Intermittent Fasting

If you know me you know that I LOVE checking out new health fads and crazes. I recently tried food combing and my verdict was that it’s good for short term digestion issues or weight loss but almost impossible to keep up long term. Then I went totally sugar free. That was tough and didn’t make me feel as healthy as I had hoped so I’m back to using honey and maple syrup as well as treating myself to the odd dark chocolate bar.

Now I’ve decided to see what intermittent fasting is all about. I’ve been doing this few a few days and I swear I feel the effects already.

I’m doing 8/16 or 9/15 depending on the day, meaning that my window of eating every day is 8 or 9 hours and fasting is 15 or 16 hours. During the eating phase of the day you should have 3 balanced meals and try not to binge on unhealthy foods or you’re pretty much shooting yourself in the foot.

Eating this way leaves 16 hours for your body to take a break from digesting and focus on regeneration and healing. Doesn’t that sound like a good idea? Think of our hunter/gatherer ancestors ~ they weren’t bogged down with digestion all day long. They ate, went out to hunt and forage again and, if they were lucky, had another meal. If they weren’t lucky, they were naturally intermittent fasting. This way of eating is so natural for the human body and has a ton of health and anti~aging benefits that I’ll discuss in an upcoming post.

One word of caution though. If you’re active, only schedule activities during eating hours or you’ll be depleting yourself and breaking down muscle as well as fat, doing your body more harm than good.

I truly believe though that in our modern world where we are inundated with unhealthy food choices 24/7, intermittent fasting may be the path back to balance and health.

Happy Fasting.

Photos of a hike to Dog Mountain on Mount Seymour.

Food Combining

 I’ve recently tried food combining. I’ve been struggling with pesky digestive issues lately, and by lately I mean the past few years. So I decided to see if this method of eating would help my bloated belly feel better.

Spoiler alert! It did.

What is food combining? It is the belief that protein and starches digest at different rates and, if eaten together, cause a sludgy build up of undigested food in the gut. This build up can lead to an unhealthy gut, bad bacteria, disease and allergies.

There are a few major rules around food combining and here they are:

  • Only eat fruit on an empty stomach, especially melons.
  • Don’t combine starches and protein.
  • Don’t combine starches with acidic food.
  • Try not to combine too many different types of protein.
  • Only consume dairy products on an empty stomach.

The last rule is to wait at least three hours ~ preferably four ~ between eating starch and protein.

This may sound like a lot of rules but food combining is relatively easy, and delicious, once you get used to it. And if you’re suffering from gut issues and their symptoms, it’s so worth putting the extra thought into your meal plans.

It can be as easy as eating that burger wrapped in lettuce “paleo style” or having your pasta dish with vegetable only tomato sauces.

The benefits of food combing is so worth the extra effort. Here are a few:

  • Kick ass digestion
  • Improved nutrient absorption
  • Glowing skin
  • In cases of overweight – weight loss

Who doesn’t want at least a few of these benefits?

Beach Yoga & Choco Energy Balls

Throwing it back this Thursday to last summer’s beach yoga. Practicing barefoot in the mud during low tide took me right back to happily playing in the mud when I was a child.

And what is summer all about if not keeping your inner child happy?

Another thing that keeps my inner child happy is chocolate. Here’s a grown-up, healthy and vegan chocolate snack that will make your inner child smile and do your body good:

Choco Energy Balls

  • 1 cup raw cashews
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1/4 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup raw cacao
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup

f349577f-7f9d-4204-9800-714404d0dfe2

Watermelon Smoothies

When I feel like practicing yoga in a place where I can sink into the lush green beauty of nature; a place filled with towering trees, pretty pink lily pads, ribbiting frogs, still herons focused on catching a fish for their lunch and ducks gliding through the forest of lilies, I stroll through Stanley Park’s tree lined trails to a little hidden oasis called Beaver Lake.

Beaver Lake is a stunning and serene setting to meditate and practice yoga.

Bird chirps fill the air, frogs ribit happily from their watery home and the calm, peaceful lake is bursting with fuchsia lily pads.

I can easily spend an afternoon soaking up the beauty of the lake, meditating and practicing poses.

And after a few hours of practice, peace and meditation, I head home to replenish and rehydrate with a sweetly simple watermelon smoothie.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups watermelon, cubed
  • 1 T fresh mint
  • Big squeeze of lime

Place all ingredients in a blender, blend thoroughly and enjoy the hydrating and antioxidant ingredients that will do your body good.

Sup Yoga & My Fitness Journey

Here are a few photos of the first couple of time I tried sup yoga.

And these pics also document the beginning of a very happy obsession.

After taking an unintended fitness break for about a year, this class rejuvenated my love for keeping my body fit, healthy and happy. The full body workout of the class feels amazing and core muscles definitely get an intense workout as you try to stay stable on the board during yoga poses.

Sup yoga also sparked a love of regular stand-up paddle boarding (and a summer of sore but happy muscles) and rekindled my 18 year on again, off again love affair with yoga.

My activities this summer have inspired me to finally get my personal trainer certification this fall and I couldn’t be more exited (and scared). I know that studying fitness will take me further along my own fitness journey and I am excited to learn how to keep our bodies healthy and functioning at an optimal level, especially as we age.

I’ve changed the blog name to “Fit Life with Laurel” and future posts will focus on fun ways to get your body moving and delicious, clean food with the occasional scrumptious cheat meal thrown in.

New direction in life?

Waterfalls and Berries

A hike up a mountain is one of my favourite things to do. Especially if there is a waterfall involved.

As I get a bit older though, I realize that how I fuel my body before, during and after a hike becomes more and more important.

I’ve found the hydrating qualities of fruit and veggies to be the perfect fuel for an active body, especially during the hot summer months.

img_7236

One of my favourite pre~hike recipes is my berry smoothie bowl. This powerhouse recipe has hydrating, antioxidant and fibre filled berries (did you know that raspberries have the most fibre of any fruit?) and creamy coconut milk to provide the kind of fat that will do your body good.

Add a couple of dates for iron and healthy sugars to fuel my body as I trek up that mountain and I’ve got a body loving bowl of goodness.

Here’s the recipe:

  • 1/2 cup full fat coconut milk
  • 1cup strawberries
  • I banana
  • 2 dates

Blend together, top with fresh raspberries and unsweetened coconut and you have a beautiful, nourishing smoothie bowl.

Hiking and Appies

I love a trek to St. Mark’s Summit on a misty fall day.

Being surrounded by nature’s beauty makes my soul sing.

And, after a chilly excursion to the mountaintop, this dish helps to fill your hunger and warm your soul:

Savoury Puff Pastry

The Pastry:

Ingredients

  • 2 1/3 cups flour
  • 14 T butter, frozen
  • pinch salt
  • 10 T chilled water
  • 1 T lemon juice

Instructions

  1. Place butter in the freezer overnight
  2. In a jug, mix together water and lemon juice and set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, mix together flour and salt. Everything should be cold so you can put the bowl in the fridge to chill.
  4. Grate the frozen butter directly into the flour mix. Stir the frozen butter into the flour with a knife.
  5. Add the liquid, holding a little back just in case you don’t need it all. Add just enough water to keep the pastry together.
  6. Bring the dough together to form a ball, then place in fridge for at least one hour.

The Recipe:

Form puff pastry into little boats. Int the centre, add sliced cherry tomatoes and a layer of bocconcini and top with a fresh basil leaf.

Bake at 250 degrees for half and hour. Serve. Warm your soul.

Sunset Yoga

Yoga is not just repetition of few postures – it is more about the exploration and discovery of the subtle energies of life. ~ Amit Ray

Yoga is a light, which once lit, will never dim. The better your practice, the brighter the flame. ~ B.K.S lyenga

Yoga is the journey of the self, through the self, to the self. ~ The Bhagavad Gita

Namaste

Biohacking

 

What exactly is Biohacking? You may have read about Silicon Valley exec’s biohacking themselves by excessive fasting and compulsively measuring their body states to have a competitive edge. The definition of the word, however, is to make changes to your lifestyle in order to “hack” your body’s biology and feel your best. Everything we put into our bodies – food, thoughts, exercise ­– all affect how we feel and behave. By biohacking yourself, you can transform your body to become more energized, productive and healthy, and you can do this in a very gentle way.

Five Ways to Biohack Yourself

  1. Go Sugar Free

Giving up refined sugar is one of the best things you can do for your body. Overconsuming sugar leads you down an unhealthy path lined with the following:

  • Increased risk of type 2 diabetes
  • mood swings
  • increased inflammation in your body (which lead to an array of diseases)
  • lowered energy

Also you don’t have to give up natural sugar in fruit and dairy. Added sugars are the ones to say goodbye to.  Soft drinks, processed foods, desserts, flavored yogurt, condiments (barbecue sauce and ketchup are the worst) and energy drinks will all be off of the menu. Also look for hidden sugar in processed food (ie: anything ending in “ose”). It’s shocking just how many places it turns up.

Giving up sugar can be a pretty tough biohack, but is also the one with the most rewards.

  1. Sleep More

If you’re not sleeping between 7–9 hours a night, you can have a touch of sleep deprivation and be putting yourself at risk for health issues. These issues include a weakened immune system, depression, trouble concentrating, irritability, an increased appetite and out-of-whack hormones.

So, what can you do to sleep more soundly? Keeping electronics out of the bedroom is key. The glowing lights from your smartphone/computer/TV tell your brain it’s time to wake up, not drift off into a deep sleep. Also turning off the TV and computer at least an hour before bed is also important as a way to wind down for a good night’s sleep. Last but not least, try turning your bedroom into a relaxing sanctuary. A pitch black bedroom (blackout blinds) with comfortable bedding and a diffuser filled with lavender essential oils is the ultimate setting for a good night’s sleep.

  1. Meditate

A meditation practice can reduce pain, increase sleep quality, lower inflammation and boost productivity. If you’re suffering from stress or anxiety, meditation can also be a really effective way of naturally dealing with symptoms. Establishing a daily meditation practice is one of the best things you can do for your mental and physical health – and it’s a great way to get ready for a good night’s sleep.

There are dozens of smartphone apps you can use to learn how to meditate. Some even have specific meditations for different purposes, like starting the day with a clear head or helping you unwind. Headspace is a great app to check out.

  1. Eat Probiotics

Ever wonder if those expensive probiotics at the health food store actually do any good? They might not. Probiotics are only regulated at time of manufacture and may not have any living cultures at the time of purchase.

Since a healthy gut is so important for, well, everything, adding probiotic rich food (sauerkraut, miso, kefir, plain yogurt) can have huge health benefits, especially when cutting down or giving up sugar at the same time, as sugar is an enemy of gut health.

Adding a couple of servings of probiotic rich food every day can help reduce belly fat, keep your skin healthy, improve depression and anxiety and boost your immune system. And it’s as easy as having a cup of yogurt for breakfast, miso soup at lunch and a serving of sauerkraut at dinner.

  1. Move your Body

For some people, an average day looks like this:

  • Sit in a car to drive to work
  • Sit at a desk all day
  • Take the elevator to sit in a restaurant at lunch
  • Sit in the car on the way home
  • Sit in front of a television set all evening

Studies are now showing how all of this sitting is really bad for our bodies.

The fix? Stand more and walk more. Biohack your way to better health by getting up and talking to co-workers instead of sending an email. At lunch or before and after work, take the stairs instead of the elevator. Stand up and walk around during long phone calls and set a reminder on your phone for every 60–90 minutes to take a quick lap around the office.

These six changes aren’t huge but they all work together to create a healthier, happier life.

Happy Hacking!

An Enchanted Forest

I love walking through a fall forest, even when our west coast November rain is pouring down and the trees are shrouded in mist. Actually I sometimes love it even more because the forest leaves are glistening with dewy rain drops and transformed into a mysterious, enchanted forest.

It is not so much for its beauty that the forest makes a claim upon a persons heart, as for that subtle something, that quality of air that emanation from old trees, that so wonderfully changes and renews a weary spirit.

Robert Louis Stevenson