

It can be so easy to let ourselves down. Sometimes all it takes is knowing that someone else is relying on us to kick our butts into action. So find a friend to run with. If they run faster than you – great, schedule them for your hard run. If they run slower than you, great, schedule them for your easy run. The point is, they get you out the door.

Pick a race

There is nothing more motivating than a looming deadline. Especially when that deadline is going to see you get your ass out of bed at 6am to join thousands of other people run a pre-defined route with little timing chips strapped to your ankles. So get online and find something that motivates you. Maybe it’s a 5 or 10km run. Maybe it’s a half marathon or a crazy adventure race. Whatever it is, find it and register!

[image source. And quote by John Bingham]

Oct 25

Let us live longer

Grains will kill you or maybe they’ll make you live longer. Sugar will make you fat, but only a certain type of sugar. Soy is a good dairy alternative – but be careful because it can be dangerous for women. Coffee is a great natural stimulant – but it’s also an addictive drug. Eggs are bad for you – but no maybe they’re good for you. Olive oil is really good for you – but don’t cook with it because it becomes toxic. Eating meat is a great source of protein and fat – but it’s also murder. Dairy is a good source of calcium, fat and protein, but it’s also bad for the skin. Fruit has too much sugar so don’t eat too much – but the fibre and nutritional content is so great that you must eat it! If you want to lose weight you should cut out carbs. Or maybe you should snack all day. Or maybe you shouldn’t eat after 6pm. Or maybe you should just exercise more and eat what you like. You shouldn’t eat that food if you have that blood type and have you considered the acidity of the foods you eat?

Confused? Yeah, so am I. But is life too short to really give a shit about this stuff? Should I just eat and be merry? Probably. And to an extent, that’s what I do. But I also believe life is too short to not give a shit about this stuff. I don’t want to be hugely overweight by the time I’m 40. I don’t want to suffer the consequences that decades of mindless eating may bring in my old age.

So I’ve decided to write about my thoughts on food over the next few weeks. I’m no expert and please don’t take anything I say as gospel – but most things I talk about will be from my own experiences and where I am talking about the experiences of other people I will say so.

On the menu:

  • Sugar
  • Grains
  • Vegetables
  • Raw
  • Alkaline & acidic foods
  • Fat
  • Eggs
  • Meat
  • Breakfast, lunch & dinner

To kick things off, here are a few rules that I try to live by.

1. Drink water. First thing in the morning (with lemon), between meals, with meals and with dinner. Green tea boosts metabolism so drink twice a day. Stay away from juice. Coffee black each morning, no sugar. Sometimes with full fat milk.

2. Avoid sugar. I’ll go into more depth as this is a big one for me. Sugar includes fruit and all things sweet (for now) but a piece of fruit each day is OK.

3. Limit grains. This includes all grains – rice, wheat, spelt, oats etc. Ideally I would cut them out of my diet completely, but for now I am allowing a few (mainly rye bread and occasionally some oats) because I am breastfeeding.

4. Eat more veges. Quite seriously, do you get 5+ servings of vegetables each day? My main goal right now is to aim for 7 servings of different vegetables every day.

5. Don’t fear fat. I’ll go into more depth on this, but fat is my friend. If this sounds strange to you, consider this: We have more ‘fat free’ foods in supermarkets than ever before but we’re still fatter than we’ve ever been as a society. Also consider this: what makes you feel fuller faster: juice or full-fat milk?

So I’ll be sharing recipes, menus, blogs and websites that I find interesting on each topic. I’d love to hear your thoughts, how you eat, what concerns you, what works for you etc. Everyone is different and I think eating is all about finding something that works for you, makes you feel great and will ensure you live a long life. More soon!