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Healthful Habits
The Impact of Food


My relationship of food has undergone what can best be described as a paradigm shift. Raised on a meat and potatoes kind of diet in a mid-western family, I grew strong and quickly took on the look of my German-English heritage. It wasn't until I was well into my college swimming career at a Division 1 school that my calorie-binging lifestyle caught up to me.

I distinctly remember one swim meet that my parents attended up in Wisconsin. After my race, I found them seated in the bleachers and they asked, "When is your race?" I said, "I just swam it. I was in lane 6." My mom said, "No, that wasn't you..." To which my dad looked at me and said, "We didn't even recognize you, honey. You've gotten a lot bigger."

Being an athlete, I viewed food as fuel. Fuel that I needed enough of in order to train 5-7 hours a day for 6 days a week. It didn't matter the form (3 bowls of Lucky Charms, 4 bagels, 2 glasses of Dr. Pepper), it was all just calories and calories were energy, right? Well, as I soon realized, not all calories are the same.

In my sophomore year, I started to feel strange heart palpitations, had trouble catching my breath, and felt dizzy after just climbing a flight of stairs. My coach had me see a cardiologist who said I had a "leaky valve" in my heart causing some of the oxygenated blood to leak back into the left atrium instead of being pumped out to the rest of my body via the aorta. I went to a holistic nutritionist who said that "heart murmurs" can be triggered by stimulants in our diet like caffeine, sugar, and the hormones and steroids in conventionally raised livestock, as well as stress and lack of sleep. I decided to make some changes. I cut out all caffeine, tried to lower my sugar intake (cutting out sodas killed two birds with one stone!) and stopped eating meat.

Shortly after changing my diet, my energy levels were more consistent, the heart palpitations less frequent, the dizziness had vanished. I payed attention to my sleep patterns and did little breathing exercises before I went to bed to calm down my nervous system. The calories that I thought were providing my body with the fuel I needed to perform well were actually doing the exact opposite. I started viewing food not as fuel, but as vital nutrients. I found the foods that made me feel good, were mostly plants (yes, that includes nuts, fruits, vegetables, and grains!).

As gardening is quickly turning into my favorite past time, the food I grow drastically reduces the amount of pesticides that I ingest and my carbon footprint from food transportation. I now view food  choice as a way to live more deliberately. The movement that I see growing all around me toward homegrown, local, organic, sustainable food makes me realize that there is a disconnect with industrialized processed food and that people have decided to take back the reins. As our ever-increasing technological world has created cheap food, we see an increase in the health care costs. Food that we don't have to grow, prepare, preserve, cook, and clean up after allows us to eat more of it, which, in turn,  can make us sick. To me, living deliberately means that I now spend more time with my food. I learned that it's healthier for myself and the planet.

 
One Easy and Tasty Treat

One of my favorite things about Spring is when the lettuce is ready to be picked. In a small 4X4 raised garden bed, I grow a variety of different greens, including: spinach, arugula, mustard greens, mesclun lettuce, and buttercrunch lettuce. To be able to pick a fresh nutritious salad from my backyard that beats the pants off of any iceberg lettuce salad I can get at a restaurant fills me with great pride. I add a simple dressing of red wine vinegar, olive oil, salt/pepper, and chopped herbs (of whatever may be sprouting) and Voila! a simple, healthy, and delicious salad. Sometimes, if I'm feeling fancy, I'll pick some chive or nasturtium flowers to add a little spicy kick!
 

Monthly Affirmation

We need to treat the whole problem of health in soil, plant, animal, and man as one great subject.

-Sir Albert Howard, 1939
(quote taken from The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan)


Know Your Muscles and
How to Keep Them Happy

 
Muscle: Piriformis

Attachment Sites: Sacrum and superior border of greater trochanter (a.k.a. top of femur)

*Piriformis is shown as the top most muscle in the picture below with the sciatic nerve in yellow.


Action: Laterally rotates hip
(Ex. When ever you walk (or run) you rotate your hip outward in order to shift your body weight to the opposite side.)
 
How to stretch your piriformis:

1. Lay flat on your back and bend both of your knees so your feet are flat on the ground.

2. Cross your right leg over your left and place your right ankle on your left knee.

4. Wrap your hands around your left thigh and gently pull your left leg off the ground toward your body until you feel a stretch deep in your right hip.

5. Relax into the position by breathing slowly and deeply.

6. Repeat by crossing your left leg over your right.



 


Buy it Local:

Durham Farmer's Market

Carrboro Farmer's Market

Bella Bean (produce delivery)

Core Sound Seafood


Check out farms around you at:

LocalHarvest


Bri's Suggested Reading for
Food Related Topics:


The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan

The Food Revolution by John Robbins

The Art of the Commonplace by Wendell Berry

In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan

(Or if you are more into movies:)

The Future of Food directed by Deborah Koons Garcia

Food, Inc. directed by Robert Kenner and Eric Scholosser

 

 
            

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