Category Archives: Health and Fitness

Vegetarian food on Moorea Island in French Polynesia

On my honeymoon here in French Polynesia. Right now we are on the island of Moorea. Much of the cuisine here is French style. Tons of fish and meat oriented dishes. There is a lack of awareness amongst locals and the hotel staff regarding vegetarian food on the island, though there are many options available if you choose to seek it out. It does amaze me that given how expensive everything is and the number of tourists that come through that there are not more veggie options.

The fruits here are great, pineapple and papaya especially. There are citrus and coconuts too.

Many restaurants have pizza, pasta and salads to choose from if you are vegetarian. All places have desserts….Chocolate mousse, ice creams, creme brule.

Some recommendations:

Intercontinental Hotel: several options on the menu, including a salad (tell them what you want and they will make it), a veggie pizza, veggie sandwich (again, tell them what you want on it, it isn’t on the menu), veggie stir fry noodles (they have tofu…but you need to ask them for it), French fries, samosas. The breakfast buffet here is epic. Made to order eggs, pastries, fruit bar, cereals, potatoes, several steamed veggies, meats, coffee and self serve espresso machine. We got the breakfast every day and then just had an afternoon snack and dinner.

Le Sunset restaurant at the Hibiscus Hotel: veggie pizza was very good, best of three pizzas we had here so far. The goat cheese salad was great and very big. We also had French fries (thick cut, like steak fries). The view is remarkable, right on the beach. Prices are also affordable compared to other places. The owner will pick up and drop off if you stay nearby.

Les Tipaniers: close to the intercontinental hotel, this place had an amazing vegetarian lasagna. We also had a veggie pasta dish that was quite good. Prices are decent, though Le Sunset was cheaper. They also pick up and drop off from hotels nearby.

Le Plantation: this place actually had a section of the menu labelled vegetarian! They had a few options….a veggie/soy pasta dish, a tofu mango stir fry with rice and some other stuff. The food was decent. However it was very expensive and I preferred the food at the other places noted above.

Overall, as long as you eat cheese/eggs, there is plenty to eat here for vegetarians. Vegans will need to be creative and plan ahead – bring a few bags of nuts, visit the local grocery store for fruits when you arrive. It is doable to travel here as a vegan, but definitely plan for it!

Also, prices are costly, even small restaurants outside the large hotels will cost about $80 for dinner for two….for one drink each, a salad to share, two entrees and a dessert to share. Costs are roughly double what I would pay back in Seattle at a decent restaurant.

Growing My Own Food (some of it at least!)

I grew up in a rural community (the cows outnumbered the humans) and we had an acre of land, a large portion of which was planted with rose bushes, fruit trees or vegetables. I spent a large portion of my weekends growing up tending to the gardens. Tilling the soil, weeding, watering, planting, harvesting and eating gooseberries until I exploded when the time was right.

I took care of the garden and at times, resented having to spend so much time doing it. I always loved eating the fresh produce, but the whole gardening thing started to get old after a number of years. I preferred to spend my free time horsing around with my friends, playing games, reading or doing anything but getting dirty!

This mentality stuck around for years, as I went to college and moved into a series of rental houses and apartments. I loved eating fresh produce, but could care less about growing it myself.

Fast forward 15 years later, and I am now the proud owner of my first home. While my property is not that big (1/5th of an acre!) and mostly shaded, I now have a new-found appreciation for doing things on my own, and that includes growing stuff. I’ve surprised myself with how much my own mindset of owning land has made me want to take care of it, and do something useful with it. There is also something more freeing now that gardening is something I want to do, not something I have to do.

So far, I’ve planted carrots, several types of kale, red cabbage, collards and a planter box full of snap peas. It’s not much but a start. Eventually I’ll get some more planter boxes going in the sunny spots in my back yard with tomatoes, hot peppers, squash and more salad greens.

Collards, carrots and kale

Red cabbage, two kinds of kale, carrots

Snap peas in an Earth Box

One Powerful Technique for Improving Your Diet and Health

Add in the good stuff. As much of it as you can. Whenever you can. 

There it is, you can skip the rest of this post! Most diets are defined by what you CAN’T eat not what you CAN eat. Vegans are all about not eating meat or dairy or eggs. Paleo’s are about not eating grains or dairy or processed stuff. Raw foodists are all about not eating cooked stuff.

The problem with this kind of thinking is that it fundamental goes against our psychology and what motivates us over the long-term. No doubt, excluding things from your diet can work very well for a while (e.g. not eating fried food, or cutting out all dairy products) – but the mental model that is FAR MORE POWERFUL and SUSTAINABLE over the long-term is one of inclusion not exclusion.

Exclusion is what I’ve already stated: defining a new way of eating based on cutting something out of your diet (meat, dairy, sugar, alcohol, etc.).

Inclusion is focused on adding in the good stuff. Eat more salad. Eat more fresh fruits. Drink more clean water. Don’t worry so much about cutting stuff out. It will happen on its own if you focus on adding in the good stuff.

Here is an example:

Suppose you are trying to lose 10 pounds over the next two months and decide that you want to overhaul your diet. Instead of saying to yourself “I am going to eliminate all the bad food from my diet”…why don’t you say “I am going to eat a big salad at every meal, no matter what.”

Notice that the second statement DOES NOT imply that you can’t eat other stuff. You can still eat your bacon and eggs for breakfast, but you also get to eat your salad. You can have the burger with lunch, but you also get to eat your big salad. You can go out for dinner and have pasta…but you better start the meal with a monster sized healthy salad.

You see…when you add in the good stuff….you slowly – but inevitably – cut out any room for bad stuff to creep in. If you are eating a salad with every meal, how much space are you going to have for sugary/fatty desserts? How much space are you going to have for bacon and eggs! Not much! Over time, you’ll start making the salad the priority and treat everything else as secondary.

Likewise, if you are trying to eliminate coffee. Instead of trying to just go cold turkey, focus on adding in TONS of clean water every day. Keep a log with how much you drink. Make sure you are hydrating over and over. You’ll find that when you are more hydrated you will sleep better, and wake up feeling better. You might even find you need that cup of coffee in the morning anymore. You can also experiment with adding in herbal teas every morning.

So next time you want to make a change in your diet…focus on adding in the good stuff, not just cutting out the bad. It will be more likely you’ll stick with whatever you are trying to do and the long-term progress will be far greater than just relying on excluding things from your diet by sheer force of will.

 

 

 

 

Don’t Manage Your Time Manage Your Energy

Managing your energy is far more important than just managing your time.

Keep a log of how you feel during the day based on your energy level.

Over time see how hydration, nutrition, sleep, training and work schedules impact your energy.

Then, make adjustments to maximize your overall energy level, and make sure that your key activities during the day are aligned during the times when you have the most energy to give.

For example, I know that hydration has a HUGE impact on my energy level. I also know I tend to have the most energy between 9-Noon. After noon (and until 3-4pm or so), I’m essentially useless :) . Later in the evening, I get a second wind around 9-10pm but if I take advantage of that I will pay the price by feeling awful the next day.

Knowing this I focus on getting creative tasks at work done in the morning before lunch, and do my training in the evening around 5-7pm. I carry a water bottle with me and hydrate constantly during the day – especially when teaching lots of yoga or training more in hot weather.

I don’t believe that it is necessary or even possible to feel awesome ALL of the time. Instead, strive to do your best to feel good MOST of the time, and focus on making use of that productive time to do something worthwhile.

A typical lunch during the week, a super large salad with grilled tofu and peanuts at the cafe at work. Yes, we have an awesome cafe!

2012 Race Calendar

Just posted my race calendar for 2012 on the right hand side of the site —>

6/15 2.4mi Friday Night Swim Race : This race is just a tune-up and a motivating force to get me in the pool during the spring. I’d like to swim 1:10 or so for 2.4 miles, which will be faster than my time last year.

6/23 Pacific Crest Half-Ironman : I’ll be racing at a pace above my Ironman race pace, and testing out all the planned nutrition and gear I plan to use during Ironman Canada. My goal is to beat my time (5 hrs 9 mins) from 2002 when I did this race (and IM Canada) in the same year. I was a much faster runner and swimmer then but I am a faster cyclist now (and generally more experienced racer) so I have a shot at achieving the goal.

7/26: RAMROD (152mi Bike) : OK, this isn’t a race, but it’s something I’ve always wanted to do, and after volunteering last year I’ve guaranteed myself a spot. The 152 mile bike route circles Mt. Rainer and features 10,000 feet of climbing and some of the most beautiful scenery the world has to offer. My goal for this is to finish, and eat a TON of pizza afterwards.

8/17 2.4mi Friday Night Swim Race : My only goal for this race is to swim faster than my time in June and do a great job drafting off others. Targeting a sub 1:10 swim.

8/26 Ironman Canada : This is my “A” race for the year, my big goal. 10 years I raced here in 12 hours 09 minutes, and my goal is to beat that time and go under 12 hours. Back then…I was a much faster swimmer/runner…but poor fueling strategy left me crippled during the last half of the run. This time around, with proper pacing and fueling I have a good shot at going sub 12.

In the fall I will do at least one more triathlon and then transition to running races. Depending on how healthy I feel, I’d like to do a 50K in October/November and give The North Face Endurance Challenge 50 Miler a go.

Me finishing Ironman Canada in 2002, age 22.

Geoff Roes’ 2012 Iditorad Trail Victory – a lesson in endurance potential

Geoff Roes – an elite American ultra-marathon runner – won an incredible race in the rugged Alaskan outback last week. Though, instead of saying he ‘won,’ it would be better to say he ‘survived the fastest.’

The 350 mile foot-race took a full week to complete in absolutely insane conditions. He pulled all his own gear in a sled behind him, often breaking trail through fresh snowfall and dragging himself up and over hills. It is worth reading his race report. To me it was a good reminder of what we are really capable of as humans from an endurance perspective.

Check out his race report at iRunFar.com.

Copper Canyon Ultra 2012 – Congrats to All Runners

I did not race this year (see my report from the 2011 race), but over the past weekend 500 runners (including hundreds of Tarahumara) met in the bottom of Urique canyon and ran 50 miles through the heat, dust and rugged canyons in a celebration of the Tarahumara culture.

My hat goes off to Caballo and his tireless effort in support of the Tarahumara people and their way of life. It is because of him that this race is what it is.

Congratulations to all the finishers and also to those who attempted to finish. From what I understand, it was VERY hot this year, which took its toll on the racers.

I do hope to visit the area again, perhaps to race in 2013.

Tea vs Coffee

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I enjoy coffee, I really do. I also like tea and have this feeling that coffee just doesn’t suit me so well. I get very amped up on it, it interrupts my sleep patterns and affects my training and diet.

For the past few weeks I’ve cut back on my coffee habit. I normally drink a cup in the morning….and occasionally another in the afternoon (we get free Starbucks drip coffee at Microsoft so it’s tempting).

Instead of this, I’ve been drinking a ton of tea and Yerba Mate. I don’t care so much about the caffeine content of the tea. I’m more interested in just avoiding the coffee to see what happens. My trip to China last month instigated this. The tea there is incredible and people drink it all day long.

I’ve felt a lot better. I sleep better. I can think more clearly and focus on single tasks for longer periods of time. Coffee makes me a task-monkey, able to get lots of routine things done, but at the cost of creativity. Tea doesn’t have this affect.

I’m also far better hydrated during the day which has a positive impact on my training and diet. The diuretic affect of tea must be less than coffee.

The first week was tough but now I actually am craving tea instead coffee. I prefer loose leaf teas steeped in a French Press.

I don’t know how much of the benefits I can attribute to caffeine differences, as I am consuming a lot of of caffeinated teas. There must be some other stuff in the coffee that doesn’t suit me, or the intensity of the caffeine load in a single cup (compared with having it spread across many cups of tea) has a bad impact.

Category: Health and Fitness

Methow Valley Nordic Ski Camp

Spent a few days in the Methow Valley over the weekend getting a crash course in Nordic skiing as part of the Methow Nordic Club’s annual ski camp. We did both skate and classic skiing. I really like the sport. It reminds me of trail running combined with the fluid nature of swimming. I’m already looking into doing a race or two before the season is over.

View of the Methow Valley - near Winthrop, WA.

The Real Reason to Practice Yoga

Yoga is a fantastic workout for your physical body, but that is not its purpose.

It’s purpose is to cultivate a deep sense of connection to the present moment. In doing so it is the ultimate workout for the mind.

Sweating, losing weight, gaining strength and all those things are collateral benefits but should never take precedence over the real purpose.

I’ll go so far as to say that if your real goal is to get “fit” physically, there are many more effective and time efficient ways to do so. Start running or swimming. Do Crossfit or a spin class. There are definitely better ways to get a normal “workout.”

The real reason to practice yoga is to exercise the mind.

Another view of The Great Wall near Jinshanling, 80Km northwest of Beijing, China. 11/27/2011 by Ravi.

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