Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Why I wear ugly shoes (so I can afford to buy gorgeous ones)

543106_10152262105630224_1110542692_n A couple of years ago I read “Born to Run” by Christopher McDougall. It was the book that convinced me that barefoot-running/walking was the go. At the time I was hoping to resume my 5 x weekly jogs/runs from the pre-kids era. To be honest; I bought the book in a vain attempt to find that inner motivation that would magically see me running every evening without loathing every single step of my 5 km track. Already being overweight and recovering from a wonderful birthing-experience (insert sarcasm here, have you ever had an episiotomy?), the book didn’t offer the magic nor the motivation I needed. But it started a thought-process.

Fast forward a few months, and I found myself reading anything and everything about the Primal/Paleo lifestyle. While greedily absorbing as much as I could from Marks Daily Apple, I came across his guide to walking. Everything die-hard Paleos and Primals say about barefoot-walking was familiar to me thanks to “Born To Run”. As I slowly started to change my lifestyle, I threw out my $200 Nike Shox-runners and replaced them with $5 plimsolls from Kmart. Effectively this meant that I went from walking in shoes with nearly 5 cm built-up cushioning under the heel to less than 1 cm of sole. If you have spent a lifetime walking, running and exercising in built-up runners, you muscles in both feet, ankles, legs, thighs, hips and back will be affected by this change.

As I started to lose weight and feel more energetic, I was consistently walking 40-50 min daily. Doing it in really thin soled-shoes like the plimsolls caused me pain and discomfort in the first 3 weeks. I really felt the strain in my shins and hips. But I kept going, and by the 6th week I had awaken the dormant, stiff muscles and could walk with far better coordination than before (I used to be very clumsy and unbalanced). After doing plimsolls for a few months, I decided to look into buying actual barefoot-shoes like the Vibram Fivefingers. As you can see, they are not cheap. I have no problem forking out money on shoes, in fact, it’s one of my many hobbies. I dare say shopping for shoes is my favourite thing to do next after eating and sleeping. But for some reason I didn’t feel like spending money on barefoot-shoes. Namely because they are really ugly and super-weird. I’m not saying they’re not awesome (they totally are!) but my inner diva didn’t really want to fork out for something so strange and unusual looking. And as most of you know by now, I like saving money where I can (ALDI, anyone?).

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Photo, left: “Born To Run”, right: The sort of shoes I prefer spending money on and ooops, turns out I did.

The solution? Instead of barefoot-shoes I went and got water-shoes from Kmart. They were $9 and lasted me 12 months. This year I got a pair of aqua-shoes from Target. They were $7 on special. They are incredibly bright and hideous (see top-pic) but they feel like practically wearing nothing and I love them. The rubber-sole is super-flexible and I can feel every single pebble and rock when I walk without hurting my feet. My legs, hips and toosh get a far better work-out than when I used to walk in my Nike Shox-runners. I am a big believer in the benefits of barefoot-walking. Even in the gym I wear Adidas Daroga-shoes with a thinner sole as this allows me to find better balance while doing squats or dead lifts. I recently tried to wear my old Nikes and didn’t even last a block. I felt wobbly and unsteady, and had no sense of balance. There is no going back for me.

If you want to learn more, I recommend you read “Born To Run”. It was a great book as far as reasoning for barefoot-running goes, but please ignore the author’s excitement for vegetarian diets and chia-seeds fuelling your body for ultra-marathons (Chronic cardio with a capital C). Chia-seeds are great but not magic. Knowing what I know about diet today, I would not consider his advice to eat a bowl of steamed broccoli with chia-gel for breakfast. If you throw in some salmon and a few eggs I’m all for it! Jokes aside, if you are yet to part with your old, built-up runners, I suggest you give water-shoes a go. Remember that it takes a few weeks for your body to adjust. There are decent minimalist runners on the market, I like the look of the New Balance Minimus. I might put them on the wish-list for Christmas (My gym-Darogas are 7 years old!), although I’m sure there is a pair of 8 inch high-heeled* beauties out there with my name on them. No doubt I’d rather own them, right?

*It’s not like I wear high heels often so don’t call me a hypocrite. I just love high heels- they make me happy. No, I know, they are hardly practical, but I don’t care. I still love em’. Rest assured I spend 98% of my time wearing bright aqua-shoes…

Are you a bare footer?

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Paleo-perfect kids? A day in my head

553982_10151867511190224_359141268_n 7 am. Time to feed the little monsters. What to feed them? The tot refuses just plain Greek yogurt. The twins want oats the way Nanna makes them (assuming that means lots of added sugar? But this ain’t no sleepover, this is real life, get over it, kids). I settle for oats and throw in natural yogurt, chia seeds, coconut oil, a touch of raw honey, cinnamon and even raw kefir. Yes yes yes, I know, oats are grains and I feel terrible but at least its not Weetbix or Frosties*. Guilt-ridden I remind myself that Daddy gave them some smoked salmon before he left for work. The tot smells a whiff of my brekkie and ends up finishing most of my sardines, eggs and spinach cooked in ghee. Good child, she would probably survive without oats. I’ll try again tomorrow. I quietly wish my twins were more like the tot- she' is a perfect primal-munching child. The twins demand a cup of kombucha because its Wednesday and we always have kombucha and Mummy has told them its good for their gut-flora. I agree and let them have 1/2 a cup. The tot screams for “Bucha! Bucha! Bucha!” and I tell her she’s too little. It breaks her little heart but a tantrum only lasts for as long as you give them attention, so I ignore it. Lunch rolls around quickly. Always does. The tot happily eats her eye fillet leftovers, Paleo tomato-sauce and eggs (again! Amazing!) while the twins claim eggs makes their mouth itchy. Ouch, food allergies. Leaky gut. Must fix. Should I attempt GAPS for them? I resort to a “fun platter” with beetroot-crackers, fruit, cheese and 1/2 sausage. Must pick up some grilled chicken tomorrow so I’m more prepared. Mental note taken. Tot is satisfied and goes down for her nap. Twins say they are still hungry. I give them a stick of butter each and 3 squares of 85% chocolate. Twins seem happy. 10 min later and they demand Roiboos-tea (yes, it’s caffeine-free). I prepare them a cup of Roiboos-tea and coconut-milk. The house stays quiet for a blissful 3.5 minutes. Love that cup of tea even though it’s not mine. 2 hours later and I can tell by the angry bickering between the twins that their blood-sugar is low. God, they must still be carb-burners. Are they? Probably. It’s all my fault. I bring out a can of “golden fish” (between you and me, that’s sardines) and they love it. Finish off the whole can. I give them some coconut manna and peace is restored. Husband gets home. Dinner. 45 wonderful minutes where I can lock myself away in the kitchen while the husband plays with the kids. Dinner never takes 45 min to prepare but I’m not going to admit that to anyone. It’s my down-time. I prepare baked salmon with homemade dressing and a side of shredded beets and home-grown silver-beet sautéed in butter and garlic. Honestly not expecting much. Surprised to see all three kids devouring it with great appetite. Twin 1 loudly proclaims that this is his most favourite dinner ever (funny that, last week he hated the very same dish). “It’s TOO GOOD, Mummy, too good!”. Inner sigh of relief. Give the tot a bath and nearly forget to give her the herbal Traditional Chinese Medicine for her cough. She is still super-snotty, but the cough is gone. Maybe it’s pollen allergy? Hay-fever? Ouch, an allergy. Leaky gut. Or gut dysbiosis? Or both? Poor child got her Mum’s dodgy gut-flora. Must fix. Should I attempt GAPS for her? 7 pm. All kids in bed. Oh man, I could so do with a Medjool-date right now.

Life with kids is crazy no matter how you eat. I’m sure vegans out there face their own challenges; their toddlers turning their noses up at lovingly prepared lentils. Just like mine sometimes refuses to eat their, God forbid, tender grass-fed steak. Anything more than one child makes life stressful in a weird, all-consuming yet wonderful way. Then you add in an attempt at feeding them in an unconventional way and it gets so much harder. Actually, to be honest, the tot is easy. She has eaten Paleo since she started eating solids. Her brothers, the twins, have lived through my vegetarian, carb-fuelled days of pasta, rice and couscous. They love bread. Along with sticks of organic butter- bless their little cotton-socks. I buy 2 loaves of gluten-free bread weekly although I know its high-carb and processed. And it requires a second mortgage, it’s so darn expensive. But it keeps them happy and eczema-free.

I can’t complain. My kids eat pretty well and mostly Paleo. They have lovely personalities and rarely turn feral (sugar, extreme exhaustion or lack of sleep are the usual suspects if they have a bad day). I have kids that nag for cups of kombucha and bone broth. They take great pride in helping me strain the kefir every morning. They love sauerkraut with their dinner, especially if it’s purple. All in all I love that they don’t get Cheezels for morning-tea (they don’t even know what it is), and that they’ve never been to KFC, Dominos or Hungry Jacks (they have been to Macca’s. Once. It was a disaster. Never again.). But seeing I’m part Paleo Police, part mother, I can’t help but stressing over all the incorrect things I feed my kids according to the great big bibles of Paleo: Oats. Dairy. Peas.  Herbs that weren’t grown in my own yard. Frozen spinach. Yogurt that is NOT home-made from raw dairy milked by heavenly angel-like maidens.

As any parent would already know, parenthood is riddled with guilt over the silliest things. That’s parenthood for you, the sum of the extreme weight of being responsible for how a of little person (or in my case, 3) are going to turn out- both now and later in life. In the midst of my crazy everyday-life it’s important to step back and look at the bigger picture: My kids are educated about what they eat. They are (very) active participants in our weekly market shop. They ask about protein, fats and carbohydrates and they are genuinely interested. Mostly because they aspire to grow big muscles like their Daddy. Whatever angle works, I say- the promise of big muscles sees them finishing their dinner most days.

Passing on my knowledge to them is one of the greatest gifts I can give them. They might not be Paleo-perfect, but if they choose to (and I hope they do. Otherwise I’ll start reading them Robb Wolf at bedtime), they probably will be as they grow older. The beauty of eating clean is that you can tell how bad crappy food makes you feel. My kids already know that at the mere age of 5 and 2. That’s more than I ever did, and it took me 30 years to figure it out. And I’ll do anything in my power to ensure they don’t have to deal with the health-issues I’ve faced. That means no antibiotics unless it’s truly necessary, lots of probiotic foods, heavily reduced sugar-consumption and lots of good fats. And encouraging a love for the outdoors and with it; physical activity and play.

Are you a Paleo-parent? Is feeding your kids Paleo-foods a daily, tricky mine-field of a struggle? Any helpful tricks, dishes or advice you want to share?

*My kids get eczema when they eat wheat gluten. Nothing happens when they eat oats. That’s my comfort for now.

**Yes, that's my twins in the photo. In a not so Paleo-perfect moment while holidaying overseas.