Friday, February 28, 2014

What's the BEST way to eat?

Don't we all ask that question from time to time?  Maybe not everyone, of course, but those of us who are seeking to eat healthy.  As I wrote on my Healthy Eating tab above,

I know there's a lot of conflicting information out there about eating healthy and that can get frustrating. 
What you WON'T get from my blog is some definite THIS IS THE BEST WAY TO EAT! statements over and over.  I have a hard time listening to people preach that it's their way of eating or else.   I don't mind if people tell me what works best for them or a friend.  But I don't believe there's a one size fits all approach to eating.
That being said, I think some things are obvious. 1) Some foods are not good for our bodies, in fact they are downright destructive.  I used to have this belief that since our bodies are amazing creations, they are able to excrete anything that they don't need, so it's okay to eat some tasty treats that aren't good for us.    Yes and no.  Yes, it's okay in the sense that many people go years without any negative affects and our bodies can cleanse and heal. BUT some foods or chemicals in food are toxic to our bodies and can cause illness and damage.  2) Some foods are packed with micronutrients that can benefit our bodies in tremendous ways. 
I tend to look to Dr. Joel Furhman for his Nutrient Density approach.  Am I perfect with eating the Nutritarian way?  Not at all.  But I keep working in that direction and at certain times of my life, I've done really well with it (and have felt absolutely wonderful!)

So what IS the BEST way to eat?  Is it different from person to person?  Is it different at different phases of any one person's life?  I think the answer is yes to each of those.  Some people don't feel "right" if they haven't eaten meat in awhile.  I feel lousy for several hours (maybe even 24) when I do.  I feel great when I eat a TON of fruit.  Others would have digestive issues if they did.   There have been books written about differing blood types deeming what one body may need and another not.  I've never read those books, but I have heard the theories -- I guess that's possible, but there could be many reasons why we differ in our nutritional needs.  Nonetheless, there are foods that are toxic to all and foods that can benefit all.  But I doubt there's a one size fits all approach to optimal health.

I once read how a mother's milk changes not only from week to week as the baby grows, but also throughout each day.  What a baby needs in the morning is different from what he or she needs later in the day and the milk changes as a result.  Pretty cool, huh?  I'd love to understand my body well enough to know what it needs and when (and then have the control to feed it that and the ability to make it taste super yummy! :) )  I imagine that my body has different needs now in my late 40's than it did as a child, teen or young mother.

It's a path I'd like to explore for sure.

Photo courtesy of  Judit Klein 

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Yoga Teacher Training -- the first 100 hours

Since January 11th, I've been engaged in a Yoga Teacher Training course with Mark Stephens.  I've been doing yoga for almost 15 years and even though I love so many other forms of exercise, yoga is the one that I'd volunteer to share with others or teach yoga for  P.E. at the school, classes at family reunions, Young Women Camp, church activities, or in big gatherings with friends.  I just love how yoga makes me feel and it brings me joy to share it with others.

I started exploring yoga teacher training options several years ago, but there weren't any programs near where I lived.  So I bought a book by Mark Stephens called Teaching Yoga.  I knew that I would need more than a book to feel completely qualified to teach, but this was a start.  Just before we moved to this area 3 years ago, I somehow discovered that Mark's yoga studio in Santa Cruz was not that far from my house -- just about 8 miles away!  I told my husband that one of my goals upon moving was to take Mark's teacher training course someday.  Months passed.  Years passed.  I'd look into it occasionally, but I didn't see how I'd find the time to make it work.  7 weekends of at least 12 hours in class.

But something clicked last fall and I realized it was time to do it.  Part of it was a fear that this may not always be available to me.  One of Mark's teacher training courses last year was up in Oregon.  What if he traveled more and more and didn't offer it locally?  Or what if he moved?  Or what if the unknown? . . . When Michael Jackson died, somehow that taught me that not everything we plan on being available will always be available. All of those people who dreamed of going to a Michael Jackson concert and finally bought tickets, didn't get to go.  The opportunity wasn't a given.

So I talked to my husband, explained the time commitment and signed up.  It actually took me about a month to sign up because I was so scared to take that leap to do something that meant so much to me.  That may sound weird, but the excitement was hard to commit to.

Fast forward to now -- I'm 100 hours into the course.  I have learned far more than I imagined, yet with that, I now know how much I don't know.  We get to take In-Depth workshops with Mark for the next 3 months and then I will begin an apprenticeship, which sounds wonderful, too!

Santa Cruz Yoga Center

Just to give you a glimpse of some of the unexpected benefits I had from the start of Yoga Teacher Training, this was what I wrote on Facebook after the first weekend:

How do I love Yoga Teacher training? Let me count the ways!!
  1. I love learning about yoga for 6 hours a shot!
  2. I love practicing  yoga with such amazing instructors.
  3. Mark is a WEALTH of information!
  4. My body is getting stronger and more flexible faster than I thought possible.
  5. My mind is opened to so many new thoughts and philosophies that tie in so perfectly with what I already believe.
  6. I'm making new friends from such diverse backgrounds and places (one flew in from Greece for the course!)
  7. I'm doing something that slightly scares me every time I go, but I like that.  I need that.
  8. My children are having to learn to be a bit more independent without me here while I'm gone.
  9. I am learning anatomy and am actually retaining some of it.  I'll have to work on helping myself remember the terms, but I love seeing the connections to all the forms of exercise I've been doing for so many years.
  10. My husband rode his Vespa to come see me on my break -- so sweet to have a little date in the midst of it all.
  11. I am eating better because I want to nourish myself to be able to move like I need to, but I'm not overstuffing myself as I tend to do because I'm finding it doesn't serve my body well.
  12. I did traingle pose today for about 20 minutes or so while the class walked 360 degrees around me, evaluating my form and my body and I was somehow okay with that.  Pretty amazing!
  13. I finally made the connection in my brain of how to improve my triangle pose.  It's never made sense before when teachers have adjusted me in that pose.
  14. The yoga studio is in a very cool spot by a quaint french bakery in Santa Cruz where people flock to all day long.  It's fun to watch them gather and be so happy.
  15. I know that what I'm learning will benefit me for the rest of my life.

It doesn't get much better than that!