Health care system or sick care system?

The former acting Surgeon General of the United States said that:

‘the U.S.A. does not have a healthcare system, we have a sick care system’.

His point is applicable to most western societies where we seem to consume so much that not only are we individually sick but our environment is also sick.  

Surely what we need is to design a healthy society that incorporates safe routes to school, clean air, clean water, cities that are designed to promote physical fitness and mental health.

Living in Scotland is a privilege because by and large we live in a “healthy society” but lots more could be achieved and will be as we move toward achieving our commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals you can find out what Scotland is doing here.  

But, given that achieving a healthy society globally has been agreed, why are we not hearing more about the obvious need to radically cut global meat production and consumption?   This study from 2005, is just one of many that lays out the clear implications to our individual and public health as a result of meat consumption.  

If like me you are always on the lookout for new vegan products take a look at Blushberry Botanicals, offering a new and beautifully designed range of lip balms that are available to buy online.  They are fab, taste good, look good and feel good!

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A wonderful week…

To kick of the first week of my maternity Andrew was off work.  We had the most wonderful week exploring places in and around Dundee and getting the last few bits ready for the baby coming.

We spent most of the week outdoors and visited some palace gardens, a pick your own fruit farm and the Dundee botanic gardens (you can see my first Vlog from our visit here).

Today Is  my first day of maternity leave without Andrew at home and the thought of filling up my time has been quite daunting.  However, I am planning lots of walks, naps and trying out some new recipes over the week and hopefully another Vlog.

You can see what I get up to over on my Instagram stories.

Will there be an amicable global solution for environmental challenges anytime soon?

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Throughout history communities have developed economies as a means to organise, develop and barter. Today the global economy is comprised of interconnected systems which complement and challenge each other. But what about the relationship between economics and the environment?  I sought out some answers.
 
Traditionally the study of economics is associated with stuffy cigar smoked libraries and elderly, bearded, suit wearing men.
 
The young man I interviewed  was the polar opposite to this preconceived notion!
 
I found myself  talking with a clean shaven, twenty-two-year-old, economics post grad, working in The Hague and studying for his Masters in economic coding at Leiden University. I began by asking him to explain why some people consider economic growth and environmental progress to be at odds. He responded saying:
 
“the current economic model is like a wind up clock where customers say they want something and the market goes and gets it”.
 
I was unable to hide my disappointment, taking his response to mean he didn’t consider a marriage been the economy and the environment possible.
 
He continued:
 
“If customers say they want environmental improvements that’s what they get. If they don’t care, then they get something worse”.
 
He finished his response, smiling and said:
 
“the difficulty which I ultimately faced when studying for my undergrad is that while we all want change it’s not obvious that a different situation would be better”.
 
Interestingly he clearly understands there cannot be a solution to all economic ill’s and tearing up the current system and starting again isn’t a viable solution.
 
I followed up my initial question, staring into his starry, gleeful blue eyes…ahem, by asking if he agreed with the statement that climate policy issues cannot be considered using traditional economics and if the concepts which define traditional economics as restraining forces against environmental change.
 
He nodded and said “Ja” and then clarified “Yes”. He added:
 
“traditional economics usually doesn’t incorporate clean air or water because these aren’t goods that are bought and sold”,
 
Then he laughed and continued:
 
“they could be bought and sold but that would be terrible”.
 
Perhaps considering environmental issues from an economic perspective is foolhardy.   Do we really want to put an economic value on natural commodities? These are only questions which can be asked by those who already consider water, warmth, food and shelter human rights.
 
As citizens of the ‘north’ we rarely have to consider natural provisions as economic pawns. This young man’s opinions were eye opening, he had a clear understanding of our precarious and dangerous environmental situation and wasn’t afraid to voice his doubt over an amicable global solution arising any time soon.
 
I asked these questions based on the readings Grubb, M. (2014) and Nobbs, C. (2012), but also in the hopes to receive ‘alternative’ answers. I wasn’t disappointed, however I felt that despite having just graduated from a world class university he hadn’t focused much of his studies on environmental economics, in fact he closed the interview by saying sorrowfully that he…
 
“Did a course in environmental economics once. It was sad”.
 
References:
Grubb, M. (2014). 03:: Trapped?. In Environment and Ecological Economics (pp. 39-53). United Kingdom: Routledge. (Reprinted from Planetary Economics, by Michael Grubb, 2014, UK: Taylor and Francis Group).
Nobbs, C. (2012). 02:: Economics and Climate Change. In Environment and Ecological Economics (pp. 30-38). United Kingdom: Routledge. (Reprinted from Economics, Sustainability, and Democracy: Economics in the Era of Climate Change, by Christopher Nobbs, 2012, UK: Taylor and Francis Group)

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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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.

 

Sunshine and Snoozing…

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This week I am on holiday visiting my mum in Spain up in the Andalusian hills north of Malaga.  It is so hot we have to do our, very hilly run first thing through the olive groves.  

The great thing about an early run is that we are ready for the beach before 9am with lots of spray factor 40 on to protect against the sun. Check out this vegan friendly sun cream.

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A couple of hours of sun was enough so we left the beach by 11 am, just in time for cool drinks, followed by a lunch of super salads and warm French bread and then home for an afternoon siesta – perfect.

To keep hydrated we have been drinking cool water with lemon, orange and mint added.

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I decided this afternoon to be a professional photographer  with my  new Nikon Camera but between the heat and lack of skill I opted for a snooze instead.

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To see more snaps of my holiday check me out on Intsagram.

 

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.