Great Big Wellness Geek

Geek

Today Mr Amazon Delivery Guy confirmed something I didn’t even realise I was dreading – confirmation that I’ve officially become a ‘Great Big Wellness Geek’ (GBWG for short)… and I’m not quite sure what to think of it.

Basically Mr Delivery Guy brought with him my coveted BPA Free 2 liter water bottle, the one that was as cheap as chips (€12 including postage and package!!) the one I got from these guys at New Wave Enviro Products, the bottle I wrote about here and have been only dying to receive.

Here’s a pic of him (the BPA bottle, not the Delivery Guy you ninny!)

BPA Free Bottle

Isn’t he a cutie?!

The strange thing was that when it was delivered to my office I was too embarrassed to take it out of it’s box and have a good old ‘New Delivery Inspection’ (like I used to in days of yorn when my delivers included Dermalogica products).  You see half my office already thinks I’m mental – what with the green juices I do be sup’ing, the homemade green lunches, the herbal Nettle and Green teas I have stationed beside their Nescafe and Barry’s Tea and the floral pouch of supplements I have on my desk (I deservingly get a guffaw of laughter every time I take a spray of my Vitamin D!!) so I think I just felt this BPA bottle went that step too far for what I’m ready for just now.

Basically I’ve decided there’s a few stages involved in Wellness:

GBWG Stage 1: This is the stage where you’re toying with becoming a GBWG. It’s a stage where you Google ‘cleanses’, ‘effects of sugar’, ‘benefits of raw food’, tentatively replace your beauty products with natural ones, drink a green smoothie once a month (and only get through half cos you think it tastes like grass) but generally go with the flow and keep your beliefs and preferences under wraps.

GBWG Stage 2: Then there’s the next stage, the one where you start requesting veggie options when eating out (instead of not wanting to rock the boat), actively count the number of fresh fruit and veg you’ve eaten each day and panic if it’s less then 4 and have a freaker if someone sprays Antiperspirant Deodorant near you in a confined space (‘agghhhh my poor lungs’!!).

The thing is I feel like I might just have pushed through into Stage 2… and I’m not yet sure how I feel about becoming that person.

We all find ourselves a bit cringy at times right?!

(There is a Stage 3 but I’m not even going there today)

Well anyways I know what Oprah (does anyone else have a mental block on how to spell that woman’s name?! My first attempt is always Opera!) and her cronies would say…

bfaa078b7aa0c8e19ad9a6c329ea846c177470041536468102_rSHrKxug_f150870656237458251_QpJbt8vU_fyoga6
And other fabulously motivating (but oddly irritating) phrases. But sometimes it all gets a bit much and you’re just a bit daunted about being out on your own, and basically you just aren’t bloody well ready for being at GBWG Stage 2.
Who knew an Amazon delivery could invoke such emotions eh?! 😉

September: A month for a fresh start

Boy, oh boy, did I have a good summer- friends weddings, mini city breaks, a week-long holiday in Italy, lots of wine and bread, dinners, nights out and lots and lots of sugar, salt and delicious toxins!

photo (19)

As much as I’ve loved the summer and all the indulgence, it’s left me feeling a bit ‘off’. My skin is back looking rubbish, my energy levels are bottoming out again- I long to be back in bed most days, my brain fog is creeping back, my mood is also defiantly darker and my old tumtum is playing up a fair bit.

I’ve always loved September, for me it brings with it a sense of ‘fresh starts’ – more so than January does. I associate January with being broke, cold and depressed while September for me is the time of new books, shiny new shoes, hikes on crunchy Autumn leaves, hearty meals, routine and new habits. In fact it was this time last year that I first decided to stop just ‘investigating’ wellness and holistic health and actually start living it.

(Basically, last September, after a particularly fun night out with friends I decided to walk the whole way home, a 30 minute walk,  at 2:30 AM, down quiet, deserted streets, all alone –  just so I could get cheese and garlic chips from my local chipper. I know, I know, so dangerous, such a flippen eejit.

I woke up the next morning, with a horrible hangover, eye make up everywhere, the remains of the chips on the coffee table and I decided I had had enough. I decided then and there I didn’t want to be ‘that’ girl no more and gingerly set out to become the person I wanted to be).

bfaa078b7aa0c8e19ad9a6c329ea846c

So, on this note I’ve decided that this September is again going to be my wellness ‘fresh start’. I’m going to go back to:

  • Drinking lemon and hot water each morning
  • Reducing my coffee intake to 1 skinny latté every other day
  • Doing a big veggie/ fruit shop each week so I’m more prepared for the week ahead
  • Eating at least 5 different fruits/ veg a day
  • Dry body brush before my shower everyday (not just at the weekends!)
  • Drinking 2 liters of filtered water a day (…must buy a filter!)
  • Get my body moving for at least 20 minutes every day– more yoga, get out and start walking in my lunch break, using our new gym.
  • Meditate more often (perhaps I’ll start a meditation class?)
  • Consciously work on silencing my ‘ego’ or ‘negative DJ’- she’s getting awfully loud and agressive lately
  • Reduce my reliance on cheese and bread and actively seek out and make new alternatives
  • Drinking either a juice or smoothie everyday
  • Cut out all beer and cocktails, they seem to be making an unwelcome return
  • Reduce my reliance on Facebook and Daily Mail… those bloody sites will be the death of me!!
  • Replace all my supplements which have long run out
  • Buy a vegan cook book and become more confident with vegan recipes
  • Take more time to Skype all my BFF’s living in far off places- I always feel 100% times more connected and grounded after a good old natter!

Yup, I think that is enough to keep me going! Here’s to feeling back fit and healthy by Christmas!

Juicing: The drink that packs a punch

green-juice

As per my past blog posts coffee is bad, soft drinks are bad, fruit juices are bad, alcohol is bad, tap water is bad (actually I haven’t done a blog on that yet, but I will, ooooh I will). At this stage your thinking ‘well what in the bleedin heck can I bloody well drink‘?  Good point, I’ve been a bit of a Negative Nancy of late harping on about all the things I’ve given up on this here ‘Wellness Journey’, so I’m going to change tact and talk about all the loverly things I’ve introduced to my diet instead. Numero Uno: Veggie Juice!

Veggie Juice is ‘so hot right now’ mainly cos it’s one of the best ways to extract all the vitamins, minerals and plain old goodness that comes from vegetables. Let’s face it, who wants to be eating 2 cucumbers, 3 handfuls of spinach and kale at 7am- but juicing enables us to get a healthy amount of vegetables in one go to start the day off with a bang!

Veggie Juicing  also delivers the zesty goodness  directly into your blood stream in the quickest way possible as juicing removes fiber, leaving the nutrients with nothing better to do but zoom right into your cells- pow!

pow- juice

Finally green veggie juice oxygenates the body due to the addition of chlorophyll and enables us to release stored toxins in our bodies, increase our energy reserves and cleanse our system.

Until now I have been getting my Veggie Juice from the lovely people in The Hopsack, Rathmines (mine is the apple, beetroot and ginger one please) or else getting it delivered to my door by the beautiful Fiona from Rawfi. However a little birdie tells me I might be getting my very own juicer for my birthday this year (t-minus two weeks people!) which I’m unbelievably excited about.

(Side Point: it’s funny how life works, if my boyfriend had tried to buy me a kitchen appliance for my birthday last year I would have probably hit him over the head with it, but this year I’m only delighra!)

I’ll be back with more on my Juicing Adventure later, but for now, if you are lucky enough to own a juicer or would like to know more, I recommend having a lookie at this short video by the gorgeous Kris Carr.

My Social Media Blackout

social-media-profiles

Before I go any further I just want to give you a little taster to what my Social Media addiction looked like — warning: this ain’t going to be pretty. I was the person who checked either Facebook/ Twitter/ Instagram (or all 3 on a really bad day) the minute I woke up, I was the person who would check Facebook if I had to wait for even a moment, be it in a line, waiting on someone to arrive, in traffic (totally illegal I know!), while I ate, while I watched TV, while I was supposed to be working, while I was supposed to be working out, and then again, ‘just in case’ before going asleep. There just did not seem to be any designated ‘Facebook time’, it was a flippen free for all!

So, before I graduated and became one of those people who need to check their Facebook account while in meetings or while practicing Yoga I decided to quit, to press the ‘reset button’ on my addiction and remind myself how ludicrous it is to crave seeing that little red digit

social media The Year of Doing: June’s Verdict

I expected this would be a painful and lonely month, however the funny thing was that once I deactivated my Facebook account, deleted my Twitter and Instagram Apps from my phone and ipad I felt a sudden surge of calm and release rush over me. I felt relieved to have ‘opted out’ of the constant contact and stimulation.

I found myself using life’s pauses, whether it was in traffic, waiting on a lunch order, waiting on the kettle to boil to actually take stock of my surroundings, check in with myself and generally just let my brain have free reign and just be (deep or what?!).

vintage-social-networking

A surprising aside of this experiment was that meditation was a lot easier than it used to be. My brain just seemed to be more accepting of alone time, not quieter (never quieter), but calmer.

However I definitely missed the human interaction that comes from Facebook and found myself sending pointless texts and emails to people just to have some kind of contact with friends I don’t physically see too often, you know, just to make sure they are still alive and that something momentous hadn’t happened to them which I didn’t know about!

In conclusion, as of this afternoon I’ve reactivated my Social Media accounts, but I’ve deleted all ‘notifications’ and aim to use it sparingly and (hopefully) not get sucked back in… fingers crossed!

Raw Review

natashalogo

If you’d have told me this time last year I’d be going to a raw food class 12 months later, and enjoying it I’d of laughed in your face and told you to lay off the booze… But that’s exactly what happened last weekend.

I came across ‘Natasha’s Living Food’ at the Mind Body Spirit event in the RDS and was blown away when the nice man behind the counter explained that everything Natasha and the team make are raw… everything, including their soups, pizzas, cakes, brownies and sushi. AND not only are they raw they are also wheat, dairy, egg and gluten free! This blew my mind, so I was 1st in line for her ‘cookery’ course last weekend.

So what is ‘Raw/ Living Food’?

Eh, it’s food that isn’t cooked…  Duh.

Ok smarty-pants, well why is it good for us?

Raw foods contain live enzymes that aid digestion, which activate as they are consumed. Once a food is heated above 118 F the enzymes begin to die, and destroys nutrients, minerals, amino acids and vitamins, and alters the natural metabolic structure of the food. So when you eat a food in it’s raw form you’re getting the very best from it.

Raw food also promotes an alkaline gut (as opposed to an acidic one) which boosts our immune system, lowers inflammation and reduces our chances of getting sick.

Sounds good. So what did Natasha make?!

  1. We started off easily with a refreshing and cleansing smoothie made with lemons, coconut water, pineapple and a sprinkle of Maca. As someone who’s only arriving at this super food party I was fascinated to hear how the body uses Maca for energy, stamina and as a hormone stabilisation. It’s defo on my shopping list.
  2. Natasha showed us how to make homemade almond milk (goodbye store bought crap), with which she made a delish ‘chocolate milkshake’ with cacao and cinnamon. Mmmmmm 🙂
  3. Then we moved onto sprouting and fermented foods and how they can give our gut an extra helping hand. Again this was all brand new to me so I lapped it up. Natasha is a hive of knowledge on nutrition and her enthusiasm is infectious. You feel healthier just listening to her.
  4. Then we had a spicy green soup– yes, a RAW soup, made on miso, spinach, coriander, coconut, Thai spices all blended together and heated with some hot water. Served sprinkled with sprouts. Bleedin delish!
  5. Natasha then made a cake with a seaweed mousse! You’ll just have to take my word for it that this was also scrumy
  6. We then had a late lunch of pizza and salad. But not any old pizza- this was a pizza with a buckwheat, flaxseed and courgette base, the cheese made of cashews, with an olive tapenade and tomatoy/ garlicy topping. Again the flavours worked really well together and I wolfed down the lot, not missing mozzarella for a minute.

All in all it was a great day and once this hectic week is over I can’t wait to get testing the recipes out myself!

Here’s a few pics of what we ate (with thanks to Viorica Vesa- another raw food enthusiast!)

66884_10201012363172882_795568325_n 427815_10201012370733071_1952015955_n 733914_10151546713756492_1211348519_nphoto (4)

Magic spiralina

Kidneys: The Neglected Organ?

You’ve had a mental couple of weeks working and socialising and basically burning the candle at both ends. You wake up exhausted and cranky most mornings and can’t operate until you have had 1/2/3 cups of coffee. Work is stressful and a bit too fast paced then you would like. Most evenings you have a strong craving for salty products. There are large dark circles under your eyes, your nails are cracking and your hair is dull and lifeless.

Does this sound like you? Then keep reading cos I think you could do with some info on yer kidneys.

The poor old kidneys, most people have a general understanding of what the liver, lungs and heart do for us and how to look after them but when it come to the kidneys a lot of people don’t even know what they actually do for us, never mind how to take care of them. I for one used to be clueless, I didn’t even realise we had two… true story.

Quick run through: The kidneys are two small organs in your lower back under your adrenal glands. Their functions include:

  • Filtering waste out of the blood
  • Regulating the body’s salt, potassium and acid content
  • Removing of drugs from the body
  • Balancing the body’s fluids
  • Releasing hormones that regulate blood pressure
  • Controlling the production of red blood cells

See they are useful little fellas after all?! (not sure why, but they are male in my mind)

The past 10/ 20 years have seen a massive increase in people suffering from kidney disease, the need for dialysis and kidney transplants due to kidney failure. The reasons for this is closely linked to the skyrocketing rates of obesity and diabetes. In fact dialysis centres are becoming so normal in the US they are popping up in shopping malls like a Starbucks…

davita_dialysis-large

The other scary thing is that many people who have kidney disease don’t even know they have it. Therefore it’s important to recognise the signs your kidneys are under additional pressure and help them out.

So what can I do to help my kidneys?

  1. Eat more magnesium-rich, hydrating foods, e.g. Raw almond butter/ Dark, leafy greens, e.g. kale/ Spirulina- I’m going to do a blog on this superfood shortly/ Brown Rice/ Avocado
  2. Be informed: the next time you’re doing a shop have a read of the ingredients, especially the salt content of products before buying. I don’t want to ruin the surprise for you but deli meats, pre made soups and most sauces are laden with salt.
  3. Regularly eat the following ‘kidney booster’ foods: red grapes/ cranberries/ apples/ garlic/ red peppers.
  4. Try and eat your 5 fruit and veg- everyday! This takes preparation and forward planning. I try to do a big veggie shop twice a week so I don’t go without when things are busy.
  5. Quit smoking: Duh…
  6. Find a type of exercise you find fun and get moving!
  7. Prevent kidney infections by drinking lots of water and staying away from those terrible ‘ Feminine Hygiene Sprays’.

A (lunch) break from the norm

Dalkey

I tore myself away from my desk this lunchtime and went out to Dalkey to pick up some dandelion tea and a fun filled pitta (falafel and spinach) from Select Stores. Jeeze, the outside world is so much better then eating a limp sambo at my desk any day! 🙂

How the hell do you pronounce Quinoa?!

CLoseUpQuinoa200by155

First things first people, it’s pronounced ‘keen-wah’. I’d recommend learning that… you don’t want to do what I did and embarrass yourself by asking ‘hi, where’s the keen-knowa’ (doh!).

This grain is a native of South America, where lots of magical super foods seem to originate from, in fact it was known as ‘the gold of the Inca’s’ as it gave them that certain ‘X Factor’ while in battle! Let me run through its qualities:

  • It’s gluten-free (unlike couscous)- so great for celiacs or anyone with a gluten intolerance
  • It is extremely high in protein- great for the vegetarians among us and those looking for a healthy energy boost.
  • It contains almost twice as much fibre as most other grains and is also high in magnesium, B2 and iron.
  • For convenience sake, it cooks the fastest of all grains
  • It’s getting really popular lately and can now be found in most supermarkets- along side the couscous or else in the health food aisle.
  • It’s bleedin delish!

So how does one cook this little miracle grain?!

  1. Spend time washing the quinoa- this loosens up the outer coating of saponin, which can give a bitter taste if not removed
  2. Transfer the quinoa to boiling water. Bring to the boil and then turn the heat down to simmer and cook for 12/ 15 minutes.
  3. Once cooked, remove from the heat and drain the water, fluff the quinoa with a fork and serve.

It’s great to eat with any salad, it can be used to make a gut friendly breakie and even a desert by mixing it with different oils and milks. Warning, it can be quite bland if not prepared correctly so when preparing pick recipes which have lots of herbs and spices added.

Here’s a yummy recipe for Halloumi and Quinoa Salad to get you started:

Ingredients:

4 tomatoes

Small red onion finely sliced

1 tbsp red wine vinegar

Olive oil

1 tsp ground cumin

100g quinoa

Sliced halloumi cheese

Handful parsley leaves

Pitta bread and natural yogurt, to serve

 Steps:

  1.  Heat the (fan) oven to 200C. Put the tomatoes on a baking tray, drizzle with 1 tbsp olive oil and season. Roast for 25 minutes until the edges are all frizzled.
  2. Put the onion, vinegar, 2 tbsp olive oil and cumin in a bowl with lots of seasoning and toss.
  3. Follow my above instructions to cook the quinoa
  4. Then toss the quinoa in with the onion and dressing.
  5. Grill the halloumi until golden (try and not eat the cheese at this stage!)
  6. Toss the parsley and tomatoes with the quinoa mix then top with slices of halloumi.
  7. Serve with pitta bread and yogurt and bask in the glory of creating a fast, delicious and healthy meal!

Some more fun quinoa recipes:

Creamy coconut quinoa pudding

Quinoa with a kick of cayenne and turmeric

 

My Issues With ‘Deserving’ Relaxation

‘We’re all so busy, with our jobs, social lives, families etc. we deserve some ‘down time’ once in a while, we have earned time to look after our exhausted body and mind…’

multitasking

That’s the generic opening line a ‘relaxing’ blog post is supposed to take. What I can’t understand is why we have to ‘justify’ relaxation, at some point very recently society changed and now we suddenly need to ‘deserve’ quiet, down time, we need to have ‘earned’ that early night in bed or long bath.

Why is this?! How did we get so conditioned that only when we have worn ourselves out, run our bodies and minds into the ground will we then ‘warrant’ a massage and some chilling out time? Why do we feel guilty telling someone that we are going to get a pedicure or spend the evening chilling in front of re-runs of Modern Family on TV?!

Are we not precious enough to put self-care time at the top of our priorities?

Here’s an idea, how about tonight you priorities yourself for a change, not because you ‘deserve’ it or have ‘earned’ it but because you  darn well want it?! Go on, fill a bath, get a good book and just enjoy soaking, or go for a long walk with a friend, or watch a fun movie on the couch in your PJ’s with a hot cup of something?! Sounds good doesn’t it? The key is not to feel guilty about it, just enjoy how your body feels relaxing and switching off and then start scheduling this time in for yourself on a regular basis.

The Innocent Looking Tampon

Guess how many tampons we approximately use in a lifetime? Go on, just guess.

…12,000!! Seriously, twelve flippen thousand tampons over our life time! But then again, I suppose that makes sense, they’re a product that most women need on a monthly basis for approximately 40 years of their lives.

Without being too graphic, it’s safe to say that these 12,000 products go into a very intimate and delicate place. We’re not talking application of foot cream or nail varnish here. We’re talking about the most absorbent part of our body. So obviously you’d like to know the tampons you’re using are safe and totally harmless right? Or maybe you’ve never given this topic a second thought? Keep reading, I command you! 🙂

You know the way tampons are made almost entirely by cotton? What if I was to tell you that cotton is the world’s dirtiest crop, that it is sprayed with 25% of the world’s pesticide- more than any other crop. That the pesticides it’s continuously sprayed with include, among others: insecticides, fungicide and herbicides.

I mean this is grand (ish) when the cotton is used to make the jumper you’re wearing, but when it’s used in something that’s getting intimate with you, multiplied by 12,000 times?

cotton1

If you thought that was bad, how about this- if your regular tampon has a plastic applicator it’s made from petroleum products, which will also contain plasticisers, which is an additive which makes the plastic pliable and which therefore contains Phthalates (a large family of industrial chemicals). High exposures to Phthalates for women of childbearing age are proven to create a risk of reproductive birth defects and other scary health effects.

It’s also been proven that continued exposure to these chemicals can worsen period pains, PMS, and aggravate symptoms of endometritis, polycystic ovaries and other fertility issues.

Lastly (and the picture I’ve posted below illustrates this pretty well) when conventional tampons (the one on the left) are placed in a glass of water, small bits of the cotton breaks off and floats off in the water… Do you get what I’m saying here without having me spell it out? BITS OF CHEMICAL LADEN COTTON FlOAT OFF INTO YOUR LADY PARTS!!… Sorry, I couldn’t help myself.

But don’t despair. None of this happens with Organic tampons (the one on the right) which are made from clean, non processed cotton and uses a safe carboard applicator.

tampon2

And that’s why, in my quest to become Clean, the very first product I replaced was my tampons. I now use Natracare tampons (which again can be picked up in any health store and cost about €2.25 for 10) and am promising myself (and future me) that I’ll never compromise on this again.Tampon1

Ok, rant over (cue sighs of relief all around).

More on this topic can be seen on this video of Nat Kringoudis (a fertility expert) talking to Aimee Marks, the founder of TOM Organic (an Ozzy Organic Tampon company).

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=BNmmH3kqZHQ

Or for more on Natracare

http://www.natracare.com/en-GB/

Top Wellness Cloud Posts

The Wellness Cloud Views

  • 11,424 views

Please click to follow The Wellness Cloud and receive notifications of new posts by email

Join 71 other followers