Tag Archives: Healthy living

2013: Good Health

Isn’t that what you hope for when you’re old and have everything else? I’m sure your genetics are great, and you eat gluten free, plus you’re too young to have any ‘bad’ diseases. You’ve never smoked, wear SPF 60 and limit risky behavior (or whatever they call unprotected sex these days)…Let’s, just for a minute, pretend that none of that matters.

I’ll start with the obvious: Never take your health for granted because anything can happen. Having an achilles repair at 15 will teach you that the odds aren’t to be trusted. And in recent news, for somebody that is typically pretty healthy, last year I had stitches, an xray, CT, ultrasound, and extensive non-routine blood work (all overseas). Being unwell while travelling magnifies the perceived severity of the situation because you are losing valuable days you could be spending seeing the world being drugged up in bed. Then you think about it for a few minutes (because you’re stuck in bed) and you realize that if you’re living the life you should be living, a sick day at home should suck just as much (almost).

So yes, it is important to do all those things (the sunscreen and whatever else), because we should do all that is in our control to achieve our best health and every bit helps…but we also need to make the best of our health while we have it because you never know when things could take a turn for the worst and an unfortunate reality of it is the luck of the draw. It shouldn’t only be cancer survivors who celebrate each day cancer free, every day any of us is healthy is a day somebody else isn’t. We, as a society, seem to have gotten on some messed up bandwagon where we need to lose it all before we appreciate having it [that’s assuming we ever get it back to the same capacity]. I don’t know about you, but I’m not keen on the idea of waiting for a tragedy to start living the life I want. All I wish for now (on wishbones, tarot cards, shooting stars, etc.) is good health. That’s what my parents have done for years while I’ve been wishing for the newest Apple gadget or big career opportunities but what good is any of it if you don’t have your health?

“Being fit feels better than junk food tastes”…or something like that. But seriously, it does. Not only does not gaining weight save you money on oversized sweaters and useless diet pills…but it makes you happier with what you have and who you are. The confidence gained from being fit, not skinny or jacked, merely ‘fit’ can change your outcomes in relationships, the workplace, and your overall confidence in pursuing goals. I’ve realized that if I can go workout with friends it costs less money, equal time, and an inverse calorie expenditure as going out for food…somehow I just figured this out recently. In addition to that, I am meeting more people and becoming more integrated into my community. I suppose the whole ‘fit’ thing all comes back to the idea of accept or change…but I feel like the challenge we (or maybe just I) face is in the goal we are setting. When I was in India I lost 30 lbs in less than 2 weeks. I was lighter than the number on my driver’s license and I had never felt so weak, incapable, and unwell in my life (even once the sickness had left my system). It was then, that I was my ‘goal’ weight that I realized I had been setting myself up for a choice between unhappiness and failure…not so fair to do to yourself if you ask me…

I saw an article the other day that said the most successful goals are those we don’t share with others. Psychologically when we tell others about our goals we consider them done. Yes, telling others keeps you ‘accountable’…but do others really hold you to your word? Most friends will just support your excuses, and I’m guilty for it too even with the people I love most. When I set goals and tell people I find (personally) that I am making goals that sound impressive. The are also usually far beyond what I would have to achieve to be happy. Would I like to look like a VS model? Well I certainly wouldn’t turn you down…but if you offered me Jennifer Lawrence I would be just as healthy (probably healthiER to be fair), and because my life would be more balanced I would probably be happier too.

When I decide that I am going to start working out more and eating healthier because I will be happier I actually stick to it. Mostly because it is a lifestyle shift rather than a random number that signifies success. I believe that health and happiness come hand in hand. More than ever I am realizing the unhealthy images we try to achieve for our bodies and how we waste so much time hating ourselves for not achieving them. When I got home and got my bloodwork done after all that I had been through and my mind went to the worst case scenario I wasn’t thinking about how if I found out I was dying I’d like to look more fit in a bikini. I was thinking about the people I love and my mark on the world. A healthy weight is part of good health, and a certain level of fitness is a healthy challenge to strive for, but the obsession over image versus health is a serious issue I’m still in the progress of working through.

All of that to comes to the general statement that the healthier you are, the better you feel, the more you will be willing to try new things, the more you will learn & experience, the happier you will be, the more people that will be in your life, the odds of living longer or at least holding more healthy years is better, and so you have more time to make memories…and in the end, isn’t that kind of what it comes down to? So I’ve decided two things: to commit to health and to be grateful for every day of it I’m granted. The seemingly terrible chore of getting out of bed at 6 AM is in fact a gift some people don’t have the luxury of doing…now consider all the other extraordinary things our healthy bodies do to us every day…

Yogini Life

The grass is always greener…the whole time I was in Oz/NZ all I could think about was how cheap and awesome Asia would be…then on my flight to Bali I started to realize all that was awesome about Oz and NZ….what gives. Anyway, while I was on the 6 hour flight trying reallllly hard not to succumb to the scheme that is 3 dollar in-flight soft drinks I had a lot of time to myself and my thoughts….dangerous, I know.

I started to think about what I wanted from Bali, Asia, this trip…I came to the conclusion that although I wasn’t pulling an ‘Eat Pray Love’ (the new adjective for ‘finding oneself through extensive travelling’), I wanted to have more than a tan to show for my time. After all this is working out to be a projected 15k+ investment in the end….to say I have no tan lines and ate lots of curry would be a bit disappointing. Yes, there is the experience…but the experience you get is only what you put in. I don’t have unlimited funds, but I do have a heavy abundance of time and effort. I put the guide book aside (which I’d been reading cover to cover daily) and wrote a list of what I wanted to do in Asia.

The list is long and doesn’t include getting tanned and wasted on beaches…Fun will be had, but perhaps less belligerent fun with better decisions…. That being said, I sat back and wondered what I really wanted from Bali…was it just the novelty of ‘bali’…did I want to party? Surf? Hike?…I wanted to do yoga. I realized quickly that its not really a part of the local culture as everyone that goes seems to be a tourist and studios have ridiculous local deals that aren’t even utilized (like a 10th of the price!)…but there’s something about practicing yoga that reminds you to be humble and accepting, to drop the ego….and to breathe. Mostly, that it’s not a competition, and as my teacher yesterday said, “life must be a balance of effort and surrender”.

Basically eluding the notion that we can’t get too addicted to success…that mastering a posture and only doing it to be great at it isn’t enough, once mastering, we must push ourselves once again. It made me realize that maybe I had gotten to a point of ‘success’ with Oz and NZ…It had become easy. I am an expert, I like being the expert…I like being right. Who doesn’t? Anyway….I have gotten a week unlimited at Radiantly Alive, a gorgeous studio with 2 rooms, and plenty of classes from Flying Yoga to Radiantly Alive Vinyasa, and tons of guided meditation….only set me back 40 bucks as opposed to the 90 dollar 10 class pass with the famous Yoga Barn and I have LOVED every class and instructor. Nevermind the fact that Bali’s ridiculously hot and humid climate makes every class warm for juicier poses. I have had some of my best practices ever…I attribute it to the fact that I have nowhere else I’d rather be…which makes me think about how we have the power to be successful if we are choosing to be present and focused in whatever we’re doing wherever we are…If you’re there and you aren’t leaving you might as well utilize the time fully-right?

Pretty much everyone I practice with is creating their own retreat for either a week or month like I’ve chosen to do (for a week). Going to 1 meditation and at least 2 classes a day. I hurt like hell, but I’ve done my first unassisted handstand, I’ve done hanging belt restoration, Flying Yoga (acro/thai massage), yin, level 2 vinyasas and more. All of the instructors are foreigners…but they all know their stuff. Jose, who does Vinyasa, Iyengar, and hanging belt restoration is one of the best instructors I’ve ever had, and Samuel can guide even my busy mind into a deep meditation. The only thing local about the studio is the front desk staff…but the attitude of Yoga is very much in line with that of Bali, and has in fact made me feel Radiantly Alive, as it would claim. I feel no need to ‘Facebook’…I’d rather be at meditation..I spend my hours between classes chatting (or trying to ) with the locals trying to find the best food while guzzling coconut water and discussing what color of sarong I ‘have’ to buy before I leave.

Also I’ve discovered Soma….I will write a post on it individually…but its basically Edmonton’s Noorish (Tons of raw, vegan, g-free options, elixors, fresh fruit smoothies…a link to the yoga community…free range, local ingredients) at a tenth of the price. It’s funny how North America has created an image around healthy food that it has to be ridiculously overpriced making it pretentious and trendy. I read an article about fasting where the author (paraphrased) said that fasting makes him re-evaluate why we eat….continuing on to say we eat to nourish our bodies with essential nutrients, not for the caloric needs…that will come naturally… And more importantly not for emotional need or taste…Food that tastes ‘so good’ is our way of associating food with emotional benefit which we should be getting from activity, and sociability…not food. Understanding how your body can function without the food helps to center the attitude towards food…we should all respect our bodies as much as we would a Lambourghini….and we wouldn’t put Regular fuel in one if we had one, so out of respect for ourselves, and the desire to live the healthiest, longest life possible we should be putting premium products into our system. That being said, I still love food….the taste, the calories, all of it…it’s just an interesting take on fasting and food.