Downtime! No malfunction, just relax.

My marathon went great and I can enjoy my downtime! Good news, you can enjoy it too!

Seriously, can we ease into the new year slowly? New year will surely have another challenges for us.

‘It’s the most wonderful time of the year’ so let’s give these words some meaning.

Self care

Are you one of those people panicking during the Christmas time? Presents, polishing the house, preparing the dinner, traveling to find your family? In theory this should be the most amazing time of the year, in practice it’s a source of anxiety for many of us.

Let’s face it, we don’t need presents as we probably get what we want ourselves and probably your family don’t need luscious gifts as well. But if your loved ones are different and require something expensive…honestly you shouldn’t fall for it. Take a look at some charity websites and see how much you need to pay for a Christmas dinner for a homeless or elder person, how much it costs to feed a homeless dog for a month. I don’t want to seem a Mother Teresa here but it puts things into perspective and doing good (make that donation!) makes you feel really good.

If you want to make a present I would suggest giving an experience (travel, race enrollment, dinner or drinks together) rather than an object. We all have too many stuff but not enough great memories!

Training

I know some of you are doing ‘run every day in December’ project and if it makes you feel good, let be it. Me, myself and my two legs are taking some easy time. Training for a marathon has been tough for me mentally because I love logging miles but the pressure of great performance wasn’t easy. That doesn’t mean I won’t be running, I love it! Possibly I’d like to maintain my pace if not getting faster but I’d like to dedicate some time to strength work and yoga. My right tendon is begging me for some attention and I’ll do my best to send away the inflammation I have.

And of course I’m dreaming of next year races, I have something big planned for the second half of the year but springtime is free in my book…Send me some race suggestions, I love to plan!

Are you having some downtime? How are you using it? Are you loving Christmas or you just can’t relax in December?

Health is simple. It’s not easy.

Health is boring. It’s not sexy like well made Instagram photo. Health is simple yet not easy like a grandma recipe for a homemade broth.
Eat better. Sleep better. Move more. Don’t be a dick.
That’s it.

Sleep better. Going early to bed and wiping your mind of all thoughts or prioritizing your sleep over something else (morning run or mindlessly scrolling through your Instagram feed. Yes, I’m pointing finger at myself. Guilty AF) is, in my opinion, one of the biggest changes in your life. Actually, it’s life changing.

Last year I made a post about morning running and I’m still a morning runner but I’m no longer a ‘run no matter what’ type of runner. I’m not lazy when it comes to running and I think many times an additional hour of sleep would have done me more good that a 10 km. Sleep deprivation and a consistent sleep deprivation, I mean 1 or 2 hours of less sleep for more than a week is a real negative game changer. You feel sluggish, you miss things, you’re negative, you’re more hungry! Try to get in at least 7 hours of sleep and go to bed before midnight.

Eat better. I said better, not perfectly. Nobody eats like people on Instagram, most of them do those photos because this is their job. Yet, it’s nice to have a great meal. You’d probably never have a perfect meal plan, because life happens. Or you just tired and you want this cake, pizza, fries and eating better is a process. How to change this? Again, I’m not an expert, I can only speak for my experience and I will in the future. For now I’ll just leave you with this concept, quite new but already supported by scientific research: your gut controls your behavior. Sounds spooky, I know but in short your gut bacteria have a huge impact on how you react. If you eat poorly your gut will be populated by type of bacteria that not only will damage your immune system but also affect your brain and probably your emotions. In short if your gut is populated by wrong type of bacteria it can lead not only to obesity but also to depression.

If you’re interested read more about it here:

https://www.bbc.com/news/health-43815370

Move more. Don’t roll over your eyes, moving more does not mean running or power lifting. Movement is everywhere, join in. 30 minutes a day of a brisk walk. You can do that after lunch or after dinner. And yes, use the stairs when you can. Movement is disguised in different moments of our day, don’t think about it as a workout, think about it like taking some fresh air, giving yourself some space and time to breath. Switching from one closed space (office) to another (supermarket and then home) will never help. Speaking about time to breath: there are 3 extremely powerful methods to free your mind for at least a while. Put down your phone, try to count your breaths for few minutes and not to think what to do next, try to prolong your inhale and exhale time staring from 4 (you could arrive up to 6 or 8 if you want). I like to think about breath work as an ‘internal shower’ for your body.

Don’t be a dick.  What that has to do with health? It’s not difficult to get. Our health is also our mental health, our wellbeing and it’s influenced by everything we get into our bodies, that is food and emotions and what we give out, like the energy we spend and give to others. I can bet it’s not easy to sleep, digest or think when you’ve argued with someone or had a stressful day. We’re nurtured by everything: food, air, relationships, news. If you’re eating a macrobiotic clean diet but you’re a nasty little prick to others it won’t work. You can have a 6 pack-abs but in a long term it won’t work because this perfect little picture of yours is false. So don’t be a dick.

Who are you looking for on social media?

I’ve been shying away from social media recently.

Because I got bored and annoyed.

We all know that Instagram photos are not all real, most of them are filtered and for many people it’s a daily job so they work hard on light, angle and perfect shot.

I know and still I got bored of people who yesterday were normal and today they’re trying to sell me proteins.

So I stop following or paying attention to merchandise and I ask myself

Who do I look for on social media?

A lot of people I follow on social media are athletes, entrepreneurs or creatives so mostly people that inspire me, that are in the position I’d like to be one day. I look into their insights, I look for their advice and I’m jealous in a healthy way. What it means? I envy but at the same time I think how to get one day in that same spot they are in.

Then I follow people who are not super humans but make me smile and never fake a smile themselves.

Sometime though I have a weak moment and all I want is peace and quiet and I don’t mind being vulnerable.

That’s why people I follow must be authentic. If they show me 24 hours of their day or 7 days of their week I can’t believe it’s all smiles and roses. I’m not looking for drama so I don’t need to see your tears but don’t sell me motivational quotes all the time. Authenticity, weakness and getting up after you fell. And celebrating your victories.

You might say I look for a real life online while we all know real life is elsewhere. Social media are a huge part of my life so yes, I want realness on social media as well. I look for humor, art, information and opinion. There are no more boundaries between real and online life and we’d better get used to it and make online world better.

I don’t mind people having their accounts set like a pieces of art but that’s quite evident and you know what to expect. I don’t mind people putting some filters on their photos or telling their stories in a certain way.

Just tell your story, choose your filter, choose your soundtrack but be true.

Last 60 days of 2018..are you diving in?

Is it November yet? Get ready, New Year’s resolutions are coming your way!

I now some people hate them and I can imagine why. Instead of stressing about that can we just ease into 2019 by doing something good for ourselves and maybe setting ourselves on a path we’d like to take in months to follow?

Just an idea, last 60 days of 2018, what you’d like to do? I have some small goals that I’d like to achieve by the end of this year, the bigger ones will need time but why not lay down the foundation now?

Here is my list. Short because, you know it’s only 2 months left…

Headstand. You probably have no idea how big it is for me. I’ve been practicing yoga for years but I still haven’t done a headstand or as pros call it: Sirsasana. It’s not about doing what everyone does or calling myself a ‘true yogi’ because I think there’s no such thing. Yoga is not a competition and I’m not competing even with myself (as I do in running), it’s about conquering my own fear. I’m terrified of going on my head since I remember. Approaching this fear and getting rid of it seems almost impossible.

Nutrition course. Right now I’m almost done with the basic nutrition course I started in the summer and once finished (keep your fingers crossed for the final exam!) I’d like to embark on a 1 year journey with more in-depth course. Although I’m more and more interested  in Indian and Chinese medicine I think a course based on western approach will complete or give me a good start. Nutrition and wellness has been a big passion of mine for a long time and I feel it’s time to do something about it.

Be kind to myself but push myself when needed. Do you find this part difficult? I do. Sometimes I just have to let go or slow down but every time I need to do it I tell myself it’s laziness. The fact is I’m rarely lazy and if I am maybe I need to be. And I have to find the truth and objectivity inside myself to recognize these moments.

Marathon. I gasp writing this, if you follow me you know how badly my half marathon went and mentally I haven’t recovered from that completely. The biggest obstacle I’ll have to face is mental. I’ll have to stay focus and believe, be sure that I’m able to to what I trained for. It’s funny, I’ve done more that 15 marathons and I’m still struggling at times like a newbie. This will be a race like this. The beautiful and the ugly part of distance running: you may train but the final result can always be a surprise. If the final result is not what we imagined we usually call it disappointment.

Ok, that’s my list, I think it’s quite challenging but doable.

Any thoughts?

5 for Friday!

5 random things that made my day recently. Here we go: 

Yin yoga. I tried this last Sunday thinking it was going to be a slow restorative practice. Wrong! It was slow but very intense. In yin yoga you hold asanas for 5 to 10 minutes and the purpose is to release your connective tissue as it holds tightness. In a way you ‘lubricate’ it. Our body golds to trauma and memorizes the pain that’s why yin yoga can release also an emotional tightness. Challenging and beautiful!

Tweet by Rich Roll (@richroll) on his 52 birthday. If you don’t know about this guy he’s a ultra-marathon runner, triathlete, wellness ambassador, author and host of amazing podcast. And vegan. His story is incredible and the best part is that he didn’t figure his life out when he was 20 or 30 but much later. His ,message in his birthday was: age is just a number, the important thing is to find your meaning in your own time.

Golden milk. You know I love wine but recently my drink of choice is golden milk! No, that sounds sad and false. Still, I’ve been drinking it a lot lately. Golden milk is a mix of spices but the main one is tumeric (it makes your curry yellow) and on a cold evening it’s a perfect soothing hot beverage. Try it!

Guilty pleasure: “The discovery of witches”. I never read Twilight or saw a movie but this book seems to be in the same genre: witches, vampires, demons. I guess I’ve been reading to many serious books and manuals lately and I have to give my head a break. Still, it’s written quite well and it’s been made into a series. It’s the most frivolous book I read in a while and I’m not ashamed to say it.

Running in the dark. I did it on Tuesday. 6.30 am and it was a strange experience as I don’t do it so often any more. When I used to do it I was running early in the morning in the city while now I ran in the suburbs. Pitch black. It was really amazing, strange, scary and thrilling experience. I’ve seen a Big Dipper on the sky and a lots of hares passed my way. I was a bit scared as I didn’t know where to put my feet but it was exhilarating at times. Not won’t fancy waking up at 6am again but still..


Any guilty pleasures, anyone? Comfort food? Something you’ve tried recently? Share!

Treat yourself as you would treat your friend

Have you survived the September detox/back to work/school/grind? I did nothing of that but it doesn’t mean September hasn’t been hard on me 😉

I’ve already talked on this blog what I think about all the detoxes (apart from one I will talk about later). Why do we think it’s ok to punish ourselves while we actually need the opposite: care, attention and encouragement? Here’s what I have in mind

Let’s talk to ourselves like we actually like ourselves

Can you imagine a conversation with your friend that goes like this:

You friend: I’m going to try this new job/run a marathon/learn Spanish

You: Are you sure? Have you ever succeed in anything? It will end up like every time you try something.

If you’re a good friend this conversation wouldn’t go that way, first of all because you believe your friends can achieve whatever they want and even if you don’t positive encouragement is way more effective that bringing people down. I’m almost sure that the person you talk negatively like to nobody else is you. Every day. I’m always amazed how powerful words are and what an amazing power positive thinking is. This is coming from a very skeptic and sarcastic person (that is me). Each time I read a positive quote I feel a rush of courage and good energy. I guess positive thoughts  have the same effect on your mind as the good, nutritious food for your body. Don’t think it’s easy for me, for lot of people it’s not.

Practice, write it down, put on a positive song.

wait for it…

Let’s leave our cell phone for at least 30 minutes a day

This one is extremely difficult for me as I take my phone everywhere. And by that I mean literally everywhere #TMI.

Two weeks ago I had no Internet connection for 2 or 3 hours and I went crazy. I realized how much I depend on Internet, social media, emails etc. Funny enough I managed to do so many things in that 3 hours and when I had Internet back I discovered that nothing actually happened when it I was gone. Of course I didn’t practice digital detox since then because…I’d rather go hungry. Just kidding, everything is worse than being hungry but I’m convinced  that putting  my phone down for 30 minutes is a challenge. Willing to take the challenge with me? Hey, at least you can do in 30 minutes everything you’ve been postponing whole week and then stay on Instagram for the rest of the day..

Sometimes you scroll though your Insta feed and sometimes you put your phone down and take your mala

Let’s get physical

Yes, you can interpret this one however you want. At this point of my life running is my game but I think you should always aim for your activity of choice. Hike, jump, dance, walk, do yoga or pilates. Why? I do this because moving my body changes my mood from any state to awesome (endorphins, heyyy) and I have time to think things over or think about something else than everyday troubles. My best ideas come when I’m running, I sort my thought out when I’m getting tired. Sometimes I get so exhausted during my runs that I have no choice but to honest with myself. You know that state when your body is so out of energy that all is let is pure thought? If you don’t, try. You and your body need to reconnect and this is the best way to do it. Weirdest and most amazing thing? You’ll be tired and soon after full of energy.

Me after a run: happy

Let’s give ourselves a treat aka #treatyourselfwell

The easy choice would be buying something lavish, booking an expensive trip or going out for a dinner in Michelin restaurant. I’ve had a fare share of expensive gifts ‘from myself to myself’ in my life and the joy lasted for a very short time. Can I get more creative? I go back on the theme of being good and gentle with ourselves, dedicating attention and time that we deprive ourselves of because ‘it’s only me’. I’m very grateful to my mum and my grandpa for teaching me that eating should be, whenever you can, on a set table. Even if you eat on your own, especially if you eat on your own. Preparing your food with care, even if you eat alone. So if I eat on my own I set a table and prepare the food I like. No shortcuts. Attention is priceless and I’m worth attention. Let’s treat ourselves to something simple and something that put our needs first.

A wild asparagus risotto I made only for me. Because I like wild asparagus and I love risotto.

And now…a treat for you! Recently I’ve discovered  2 ways how to make easily plant milk, or as someone call it : mylk. It’s simple and it’s fast and it’s economical. I mean: win win and win!

Nut milk: you need your nut butter of choice, I’d choose something  without as clean as possible, that is peanut butter with only peanuts and no additional and useless sunflower oil, etc. But it’s your call I don’t judge. Ok, so you take a 1l of warm or hot water, add a generous teaspoon of your peanut butter or almond butter and blend it for 30 sec/1 min. Done. Of course you can add some sweetener if you like: honey, stevia, maple syrup, etc but you don’t have to. Done.

Hemp seed milk: the same procedure. Add 2 tablespoons of hemp seeds to warm or hot water and blend for few minutes. Add sweetener. Or not. Done.

Less plastic in my life! What I’m doing and what you can easily do

I’m convinced that my waste production is similar to a small European country. And I feel weird (read: confused and guilty) about it.

I started cutting on plastic starting from my shower.

I use a fare amount of shampoo, conditioner and shower gel. Fortunately some brands, usually the smaller ones, have started producing solid shampoos and conditioners. If you can’t find them on line go straight to Lush. Great quality and they last for ages! I also started using soap instead of shower gel and I find it less drying for my skin. Of course quality matters, the more natural soap the better but even the more pricey ones will last longer than an average washing gel.

This rosemary soap has a very useful string so you can hang it under the shower and grab it comfortably.   No plastic and no makeup day.

Coffee. To be honest I haven’t done an effort here because I’ve been using moka since forever but if you’re using one of those fancy machines with coffee pods I have news for you: every single one takes around 200 years to disintegrate. And coffee is simply better from moka not mentioning that ‘encapsulated’ coffee cost way more than the regular one.

100% Arabica, anyone with me? #coffeislife

Groceries: bring your own bag. I personally hate the plastic or ‘organic’ bags because they get holes just by looking at them. I try to have with me at least one of the fabric bags. You get them at almost every event if you want them or not. Get them and use them for shopping!

Buy in bulk. Of course not many supermarkets or shops offer that option but it’s worth looking for a place where you can stock on nuts, legumes, flour, detergents and so on. It cost less and it’s environmentally friendly. Weather you buy in stock or ‘in plastic’ I encourage you to keep things in your kitchen in mason jars. Plastic is damaging to the planet and it means you as well, so keep your rice, pasta, flour in something else than plastic!

from the left: venere rice, gluten free pasta, arborio rice and on top hemp seeds. In the background empty bottles I use for water.

Bring your own cup and..cutlery. This one sounds really cheap but you’ll get me if you travel a lot. When I’m at the airport I don’t always take coffee because I’m quite picky and I don’t want to get another dose of caffeine so I have my Starbucks tumbler with me. Sometimes I’ll take my favorite herbal tea with me (yes, I’m that boring) but even if I’m ordering a hot drink I don’t use another reusable cup. Coming back to plastic: I get my own fork and spoon. I wouldn’t risk it with bring a knife and I wouldn’t need to use it. Nowadays you can buy a ready to use cutlery kit online or you can make it yourself (aka: get it from your kitchen and put it in an old beauty bag or something similar)

Freedom is your own pair of chopsticks.

What I want to do in the near future

Throw away my plastic toothbrush. I don’t mind using it but it’s battery is getting worse and worse every day. I won’t get another one that will need its plastic head replaced every 2 or 3 months. I’ll probably get a non mechanical toothbrush made from recyclable material. Any suggestions?

Don’t buy cotton face pads. I use them every day in my bathroom but I found out you can buy a set of reusable bamboo pads that can be washed in the washing machine. Great invention. You ask what it has to do with plastic? Well, they always come in plastic confection. Apart from using less plastic I’m into buying less things this year.

Let me know if you’re on board with ‘less plastic’ and ‘less waste’ movement’ and what would you suggest to reduce plastic?

it’s always a detox time

September, the beginning of autumn. Every time I scroll through my Instagram feed I see that the world go on detox. Not just diet, a detox. That supposed to be cleansing after these 2 weeks period called vacation that was preceded by at least 1 month period of read-for-the-beach diet. And before that we had a spring awakening awakening cleanse because as you might have already guessed: we ate like pigs during Xmas.

Green concoction : managing your sense of guilt since..forever

People say that with climate change the seasons just disappeared. I believe it’s our culture that did that. Our year is made of periods of famine, brief feasts followed by detoxes and cleanses. All year round we should be vigilant. Calories are just waiting around every corner.

It’s rarely to hear, both men and women, to admit they ate something without any justification. “I had pizza but I’m going to the gym tomorrow” or “This must be like a thousands calories but I walked a lot today”. Food makes us guilty.

My cleanse juice of choice. Ok, it’s an image from my last race, Marathon du Médoc.

No matter how valuable you are as a person your value is primarily your looks. Looks is the first thing the world will judge you upon.. It’s a natural but it becomes toxic when it stays the main indicator of  your value.

You’d probably say it’s not true and that we value intellect and wit. If that’s true why one of the most common messages in the wellness and fitness community is self acceptance? Love yourself no matter what! You’re worthy and beautiful and even your flaws are beautiful! And you’re smart! You must love yourself no matter what the social media is trying to make you believe! If all of this is true why we’re constantly teated like children binging on sweets?

Don’t get me wrong: I love good healthy food and I feel my best when my body is well nourished with food that makes me feel good. Having said that my looks should never be a fast jump to judgment of my persona. If I loose weight it doesn’t necessary means I’m in a good place in my life but that is what people assume. If I loose weight I might be sad, stressed or ill but the first reaction is compliment. My value is not my looks so don’t try to convince me that I should fit a certain size and then if I feel bad about myself convince me again that looks doesn’t matter and I’m worthy ‘no matter what’.

Superfoods: what are they, do you need them and how to get the best ones

I have to admit: I love following new trends in food/wellness industry and I will try almost everything. Don’t judge.

Just to say I was the first to try maca when the only place where you could buy it was a local shop selling all foods from Latin America, I don’t even know where I had my first spirulina and chia seeds ‘stash’ but I know I don’t regret it and yes, I always hope the next super food will be the ultimate recipe to eternal youth, health and, the most important of all: performance.

(more…)

last weeks before marathon

I guess marathon training is taking its tool on me as I’m incredibly tired this week after lasts week’s training (70 km in total). I’m behaving like I would after a marathon: running less and taking some rest.

What is bothering me now are…my teeth! One of those will have to be devitalized, I just discovered that and i want to have it done before marathon. I know it’s crazy to schedule your dental care around my race calendar but I don’t want to be on painkillers on the start line.

How was my last long run that made me rest this week? Terrible. My glute was on fire, I was tired, thirsty and slow. And I stopped like a million times. I guess the marathon will go just fine. Honestly, I’m more worried about my teeth than my pace now. Ok, just a little bit more.

The marathon is in less than 3 weeks and I’ve done all I could. It wasn’t perfect but everyday life is like that. You fail but you have to go on #life #wisdom