eat fat. get healthy.

September 19, 2014

Ah, the 20-year-old version of me would never have imagined this post coming from the 40-year-old me. But I have changed my ways.

Yes, fat is the most calorie-dense macronutrient (9 calories per gram, rather than the 4 calories per gram in protein and carbohydrates). But during the fat-free craze back in the ’90s, when we ate carbs ’til we were sick of ‘em (then ate some more… they were carbs, after all) and… just craved more carbs. But it was OK, as we were avoiding the “evil” fat.

Over the years, it took some convincing, but I increased the amount of healthy fat in my diet. By healthy… I’m talking about olive oil, avocados, nuts. I’m one of those ultra-controversial folks who’ll say that synthetic fats, such as canola, likely aren’t good for us (I’m not a huge fan of large amounts of anything synthetic), and of course, trans fats are something to avoid.

I also eat a reasonable amount of coconut oil–mostly sauteing in it. Yeah, it’s solid at room temperature. But our bodies liquefy the stuff, and it’s naturally occurring. There are still a few studies that have me on the fence about it, so I don’t drown myself it in. (though I’ve soaked my hair in it…)

Anyway. My point in this post is that once I started increasing the amount of fat in my diet–I honestly don’t track grams or percentages, I just eat–my weight has been easier to maintain, and I’ve been healthier in general. I just stick to the more natural fats.

Has anyone else had this experience… or something to share along these lines?

on setting quests

September 16, 2014

Last time, I talked about Chris Guillebeau’s new book about setting quests for yourself, seeking life improvement, so on and so forth.

What if you can’t think of anything to accomplish? Well… that’s part of what this book is about, to inspire you, to give your creativity a good shove.

And what some of these people found–and what I have found–is that sometimes, you embark on what feels like a more superficial quest, and in the process of pursuing a smaller, seemingly less meaningful goal, you end up thinking of something deeper along the way. You modify. You pursue more. Life has new meaning.

For instance. I recently visited my 50th state. Most people would say, what’s the big deal? Why aim for all 50, why make that sort of effort?

First of all, when you’ve already been to 49, you kind of want to get to the last one. :) But there’s something else. Having an artificial goal (all 50 states!) forced me into going to all parts of the country. Otherwise, what reason would I have to see the whole thing, other than my desire to travel? And by visiting all areas of the country, I see more, learn more, learn more about a variety of people. I’ve learned that while we all have similar deep desires (success, to be happy), we have different value systems, different religious values, different political values. Yeah, it’s one thing to read about it. But it’s different to sit down and talk to someone about it. And that’s what that travel quest was all about. (I never knew that was the case when I started my cross-country trips at age 7… but here I am.)

Anyway, start small, work big. It will happen. :)

the happiness of pursuit

September 13, 2014

I recently had the opportunity to preview Chris Guillebeau’s new book, which came out a few days ago. It’s called The Happiness of Pursuit, and discusses the importance of seeking out quests in life.

He also gives many examples of diverse quests people have taken–from the extreme, of a family of four bicycling and tent camping from Alaska to Patagonia, to a woman cooking a meal from every country in the world. (Not that the latter is not challenging, but it presumably comes at less bodily risk.) What I’m getting at is that despite the word “quest” seeming epic (in the literal sense), you can choose your own level of quest.

And who knows… you may start out with something on the smaller scale, and once you accomplish that, you feel successful! (Awesome!) and you end up setting your sights higher with a second quest.

The point, however, is not to compete; the point is to enjoy life. Enjoy the journey along the way.

And I enjoyed this book, too! If you’re interested in reading more about it, check it out here: Chris Guillebeau’s Books

Chris is starting out a multi-city book tour, US and Canada for now. I’ll be seeing him in Seattle on October 24th (and am toying with the Vancouver date, also, as an excuse to go to one of my favorite cities!)

I have a big quest idea. It relates to MS and public perception of the disease. More on that later!

ice buckets and charities

September 10, 2014

It was almost a month ago that the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge went viral. From my understanding, if you were tagged by a friend, you had 24 hours to dump a bucket of ice on your head, or you had to donate $100 to the ALS Society. (“had to” donate. Yeah.)

After the first round passed through, I saw a lot of naysayers, especially from my native state of California, riddled with drought. Wasting water. (True.) Waaahhh waaaahhh, you silly people dumping water all over you.

While I’m not a fan of the Ice Bucket bit (I think it’s just part of the Look At Me! selfie culture) I also didn’t want to just be a Negative Nellie about the whole thing. Instead, I encouraged people–and encourage you, right now–to find your local ALS Society chapter to learn more about the disease and volunteer your time, if not donate.

As someone who lives in Western Washington, here is the link to the Seattle chapter of the ALS Society. ALS is a devastating disease that rapidly kills.

In fact, whenever you donate to an organization, I encourage you to learn more about not only the organization itself, but whatever you are raising money for–whether it be ALS, MS, or a non-medical charity. Do continue to support those around you…

But support doesn’t always come in the form of money. And it definitely doesn’t require dumping ice all over yourself.

Did you know that you don't have to pour a bucket of ice water over your head to donate to charity?

Did you know that you don’t have to pour a bucket of ice water over your head to donate to charity?

i can’t get no satisfaction

September 7, 2014

I’m never satisfied anymore. I always have to work harder. Go more.

Now… this involves a healthy level of pushing myself. There was a time in my life when I wasn’t “good enough” and I was self-destructive. That was a lifetime ago, and I’m proud to have overcome those years.

But complacency isn’t the way to go, either. In order to be the best YOU, you need to work damn hard.

So I write. (A lot.) I work out. (But when my body says “no more”, I do an easier workout. I know my limits.) I practice music. I study the topics for my lectures, and script various parts in my head so that I can deliver with appropriate humor. :)

I’m never satisfied with the status quo. I’m always telling my workout buddies (and classes) that the workouts never get easier… when they fee easier, we just challenge ourselves more, because we’ve gotten fitter. And yeah, that’s a good sign.

After all, who are we if we don’t deliver our best?

do you have a quest in life?

September 4, 2014

Not long ago, I got an advance copy (hee, I feel special!) of Chris Guillebeau’s new book, The Happiness of Pursuit. If you haven’t heard of Chris, stop by his website–no matter who you are, you’re sure to find something that will inspire you. He writes about travel, pursuing goals, finding out who you are, and exceeding your limitations. Things I think about all the time. :)

I’m still reading this wonderful book, and it’s not set to officially publish for a few days, but Chris writes about quests. He has interviewed a handful of people who have taken their own major quest in life, and how might one go about pursuing that? And why should one pursue a quest? (To find meaning in life, happiness…) Read more about the book here, where you can even place an order if you want.

Chris recently completed a quest of his own–visiting all 192 countries of the world by his 35th birthday. One might wonder–why? But he discovered, much as I discovered in my pursuit of all 50 US states, that the stories you get from the people you meet–especially in the day and age of social media–are gold. I imagine Chris would agree with me–I feel very “wealthy” merely from my travel experiences.

As for me, I have an idea for my own quest and am trying to hone it. As someone who thrives with MS (very few symptoms), I’d love to meet others in a similar boat and hear your life stories. My goal (at least at this point) is two-fold: anecdotal data collection for what might help us stay healthy, and to share the positive side of MS with the world.

Would anyone care to participate in my quest? :)

Happy Labor Day!

Summer isn’t over yet, and there’s always a plethora of yummy produce around a lot of the year, at least here in Seattle! I like eating avocado (though my poor husband is allergic)–not only is it tasty, but it’s full of nutrients as well as healthy fats! These good fats are great for those of us with MS, as they may help our myelin. Any excuse to eat a tasty whole food, eh?

Anyway, I was recently reading a post on Carrots and Cake, another blog talking about food and exercise, and found this post (hah, a post about a post about a post!) listing creative uses for avocado:

Surprising Uses For Avocado

Ends up I’ve done a handful of ‘em already, such as making smoothies and chocolate pudding (oh so creamy!), but thought I’d pass along a few ideas! Avocado in fruit salad… I’ll have to try that one out!

If any of you have interesting avocado recipes, post ‘em below!

on being helpful

August 29, 2014

While going through a lot of medical problems–while going through any problems–there are always people who want to help. (I assume that many people want to help. There are probably a few who merely want recognition. But I’m generally optimistic and will assume that most people mean well.)

I have been both on the receiving end (ugh, too many times) and on the giving end, wanting to help those in need. Thing is, I know when I’m on the giving end, it’s hard to figure out how to help the recipient. Do I make them food? Do I clean their house?

Having been on both sides of the equation, I will tell you this: if you’re trying to figure out what to do for someone, simply ask what they want or need. A few times after surgeries, I have had no appetite and been totally unable to eat, and friends have thought themselves “helpful” by making me a lot of food. I would’ve rather they spend their energy and time sitting and talking with me, rather than making food that I wouldn’t eat.

In the end, just ask for specifics–the recipient will feel like you really are offering your time and talents.

eating for ms on the road

August 26, 2014

…or, eating healthfully at all while on the road.

So, so tempting on my recent road trip in the South to load up on everything around me: fried this, barbecue that, sweet tea until my eyeballs float… which is totally OK to do every now and then.

But after the first few days of our trip, my body was screaming, NOOOOO!!! I was sugared and greased to the gills. I’m not used to eating that way.

What to do?

  • I attempted to portion-control by sharing with my husband. We’d often order one entree and split it.
  • Sometimes, we were able to portion-control by just ordering appetizers. That way, we could also try multiple items. Unfortunately at some restaurants, the appetizers list was full of fried, cheesy, rich items (i.e. not dinner).
  • In more touristy towns, I’ve often found that “all you can eat” and cheap prices tend to go along with lower quality food. Yes, you get more for your dollar, but do you, really? If you’re getting more additives and preservatives…
  • I’ve also learned to listen to my cravings. (Hm… maybe not if they’re for ice cream…) I spent a lot of the trip craving tomatoes, of all things, so I figured that my body needed some component of the tomato. I didn’t eat them every day, but got them several days on the trip, figuring it was a sign.
  • I think it also goes without saying that if you’re traveling someplace warm… stay ahead of hydration needs. Keep on drinking. We were traveling in warm areas, I get dehydrated easily, so (sadly) I had almost zero alcohol on the trip–only a sample or two from a distillery. (It was how I avoided headaches…)

Anyway, just a few thoughts regarding eating, traveling, avoiding dehydration and other MS symptoms. If anyone else has other thoughts and would like to chime in, write ‘em in the comments!

keeping the mind active…

August 26, 2014

There’s a theory that keeping our minds active “keeps us young” (whatever that means), but it’s also clear that it helps fend off neurological problems such as MS.

But how to keep our minds active? I know several who read trivia, or do crossword puzzles. Me… I can’t help but think that’s not really productive. Since I love to travel, and I have a mind for this sort of stuff anyway, I’ve played around with online language sites.

I have no affiliation and don’t get a kickback, but my favorite right now is Duolingo. It’s easy to do a segment when you only have 5 minutes free, and you still feel like you accomplish something in that few minutes. Plus, unlike some other apps I’ve played with, you actually learn useful words and phrases.

The temptation for me (and for other travelphiles that I’ve read) is that once I establish the barest-bones level in a language, I really want to try something else! Oooohh! Shiny! New! But my challenge over the past two years has been to develop my Spanish to a deeper fluency. Growing up in California, Spanish was all around me, and at my small high school, it was my only foreign language choice. I was bored. But now that I’ve traveled to Latin America (and enjoyed it!) I understand its usefulness.

(If anyone is learning Spanish on duolingo, I’m brooke1! Find me!)

Anyway, if you’re into these things, it’s fun (to me, at least) and a great way to develop a new skill while keeping your mind active. They have other language options, too. Check it out!