An interesting article to make you think about what the effects of dieting and exercise are on your weight. Worth reading. Now, I am not particularly interested in weight gain or weight loss. I don’t think that health is measured by how much one weighs. However, I do think that obesity is a symptom of unhealthy eating, and as the article briefly mentions, the diet the feeds most of us in the west will both increase our weigh and lead to unhealthy lives. Do you want to feel better about yourself? My answer is simple: eat less processed foods, avoid sugar and its derivatives, eat more fiber and vegetables, take pleasure in cooking your own food, and reduce your meat intake. Additionally one must maintain a base level of physical activity that will help with the stabilizing of mental and emotional processes in the brain. Sounds complicated? To a certain extent it’s not. It’s about being informed and willing to change some of your habits. What’s at stake is more than just YOUR health, but that of the environment and society in general. Those of you who live near good grocery stores, where good produce is widely available have less excuses and justifications to make. Where the social danger lies is in communities where the options for healthy food are few and far between, a problem that is more common than we think. And while society bares a lot of the blame on health and weight issues, as consumers we remain active citizens that vote every time we buy a food item. You want change in your local grocery store? Speak up, buy healthier food and avoid the shit that’s marketed to you. Don’t fall for the claims on processed foods. Consume wisely…
My mother is a moderate, sensible and lovely person. She’s a great communicator, is careful judge of character and approaches life simply and responsibly. She eats very well. Her diet includes lots of vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds, grains and fruit. She eats fish and meat but doesn’t do so that often. She walks often and for long periods of time and has remained fit, lean and disease free for all of her 57 yrs.
There is one thing she does that drives me a bit crazy (well there are others, but for the sake of this article…). She is not moderate about skin care and sunscreen use; she’s a serial applier and a great believer in the stuff. Her concern about skin diseases caused by UV rays is rather surprising coming from such a moderate and reasoned person, and yet, perhaps my impression of her as such a hypochondriac when it comes to skin care is stubborn and naive. Excessive time spent under the warming rays of the sun are unhealthy. Yes, there’s vitamin D to be had, and that’s good, however, the UV rays remain something we should all be concerned about. And so, I think, that perhaps I’m the one who’s crazy not to give my skin the care it needs.
Recently, an American truck driver has been in the news for having a face that very clearly revealed the impact of the sun on our skins. Having sat for hours in the driver’s seat of trucks, the left side of his face received quantitatively higher levels of exposure than the right side of his face did. And look at what happened:
I mention this, because an article appears in the NYtimes today about taking sun exposure more seriously.
Scientifically established reasons for exercising appear in the press at strikingly frequent rates. The benefits of exercise have been well founded now for decades and even centuries. Here’s something I read today in the New York Times that further reveals how beneficial taking care of your body is.
A brief personal story about aging and exercise. I was very fortunate to have a wonderful grandmother who had suffered much in her life but who had steadfastly refused to give in to time and bodily decay. After a terrible car accident in her late 30s that almost crippled her: damaging her spine, breaking her wrist, killing her husband and almost taking away her resolve to live, she managed to fight through the various challenges associated with the accident and got better. She maintained a strict morning regiment of stretches and exercises and made sure to eat healthy. In her eighties, mentally sharp and still independent, the doctors marveled at her physical health. Despite a distorted spine, she had managed to create enough core strength to avoid the likely deterioration that would have taken place without her disciplined approach to life. I admire her, and am thankful for her influence in my life. As is said, “the proof is in the pudding.” Take care of yourself and life will take care of you.
It seems obvious that one of the conclusions that can be made by such research, a conclusion that doesn’t require too much science, is that one must always discipline himself when initiating exercise programs. The body will take time to adjust to its new activity levels and unless pushed, in a healthy way, will find the time to recuperate when not exercising and null part of the improvement taking place. I’ve found this myself, that when starting new periods of higher frequency activity, I find it easier for the first 2 weeks and then tend to need a rest for some days following that if I don’t push myself to continue. I think one of the reasons is that I may be exerting myself too much, pleased with my new feeling of vitality, and then my body, unused to that amount of exercise, forces me into a period of rejuvenation. Exercise must be introduced in steps, where the first weeks are really about strengthening your core for the future workouts that will have most effect on your body. A due diligence is then necessary to keep on maintaining a good rhythm in order for improvement to take place. Once a new level of fitness is achieved, your body will adjust to that stage of energy exertion and will then be able to continue at that new level of activity.
Sefi and Mark, super duo from Lawrence restaurant, being interested in sustainable and healthy farming practices, had the great idea of going to Kinderhook farm on our way to NY. The 1000 acre farm, which lies in the Hudson valley, is an admirable alternative to what large corporate farming has come to look like today.
Instead of a large feedlotwhere animals are raised on food they are genetically not supposed to eat; which leads to animals putting on weight at unbelievable speed, mostly made of unhealthy saturated fats; which herds animals in filthy fields of their own shit and debris; which requires veterinarians to pump the animals full of growth hormones and antibiotics to regulate a farming system that is unbelievably harmful to the environment; and which harms the animals and us in the process by facilitating the spread of dangerous bacteria like E. coli,Kinderhook farm is a model in safe farming practices that respect both the animals and the natural ecosystems that support the various herds that depend on them for sustenance.
Raising cattle, sheep, some lambs, chickens for their eggs, and soon pigs, Kinderhook is a farm where the animals feed themselves on the grass of rich pasture that is freely available to them in the meadows and fields that make up the farm. Carefully organized, this allows for an ethically friendlier way of raising animals for food; both in terms of the meat they produce, but also in relationship to the environmental impact that is reduced using these farming methods. Additionally, the meat actually ends up being better for us; increasing the levels of Omega 3s found in their fat and more.
Well raised, a pasture fed animal will taste better as well; directly related to the variety of plants that he eats and the “terroir” those plants grow in. The uniform flavor of most of our meat today stems from uniform farming practices that have commodified the production of meat, and which creates industrial farms where animals suffer similar living environments and eat the same foods.
Our visit at Kinderhook was inspiring to say the least. I’ve posted recently that Carolina and I have mostly switched to only buying hormone and antibiotic free meats. Unfortunately, while this is a positive step, it is far from the switch to only eating meat from farms like Kinderhook. Informing ourselves about local farms that produce meat in ethical ways is important, and promoting their existence by buying their produce is essential. What’s unfortunate is the rarity of finding such meats in our local grocery stores; especially the large corporate ones, that need to be able to buy enough meat from a producer to supply all their stores. This is understandable from a fast and easy business perspective but sad when one thinks of the devastating impacts that result from this.
Admittedly, living in an urban environment where I have alternatives to these large companies, it is easy for me to make a push to sustainable eating but not necessarily for those who don’t have access to alternatives. The terrible state of our eating habits is a cultural phenomenon before a personal one, and criticizing the individual is missing the point in my mind. For many, the healthy options simply aren’t available.
Now, I expect some people who have read this blog post to disagree with me on certain things. The most obvious point of criticism of this kind of farming practice is the issue of supply and demand. I myself have argued this point before. It’s true. If we are to feed the world with the amount of meat we so dearly crave, and if that population as it is currently doing keeps growing, then we will have to produce meat in the hell holes that are the corporate feedlots. It’s a fair argument, which some might be able to contradict but not me(I’m not well enough informed). The fact is though, that the corporate feedlot model is unsustainable for many of the reasons I’ve already stated. It’s bad for the environment, for our health and for our ecosystems. Meat is and should be a luxury. It’s become so prevalent in our society today that we’ve forgotten this. Reducing our meat intake is both a personally healthy choice, but also a socially and environmentally friendly one. Eating meat 3 times a day, let alone once a day, is not a practice that one should engage in, no matter how hard it is to stop doing so. Our reliance on meat for most of our calories should be considered like an addiction and handled accordingly.Restaurants should take this into account as well. Where I work, their meat comes from great sources, many of which follow the same principals of Kinderhook, but in my mind, their menu is too focused on meat and fish, with a single main course being vegetarian. If we are to change our cravings, exciting options need to be made available and promoted.
Despite my deep rooted belief in what I’ve written about today, the fact is that I’m not one to force feed my thoughts on others. I prefer people to come to their own conclusions. Do some research, visit some of your local farms, speak to farmers who don’t have a financial stake in maintaining the homogeneous nature of corporate farming, and make a choice on how you’ll live your life.
*** Did I mention they were also having some fun farming bees?!
So day fourteen was rather uneventful in terms of the food we ate, although, in the end, the event was that we treat ourselves to a dinner of grilled meets from a local middle eastern restaurant. I did not have my camera with me and won’t have any pictures to share, but I’ll quickly go over the menu.
For breakfast, following the recent trend, I had a bowl of oatmeal and fruit, apples and peaches sprinkled with cinnamon and made healthier with the addition of ground flax seeds(which I’ve recently read are best kept refrigerated), pumpkin seeds and walnuts. This is a really satisfying breakfast I’ve found, and I’ve had it on both mornings since the detox finished. For lunch, we finished the stuffed vegetables from day 13, enjoyed a light spinach salad with grated carrots and grated beets, and made ourselves an avocado omelet. I made myself a massive smoothie as an afternoon snack, and we enjoyed the grilled meats for dinner.
The detox went well. I did not feel the same invigorating effects that I had previously when following the wild rose detox but my discipline, my interest in eating healthier foods, and my ability to avoid certain foods have all improved. Unfortunately I never restricted my diet to just fruit and liquids as I had planned: I think that this would have been beneficial. I might do this every so often as a means of cleaning out the system on a more frequent basis.
One thing that is obvious is that I’ve lost some weight. For those of you looking to accomplish that, I recommend this diet, but that was never my goal. I am leaner however, and this will be a good time to increase my muscle mass in the right places, aha. In fact, I’ve decided to do just that. The challenge of course is increasing my calorie intake in a way that will be both healthy and efficient. Of course I want to do this in concordance with a gym plan, and I’d rather not sacrifice my cardio, as I’ve read, in order to build that muscle mass. For those of you who know me, you’ll know that I’m not looking for a big change. However, developing a good structural foundation, and maintaining it, will be beneficial to remaining healthy over the years. Exercising strengthens the bones and provides support for your back and neck.
I’ll be posting about my process, and progress(or not), over the next few weeks.
Hope you learned some things, were inspired to follow a detox, and enjoyed some of the recipes. I’ll be back soon.
In the meantime, I’m going to enjoy a few of these, wax poetic about life, and continue soaking in the sun.
Ok, admittedly, I am a bit tired of posting everyday… aha, and I’m planning on watching a movie, which makes it all the more necessary for me to get through this quickly!
Breakfast: Oatmeal once again; with peaches, strawberries, blueberries, ground flax seeds, pumpkin seeds and some toasted almonds.
For lunch I enjoyed more of the chicken goulash, mashed potatoes and instead of broccoli, I made steamed spinach.
For dinner things got more interesting. I had a lot of vegetables in the fridge and needed to use them.(I’m always buying too many veggies…) So, I decided to go with stuffed tomatoes and zucchini, an avocado salad, and a grape, toasted almond, radish and tarragon salad. It was a nice way to end the day.
I stuffed the tomatoes with a stew I made consisting of the scooped out tomato “insides”, the scooped out zucchini “insides”, some sauteed garlic, an anchovy, fresh parsley and boiled green lentils.
I stuffed the zucchini with leftover boiled quinoa that I flavored with about 3 tbls of the goulash base, which I had kept for a sauce.
I made some brown rice and we enjoyed a varied and healthy dinner.