Sunday, February 28, 2010

The China Study

I have a dirty little secret: I didn't go vegetarian for animal rights reasons. There, I've said it. My motivating factor for going vegetarian and eventually vegan was and remains my health. My family history is filled with members who have/had heart issues and have died from complications regarding their ticker. I didn't want to count myself among their numbers. I wanted to be different. I wanted to be the one who lived past age 60.

If you are like most who are investigating the benefits of eating lower on the food chain, you'll have inevitably come across the book The China Study.
It was published in 2006, and the authors join the ranks of Drs. Ornish, Fuhrman and others in promoting a "whole, plant-based foods" diet to rid Western society of the majority of its "diseases of affluence," including diabetes, obesity, cancer, and heart disease.

The main author is a leading scientific researcher in the field of health and nutrition, and the findings he presents have convinced many over the years to adopt a diet with significantly less animal products. He prevents findings that indicate diets low in animal protein can significantly reduce and even reverse the onset of many cancers (including liver, breast, and colon), as well as many circulatory ailments such as strokes and heart disease. He discusses the role of vitamin D and calcium in regards to multiple sclerosis, and how cow's milk and dairy is actually doing us more harm than good.

What you come away with in reading this book is that many of the ailments we think we need Big Medicine for could easily be treated just by changing our diets. He details how the majority of physicians today learn courtesy of curriculums developed by the drug companies, and how the pill and surgery route is favored over a more non-evasive approach.

He also goes into a lengthy discussion about how "The System" is essentially bought by agricultural interest and lobby groups, and how difficult it can be to find unbiased information. The agricultural interest groups purposefully target young children, and develop curriculums of their own. They have also worked tirelessly to squash or redirect studies that unequivocally state that dairy/eggs/meat negatively effect your health. You think milk is good for you because the Milk Council has told you milk is good for you. It started 100 years ago and is so innocuous in our society that we think the only place you can get calcium is milk.

While the China Study is a legitimate epidemiological study carried out by the lead author, you don't hear much about it in the book, save to compare disease rates from time to time. For the most part, China has far fewer of our diseases, mainly because they consume significantly less animal protein than we do. And more often than not, when a person moves to another culture and takes on their eating habits, they in turn develop the diseases of their adopted home.

While the author has a habit of repeating himself a bit and he's not afraid to toot his own horn, he does an excellent job of explaining the research out there, why some things are good and why others may seem good but aren't. This guy knows his stuff - he spent his life researching this, struggling against the status quo and meeting road blocks and overcoming them.

I would have liked to have known more about the China Study and was a little disappointed that there wasn't more in the book about it. And while I am all for conspiracy theories revolving around the major pharmaceutical companies, I know a lot of people (myself included) who probably wouldn't be here today without them. As much as I agree they push a for-profit agenda at the expense of citizen's health, some of the stuff out there is genuinely doing some good.

A lot of people scoff at the idea of animal rights. No one scoffs at cancer. This book gives you solid ideas and reasons for reducing animal food consumption that have everything to do with you living a longer, healthier, more active life. I highly suggest you read it. You can take your life into your own hands, and it doesn't need to involve medical intervention. Eat fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds, and grains. Ease off on the dairy, eggs, and meat. The less you eat of the latter, the longer you'll be eating the former.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Random. Just Plain Random.

1. 9 times out of 10, I cannot be bribed for money. Which is odd because I don't have any. However, 9 times out of 10, I can be bribed for food. Especially if there is chocolate involved.

2. It's having a difficult time deciding if it is spring or winter out. It snows, and then it gets up above 32 and everything melts. Then snows, then the sun comes out and it's warm again. Yes, 32 is warm when it comes to Vermont winters.

3. Having a difficult time bringing myself back to school thoughts. We had this past week off, and school starts up again on Tuesday. Which means I have homework I should be doing. Somehow, just sitting here not doing it is more appealing.

4. This past Tuesday, I went to the Krishna Das kirtan. It was truly wonderful. I was able to bliss out and relax for three hours. If you are into yoga or the Eastern Philosophies and like or are interested in chanting, you should definitely check him out.

5. Today is "Mardi Gras" where I live. Yes, I know. Way late. Anyway. 22,000 people are going to cram themselves onto a tiny street and watch a bunch of "floats" go down it. There are a bunch of local sponsors and proceeds go to the local women's rape crisis center. Which is a good thing. However, I always thought it rather ironic that they use Mardi Gras to do this, considering one of its "traditions" is to get rip-roaringly drunk and yell "show me your tits" to the women.

....and the fun just got sucked outta that. Sorry.

6. Can I please just go back to bed?

7. Seriously. Please?

8. I graduate June 6th. I cannot wait to graduate. I have ideas where I want to go and what I want to do next. But really? I just want to have my life back.

9. My next belly dance performance will be to "I Want to be Evil" by Eartha Kitt. It's great. I love it.

10. Are you sure I can't go back to bed?

Friday, February 26, 2010

Letter.

Dear Stompy McStomperson,

Hi! I don't think we've met yet. I'm the person who lives below you. Did you know you had people living below you? No? Oh, well then. That would certainly explain why it sounds like you have huge oil containers strapped to your feet when you walk.

I don't mean to be the tiresome, complainy neighbor, but do you think you could take the oil drums off? I mean, it would really be a drag if you happened to be stomping walking around up there one day at 3:00am and this sudden hole in the ceiling opened up and you came crashing down on my head while I'm sleeping. That would be kinda awkward. For both of us.

So, could you tone it down a notch? Thanks!

Sincerely,
Hoping the Ceiling Doesn't Fall on her Head

Photo by Oleg Micheyev

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Letting Go of Attachments

Another inward focus post... feel free to ignore if you've had your daily dose of woo-woo already.

I've been reading books on Eastern Philosophy the past year or so... Buddhism mostly but also yoga (I'm currently reading a translation of the Yoga Sutras). A common theme among many of these philosophies is the notion of "letting go of attachments." Focus on attachments can only lead to pain and suffering. Once you let go, there is nothing there to cause you pain. And onward to Enlightenment.

Okay, so there's a lot more to it than that but you get the idea. It's like Yoda telling Anakin that if he wants Padme to live, then he has to let go of her. His attachment to her in the end was both of their undoing.

Yes, I can tie anything and everything back to Star Wars.

Shut up.

Anyway... I was thinking on this subject this morning, both before and after yoga class. Specifically in regards to the never-ending disappointment that is my love life. My close friends know that while I am happy most of the time with my life as it is, I often feel a deep lonliness. I feel that Partner distinctly not there. There is so much love I have and so much that I want to share with him, that I literally ache. And yet, despite my best attempts (or perhaps because of them) I remain single.

Friends consistently tell me to be patient, it'll happen, I'm a great catch, blah blah blah. But the reality is, I'll be 36 this year. And while that doesn't come with an expiration date, I'm having to face some pretty harsh realities. That maybe I won't find a Partner in this lifetime. Perhaps, for whatever reason, I am meant to go it alone.

I don't like this. I personally feel that I am just as deserving of love as the next person. But who am I? Just this little blip on the cosmic radar attached to the notion that I deserve to have a companion in this life. But what would happen if I let go of this attachment? What if I said, you know? I can't do this anymore. What is, is. And if I'm meant to be alone with a couple cats then so be it. At least the three of us will be happy.

I want love. I desperately want to be loved and want to share my love. I have so much to share! But I think I need to let go of the attachment as to what that will look like. Because what has been placed before me is causing me a great deal of pain and suffering, and I just can't do this anymore. I don't know if this is giving up hope or just moving on. But whichever it is, I think I need to do it.

Or else some hot stud needs to friggin' propose tomorrow.

Y'know... whichever.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Work Sucks, I'm Going on Tour.

Okay, so work doesn't actually suck. My brother had that bumper sticker on his band's touring van back in high school and I've always liked it.

But this post is sort of work related. Well, business related. This semester, we've been focusing a lot more on the business aspect of massage therapy - how to write a business plan, market your business, etc etc.

Initially, when I was looking at the school, this was a huge plus for me. Learning how to write a business plan and essentially having one ready to go was (and remains) a huge positive. If I ever decide to open my own business (massage or not), this would be a valuable tool to have in my toolbox.

The one thing I did not foresee at the time would be how angry this business part would make me. I mean, I truly have a visceral "I don't wanna and you can't make me!" reaction to all of the homework I need to do for this part of school. The idea of pulling together a business plan fills me with dread, and I cannot think of anything I would rather do less than competitor research. I don't want to develop a mission statement, thank you very much. I could care less about a program statement, and drawing together a business schedule draws little but ridicule.

This really all came to a head this past Tuesday. I was sitting in class so petulant about what was being asked of me that it sort of stunned me. I am so anti-business right now it isn't funny. I don't want my "business" to be a business - I want it to be an under-the-table sort of thing that gives me a little pocket change while I work officially for someone else in order to pay the bills.

I have high regards for those willing and able to open their own businesses and make them succeed; at this point in my life I am obviously not one of them. I think I am one of the few people in the class who has spent her whole life up to this point in a business/administrative setting, and I fought like hell to get away from that. The last thing I want to do right now is throw myself back there. I am just not ready or able to do that now.

So for now, I am still doing the business plan. Even though I am fighting it every inch of the way, I can see it for the valuable tool it could someday be. I am not throwing my entire self into this project like others in the class are; my energy is being devoted to other things that will support my future goals more. And for right now, my future goals include finding someone else to pay me and take care of all the business stuff.

I am very much okay with that.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Hydrotherapy at Home

I have decided that even if I end up not going on to a career in bodywork, I'll have learned many valuable lessons that will serve me well for the rest of my life.

Take, for instance, baths. The long way around cleaning yourself, or luxurious spa treatment you can do at home?

Stop! You're both right.

Believe it or not, as I learned in my hydrotherapy class that a simple bath really can cure a lot of your ails. Baths can:
  • be an antiedemic (ie, can reduce swelling)
  • be an antipyretic (yes, we all know it's anti-fire. It's also anti-fever)
  • be an antiseptic/astringent
Baths can stimulate, sedate, restore, ennerve... you name it. Baths don't have to be just hot, either. A cold bath can do wonders.

So, the next time you're feeling all achy and stuffy... find those bath salts you got for (insert gift-giving holiday of your choice), dust 'em off, and dump 'em in a big tub full of steaming hot water.

Take it from the gal who's taken an entire class on it and even has a hand-out.

You'll be glad you did.

Woman soaking in a bath

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Anahata

What dwells in the cave of the heart?
Deep in the dark
Deep in the quiet
Slow with the beats
Wide with emotion
Open, all are welcome
Closed, who do you keep out?
All lives there
Deep in the dark
Deep in the quiet
Let it fill you
And bring you elation

Anahata, cuarto chakra, chakra corazón

Friday, February 12, 2010

Krishna Das

A couple weeks ago, I started seeing posters around town advertising that Krishna Das is going to be leading a kirtan at the end of the month, right here at the local Unitarian Universalist church. A kirtan is a call-and response kind of chanting that is found in many of India's spiritual traditions. I was first introduced to it last year at the Burlington Yoga Conference and was blown away at how moving and amazing it was.

At first, I thought the kirtan was free so I was all prepared to just show up and walk in. It was a good thing I looked again, because it turns out it's only free for kids 12 and under. D'oh! For the rest of us tall people, it's $30. I was very deflated, because for me $30 is a week's worth of food and something I just don't have right now.

Then a couple very good friends pointed out that I really shouldn't let $30 stand in the way of something I really wanted. One offered to write me a check for $30 (!) and another offered suggestions as to how I could make the money.

In the end, I decided to put the $30 on my credit card. I've been using it for emergencies only, so I haven't racked up a load of debt on it yet. $30 was not going to kill me on my credit card.

I'll pay it off eventually. Life is for living, and if $30 is going to bring you an evening of pure joy and bliss, than it is $30 well spent.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Glub Glub

You know that time right before you wake up? That time when you can some some friggin' weird dreams? Well, this morning right before I woke up I had the weirdest damned dream.

I dreamt that goldfishes took over the world.

Oh yes, that's right. Those cute little fishies that swim round and round rose up and took over. More over, the dream had an all-star cast that included Judge Reinhold and Eddie Murphy. I think Steve Guttenberg was in their somewhere, but I forget.

Anyway, apparently I and someone else had been away on vacation when this all went down, so Judge quite nicely narrated what happened (I think there was even a flashback scene!). Apparently, a bunch of people "won" a trip to Guadalajara. While they were on the plane, some doctor stuck them with a needle and made them go into convulsions. They were rushed to surgery where their heart and liver were taken out. Then sent back like nothing happened.

I don't know how this allowed the goldfish to take over, but this was all part of their evil plan.

I woke up shortly after that, but not before hearing one of the goldfish speak. He sounded like Nibbler from Futurama. I was going to post a youtube link but couldn't find a good one. Sorry.

I woke up shortly thereafter. I was very grateful, because I couldn't live in a world overrun by goldfish with delusions of grandeur.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

I spend too much time at the salon.

1) I have become convinced that Britney Spears is not saying "if you seek Amy." She is saying "F.U.C.K. me." Listen to it. It makes more sense.

2) I am so sick of Lady GaGa. Which is too bad because her songs are fun. One too many times on the replay.

3) I am starting to understand some of their lingo. Oh, she is so not a 7 y/o. 8 maybe, but you wouldn't want to go any lighter.

4) I've been there a little over four months now and I've trained two people how to close. This last person has been shadowing me for three days. I'm seniority now, apparently.

5) Hair! Hair! Everywhere, hair! No matter how much I sweep, there's always more hair!

6) Laundry! Laundry! Everywhere, soggy towels!

7) I've come to understand that tips really do make all the difference. They mean that maybe you get to buy gas to go home and some food that night. Say you do a haircut for $30. You get maybe 40% of that (if you're lucky), so maybe $12. Then half of that goes for taxes. So, you just got paid $6 for a haircut you spent 45 minutes on. If you do 8 haircuts in 8 hours, that's a whopping $48 you've made. Yeah, tips make all the difference.

8) I've discovered that I can keep up with a super busy Saturday. It was mad yesterday, I tell you.

9) Be nice to retail workers. Don't use three different forms of payment (gift certificate, cash, and credit card, anyone?). Don't walk into the store five minutes before closing and expect us to be happy about it. Don't pay a $20 tab with a $100 bill. You've just taken all of my cash for the rest of the weekend.

10) I still really like working at the salon. Everyone is nice and fun and while I complain, I don't fill with dread at the prospect of going to work. I don't mind being there and I am eternally grateful for the job that I have and the doors it will open for me.

Plus, it's fun. :-)

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Skinny Bitch, anyone?

I'm sure you've heard of the book Skinny Bitch by now. It was written by Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin a few years ago. Freedman has gone on to write several spin off books, including a "cookbook", one for all your preggo ladies out there, and even one for the fellas.

Their writing style is...interesting. A bit in your face, and some people respond well to it (while others feel, well attacked I think). I had fun reading it, mainly because I thought it was funny when they dropped the f-bomb. But really, they write in every day speak.

The book itself is a platform for going vegan while ensconced in a diet book, and I think there have been a lot of people influenced by it. Mainly because the book speaks like a friend would speak to you, and presents a lot of information about factory farming that the majority of the population chooses not to think about.

This book in no way influenced me to go vegan - I already knew pretty much all of the information in it to begin with - but oddly enough I did take away one of their diet tips. Eating nothing but fruit for breakfast. Okay, so I never gave up the coffee like they suggested (blasphemy!), but whenever I feel the weight creeping back on, this is my go-to move. Eat one serving of fruit when you first notice that you are hungry in the morning, then another when you get the noshies again, and maybe another if you can't make it until lunch.

When I do this, I feel lighter, brighter, and cleaner. And I notice that I tend to do better foodwise for the rest of the day. I'm not much of a breakfast food person to begin with, so this approach to the "most important meal of the day" feels good for me. It tunes me in to my actual hunger cues, rather than just putting something in my mouth out of habit. Often I'm not hungry until hours after I get up; sometimes it's a growling stomach that gets me out of bed. By not feeding my stomach until it actually wants something, it helps me more accurately feed it what it truly needs.

If you are looking to cut meat out of your diet in order to lose weight, I would definitely recommend this book. It is particularly good if you are transitioning from an omnivore diet to one more plant-based, because it relies not only on fresh fruits and veggies, but "substitute food" - veggie burgers and other meat/dairy replacements - that can help ease the transition. Even if you aren't planning on going full-veg but just one or two meals a week while you are losing weight, this book can help you out.

Plus, they swear a lot. So, you know it's a fun read. ;-)

Friday, February 5, 2010

On Work.

I was going to post this whole long thing and males and females and how we approach work and how I prefer female bosses over male bosses. Then I determined there was no way to really post it without offending everyone (including possibly myself) so I just decided to erase the whole thing.

Instead, here is a picture of a cute puppy:
View Image

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Latest Random Post

1. I have amazing friends. I am constantly amazed and humbled by their generosity, love and compassion. Especially when it is aimed at me! My life is so much the better because they grace it. I thank the Universe for each and every one of them.

2. Why do your pathology homework tonight when you can get up 20 minutes early and do it tomorrow morning before class?

3. I went to dance class tonight, even though I originally did not plan to go. I am so glad I did. Dancing makes me happy; it always has. Finding a good song and then using movement to tell the story just lets my heart shine.

4. I greatly enjoy walking around my downtown in the gloaming of a random weeknight. The air, the vibe, the feel is so different. Almost magical. I love to soak it in.

5. I am thinking that after I am done school that I would like to augment my training by taking some classes/workshops on energy work. I never used to think that I had the ability to touch or use energy in the way that others can, but many people have made comments to the opposite. Perhaps just because I cannot necessarily feel it does not mean that I am not doing it.

6. I worry sometimes that I will not be able to pursue a job in massage after all this work. I worry that my wrists will not be able to take it. I baby them as much as I can and am careful about their body mechanics, but I worry about carpal tunnel, and I worry about those occasional twinges I get.

7. I often wonder what my life would be like if I'd gotten married and had kids. But then I find myself unable to imagine myself having kids. I can see myself pregnant sometimes... but kids? I like them well enough, don't get me wrong. But I often wonder if I really want them. Sometimes I do, sometimes I don't.

8. I don't know if I ever want to get married (although the idea of a pretty dress and people telling me I look beautiful is an idea I can get behind). But I would very much like to have a life partner. I know there are trials and tribulations and many of my married friends often tell me I'm better off without. But then, they've had that experience, not I. I'd like to know for myself. Maybe the person I end up with will be that one I spend the rest of my life with. Maybe not. But I'd like the experience. Very much.

9. I cannot wait for Spring to get here. For a plethora of reasons.

10. Have I ever told you that plethora is my favorite word? It is.

This is Two.

Monday the 21st was our 2-year wedding anniversary. We build the Matrimonial Pizza, with my brother officiating and my Chick of Honor wat...