I love the YOGABODY Yoga Talk Show podcast. Every week, I look forward to the latest episode; the range of topics covered is so broad I’m guaranteed to learn something new. A couple of weeks ago, the topic of discussion was life balance and the causes of adrenal fatigue. It’s not a sexy topic, but it’s an important one.
I’m 21 and I truly believe our generation is seeking balance, or at least trying to tip the balance in favour of their well-being as opposed to reckless enjoyment. More than ever we are seeing turmeric lattes and superfood açai bowls and cool yoga studios. Public figures are healthy cookbook authors and instagram yogis and fitness ebook writers.
And yet so often it’s an all-or-nothing affair. You’re vegan or you’re not. You’re a yogi or you’re not. You’re healthy or you’re not. And you only ARE if you take things to the next level. You a raw vegan, and practice 90 minutes every day and always drink your lemon water in the morning. I’m not sure why there is such an obsession with perfection, but let me tell you, it’s not perfection you seek. It’s balance.
Have you ever regretted eating so healthily you couldn’t eat your mother’s apple crumble? Probably.
And have you ever been so careless you regretted eating the entire brunch spread last Christmas? Probably, too.
But did you regret having that one bite of your friend’s pancake stack and ordering the smoothie bowl for yourself? Probably not.
We also mistakingly feel that balance is just a food thing. Balance is an everything thing. Because what is imbalanced in one aspect of your life may be counterbalanced by something else. Balance is something that is advised by yoga teachers, nutritionists and life coaches; not choosing one extreme over the other. It’s a way of life, not a means to an end. Balance should not inspire guilt, either. It’s not because you’re not a raw vegan you’re a bad vegan. It’s not because you haven’t done the whole30 that you’re a bad paleo. Balance for you will look nothing like balance for someone else. But balance is so abstract, don’t you think? It’s an ideal that’s hard to pinpoint, you can only feel it. There’s no common denominator or way of measuring balance on a scale.
So how do you add more yin to your yang, so to speak? Well here are 8 things you can do to bring balance, rather than an extreme of good or bad, into your life!
February has been a beautiful month. I’ve been feeling energised and replenished, rested and peaceful. I’ve tried to reduce stress as much as possible, and I’m proud to say it has improved my quality of life enormously already!
I’m not a winter-lover. I love snow and Christmas vibes, but once January comes to a close, I am ready for spring. I’m ready to see trees and flowers blossom and to wear lighter coats. And put my UGG boots away. But this year, I’m trying to embrace the seasons, and I suggest you try, too! Seasons come and go for a reason, and nature is constantly changing. It’s a cycle of death and rebirth, and we should honour it rather than let it pass us by 🙂
As always, my (slightly) obsessive nature has ensured that this past month’s favourites were very easy and obvious to put together in this post! Let me know what you’ve been loving, I’m dying to know! 😀
I don’t know if it’s because I’m channeling my inner Viking or trying to find a substitute for shaving one side of my head [eek!], but these side braids have been stuck to my head most of the month. Having short hair means you have to be relatively creative in tying it up, and I’ve said goodbye to The Topknot aka that shaggy pile of hair that is not-so-artfully tied up when I’m exercsing/working/doing the dishes to keep my front layers out of the way. Yeah. Not glamorous. These half french braids are way easier than they look, very functional and I always get complimented on them 🙂 Continue reading “february favourites”→
It’s almost Valentine’s. Can you believe it?
Truth be told, I’ve never really understood it! I think I got a card, once. Nowadays, being in a strong and well-grounded relationship means that Valentine’s hasn’t got much significance for us. We have other meaningful times and milestones we celebrate! But I admire those who make a real effort on the day. Buy something nice, take their S.O. for a decadent dinner or better still, COOK FOR THEM!
Food gifts are definitely my favourite kinds of gifts; to cook for me or to gift me something edible speaks in my sorta love language. I’m so easy to please.
But taking me out can be.. complicated.
There you are, sitting in an outrageously expensive restaurant and staring blankly at the 3 mains on the menu. And there is nothing you can eat. Because you’ve been avoiding gluten and dairy and nuts and soy and sugar and and and— Sound familiar?
So. We all know how to prevent this scenario from happening.
a) phone the restaurant in advance and have a lengthy and frustrating conversation about your dietary restrictions (“no, I’m not allergic, it’s just that I’m avoiding it for the moment because…”)
b) cook at home.
Option b) generally wins for me!
I’ve spent some time (not that I mind!) looking for the best gluten + dairy free, real food recipes to cook for yourself or someone special (or print this out and hand it to them. Wink wink.) And I guarantee you’ll have a much better night than trying to eat around the croutons in your overpriced salad.
It’s late at night and I’m thinking about the whole30. I’m thinking about my first whole30 and how I’m still seeking #FoodFreedomForever. And I really feel like I need to take some thoughts off my chest after seeing how much attention the programme has had over the month of January!
I did the whole30 back in September. It didn’t have a happy ending, but it did have lifelong positive consequences. My gut wasn’t happy, but my soul was, and I am so grateful for the experience. I’m also proud I lasted the 30 days without a slip. I know I won’t be doing the whole30 exactly as it is outlined again, but I know that applying the core principles was essential to my mental success the first time around.
But there’s stuff we’re not talking about enough in this community. I still stumble upon whole30ers who just want to “lose weight”. Who think it’s ok to eat almond butter by the spoonful because it’s compliant. Or worse, who stuff dates with almond butter and are cool with that.
No. Don’t be cool.
If these behaviours don’t seem like red flags to you, please don’t stop reading. You need this.
#1. it takes a while to get ready and figure out your boundaries
And it’s Monday again. As it turns out, this weekend is Halloween weekend! I am super duper excited. See, I didn’t end up doing much last year, because I wasn’t ‘in the know’. I don’t know how it happened, but I felt very uninformed about what was going on!
In a nutshell: it simply wasn’t the right time, the right solution or the right fit for me.
the reason why
So I decided to complete the Whole30 because the lovely Kate, my nutritional therapist, advised I remove dairy and gluten from my diet to regulate my digestion, and the September Whole30 was about to start, and I thought it would be a good excuse for me to combine the two. So I did, and it took a great deal out of me at the beginning. My digestion took a hard hit. It is very fragile on my regular diet (mostly vegetarian, occasional animal products, lots of grains), and I didn’t give it enough time to adjust to the changes of a paleo-style diet (lots more meat, no grains).
You may or may not know that the paleo diet includes moderate amounts of meat, fish, nuts and dairy-free animal products, as well as an abundance of vegetables. No grains, no pulses, no peanuts and no soy. You are expected to eat a moderate amount of animal and plant fat to keep you satiated. The paleo community has become renowned for recreating pancakes, cakes and tortillas employing tricks using cashews, cauliflower and avocado. Now, the Whole30 encourages the paleo part, but not the recreating part. You can read more about it here.
Wow, this week has gone by so fast. And successful in terms of non-scale victories. Like snacking. I like snacking, but I’m finally learning not to snack so much.
I’ve not been keeping track of my food so well (or taking photos of it!), but I’ll do my best to recall what I’ve been eating, making, tasting and maybe even smelling.
Breakfast is always the same. I’m really intending to change it up next week, which’ll be the final week of my Whole30. 2 fried eggs (in coconut oil), a slice or two of bacon, and some not-so-optional avocado. Yay. Lunch is pretty interesting. I attempt to make pork sausages out of minced pork, sage and mustard but they turn out to be incredibly wet. So I decide to hash them with some cauliflower rice instead of making patties and serve it over a black kale salad, with some sauerkraut and avocado. My dressing of choice remains the same; tahini, apple cider vinegar and some seasoning.
I don’t snack today. That is a major non-scale victory for me, because I’m normally itching to eat something in between meals. I did have a mandatory black coffee at some point, like evry day. Dinner is a simple roast chicken, with turmeric and cumin. It turns out amazing this week, really juicy and crispy-skinned, and I serve it with some potatoes, mashed with a little clarified butter.
It’s Sunday, two weeks into my very first Whole30. I feel like I’ve been on this for months already. I’m getting the hang of it, whilst simultaneously feeling like I am not experimenting enough in the kitchen. I know I can do better!
In terms of health improvements, my digestion is 100% improved. Amazing. Not so amazing I may have to restrict my dairy or gluten intake in the future. We shall see. Oh and my sleep. My goodness I have not slept so deeply since childhood. I put my head on the pillow and I don’t wake up until the alarm wakes me. I am so lucky to have seen results two weeks in already. If you haven’t seen much improvement, please don’t give up. I know it’s not easy, but just keep going. It only gets better.
So anyway, week 2 has been a tasty week of meals!
Breakfast is two slices of streaky bacon (I get mine from M&S. It isn’t nitrate-free, but I’m still looking. It’s sugar-free, which matters to me the most right now.), 2 eggs and an entire small avocado. I’m struggling with digesting all this meat, and I order some HCL for stomach acid. I haven’t tested it yet, but it is very likely that I have low-ish stomach acid. Hopefully my body will adapt, otherwise I will have to revert to eating more fibre-rich starches when I am done. I’m pondering transitioning back into a much lower meat diet (90% plant-based) if my body rejects the paleo movement. But I am absolutely convinced I need grains. Like oats and amaranth and buckwheat. I read an article about digestion on PaleoLeap and read that it is normal for digestion to slow down at the beginning of a paleo shift, because fats are replacing grains and grains contain bulking fibre. I might need to eat more vegetables.
For lunch, I finally got to taste my sauerkraut, which has been in the making for 10 days. It’s so delicious, I have it with romaine lettuce, boiled potatoes, garam masala chicken breast in coconut oil and a mayonnaise (from Waitrose, all natural. I fail at making my own.) and apple cider vinegar dressing.
For dinner, I make pork loin with a big kale salad, roasted potatoes and cooked cabbage. Again, very delicious. I’m getting a little comfortable with my cooking, I’ll have to keep my creativity in check.
One week down, 3 to go. We can do this. Even if our digestion is completely out of whack and we can’t stand the sight of ghee anymore. We’re fine.
I thought I would give you an insight into what I have been eating this week, at home and on the road. It’s not been easy every day, but I’m proud of pulling through!
Monday morning, post late-night pizza feels (has anyone else tried Domino’s newest pizza with fresh rocket and Prosciutto? It was so worth it.) I am craving something healthy!
For breakfast: two eggs fried in coconut oil, a quarter avocado with hot sauce (Red Hot) and some mushrooms, sautéed in coconut oil + bone broth. I normally have toast. I didn’t miss the toast.
For lunch: a crispy chicken breast on a bed of leaves with a tahini, basil, garlic, lemon juice and apple cider vinegar dressing.
For dinner: homemade beef burger patties (spiced with cumin + paprika) + roasted potatoes + crispy black kale.
I did snack on a handful or two of nuts, I must admit I hadnt quite grasped the concept of not snacking unless you absolutely need it. I promise I’ll get better.
So what exactly is the BARE. Lifestyle? Simplify, simplify, simplify. Minimalism is a big trend at the moment, and there is absolutely no reason why it shouldn’t apply to your plate or mindset, too. What you put in your mouth every day should not only give you the energy you deserve to have, but it should also make you super happy! And the food you eat shouldn’t crowd your head with questions, concerns and tension. Food is awesome and we want it to stay that way, right? So ditch the sugar, the processed junk, and start eating real. Eat the BARE. way!
Eating the BARE. way will allow you to feel great, there is no doubt about it. But your mental health will benefit from this journey enormously, too! Being more aware and mindful of yourself and others is more important than ever; we are always so busy, stuck in our routines and unappreciative, despite our efforts to make the most of our daily life. None of these mechanisms are our fault; they are the product of modern society. But we all have the power to change the way we lead our lives.
Whatever ethical, dietary or lifestyle choices you make, there is no one-size-fits-all magic formula. We are so amazingly different! So by taking it back to basics, allow yourself to be in tune with your physical and emotional needs rather than blindly following the latest trend or fad. Trends and fads can be really good fun, there is no denying that (the avocado fad has still not worn off on me, oops!) But first, you should know and understand yourself. 😙
I am a strong believer in second chances, and your body is a very forgiving organism. Give yourself another chance to feel amazing! If you like the sound of the BARE. lifestyle, don’t stop here – take action and head over to my recipes and lifestyle posts to get inspired and excited about simplifying your life.
My 3-step approach makes it easy for you to reach your goals; from experience, I know that trying to reach a goal without a structure or a plan is hard.
A BARE. head: understand and identify your emotional relationships, with food and your surroundings, take time for yourself and for others and be mindful of your place in the world through meditations and self-awareness exercises.
A BARE. plate and body: take time and learn food awareness by following my recipes and eating tips & find the physical activity you are most passionate about, and start getting perfectly in tune with your body.
A BARE. Lifestyle: integrate your new mindset, eating habits and exercise regime into your daily life. This is a time for you to reflect and transition into your new habits, share your experiences with others and move on. Knowing yourself well means you have the liberty to add or remove whatever feels right at the time. Your body and mind are ever-changing entities. 💌