Links Worth Sharing: Importance of Pride Celebrations, the Cost of Yoga, and more!

Introduction to Pride Week from A Practical Wedding

This is a great reminder on why Pride celebrations are still so important. “We still need hope. We need to connect with ever larger parts of the community—not to assimilate, but because it’s still in all of our best interests to note our commonality. Coming out—or just taking a stand—can be such a lonely place. Doing it together isn’t just a good idea for wedding tasks; it’s also for the work of making the personal not just political, but also less lonely. This week, let’s think about where we want to go, and how we’re going to get there.”

The Cost of Yoga, For What It’s Worth from Yoga Dork

I always appreciate reflections on the cost of goods or services, particularly when they seem outrageously expensive (as yoga sometimes does). “I have to wonder, is it possible for yoga, the one we teach, practice, dress ourselves up in, credit for our sanity, share on Instagram, to maintain its values and still make a living? Or is compromising our ideals the price we have to pay?”

Exercise and the ‘Good’ Bugs in Our Gut from The New York Times

After taking microbiology, I’m fascinated by the research on the effect of our microbiome on our health. “Being physically active may encourage beneficial germs to thrive in your gut, while inactivity could do the reverse, according to an innovative new study. The findings suggest that, in addition to its other health benefits, frequent exercise may influence our weight and overall health by altering the kinds of organisms that live inside of us.” 

Freedom Dreams and the Urgency of Decolonized Racial, Food, and Environmental Justice by Kalamazoo College

I’m thrilled to see more discussions like this taking place, and hope it can expand even further. “Even though neo-colonialist assaults glaringly persist in our communities, colonialism is rarely, if ever, discussed within mainstream discourses surrounding so called “food deserts.” Often, the problem of food “justice” is reduced to the lack of a “grocery store” presence, the need for people to learn to eat properly, or, at best, the need for an urban garden. While geographic access to food is critical, its presence isn’t nearly enough. Cost, relevance, ownership and conditioning are key factors in whether communities will be able to truly access the food. “

Turning an Inner Spark Into a Bonfire

At some point relatively recently, I realized I’m probably never going to be famous. At first, this was disappointing; a small part of me has always wanted to do something so awesome for the world that I’d end up with a memoir or a magazine cover. Maybe a library would be named after me! Maybe I’d start an institute! But recently, I’ve realized a) statistically speaking, this is probably not going to happen; b) it’s certainly not going to happen just because I want it to; and c) it’s actually quite liberating to let go of that expectation. 

I’ve been intermittently blogging for over 5 years. I’ve gone back and forth between wanting to fully commit, like so many of my favorite bloggers that I follow, and wanting to allow it to be a hobby that I engage in when the mood strikes. At some point I realized that my level of commitment to blogging was likely not going to net me a book deal or sponsors or invitations to conferences and I had a “what’s the point?” moment. I finally got to the very philosophically complex answer that I do it because I enjoy writing; and writing for a blog specifically helps me edit and choose words carefully, rather than the stream of consciousness that are often present when I journal. And when I cease to make blogging a regular part of my life, it doesn’t happen. The mood doesn’t strike, or it does, but I’m out of practice and I feel like my post will be terrible so I do something else instead. Hobbies require practice, too. 

All of this has led me to reflect on habits – both building them and how they can fall away. What surprises me most, sometimes, is how habits that feel fundamental can also slip away from us. Over the winter months, my healthy eating habits slipped a lot more than I would have expected. My running habit is proving to be a struggle to rebuild. My commitment to my budget has fallen to the wayside. 

I’ve known for a little while that I wanted to take some action to get back into the groove where I feel like my healthiest and best self. But there have been a lot of “I’ll start tomorrows” happening. In part, I’m glad to be taking careful time to consider what is valuable to me because I don’t want to get caught up putting energy into certain behavior because I feel like I “should” or because everyone else is doing it. But on the other hand, change happens in action, not in reflection, and it’s time to move forward. 

I’m reading Yoga & Ayurveda: Self-Healing and Self-Realization by David Frawley, and last night I was reading about tejas. In Ayurvedic theory, tejas is our inner radiance, the subtle energy of our inner fire. Tejas is linked to our digestion, courage, and clarity. I interpreted the passages on tejas to indicate that it helps us move toward action, both internally and externally. The practices used to develop tejas include silence, concentration and meditation, mantra, and self inquiry. Aside from whether you believe in the theories of Ayurveda and yoga, it makes logical sense to me that these practices would help increase focus so we can better correct our energies. The silence directive is particularly focused on not engaging in gossip or negative thinking, which I have definitely experienced as depleting. Concentration, meditation and mantra all require focus, which is vital toward accomplishment in any area of life. And lastly, self inquiry give us an opportunity to reflect on our actions and thoughts and ensure that we are engaging in those that build us up rather than tear us down. 

My biggest takeaway from the section on tejas is that these practices are habits that need to be built – hence the term “practice.” I know some people have an innate focus, but I don’t think I’m the only one that is prone to distraction and laziness and the “just one more episode” phenomenon. There are so many great blogs out there about building habits (two of my favorites are Zen Habits and Nerd Fitness), but I always thought to myself “that’s not for me – I’m great at building habits!”

Both my ego and my perfectionism have been the enemy of activity in the last year or so; I haven’t sought help or resources both because my ego said I didn’t need them, and my perfectionism told me that if I did need them, then what was the point? I should find something else to do. It turns out, it’s really easy to get good at watching TV or scrolling through Twitter or going on walks. Now, I’m ready for a challenge. I’m ready to fail and to start over. I’m ready to pay closer attention to the words that come out of my mouth and the thoughts that go through my head. I’m ready to accept that even if this path doesn’t lead to something extravagant, it’s worth it for all the things I can see along the way. 

 

Presidio 10: A Not-So-Serious Race Recap

Alex and I ran the Presidio 10 for the third time on Sunday. It’s a nostalgic one because it was the first race I ever ran. When I ran it back in 2009, I chose the 10K and finished with a runner’s high so high that it motivated me to sign up for countless races since.  

Sunday’s run was a little less euphoric; while being sick and generally unmotivated for the last month, my running ground to a halt. Alex has been kicking ass (literally) at martial arts, with less time for running. Bottom line: we were undertrained.

Instead of beating ourselves up about it, we decided to go out there and run easy and have a good time. Even while running easy, 10 miles is no joke, so I was nervous about how it would go. The racecourse is beautiful, winding through the Presidio and going across the Golden Gate in Marin for a minute before turning around and running back.

We got there early and picking up our race bibs was super easy. They did a wave start this year, and I found myself a little annoyed at the announcer. First, he said the faster, stronger runners should line up near the front. Yes, some runners are definitely faster than me, but stronger? It irked me but I let it go because I figured I was just being picky and sensitive. Then, later he called them the disciplined, dedicated runners and I rolled my eyes so hard. Some of us are disciplined and dedicated and still run slower than a nine-minute mile. Plus, there’s nothing like starting off a race after hearing you’re not a disciplined or dedicated runner. When it was our turn, he said we were the “real runners” with no explanation of how, since we were clearly not dedicated or disciplined, and started us of with a super slow song. I was annoyed, clearly, but Alex and I just started cracking jokes about it, which made me laugh. (I want to point out that I was not a dedicated, disciplined runner in training for this race, but a) I have trained diligently in the past and still run a 9+ min/mile race, and b) I know lots and lots of runners that train hard and run at lots of different speeds, so why label it?)

 The race has several hills at the beginning, and I found that they were less painful than I was expecting, considering my hill running has been nil. I like to think that all the squats, lunges, and deadlifts I’ve been doing have paid off. I did find myself really sinking into my legs and my butt to power myself up the hills and it really helped. Alex was cracking me up the whole time by making lots of jokes and being loud and goofy; I’m not sure our fellow runners appreciated it as much as I did, but the laughing helped propel me. I can’t wait to get our race pictures, because I’m pretty sure there are some ridiculous ones.

The last two miles of the race were flat, but straight painful. When I mentioned to Alex I was hitting the wall, he said “do you need some Kool-Aid?” and I laughed so hard I couldn’t breathe. Now I want to make a sign involving the Kool-Aid Man breaking through the wall and yell “OH YEAH!” at the next race where I’m a spectator.

Near the end of the race, I came up behind a guy who started saying things like, “don’t wait for me! You can do it!” I appreciated the motivation and pulled past him. He and Alex proceeded to run together for a bit and I could hear them behind me trading encouraging words and it was really awesome. He ended up pulling up next to me at the finish line, which made me sprint all out at the end. Me, him and Alex all finished at the same time and high-fived. Thank you, random man, who helped me finish strong!

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The race seemed to be more poorly organized this year than years past, and the line for t-shirts was literally so long I couldn’t see the end. We grabbed some organic birch tree water (yes, seriously) and hightailed it out of there. I don’t really need another race t-shirt anyway, but I was a little sad to not at least see it! 

We ended up running 10.17 miles in 1:37, at a pace of 9:33 per mile. I’ll take it! Considering the state of my running recently, it wasn’t half bad. We also had a blast, and it was nice to not take the race so seriously and just be goofy!

We just signed up for our first Seattle race in September – the Beat the Blerch 10K, based on this Oatmeal comic which is amazing. I was leaning towards the half marathon, but Alex pointed out that we’re going to be moving and hanging out with people and traveling and who knows what our schedule will look like. The 10K is a good distance to train for, and it’s also a good distance if training plans go awry. I’m really looking forward to hooking up with the running community up there!

 

OSG Cookbook Giveaway Winner

It’s time to announce the winner of the Oh She Glows cookbook giveaway! All the comments are in and thanks to a random number generator, comment #7 was the winner!

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Johanna said….“Lately my favorite is Isa Does It. I also really like Passionate Vegetarian and Bean by Bean.” 

Johanna, you should have gotten an email from me, but if you didn’t, leave a comment and let me know!

Check out the rest of the comments for more great cookbook recommendations!

Happy Monday!

Links Worth Reading: Bees, Mindfulness, and Arcades!

Program Looks to Give Bees a Leg (or Six) Up

While the program only has a budget of $3 million over five states, I’m happy to ANY federal funding being allocated on this important issue. “The new program will encourage farmers and ranchers to grow alfalfa, clover and other crops favored by bees and which serve a second purpose of being forage for livestock. Other proposed changes in practices include fencing property for managing grazing pastures in rotation so that they can replenish, leaving living plants for the bees.”

More About Mindfulness

I really like this balanced approach to mindfulness. Sometimes I get caught up in thinking that every single moment of every activity needs to be mindful, and I get so overwhelmed that I get caught in an anxiety spiral instead of being aware. “[Mindful running] is by far the most profound of the three approaches, but not always easy for me to sustain. It’s not that any of these is necessarily more enjoyable than any other. It really depends on my mood. But sometimes, the mindful run is exactly what I need.” 

Study Questions Fat and Heart Disease Link

To be sure, there is lots of research still to be done and some people think that the ever changing nutritional guidelines make nutrition science a junk science. But I’m attracted to it for precisely that reason – it’s ever changing and dynamic. We’re always learning more about how the body utilizes nutrients and what best fuels us. “Many of us have long been told that saturated fat, the type found in meat, butter and cheese, causes heart disease. But a large and exhaustive new analysis by a team of international scientists found no evidence that eating saturated fat increased heart attacks and other cardiac events.”

The Cure for Your Distraction Syndrome

As always, Leo at Zen Habits writes exactly what I need to read. “I absolutely adore the Internet, but there’s no doubt it has made us more distracted than ever.”

The 5 Biggest Lessons I Learned at the Arcade

I love the way Nerd Fitness frames things in a totally different way than all the other fitness related blogs that I read. I’m always inspired after reading articles like this to try something totally new. “Arcades have hundreds of games because everybody likes something different.  I love watching people set a high score in any game, regardless of whether or not it’s a game I actually want to play.  I watch them be good at the games they enjoy, and then move on to the game I enjoy, focusing on bettering my own high score. Life is no different.”

Jumping on the Juicing Bandwagon

I had brunch plans on Monday, which felt very luxurious and is one of the perks of being on a student schedule. But I found myself done with a pretty heavy lifting workout in the morning, and no meal on the horizon for hours.  I wanted something nutrient dense, protein filled, and light enough that I’d be hungry again a few hours later. A pretty tall order, if you ask me.

For the protein part, I threw together a protein banana soft serve that was so tasty, I know I’ll be making it on a regular basis.

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Peanut Butter Protein Soft Serve

Ingredients: 

  • 1 frozen banana
  • 1 scoop vanilla protein powder of choice (I use Sun Warrior)
  • 1-3 tablespoons coconut water, depending on desired consistency
  • 1 – 2 tablespoons of peanut butter, divided
  • Chia seeds, for topping

Method:

  1. Add frozen banana to food processor and process until smooth.
  2. Add the protein powder and pulse until incorporated.
  3. Add coconut water, and half the peanut butter and pulse until incorporated.
  4. Serve immediately, topped with chia seeds and remaining peanut butter.

I also wanted some greens. I knew I wouldn’t be getting them at brunch because I’d be facing tough decisions like an avocado and Jarlsberg scramble or cinnamon French toast. So I busted out our juicer for the first time.

I registered for a juicer because people that love juicing really LOVE it. And I’m all about jumping on the bandwagon (Alex and I get really into baseball right when the Giants are in the playoffs).  But since receiving it for our wedding, I’ve been kind of intimidated and haven’t used it. Turns out, it’s as easy as flipping a switch and shoving a lot of produce down a chute.

I did a kale, celery, ginger, carrot mixture, with a squeeze of lemon after the fact. One factor that has made me skeptical of juicing at home is that it takes a lot of produce to make a decent amount of juice. Then I remembered that I actually don’t love a huge glass of juice, especially when it’s a component of another meal. This small glass of juice was a perfect addition to a light breakfast.

Bonus: I felt like I was having a cocktail at breakfast. Upon further consideration, I’m not sure any alcohol would taste good with green juice.

I’m not going to be juicing daily, but the juicer has now taken up residence on the counter, hopefully as motivation to make a small batch a few times per week. Then my next task is to tackle using the pulp!

Are you into juicing? What’s your favorite combo? 

The Oh She Glows Cookbook Review and Giveaway!

I’ve built up quite the collection of cookbooks over the years. I started with an old Vegetarian Times cookbook that I stole from my mom, and then it’s progressed rapidly from there. My parents were visiting this weekend and my mom saw my three (!) shelves of cookbooks and asked, “are those really ALL cookbooks?”

My collection, however, didn’t stop me from eagerly awaiting the arrival of The Oh She Glows Cookbook. I received the pre-order as a Christmas gift, and when it came a few weeks ago I was so excited.

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The cookbook all vegan, and all awesome. The photography is lovely, as to be expected if you read Oh She Glows. There are a ton of recipes, plus helpful reference chapters on building up a pantry, cooking tools, and staples like cashew cream, mushroom gravy, and lots of other basics. Angela’s friendly and funny voice comes through the book the entire time, which made me want to read it even when I wasn’t cooking from it!

I’ve made four of the recipes from the book, and my favorite thing about them is that they are nourishing but very simple to make. The soups were quick and easy to make; the tomato and mushroom sauce (which I served over lentils) was hearty and full of flavor.

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My favorite recipe has to be the Miso Power Bowl which I’ve made three times! Having it for lunch keeps me filled up to power through my afternoon classes. My only addition to it was avocado, because avocado makes everything better. I haven’t tackled the dessert section, but I honestly can’t wait to try it. So many of the recipes look decadent and delicious.

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The food is filling and not fussy. The book is made up nutritious meals that will work for real people who are flying around trying to do a million things at once. There aren’t a bunch of imitation products – everything is based on whole grains, legumes, nuts, and vegetables. I really appreciate this way of eating, and this cookbook is definitely going to be one I return to again and again.

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My photos aren’t the best, but I highly recommend checking out Oh She Glows to get an idea of what the recipes are like.

Because I love the book so much, I’ve decided to share the love and give one to a reader!  Please leave a comment telling me what your favorite cookbook is (I always need new ideas!) and I’ll choose someone at random to receive a copy of The Oh She Glows cookbook. I’ll choose a winner on Monday, April 7!