This Is Andrea Working At Yoga

andrea spine twist yoga

I fell for yoga hard. It was just over 3 years of a relationship before I decided to take a break. That break lasted 18 months.

I’m now into month 2 of the return, and found this amazing quote buried deep in a blog post on a yoga website whose domain name I can’t help but admire: YogaDork.com

See – isn’t that awesome? Their Facebook page even shows the Rolling Stones hanging out somewhere, Mick Jagger in a shoulder stand on a huge rug.

Now, for more awesomeness, here is the quote. If you love your life or are completely numb to it, you’ll not have much of a reaction. BUT, if you are currently a SEEKER of self, of being alive, of living, try not to get all misty-eyed when you read, re-read, and absorb it.

Let your heart break for all that you’re losing and all that you’re scared of. But also let it crack open with the profound joy of falling in love with who you really are. – Jay Fields

Prison Food Ain’t What it Used To Be: Bechamel, Croquettes and Cupcakes at Alcatraz

Even in 1946, one of the most notorious prisons in the world was serving what would be considered real, homestyle, quality food. Check out this menu and see if you can tell just from the name what “Puree Mongole” is – I can’t. Sounds kind of . . . dubious. And if not dubious, then a little bit strange. (In reality, Puree Mongole is a soup made from split pea and tomato soups put together with more veggies.)

Despite being an obvious attempt to use up leftover soups and minimize waste, it was a favorite dish in high-falutin’ restaurants in New York in the 1920s. Apparently it trickled down to become prison fare.

Alcatraz menu, courtesy of sfgate.com

Alcatraz menu, courtesy of sfgate.com

Notice the variety of foods, however. Three squares a day, with coffee twice a day, desserts that actually sound good (spiced crab apples!), and “fresh milk”, which may very well be RAW milk.

Let’s compare that to this month’s menu at my local school district: Albuquerque, NM:

aps-school-lunch-2013

So we are looking at the Albuquerque Public School District’s high school lunch menu. High schoolers are as close as we get to prison age, hence the comparison. Where the Alcatraz inmates were getting homemade soup, breaded cod, broiled tomatoes and mashed potatoes for lunch (that’s ONE lunch), growing and thinking bodies are getting CHICKEN SMACKERS with potatoes, white bread, jello, gravy, coleslaw and fruit. Yipes. At least there’s fruit. I guess.

Now I am absolutely not forgetting that the quality of regular civilian food in 1946 compared to today has slid down the same mass-produced slope. Chicken Smackers are normal food that grown adults purchase and eat themselves at home all the time. That’s not the point of this rant. Grown adults, while battered from all sides with conflicting dietary advice to the point of weariness and ultimately rebellion, still pick and pay for their own food. Kids in school and prisoners do not.

And in school, it gets worse for the kids that need good food the most. The kids whose family situation makes it hard for them to get breakfast before going to school? They get extra-shafted, coming up in my next post . . .

The Anti-Antihero: Heart of Darkness

(NO specific spoilers for Breaking Bad episode 5.11)

It is fascinating to me that after the latest Breaking Bad episode, more than half of viewers polled believe that Walt demonstrated a glimmer of caring and sincerity to an old ally. Such deception! Such willingness to hope and wish and pray that NO ONE is ever 100% evil, that there must be a human still down in there waiting to be redeemed. That is the antihero ideal: a front-and-center villian that is able to feel affection. Angel from Buffy the Vampire Slayer is an antihero. Bender from Futurama is an antihero. Hell, even Homer Simpson is an antihero. This is my posit: Walter White is the ANTI-antihero.

In the latest episode, there is a vague implication that he’s showing heart – but this could be to contrast the later re-reveal that Walt did indeed harm an innocent (and frame it on someone else) to successfully reinforce loyalty, and now the object of that loyalty-grab has figured it all out. Very impressive. Did he, didn’t he, how did he? Viewers with tight analytical skills have solved this.

But now, those that Walt has deceived and those that he is still openly manipulating KNOW with clarity anew. They really, truly, know what and whom they are dealing with, even if the knowledge is difficult to accept; even those on the show have a hard time accepting pure evil as a possibility. They are gobsmacked at the prospect, slack jaws hanging at the cusp of dislocation.

So it seems clear that Walt is evil. Really, really evil. Like, not-ever-having-a-prospect-of-a-shred-of-humanity evil. There is no “anti-hero” here. There is no heart of gold. There is only blackness. Accept that some things are 100%, even in television-land. And thank gawd for Vince Gilligan to stick with it.

Five episodes left.

Yellow On Thursday Means You Are . . . Happy?

When I was growing up, there were all sorts of dubiously-sourced dictums on all things a kid did externally: the clothes you wore and when, the food you ate, the books you carried, your hair, your shoes, et cetera. But few were more curious than the grade school “rule” that if you wore yellow on Thursday, you were gay. Never mind that gay wasn’t even a concept many of us grokked (this was a Catholic school in the early 1980s).

It wouldn’t be until college that I interacted with my first openly gay friends and they were freaking awesome people. Geez, what *was* the big deal, anyway? The real answer is, not much. Just like what you wear on which day of the week means freaking nothing, other than that’s what you grabbed or was clean or felt good or whatever. (It does seem to be a midwestern thing – just Google for “yellow thursday gay” and there are several mentions of the legend.)

Tenacious Turmeric Tea

So it is on a Thursday that I paint my insides yellow with my newest edible addiction: creamy turmeric tea. I learned of it through Mark’s Daily Apple when doing a search on natural antibiotics while healing my infected leg wound. Turmeric seemed much more palatable to my friends than consuming buckets of raw garlic.

Thanks to Emperor Google, it looks like Mark tweaked the recipe to Primal specifications in 2011 from one created by Sanjay Gupta many years back, first visible on the web around 2001. Dr. Gupta’s featured almond milk (meh), while Mark’s gave the option for a richer route with coconut milk and added warming cayenne. I’ve tweaked further with pastured heavy cream, as most coconut milk leaves my gut bouncy.

Here it is, the recipe you’ve been waiting for – the first on this blog.

Tenacious Turmeric Tea (serves 1)

  • 1 Tbsp ginger juice (take several thumb-sized chunks of peeled ginger and blend with 1/2c water until liquified. strain through cheesecloth, discarding solids. keeps 2 weeks in fridge.)
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1 tsp GOOD powdered turmeric – organic is best
  • 1-2 ounces heavy cream (grass-fed if available, Organic Valley if not)
  • 3-5 ounces water

Combine everything and gently warm until nice and steamy. Drink from your favorite mug. Then brush your teeth. 🙂

Elite Athletes are not Antifragile

Howie Stern, AC100 2012Activities for health = great. But be optimally healthy while an elite athlete? Good luck with that because it just ain’t happening. Elite/competitive athleticism is extremely hard on the body and mind, in the same way that you wouldn’t want to be a hotshot firefighter every day of your life or even every other day for years at a time.

When you want to take the next step up; when you want to start placing at 5K races, at marathons, or you know – gawd forbid – ultramarathons and that sort of stuff . . . then the type of training that you need to do becomes very metronomic. It becomes very predictable. And the flip side of this is that you, in a lot of ways, become fragile. – Robb Wolf

Robb Wolf. Gotta love that guy. His recent podcast (from the 10-to-15 minute mark) touches on the conflicts between activities, health, and performance, and his take is rationed and sensible. It’s based on a talk at last week’s Ancestral Health Symposium given by Nassim Taleb on Antifragile concepts applied to the human body.

Ultimately, I could not resist taking this comment completely out of context just so I could make a ringtone-worthy mp3 file that just says, “gawd forbid, ultramarathons”. Ring, ring!

Shredded HOKAs After 300 Miles? Part 1 of 2

wf100-post-feet-cropWhen I finished Wasatch Front 100 ultramarathon in September of 2012, my HOKA One One Bondi B shoes had 105 miles on them. They were dirty, stinky, and were showing noticeable wear on the tread. However, they’d performed surprisingly well over the dry and rugged trails of the Utah mountains.

After another 150 miles, however, they are practically dead, following another 50 mile event and a few training runs, and then the Angeles Crest 100 in August of 2013. Now, the tread is essentially gone.

This is after about 300 miles on shoes that some runners get 800 or more miles on before needing to start afresh. Are these a particularly shoddy pair?

They’ll go in a box back to HOKA headquarters for evaluation, soon. And I’ll post the results of that, here.

HOKA One One users, how goes your miles on your shoes? High, low, somewhere in between?

Chocolate Without Sugar = Paleo? Sure! . . . ?

Kakawa's elixir and truffle

Kakawa’s elixir and truffle

Yesterday, the final day of the Ancestral Health Symposium in Atlanta, I was in Santa Fe, former stomping ground of the Robb Wolf clan, sipping on a tiny cup of ridiculously good Aztec style drinking chocolate. The place is called Kakawa and it has seen a handful of owners in the last 15 years but never has the quality of those cups of chocolate declined. At least not that I can tell.

For those more keen on a bit of sweetness, they offer everything from sustainably sourced chocolate bars to handmade truffles with goat milk, rosemary, chile, and even local cherries. Not all in the same truffle. Usually.

On this visit I kept to the drinking chocolate and a truffle, forgoeing the very good housemade ice cream and a gluten-free, coconut-sugar-sweetened brownie that nearly tackled me and snuck into my paws.

If and when the Ancestral Health Symposium decides to alight on Santa Fe, we’ll be ready with treats like this, as well as a vibrant farm scene and some pretty awesome locally raised pastured meats. Santa Fe is ahead of the curve for a town it’s size, and that’s good for all of us.