Archive for July, 2008

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What Do You Choose?

July 9, 2008

I was recently interviewed by Nutritious Junk as a healthy blogger- check out the interview here and be sure to check out her really great blog while you’re there!

Food

Mmm. Food. It seems that many/most people have a love-hate relationship with food. On the one hand, it tastes great and serves as necessary fuel for our bodies, and it is often associated with social gatherings and all around good times. Its also a central feature of a lot of holidays, and holidays are generally a lot of fun; a break from the everyday. But on the other hand, when we eat too much food or when we eat processed stuff posing as food (yummy, chemicals!), it is detrimental to our heath and well-being. Children perform worse in schools, we become cranky and lethargic, and we become sick with all kinds of wacky diseases and ailments which affect our quality of life and our interactions with the rest of the world.

Over the long term, this has drastic results. If you haven’t experienced these results yourself, then ten to one you know someone who has (and if you don’t, then you probably live as a hermit in the mountains. And have no access to the Internet. And therefore are not reading this just at present). But what about in the short term?

Here is where it gets muddled. Scientists plod away at conducting their research and spit out stats at random intervals over the course of years, sending us mixed messages and going from one extreme to the other. One day they suggest that the occasional indulgence is beneficial; the next, they say that derailing just once from a healthy lifestyle can have long-term, nasty consequences for your body. Do this! Eat that! Stay away from this! Avoid these at all costs! (All of this being said, of course, at the same time as *they* put up yet more fast food chains with reckless abandon all across the city. Because its really necessary to have a McDonalds at regular intervals on the main street and a KFC right across from it).

You get lost in it. You forget the real goals, you forget that you like this or that and that you don’t particularly like another kind of food. Regardless of its health factor, sometimes you’re just not going to enjoy certain foods. I don’t like cooked spinach. I also do not like mayonnaise. Before I ever became the little health freak that I am (*waves energetically to all the other affectionate health freaks in the room*), I would not eat cooked spinach or mayo. And that has not changed. Now, I am more wiling to try something that I know is healthy, but it doesn’t mean that it will be my staple. And I am more careful about the bad stuff that I put in my body. Its really a simple equation (although it can be damn difficult to remember sometimes).

Yesterday night, an acquaintance of mine returned from a trip to New York City, so I was at her place for a Welcome Home slice of homemade chocolate cake. It was delicious and I enjoyed every bite of it with no thoughts of remorse (because how often does someone put a slice of homemade chocolate cake with fruit in it and homemade icing on the top in front of you? Precisely). And yet other days, when I lose sight of my real goals, I’ll wander the cupboards and spend an age trying to decide between the store-bought whole wheat bread or the homemade white buns. Which is the better choice? And what about different types of fruit- should I choose the apple, nectarine, or banana? Puffed wheat or oatmeal? Carrots or broccoli? Yogurt or cheese?

When I catch myself doing this, I give my head a shake. I should be asking, what is it that my body is asking for? What is it that I am needing more of? And if I want both the apple and the banana, well, I’m pretty sure that no one ever fell into a bad state of health because they had two pieces of fruit instead of one. So if I’m craving both, then I’m going to have both. It’s likely that I need the nutrients that come with both of these excellent fruits.

We’re looking at the long term. We’re looking at maintaining a healthy way of living, an attitude that will be ours no matter the situation. And as long as we’re listening to our bodies and are careful to not get too caught up in the silly details, we’re all set.

And how about all of you? Do you have the occasional silly questions between what kind of fruit you should eat, too? Is it triggered by past issues (such as an eating disorder)? How do you cope with it when you get caught up in these tiny details? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

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The Bike!

July 7, 2008

Here is the new bike, beside the yellow one that I won (which is now my dads bike):

Out for a ride!

Birthday celebrations- my parents:

Devin and me:

Espresso with a sparkler!

Tiramisu for dessert:

And to finish it all off, a couple cheery flowers to brighten your Monday:)

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Welcoming Change and a Weekend Review

July 7, 2008

I am pleased to announce that after checking out 4 different bike shops on Saturday, I found the Perfect Bicycle! It’s black and white and beautiful all over, with a partial step-in frame and a leather seat and handlebars. Nice and cushy! Its a retro-style cruiser bike and it is fantastic to ride. As soon as I got it I took it out for a 2 1/2 hour bike ride to test it out. I kind of forgot that I hadn’t been on a bicycle since two summers ago, so as you can imagine my butt is still sore today! While I was at the bike shop, I also picked up a new bike lock and (for all of you mothers and motherly types out there), a shiny black helmet. I’m riding in style.

I forgot how fast you can go on a bike. I can get to pretty much everywhere in the city now! My next mission is to find a basket for my bicycle to carry my lock in. And at the moment the bike is nameless, poor thing. That will have to be remedied. I’ve taken a few photos of the bike so I will be posting them later on in the day, after I’ve completed the 1,000,000 push ups that is required of the Push Up Challenge (well, it feels like that many!) and a cheerful rainy walk. This weekend was also my fathers birthday weekend (in my family we don’t approve of having birthdays on one day. It is required that birthdays be stretched out across as many days as possible), so I’ll be sure to post those photos too. We had a lovely dinner at a fine dining restaurant and wow was it wonderful to go to a restaurant that serves all of this real food that was made right there. When did that become such a novelty?

The other exciting portion of my weekend was planning for our Rome trip. The hostels have been booked and the train passes bought! Among mini goals, like the Push Up Challenge, and larger ambitions like long-term careers, its nice to have medium-sized adventures to look forward to. I have a feeling that the majority of what we do while we’re in Italy will be spontaneous choices rather than having a rigid plan, and thats just the way that traveling (and life) ought to be. Unexpected obstacles and opportunities are always cropping up so we need to work with them and find a way to build them into what we want to do. The booking of the hostels means that now we have a rough idea of our trip, but I love that there’s so much room to change it all up. When we’re living day-to-day life, we easily slip into a routine and shy away from the adventure. Because its too much work to try something new on a whim. My goal for today is to welcome the obstacles that come along and not resent them- sure, I might not get everything done today that I want to do, but the possibilities are endless in the things that I don’t have structured into today’s plan. Happy Monday!

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Nutrition Labels

July 4, 2008

Not too long ago I was explaining to someone how to read nutrition labels, and had to detail how the process works so that they could understand what the % Daily Value and everything means. When I first started becoming interested in nutrition, I mostly had to figure out how to break down the nutrition label on my own, and I’ve been doing it now for such a long time that I’ve really started to take it for granted. In January when my nutrition class began, one of the first things we learned was how to read nutrition labels. It felt like such a basic step at the time because I can’t imagine not reading nutrition labels, but its also a very crucial step. I forgot just how many people might not be aware of how to read them. After all, if everyone did know how to read them and used their knowledge each time they went shopping, I’m sure that the market for produce and natural foods would skyrocket and the market for processed junk would plummet. That’s not to say it would fall apart completely, but I’m sure that it would take a really big hit if we all really attended to the nutrition information of our food and understood what it all means.

If you don’t read nutrition labels but are interested in learning how to understand them, or if you do read nutrition labels but want a quick refresher (from my experience, it always pays to learn things a second or third time around- you nearly always miss out on something the first time!), then just click here! Trusty Health Canada explains it all so you can be a savvy nutrition label reader within minutes.

The other part about foods we eat that is critical to examine is the ingredients list. After looking around a bit, I found this site which offers an explanation behind some of the different ingredients added to foods and if you scroll to the bottom of the page, there’s a handy chart to determine exactly what each additive does and their various names. What with all of the different names for ingredients, its as though the food companies are deliberately trying to confuse the consumers! (Oh wait. They are).

If you’ve found all this to intrigue you and want to learn more, check out BrandAid– I’m a huge huge fan. There’s so much more to learn about!

Hope you all have a fantastic weekend and get outside to enjoy these sunny summer days:)

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The Meatrix

July 2, 2008

My first year university English professor showed my class this film and we all loved it. Up until recently I’d forgotten about it, but as I’ve been thinking more and more about health it came to mind. I went on the search to re-discover this little gem and have found it, so I present you with: The Meatrix.

This is an incredibly informative little series of short films about the truth behind factory farming. It’s a cruel cruel world we live in. And a disgusting one, too. If you liked it before, fast food sure doesn’t look appealing now, does it? Mmmm, diseases, chemicals, and unsanitary conditions. My favorite!

Check out the other links at the Meatrix website and look around while you’re watching cartoon animals kicking ass:) It’s all about the choices we make and once we’ve got the resources to determine our best options, we can take the necessary action and choose what we want to support. After all, every time that you buy something at the grocery store, you’re saying, “I support this product”. Any money that you exchange for an item is a declaration of your acceptance and approval of it. Thinking about it that way, its hard not to take the moment and consider where our values lie. And as consumers, knowing exactly what our personal values are and what we believe in is going to have a massive effect on our actions and, in turn, affect what will become of the food industry.