Yoga and Healthy Living on the Road

Susan smilesWonderful seeing men in our morning yoga classes!With very little sleep and a lack of desired preparation for today’s ‘Healthy Living on the Road’ workshop, I was running on pure adrenaline in addition to being a wee bit nervous about standing up teaching about what I deem healthy choices in my life. slaDE was laid back and open to me being the commander to our onstage workshop — it sure has helped that I’ve spent a lot of the winter preparing material for this very workshop. The confidence boost I received from our yoga students during our class was a welcome burst of energy (the Vita-Mix smoothie helped with this as well — recipe Day #2 is published at the end of the post) that carried me through, feeling on top of the world. Again this morning, another 40 students blessed us with their presence. I am blown away by the unexpected but amazing interest in yoga this year. Packing the tent full each day with breathing and stretching beings has offered an incredible energy and lightness to Alumapalooza 2011, and I felt that this was a missing component last year.

We were absolutely delighted to run into our Canadian Airstreamin’ friends whom we made a wonderful connection with last year. Turns out that we were to be staying in their home town once we made our way north of the border. Synchronicity is such a delightful component to our adventurous life, like a puzzle that strangely falls in to place without the slightest effort or know-how. In this puzzle that we call life, I feel that what is most relevant is the intention and authenticity behind the love, relationship and gifts that we extend in to this world.

Fast forward a few hours …. the ‘Healthy Living on the Road’ workshop turned out to be a marvellous success. At least 80-100 people spent the full hour listening to me provide a steady stream of alternative options for health that have allowed slaDE and I to lead a very healthy lifestyle when travelling in our Airstream (practicing what we ‘preach’). slaDE led the audience through an active stretching session that would hopefully inspire movement in the participants’ daily lives. Time passed incredibly fast and I was able to whirl up a quick smoothie for tasting in our handy-dandy brandy-new Vita-Mix (with a shiny stainless steel brushed finish). The concoction must have been a hit with it disappearing within minutes! After our workshop, slaDE and I demoed yogaFLIGHT after the happy-hour draws and announcements. From there, a man name Jerry volunteered to try this form of ‘yoga flying’. You see, Jerry was easily 300 lbs and 6’4″ tall. Yikes! Many people were contemplating the intelligence of slaDE offering his services to Jerry, but it’s amazing the strength and flexibility my husband has! This moment in time captured was priceless, for all those involved and witness!

Child's PoseVita-Mix Smoothie Recipe Day 2: Morning Zing Smoothie

• ½ blender of water and ice
• 2 stalks celery
• 2 sticks carrot
• small handful of kale
• handful of spinach
• ½ inch fresh ginger root
• 2 apples
• 3 large wedges of watermelon (without rind; any seeds liquify beautifully in the VM)
• 1 tsp cinnamon and cardamon
• 2 tsp of lemon juice to cut any green taste (for newbie green smoothie drinkers)

Almonds: are they really ‘raw’?

I really like the website and information that the Cornucopia Institute offers. They provide relevant education and in turn support “the ecological principles and economic wisdom underlying sustainable and organic agriculture”. In a world where few sources are to be trusted regarding the food we’re eating, the Cornucopia Institute appears to be a relevant source of honest and ecologically sound information on organic agriculture and practises.

An example of such information ‘awakenings’ through them is on the topic of ‘raw almonds. Did you know that the labeled raw almonds you might be eating are in fact not truly raw? I knew that almonds exported from the US to Canada were indeed pasteurized, but it seems that any almonds purchased within North America or Mexico are indeed partially sterilized (via heat treatment or irradiation). If pasteurized, the nutritional content of a raw almond is greatly reduced, but by how much, that figure is uncertain. What does this mean for you the North American consumer? Pasteurized almonds are no longer natural or raw. Anytime a food is heated above 105 degrees, the nutritional value of the food begins to be destroyed. The higher the temperature the more damage that is done. For someone like me who loves the potential nutritional value and viability of almonds (especially when soaked and germinated), I was taken aback by this info:

The demise of the raw almond

© Mike Adams

California-grown raw almonds are no longer raw, following enactment of a new federal rule. The USDA mandate requires raw almonds to be sanitized using treatment processes that the industry generously describes as “pasteurization.”The rule requires sanitation of almonds with a toxic fumigant or treatment with high-temperature heat. The scheme imposes significant financial burdens on small-scale and organic growers, lacks scientific justification, damages domestic almond markets, and does not address the unsustainable methods used on the industrial-scale almond orchards where the only two documented Salmonella outbreaks have occurred. And the treated almonds can still be deceptively labeled as “raw!”

What does the almond pasteurization mandate mean about the almonds I purchase?
California growers (essentially all who grow almonds in the U.S.) must pasteurize their almonds if they are going to be sold raw and sold to markets in the U.S., Canada and Mexico.

There are two exceptions to the raw almond pasteurization mandate:
1. Exports of raw almonds to foreign countries (excluding Canada and Mexico) do not have to be pasteurized. (This says to us that other countries don’t want pasteurized nuts and/or we don’t care about any potential health impacts for those consumers eating nuts that haven’t been treated).
2. Farmers can sell untreated raw almonds, in maximum lot sizes of 100#, directly to consumers from their farmsteads or at a farmers market. In other words, you can buy direct if you visit the farmers.

It’s a tough world out there in trying to feed my family and myself with nutritional, whole and healthy sustenance, not bogged down by misleading information or labels. It takes a lot of work to eat as natural to the food source as one can get (i.e. raw). How do you feel about being misled by the labels of the food that we’re eating??

Market Days

Red SunflowersGiant zucchiniI love going to a Farmer’s Market, especially in the height of seasonal goodness! Every Friday morning in Port Colborne, when in town, I’ve been diligent about cruising the fresh produce stands of the local community farmers, recycled bags at hand, ready to reel in my healthy purchases.

And everywhere I look, glorious colours vie for attention, flowers are at their peak bloom, fragrances of summer fruits and vegetables peak my senses and the sounds of the early morning buzz ring melodic harmonies as a plethora of visitors and marketeers banter in a glorious exchange for the fresh produce and goods. Truly, a photographer’s dream, whether it be a Canadian market in the height of summer, or a foreign emporium in the heart of Africa or India. I am drawn by the local colour and culture, intrinsically attuned to the community which survives on collective abundance and local initiative. I feel inspired by the beauty of Nature and Mother Earth’s plentiful offerings.

fresh local vegetables

Long live the sustainability of local farmers in these dark environmental times of challenge, uncertainty and food questionability and security. We are so blessed to have these offerings provided with love from the land, where there is nothing for want and the variety and selection of summer edibles is varied, tasty, inspired and vital.

I really love this pledge made by the local citizens of Berkshire, Massachusetts. Wouldn’t we be a healthier and more bountiful society if we could support our local communities in the same way?

“I pledge to buy and utilize locally grown food and food products to the extent that I am able and to serve my community by educating others about the many benefits of buying and eating locally. I take pride in supporting local farmers and producers who preserve and sustain the beauty and bounty of the Berkshire region.”

Road Trip Choices

road trip guidelines

Jamie Oliver has been encouraging and motivating people around the world to change their diet and lifestyle. The blog by Canadian Karen ,”The Scattered Mom”, is one such example of a motivated Mother searching for healthy choices within her family and travelling lifestyle.

Karen’s inventory below is truly an inspiring checklist to follow on our next Airstream road trip. For the most part, we follow the guidelines below, to a T. I realize that I’m a big part of the driving force behind our healthy lifestyle that we lead. But of course, I’m human and have my weaknesses (before slaDE~, I never ever ate chips or junk food — apart from sugary items like liquorice or sour chewy candies, but now I’m rather feeble in my willpower if he feels inspired to indulge). As I get older, my body and metabolism is changing, and the need to be conscientious, consistent and diligent with my food / non-food intake is top on my priorities. So having a repertoire of ideas and a reminder of why I chose this lifestyle in the first place is a step in the right direction to a happy and healthy life filled with nutrition and goodness.

The Food Revolution Road Trip Goals / Rules / Guidelines:

1. NO fast food or gas station food. We can stop for a bathroom break if we need to, but that is it.

Every year on a road trip we stop at least 5 times in a two week period at a fast food place-usually McDonalds for breakfast, or Subway for lunch. No. Not this year. (exception: Starbucks is our coffee place of choice and not considered fast food. We don’t really eat their food anyway)

2. Eat only ONE meal a day in a restaurant. Breakfast is easy, as it’s always covered with a hotel breakfast bar. Lunch is where we need to be creative and make our own. We’ll be traveling here and there; whitewater rafting, jeeping, driving, hiking. Can we do it?fast food nation

3. Avoid high fructose corn syrup, artificial colors/flavors, and anything highly processed. This doesn’t just mean in what I buy, but in the food at the hotel breakfast bar. How hard can it be to find healthy food, anyway? It’s pretty easy here. And is the USA really that different from Canada?

4. Snack on lots of fruit, veggies, cheese, yogurt, nuts, and real food. That’s easy, right? Storage might be an issue. It should be pretty cheap, too.

5. Occasional treats are allowed because you know, this IS a vacation. Treats would be a chocolate bar, ice cream, or the fries with a restaurant meal. The fries will be hardest to avoid, but since we are on vacation a couple times each can’t hurt.

How about you? Do you make choices in your daily regimen to eat and be more healthy? Do you find that road trips tend to challenge your choices and restraint?

A whole lot of Angry, a whole lot of Compassion

Today I read a blog that sparked a detailed response to a posting from a ‘celebrity’ who qualifies herself as an inspirational guru of health and fitness. Man, is she One Angry Chick (her words, not mine)!

I’m not sure if Brittany will delete my comment in moderating her blog entry of ‘The Revolution is On‘, but just in case she does, here’s my long-thought-out comment for your reading leisure. I actually suggest you read her blog entry first (http://brittneykara.wordpress.com/2010/07/05/the-revolution-is-on) before reading my response. And I welcome your thoughts, ideas and / or any additions!

Namaste ….

Hi Brittany

disinfecting fruitBeing a yoga teacher myself who diligently lives a clean, healthy, hydrated life (all the while reading labels, like yourself, and meticulous about most things which enter my body), it’s so easy to see and experience the less than ideal choices others make — whether that be food, alcohol, drugs or the like. Aside from ones own personal choices about what we put into and onto our bodies, it’s truly heartbreaking to see the food and water we need to survive being sabotaged by chemicals, filled with potentially toxic and carcinogenic substances (such as artificial fragrances and harmful & needless antibacterial additions to our everyday household goods), along with the circus of false claims and advertising, inaccessible price gouging and shrouded ingredient listings.  There’s a lot of barriers out there for living a clean healthy lifestyle. Bombarded by a media which offers every kind of diet and product out there to maintain youth, beauty, fitness and everlasting mortality (tongue in cheek), it’s an incredibly complex task trying to maintain a lifestyle that is complete, wholesome and health-giving. One of the most challenging hurdles to living a healthy life is the lack or shroud of truthful education. So many conflicting opinions and (mis)information to wade through. I consider myself highly educated on the food my family consumes, and yet I still find myself confused and swayed by studies which are often backed by corporate and vested interest groups. A perfect example of this would be my belief in agave, a touted superfood, until the recent studies and findings on agave’s high fructose content (http://www.sacredchocolate.com/agave-blues-david-wolfe).

Living, breathing and advocating for a health-giving lifestyle is a full-time endeavour, truly. Considering this statement, very few people have the education, funds and time to apply such dedication and vigour. This is not an excuse but rather a fact of life. On top of this, living with and making ‘unhealthy’ choices is far easier and a whole lot less expensive. Our societal values have changed, shifted with the paradigm of a materialistic world that wants information / food / results quick, fast and with ease. This is a huge battle and wall that each and every one of us face.

Education is key. Access and clear honest information is needed. Building community which revolves around healthy organic grassroots living is an ideal situation. But laying fault and judgement on those that don’t necessarily have the means or information only creates a chasm between ‘us’ and ‘them’. I am so incredibly blessed to have a wealth of knowledge at my fingertips through consistent research on the Internet, through my studies of yoga and teacher trainings, mentors and friends.

There is so much more than what meets the eye on the surface to whether a person is actually living a healthy lifestyle. Who are we to deem what is considered ‘Fat’? Is being overweight by 10lbs, 20lbs, 50lbs, 3 lbs considered fat? In some cultures and certain epochs, extra flesh and fat is considered highly attractive. Curves, cellulite, breast endowment (breast tissue is both fat and muscle) …. what makes one more attractive and healthy than the other?  For example, the yoga teacher who you deemed overweight. Who knows what her background is? She could have been 100lbs heavier, found yoga and is on a journey to leading a healthier lifestyle. Perhaps she looked exhausted, dehydrated and unhealthy because she is a single mom who just had a baby, is raising that child solo, through postpartum depression and is struggling to maintain a semblance of health and vitality in her life by teaching others. The fact that people showed up to the class is a step in the right direction to health, making that choice to live and breath and move. Who knows what your yoga teacher’s story is? But knowing that unless we live in her shoes and her experience, how can we define what is best and healthy for her? A vision of a slim, lean, attractive teacher is very much a western ideal based on yoga as a fitness factor rather than that of a practise in preparation for meditation and conscious breathe.

I also disagree with your statement that ‘We are all capable of being in great shape and healthy’. We all have the potential for greatness, but again, what is considered ‘great shape and healthy’? Who defines such terms? Media has done a ‘bang up’ job on our societies vision of body image, beauty and physicality. Celebrity hasn’t helped the cause. All I really know is what I perceive to be best for me. I can help others through education, empathy, compassionate vision and offering constructive choices towards environmentally wise and physically healthy options available to us.

Choice. Circumstance. Environment. Education.

We all have our own battles in this life. We here in North America are blessed to have so many viable and healthful options. Travel to a third world country, and you will see how truly privileged we are. Clean water. Fresh air. Food in abundance.

I invite you to share your breath, compassion, education, inspiration, and motivation to each and every person, regardless of age, race, size or deemed physical stature. We are all one family. We all deserve the best in life. We are all human. And most of all, we all deserve many chances to learn and grow.

Good luck in your life ventures. I wish for you much success in making our world a better place, one breath at a time.

Nerves of Aluminum Steel

Day 1 of Alumapalooza:

AlumapaloozaToday was the day! At 9am, with much anticipation (mixed with a healthy dose of nervousness), slaDE and I took front row and centre stage at the Alumapalooza main tent to offer some basic yoga stretches, along with ‘Healthy Living on the Road’ tips. I wasn’t certain as to what our turnout might be, so early on in the rally. The impending threat of rain was also a possible deterrent. Yet we had at least 20 participants on this damp wet early morning behind the Airstream Factory. I broke the ice by offering homemade mung bean sprouts (a bigger hit than donuts, go figure!). And with this amazing start, my heart soared. With ease and familiarity, I fell in to a relaxed state of cadence and ease as slaDE and I co-taught a morning yoga routine along with yoga stretches for tight enclosed seated spaces (i.e. heavy focus on stiff, potentially stressed, RV passengers and stationary drivers). Of course, what would any workshop be without our display of yogaFLIGHT!

yogaFLIGHTWhy not dazzle the crowd before launching in to a discussion on healthy living on the road? Made perfect sense to uS! Shame I didn’t have any photos taken on our camera. Would have been a nice momento. Next time!

We followed with words of wisdom and experience for nutrition and healthy living on the road. slaDE and myself certainly try to walk the talk in our daily lives. Hopefully, our participants found the information useful.

Before we knew it, our hour was up. I was quite surprised to see the number of other people who had dropped by to listen to our interactive dynamically fun seminar. How fantastic is that?!

In celebration, I offer you my notes from Alumapalooza 2010, sKY & slaDE Workshop as a tool for your own steps to healthy living on the road. EnjoY!!!

Please share this download freely with your RV and road tripping friends. A healthy planet is an incredible goal. Baby steps ….

PS If anyone is interested in purchasing a Vita-Mix, the company offers free shipping on your order when you use our affiliate code. Click here for more info :).

Namaste.

The Best Guacamole Recipe!

In our travels this winter, we’ve come across a plethora of avocados. Sinfully delicious and oh so healthy for you (next to olives, an avocado is highest in monounsaturated fatty acids ~ 20%). As stated on ‘The Juicing for Health‘ website: “The monounsaturated fats and the wholesome nutrition [of an avocado] helps the basal metabolic rate, and reduce overeating.” Also, did you know that an avocado can: Lower your cholesterol level and increase your immune system? Long live avocados and guacamole!!!

Ingredients:

  • 8 large avocados, chopped
  • 2 large tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 small serrano chiles, finely chopped
  • 1 bunch cilantro, finely chopped
  • Juice of 3 lemons
  • Salt and pepper
  • Tortilla chips, for serving

Here are some great rules to follow when looking to make the perfect guacamole:

– Use the ripest avocados you can find. Organic in all your ingredients is great, if you can find these.
– Lemons are for guacamole, limes are for salsa.
– Try serrano peppers instead of jalapeños.
– Skip the garlic.
– Save the mixing until the end.