Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Food Matters: portion distortion

                              Image result for portion distortion

Portion distortion is so real

I was reading a post about how much food portions had changed over the years. What a shocker!

A mocha coffee with whole milk is .... 350 calories. Or, 1464.4 kilojoules. That's enough for a whole lunch! Add to it a muffin.....500 calories/2092 kilojoules. That's another whole meal. But, this is a usual wee "snack". I had a very social day last week where I had 3 small flat whites, a brioche, & a toasted sandwich. I don't even want to count that all up.

We end up eating too much food

Some researchers are now saying that when we eat more than 600 calories/2510.4 calories in one sitting, it messes with our blood sugar. And this can set us for becoming pre diabetic, later in life. It is now very easy to consume that many energy units in one sitting. Mostly because our serving sizes have become so big, & these big sizes have become the norm.

                   Related image

People say to me: how come people were thinner in the (for example) 1950s, 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s? Portion distortion is one of the major reasons why. We now eat bigger meals. And monster snacks. A pasta meal eaten out can have 2 or more cups of pasta.....& that's before we add sauce, maybe garlic bread (seriously? when we're already having pasta?) An "older" serve of pasta was about 1 cup. 

I found an earlier book of the famous New Zealand cook, Alison Holst..... I cannot remember a time when Alison was not in my life. She was big on feeding people with nutritious, normal foods, & I have never forgotten reading one of her very old cookbooks (I search op shops just to read them!), how she would choose root vegetables over grains like rice, pasta. Because the vegetables had more nutrition. And it's hard to eat 2-3 cups of spuds!

                    Image result for portion distortion

We can eat off smaller crockery

Our plates are bigger. To me, they are ugly & vulgar. But that's just me..... Our bowls are so big, too! And coffee mugs! 

I went to our local op shop & got some old crockery, in smaller sizes: 

  • a floral dinner plate
  • 1970s coffee mug, which is so-o-o much smaller than the monster coffee cups we now use
  • a teacup, saucer & side plate
  • a cereal bowl
 The teacup is so small compared to the now normal coffee mugs, but I love it. You can't actually fit much on the side plate, & the cereal bowl....is really tiny. I had been having porridge in a modern bowl. It's more of a mixing bowl, really. But now I just use the smaller, older dish, & of course, my portion is way smaller, because I can't fit too much in the bowl. And the dinner plate is plenty big enough. It's just not oversized.

Have smaller food

I have downsized to Vogels very thin bread, & now get grumpy when I can't find it, because even the sandwich slices are too much now. And I got really excited at a recent party when I saw small strawberries! Instead of those giant (vulgar) ones. I was getting a bit miffed that my favourite bought biscuits, gingernuts, & shortbread, had gotten really small. But now I'm pleased.

I was in Bali for 5 weeks a couple of years ago. I don't do well on peanuts, but there I had peanuts in some form every day. They were tiny, compared to the peanuts that we buy in New Zealand. And I really felt that because they hadn't been messed about with, by the growers, that was why I didn't react to them. 

And that to me, is a valid point. When I see our food getting bigger & bigger, such as apples & carrots, I get a bit sad, knowing that more & more people will not handle them so well.

It helps to say "no"

I haven't really ever mastered the polite art of refusal. I had a coffee with a friend on my above mentioned social day, & she had a piece of cake, cut it in half, ate one half, & wrapped up the other half to take home. 

I have to learn how to ignore politeness, & eating what's on the plate, & instead learn how to do this, too.

We get offered a piece of cake, or a slice, & they are so big! You could almost use a bakery biscuit as a plate, & eat off it, they are so big (& awful....). 

I want little food to come back! It was really nice. 

I nearly always have poached eggs for lunch out because big, heavy lunch meals make me instantly sleepy, & that's not a good way to be. But now I notice that eggs are often size 8. So even they are bigger. 

I would like to indulge in a cream doughnut occasionally, but they are the size of a small loaf. Half the day's calories/kilojoules, no doubt.

And make better choices

Sometimes I'll get a fresh vegetable juice when I'm out, because I love them, they are nutritious, & you can get a small size. And I feel so virtuous ticking all those boxes. 

And I once found an old-fashioned cafe, more of an old style caff, where they had wee sandwiches. What a treat. Nice carbs that don't make you sleepy.

I guess, really, that we need to re-educate ourselves as to portion sizes. Or, is it really un-educate ourselves. 

I love nice little food. It's delicious & you end up eating mostly good, untampered food. With the occasional small bit of rubbish. I think that when we are advised to snack on carrots, apples, celery, etc, we don't realise that it becomes a laborious task of endlessly munching, just because they are so big!

I am also now thinking to educate myself about units of energy: calories &/or kilojoules. I think that having a bit of knowledge about this, & combining this with portion sizes, & small crockery, is a much smarter way to eat.

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

image: attractiveness/7: bone building

Why worry about our bones?

It can be a real problem with some people, losing bone mass as they grow older. And it's not so good, as it makes people shrink when their bone density lessens. 

So, what can we do to prevent this, stop it to the best of our ability, and is it even possible to reverse it? And if so, how?

Teaching yoga, I have become acutely aware of some less than positive signs of ageing that could be prevented. One was that I have often seen is how curvature of the spine seemed to accompany shrinkage, getting shorter.....& this leads to a ton of problems, including back pain.

                                    Image result for woman good posture

It's really beneficial to practice good posture

So the 1st thing to do is to learn how to stand up straight. Rather than training our bodies to know what it feels like to always slump, train it so that we know what it is like to have an upright spine. 

We get into a habit of slouching....for whatever reason, & over the years this leads to a wee hump....known as dowagers hump, in the "days of yore".

 So, try to put some time, everyday, into standing up straight. Push your feet into the floor, lift up through your crown, shoulders back & down, just a bit. Softly drop the tailbone (stops us poking out bottom out at an unsightly angle), lift our ribs a bit.

Keep practising this. Everyday. Until it becomes 2nd nature. At first it will feel strange, but after a while it will become "normal". You would be surprised to find out how much our mood improves with good posture. We also feel more confident.

What can we do for healthy bones?

But we also need to build strong bones so that our bones don't get smaller. There are actually several things that we can do. One of the easiest is to do exercise with lots of repetitions with light weights. 
Usually exercise with weights is done 2-3 times a week, & not on consecutive days. 

Using, say, 500 grams to 1kg in each hand is not a lot of weight, & is doable. You can also use cans of food. You do more repetitions of an exercise with light weights, ideally until the muscle getting worked gets tired. Latest research has found that this is extremely effective for bone health.

Yoga has been found to increase bone mineral density... whether its the stretch type of yoga (Iyengar) or the faster moving styles. So that's another option.

Walking & activities that involve a lot of movement like golf, dancing, tennis, hiking - these are all under the umbrella of weight bearing exercise, & it is the weight bearing exercise that builds bone & keeps it strong & healthy.

We can also use our own body weight, with exercise: yoga; planks; push-ups; tricep dips; lunges; squats - all are effective. 

If you do power yoga, you do heaps of these exercises in a class or session. This is quite difficult for most people to maintain on a daily basis, due to time....& also due to the effort required.

 Beginner exercises for bone health and posture

                Image result for squat holding a chair

Easy ways to build bones

 What we can do to fit in these movements is: do chair squats, fast. Hold onto a bench for stability & do as many as you can in a minute. Squat as though you are aiming your buttocks towards an imaginary chair behind you, using weight on your heels. Push back up to upright, squeezing your buttocks. This firms & shapes legs & buttocks. And it's okay to do beginner moves.

Surprisingly, this move has a direct effect on brain cognition. This means that we keep using our existing knowledge & faculties (rather than deterioration of our mental processes), plus....we learn better. An absolute bonus.

                Image result for kitchen bench push ups

                               Denise Austin: she is awesome

For the upper body, use a bench for as many push-ups as possible in one minute. Have your body in a straight line, abdominals tight, hands on bench under shoulders. Push down towards the bench, bending your elbows, &, if you can, keep them in close to the body to firm your triceps/back of the arms. Then straighten back up. Just do the best you can, & work towards doing them in style. Even if you can only do a few of these moves, it's a start.

                       Image result for easy crunches for beginners

You can also do crunches, lying on your back with knees bent & flat on the floor. Fingers interlaced behind your head, elbows wide. Do as many as you can in one minute, breathing out & pulling in, squeezing, your abdominal muscles as you lift up your head. Actually, holding a still position that works the abdominals is the most effective way to tone this area, such as in a plank, or an elbow plank. But, it is much harder.

                            3 minutes a day, for bone health. Priceless.

Thursday, 10 November 2016

image/attractivesness/6: moisturising our skin

                        Image result for La Vie parisienne

Give Your Skin A Drink

aka as putting on body lotion, oils, whatever. 

I'm currently ploughing my way through some oils & a body lotion, wanting to use them all up before I resume making & using my love oils. I think it's uncool & unchic to waste things, so I'm methodically doing the right thing here.

But, the mousse-type Palmers cocoa butter spray that I have is just awful. I will probably bin it, albeit sneakily. 

Using oils

Currently, I've added baby oil to thick, guggy, Palmers cocoa butter lotion (which smells delicious) to make it spreadable. I've also added olive oil to a fancy natural oil with rosehip to extend it's life, & when that's finished I'll do the same with an exotic vial of coconut oil. Then it's back to using my love oils.

I used to make love oils, & loved making & using them. I charmed them, continued the charm overnight, did them on the "correct" day. It was so enjoyable. I stopped doing them only because I was too busy to sell them, but I'll now do them for gifts, & for moi. I'm at a wee village market about once a month, so I can also sell them there.

There are several ways to use oils:

  • using them to extend your lotions is a good way
  • you can use oils from the kitchen, baby oil
  • you can apply an oil at the end of your shower whilst the shower is still going. Then pat dry after.
  • or, when you step out of the shower, before you dry yourself, apply the oil then....pat yourself dry after. 

Both are messy methods, but very effective, as the oils are sealing in the water, or moisture. Often people don't realise that we need moisture under our oils, in this case, water, for the oils to work well on our skin. 

Another method which I often use, is with a wet flannel. I tip some oil onto it, & just wipe it over my skin after I've dried myself. 

As lovely as it is to use expensive oils, there are other options:

  • kitchen oils like olive (great for sore muscles)
  • or grapeseed (contains vitamin E)
  • I love almond oil
  • & apricot oil has vitamin A, so is excellent
  • but...I have also used baby oil when I have had to watch my money

And Our Face

We can do similar on our decollete, neck, & face, by adding water. 

  • After your have cleansed your face, spray on a toner before you add moisturiser, night cream, whatever.  
  • Another method, when you have more time, is to hold a very warm flannel to your face to add water, then use your moisturiser. 

What I have been doing lately, is:

  1.  clean
  2. do the above "flannel thing"
  3. then I add just a few drops of oil to my face. The idea is to add just a light covering. I'm currently using a rosehip oil, which does seem to be lightening my sunspots. 
  4. Next, spray with your toner on top of the touch of oil, & I use rosewater, to which I add a few drops of essential oil.....& I have the correct crystals for my skin in my rosewater. At present my rosewater is from an Indian supermarket, so it's food grade. And I must say, it is excellent. 
  5. The next step is to add moisturiser. 
You will be amazed at the difference that all this hydration & layering makes to your skin. Even if you just did it once or twice a week.

Face steaming

So, how else can we moisturise our skin? Steaming our face is a good way. And a very old fashioned way, but if my secret mentor Elizabeth Hurley does it....so can we. 

  1. clean your face first
  2. put some boiling hot water in a container
  3. you can also add herbs: a chamomile tea bag, some lavender, whatever! And, or, essential oils. Like lavender, ylang ylang, chamomile, tea tree. 
  4. put your head over the pot & allow the steam to settle onto your face. 
  5. you can use an exfoliating mask or scrub after, or any mask, really.

More moisture tips

  • Drinking water is, of course, the ultimate skin hydrator
  • And so is eating water filled foods, like most fruit & vegetables.  
  • And, another great hydrator, which I don't do, because I dislike doing such things when it's cold, is to splash cold water onto your face after cleansing. Do it at least 15 times, more is better.

Friday, 4 November 2016

image/attractiveness/5: little & often; regularly

                         Image result for vintage french woman beauty

Little routines are the key

I cannot stop thinking about this: "little but often; regularly". In attractiveness context, basically it means:

  •  that you do what you do that you can fit in & maintain fitting it in
  • you do it often: over & over
  • and regularly: like clockwork.

I know that I am always seduced by the latest & greatest. I just know that if I have the latest:

  •  skin care
  • make-up
  • food regime
  • new age beliefs
  • the latest exercise
  • the newest wardrobe must-haves

I know, I really do know...that my life will be so much more wonderful. Which is strange because my values are actually none of these things. My values in this area are to have small doable routines. For everything, really.

Values and image

I know that in reality I do not, will not, buy products whereby animals have suffered in the production, which is most hi-tech skincare & make-up. 

I rely on dear friends & one of my kids to sort me out with make-up & skincare, & it's usually organic. 

I also know that food fads, in the form of food beliefs, change regularly. Which is totally vexing, for me. 

I still prefer yoga exercise & also would rather do 10-20 yoga squats, a bit faster than you would do in a yoga class, than do the latest keep fit moves. And I cannot handle having too many clothes, as, for me, that's a stressor. My libra sun & moon find it just too hard deciding what clothes to wear if I have too many. (As all librans know....those sort of decisions are not our strong point......)

So, what I always actually end up doing, is.....the same things over & over. Things that fit in with my values. Things that, for me, have proven to work. And even more importantly:

  • I can do them easily
  • I can do them regularly. Like clockwork
  • they fit easily into my life
  • occasionally, I do change something, just to see how it works, but, if it's a stressor, doesn't fit easily into my life - out it goes.

My criteria

I realised quite young, that it was better to do one thing well....in my case it was yoga, rather than chop & change whatever interested oneself. My criteria was that what ever I was looking at doing:

  • it had to have a feel good factor
  • it had to be beneficial
  • fit easily into my life
  • be affordable. 
And yoga ticked all of those boxes.

I find it helpful to still follow this attitude. So my skincare routine has to be:

  • easily doable (meaning simple)
  • make me feel good
  • affordable (as well as be cruelty free

Le diet

And, occasionally I change my diet, to do with the seasons. Cold food in winter makes me feel "down", so I have porridge nearly every morning. (no decision needed) but I'm also sure that as the warmer weather sets in....I will want to change this. 

I also have changed my at-home evening meal: protein & a steamed green vegetable. It suits me fine, & I just use whatever protein I've got, whether it's eggs, legumes, fish or similar. I like it & because I can do it little & often, & regularly, I find I just automatically do it.

The problem with too many choices

The thing being, when we are always making choices about things, we seem to get choice fatigue & run out of just easily making good choices, as the day wears on. Therefore, I like to "save" my choices for important things. Because I notice that it just is easier to make a good decision then.

And with:

  • diet
  • skin care
  • exercise
  • what we drink
  • sleep habits 

these are all maintenance things, rituals. It's these habits that keep us keeping on. They keep us feeling good, looking good.

So what can we do to tweak our routines so that they are easy, so that we can do little & often? It's easier than you would think.

rewriting your life

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