Sunday, 28 December 2014

The Domino Effect

Have you noticed how that a lot of people who exercise/eat healthy are also just decent people?

I don't believe this is a phenomenon unique to the yoga world, where there's a good deal of karma-consciousness. For instance, look at this post on celebrity personal trainer Jillian Michaels:

The weight lifting, protein shake drinking, tough-stuff Jillian always keeps spare socks and blankets in her car for homeless people she encounters around LA. Who do you know who does that?

I read something recently in an Elephant Journal Post, 5 Life Changing Lessons From Ayurveda:

"In a more general sense, negativity begets negativity—the downward spiral of addictions of all kinds is a powerful example of samanya vishesha in action. Fortunately, the converse is also true. The more I implement positive choices in my life, the more positive choices I am able implement. Reflecting on the principle of like increases like inspires me to continue to make positive choices in each moment of my existence."

This is so true.

Exercise creates a domino effect in your life of positive changes, transforming your life and being for the better. As Tara Stiles puts it, you become a space maker; you create space in your life by practising ease of movement.

For instance, say you start doing 20 minutes -  just 20 minutes of yoga - first thing in the morning, everyday.

From those 20 minutes, your physique and mind becomes stronger, your lungs work better, you become healthier, calmer, more productive. Perhaps you lose a bit of body fat, lower your blood pressure, fit into those jeans a little nicer. After this short burst of positive movement, you probably start to eat a little better; become concerned with nourishment rather than punishment. You feel great. You look great. You have space. In return, you are happier.

Happiness affects other people. We should all strive for self-care, for the positive effect it has on others. This is not selfish.

This is being a good person, and living life fully.

This is the domino effect of wellness and goodness from one small, 20 minute dedication to positive movement.

And then we have something else. It goes like this:

You need something grounding and comforting. You choose pizza; a big ol' greasy, cheesy, refined flour pizza, maybe with meat and extra cheese, maybe not; at this point, it doesn't really matter.

You start eating it, and it sort becomes hard to stop. You feel full, and satisfied and grounded; you get a rush of dopamine from all that stodgy, oily food. It's nice, but you feel a bit too heavy, you know, a bit too sluggish, and all you want to do is sit in front of the TV and not move.

Yeah, I'm sure all of us have been there at some point. Maybe you never left.

But, you see, it doesn't really fill you up. You could probably do with something sweet after all that salty, fatty cheese. Or maybe you just have a taste for more dense, junky foods; that dopamine hit isn't as good the next time round; you need it sooner, sweeter, greasier, bigger, more...

So, this becomes a regular occurrence. You become tired, and bloated. You don't want to move. Your trousers feel a little tighter, you're retaining a little water; your skin gets a sheen like it's assimilating oil, rather than youthful glow and your face looks puffy and tired. You're moody and irritable, and, you're finding it very, very hard to help yourself.

You feel like shit. You look like shit.
(This doesn't happen to people in sitcoms on TV does it, when they eat junk food?)

This, my friend, is the Domino's effect.

Tell me, which do you choose?

Saturday, 27 December 2014

Purple is the New Green

Have you heard yet? Purple is the new green!

Okay, if you're going, 'Wait. What?', or, 'I don't like either of those colours - when were they ever in?', or perhaps, 'is that, like, a really bad spin off?' , then, hear me out.

I'm not talking about fashion. Or Netflix.

I'm talking about food.

Of course!
Green has taken the health food world by storm. Green is sexy. The whole world is in love with leafy greens and green juices and green salads, green anything, (especially if it has kale in it. Hell yeah, kale!)

But, it's easy to get swept up the green-fever and forget about the whole spectrum of plant foods out there. I adore greens; I simply can't eat enough of them!

But, something new, something brilliant has come to my attention:

Purple fruits and vegetables.

These beauties of the vegetable world owe their health benefits to anthocyanins, the powerful flavonoids that give these gems their dark, intense colour.

Anthocyanins are have a supreme ability to reduce oxidative damage to our cells (thus reducing ageing and disease). In one study, anthocyanins were demonstrated to have the strongest antioxidant power out of 150 flavonoids!

Need some proof? In Dr. Greger's Superfood Bargains, purple cabbage, the ruby of the cabbage world, was shown to have the hughest anti-oxidant power out of a range of superfoods tested - plus, they were the cheapest!

Also, take a look at how purple pigments transforms the nutritional profile of potatoes here: Nutrition Facts: The Healthiest Potato, and, get the low-down on the science of anthocyanins with Talia Fuhrman: Rock Your Anthocyanins in Your Diet (simply gorgeous).

So, why should we be concerned about eating an abundance of antioxidants in our diet?

Dr, Greger explains it in this concise article (Nutrition Facts: Add Beans, Berries and Greens to More Meals):
"After we eat, our bodies create free radicals in the process of breaking down our food. That’s why we need to eat antioxidant-rich foods with every meal to counteract this oxidation caused by metabolism (...)  If we don’t consume high-antioxidant plants with breakfast, by lunch we’ll already be in oxidative debt. Let’s say we ate a standard American breakfast at 6 a.m. If we didn’t eat that cup of strawberries with breakfast, by the time lunch rolls around we’d already be starting out in the hyper-oxidized state, and lunch could just make things worse. Since western eating patterns include eating multiple meals a day, including snacks, one can only speculate on the level of biological unrest (...)  Over time, however, these daily insults can lead to problems such as heart disease, contributing to the hundreds of thousands of deaths a year."
Oxidation causes disease and premature ageing, and, if you live by a standard Western diet, you are pretty much in oxidative stress for most of the time. No wonder we're getting sick and look like crap.

So how can we counter act this?

By eating delicious, nutritious anti-oxidant rich plant food!

And, which plants contain antioxidants that are extremely potent at fighting this disease and ageing causing oxidative-stress....

Purple ones! Blueberries. Purple cabbage. Aubergine. Red kale. Purple broccoli... you can get these in your local supermarket, cheaply, easily, fresh, frozen... fabulous.
Whole plant foods are far more powerful than their individual chemical components. We shouldn't simply isolate and focus; BUT, in this age of abundance and choice of healthy foods, and with the power of scientific knowledge, we can make concious, well informed decisions about what we put into our bodies - to our power and immense benefit.

Ultimately, cut out the sugar laden, refined, processed foods and animal products, and eat whole plant foods, and you'll really put oxidative stress in it's place...

...keep it up and through the slow, long process of time,  your heavy smoking, soda drinking, dairy eating friends won't be able to keep up with your fresh, healthy, youthful glow (or healthful body).

It's not the Fountain of Youth, it's the Garden of Youth, you see.

(Need a bit more convincing about the magical anti-ageing properties of plants? Check out: Nutrition Facts: The Anti-Wrinkle Diet. Spoiler alert: plants are anti-ageing due to antioxidant properties, processed foods and animal products are not...)

There's an incredible array of plant foods out there. A whole rainbow. I like to picture it on a bed of green, with earthy, muted tones ranging to incredible violently violet hues. They're all good. They're all powerful. Fresh, picked straight from the earth, these fruits and nuts and leaves are  more valuable than the rarest, most precious stones. Diamonds and sapphires may be beautiful, but plants keep us well; they keep our bodies happy and healthy, our skin glowing, our minds alert.

But, just remember, a little purple now and then, and you can really step up your antioxidant game.

So, eat your greens.

And eat your purples, too.

Friday, 12 December 2014

Why you should date a yoga girl...

Today, in the supermarket, I overheard a conversation between two sales assistants, complaining and rolling their eyes over their mutual health food obsessed, yoga loving friend.

Sound familiar?

You know, we're actually pretty awesome.

Before you roll your eyes while they order a side of kale or rave about the benefits of down dog, check out this article on why you should date a yoga girl. (Even if it is just a friend date, there's a whole other world out there to discover and open yourself up to... we're pretty passionate about it for a reason!)

What do you think?