For easy running – don’t skimp on the shoes…

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I don’t know why I have been so reluctant to change my running shoes.  My feet have been sore for ages especially on longer runs.  But because I hadn’t worn them out I didn’t think I could justify another pair.  Anyway I am off to spend a week with mum with the intention that we do some long runs in the hills.  

Thinking it through I didn’t think I could face eight or nine miles a day with the shoes I have.  ALso mum wants to do 18 miles as she intends to complete a marathon at the beginning of December and I am down for one just before Christmas.  

So it seemed a good opportunity to just go to my local Run4it and get properly fitted.  The guys were great and I came away with a pair of Saucony Guide 9’s  The next day I ran thirteen miles no bother and for the first time in ages with no pain.  I didn’t even need my compression socks.

So the moral of the story is – get a decent  pair of shoes that fit properly !

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Rice and Beans to fuel a run…

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300 calories

14g protein

What’s in it?

  • 100g rice – I used basmati in this recipe but you could use long grain brown or white or wild
  • 100g red beans
  • 15g mix between spinach and kale
  • 75g tomatoes
  • 55g red pepper
  • Dried chilie – as much as you like (I just used two)
  • Smoky paprika – one dessert spoon
  • Cumin – one dessert spoon
  • Three fat cloves chopped garlic
  • Onion and garlic chopped
  • Salt and pepper
  1. Cook the rice with a pinch of salt
  2. Prepare everything else apart from the spinach and kale and saute in a skillet with a little water (or fry with a tablespoon of oil although that ups the fat content and calorie count)
  3. Add the cooked rice and cook all together for a couple of minutes
  4. Add spinach and kale at the end just until it wilts.

Serve with a big glass of water

What would my Great Grandmother say…

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I am happy standing at 5ft 11”.  If I gain a few pounds it doesn’t much show.  On the other hand if I drop too low I look a bit “stringy” or as more usually described  “lean”.  But I’m not sure how I would feel if I was nearer the 5ft mark.  It’s pretty difficult to stay looking lean at that height and a few pounds definitely shows up.

Photographs of my great grandmother and great, great grandmother on my mum’s side show some hardy North East of Scotland woman standing tall at about 4ft 11”.  They were fit and strong from hard working lives but were pretty wide looking as well!

Not that I think they were very bothered about their shape and weight.  That’s a luxury that we can only indulge in today and only because we come from a prosperous developed country.  

60 years ago and beyond folk were mostly just struggling to get by, with food rationing on the way out and the NHS just in the way in.

How is it possible that we have become so tied up in knots over looks and weight and health?  We have so many technologies, choices and options… such ease of living and yet we just seem to have messed it all up.  

Without significant global agreement and intervention we will continue to compromise the sustainability of the Earth’s resources and in tandem some of us seem to be eating ourselves to death, others are malnourished and still more are starving!

My grandmothers from the past would be astonished at the opportunities we are flushing away and I think they would take a pretty harsh view of our behaviours and attitudes.  

I just can’t imagine that folk who lived before we had a free NHS would be able to understand our practice of throwing away our health by for example, consuming vast unhealthy quantities of food and drink and then expecting the rest of us to pick up the tab for their health care through taxes.
Mind you sometimes I have a chuckle at imagining them running a half marathon! The thought that they would have the time or inclination to waste energy on such pastimes is pretty grounding!

Is it time to get tough…

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I have always thought that the best way to encourage folk to a healthier and more meaningful life was to gently explain facts and trust that their sense and judgement would eventually win through.  However after a week of listening to ignorance of folk I know and especially on social media I wonder if it is time to turn up the heat a little.  

People, if you think the mass production and then the mass destruction of animals in outrageously cruel and environmentally unfriendly conditions is in anyway acceptable you need a knock on the head.

The ethical argument against causing such suffering to any other species in itself SHOULD be sufficient for you to be mindful of what you are putting into your mouth, how it got on your plate in the first place and what it is doing to your body and society at large.

Your thought processes are half cooked if you can’t recognise and adhere to the significant science based findings that have demonstrated the cost to us all.  We cannot afford the wanton “growing”, transportation and slaughtering of animals and the effects this has on our Earth and societies.

To be blunt we just can’t afford you to eat meat the way you are doing nor your attitudes that go along with it.  Take just your own health and ask yourself this; “Am I healthy?”  Well i’m afraid the answer for a growing number of folk is: “No you are not’

If you are an overweight, weak muscled individual it’s likely that you are eating pigs and cows, plumped up turkeys and lice infused fish.  All of which are pumped full of a cocktail of antibiotics and growth hormones.  That is what you are putting into your own body!  Are you mad?  Why are you so devoid of the ability to make reasoned judgement over your own basic needs?

And while you are doing this you scoff at healthy vegans, plant based eaters who radiate vitality and ooze well-being and contentment.  As we say in Scotland “yer aff yer heid!”  And frankly we shouldn’t let people get away with it.

Because I can…

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Motivation as far as I am concerned is the desire to do something or achieve something.  We know simple desire can achieve huge amounts whether it is training for an ultra marathon or starting your own business. But I think you also have to mix in a good dollop of bravery as well.

Achieving a goal of any sort usually means that something in your life has to change.  And we all know that change can be scary which is where the notion of being brave to cope with the change comes from.

Writing down your goals, visualising success and repeating mantras are techniques that some people teach to help with motivation.  But for me there has to be something more and that is having the right mindset to begin with.

I am motivated to achieve well over a long time and I am quite happy if the thing I want to achieve is difficult as the challenge to achieve that thing is even more motivating.  Training for distance running for example is a long game but the sense of achievement when I completed my first marathon was so great I knew immediately that I wanted to keep challenging myself by running faster, stronger and longer.

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Me and Mum after a Half Marathon 

I don’t think I have always thought this way however.  Like most people I was motivated more to avoid failure and unrealistic goals.

For example when I was younger I wanted to be super slim and wear the most fashionable clothes and have a super model like life style and naturally loads of money…  To achieve that I forced myself to barely eat and excessively exercise.  I did not achieve supermodel status,  I just made myself sick.

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20lbs lighter and still not happy!

People ask me these days how it is possible to stay so fit and slim and keep to my plant based healthy lifestyle.  They ask as if it is a burden and an impossibility for them to equally achieve.  The thing that they are missing in their thinking is that they can because I can!
As soon as you desire the promise of pleasure and happiness from living a healthy lifestyle more than the sludge of inactivity and biscuits and pastries you won’t have any difficulty with motivation.
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Happy Birthday Mum!!

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It’s mum’s birthday today and she has just signed up for her first half marathon in Spain – and it’s next week! It is great that she can make that decision and complete that sort of distance without months of training at the age of 51. It is all because she keeps herself healthy and fit with daily runs of five or six miles along with longer runs of eight to 12 miles every couple of weeks.

Mum also does regular yoga and body strengthening. But she feels the most important aspect of her lifestyle is her plant based diet. Like me she can eat a lot but it is all good stuff packed with nutrients. She also makes a daily tea with turmeric and grates the root freshly into her stews and salads.

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Mum’s main meal of the day is her huge salad. She normally combines beans (a different type each day) with spinach, tomatoes, grated carrots, cucumber, red peppers a spoonful of crushed nuts and seeds and then adds a balsamic vinegar, garlic and mustard dressing.

For breakfast her favourite is half an avocado on a slice of toast and in the evening she will cook up a small portion of rice, quinoa or couscous with some more beans in a tomato sauce or with a lentil dhal

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Mum argues that if you consistently eat well you will consistently feel well!

Proving this to be true for herself mum set out to prove that her diet could work for others and experimented on her friend Mark who needed to shed a few pounds.

Mark travelled to Spain and stayed with her for three weeks. Eating mum’s plant based meals and never feeling hungry, over the course of his stay Mark lost a whopping 24lbs and left energised and motivated to lose the same again!

We are looking forward to Mark guest posting his experience in the coming weeks and telling us how much better he feels with his new diet and zest for life.

Consistency and the three P’s…

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To get real results whether it be weight loss, increased speed, flexibility or learning the piano you need to be mindful of, as mum calls them, the three P’s: patience, persistence and practice. The three P’s lead to consistency and consistency over time will get results.

Patience: you are not going to see results straight away and therefore you need to be tolerant and kick out thoughts of annoyance because you are not achieving in a week what in reality could take some months (or if learning piano some many years!)

Persistence: think doggedness, resolve and determination. Keeping going despite the difficulties. You will get stronger and faster and you will feel better, lose weight and become lighter in mood. You just have to keep going.

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Practice: remember the 10,000 hour rule to achieve mastery in a field! Well I’m not aiming for mastery but a lot of practice will certainly ensure success. Practice your cooking skills, practice your running form or swim stroke. Go to a class, read widely, search out new ideas. Practice your new style living all the time and you will see sustainable improvements in anything you choose to do.

Persevere with the three P’s and you will achieve consistent and sustainable change.

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Plant-based eating is affordable…

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Very often I hear the objection to eating plant foods and especially fruit and vegetables, that it is so expensive.

Well I just can’t agree with that. Of course you can make buying anything expensive if you want the most packaging, the most shiney and the most out of season.

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However if you want taste and nutrition then it is quite easy and affordable to purchase large quantities of vegetables. And although fruit seems more expensive you don’t need quite as much of it.

I mostly eat large salads with a variety of beans mixed in and a great dressing. I also stick to spinach rather than salad leaf because it is more nutritious so a “bigger bang for your buck”.

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While it might not be possible to visit a daily fresh market like the amazing Atarazanas Market in Malaga you can, for sure, get to a low cost supermarket for a range of locally produced produce. So now what is your excuse

Hills…the best alternative or no alternative?

Last week in Spain there was no alternative to taking on early morning hills.  We were staying in a valley and to get anywhere it was uphill or…well it was uphill!

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The first run was a shock as the gradient was challenging to say the least.  The next two runs were a mix of fear of the gradients and fun because what goes up has to come down – to lots of cool water and a big breakfast.

The last run – well I was just glad it was the last.

The thing is that just in those few days I have strengthened my legs, improved my aerobic capacity and definitely increased my endurance.

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And that was all good because this week I had a tremendous  time walking up Scotland’s most easterly Munro without any problem at all.  I could enjoy the space, the views and the camaraderie of the other walkers without huffing and puffing and no stiff and sore legs.  A great day out.

 

Weight loss is a consequence of living well not it’s sole purpose…

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One of the biggest burdens I have been freed from during my practice of living well over the past three years is that my weight has stabilised.

I’m no longer consumed by checking the scales every morning which is  just as well because I am fairly sure that the stronger I have become the slightly more I weigh.  In the past that would have totally put me in a negative tailspin.

Any increase of weight would inevitably have me on a severe calorie restriction blast which would in turn affect my mental state – mostly on account of the fact that I didn’t have the nutrients or glucose I needed for brain function and certainly not for sensible physical activity.

As I swayed from eating too much to too little my food choices ranged from poor to mega poor.  I ate processed foods albeit they were vegan but donuts can be vegan too!

Nowadays I am far more interested in keeping my body tip top so I can use it to do the other things I enjoy.  A healthy, strong body at a decent weight means, for example, I can enjoy climbing mountains in Scotland and run outdoors and enjoy amazing scenery.

It also means I can use my body as a highly sustainable transport system to get me to and from work – is it not crazy that folk drive a car a couple of miles to get to work because they are too unfit to walk?

How important is glucose for brain function?  Try this article for more information.