The Power of Persistence

Take a minute and recall a time in your life when you’ve accomplished something you’re really proud of. (If it takes you more than a minute, that’s ok)

Did this special accomplishment  come as the result of staying focused, overcoming challenges and not succumbing to thoughts of quitting? And if you had a setback (or a series of obstacles) you had to overcome, did you persist and eventually succeed? When I did this exercise,  the accomplishments that I came up with all fit this description and I’ll bet yours do too!

Here’s one on my list…About 5 years ago I made the decision to hike the West Coast Trail (on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada) with my friend Terry. This 75 km hike has a reputation for requiring fitness and endurance to traverse forest trails, mud holes, rocky shoreline, suspension bridges, and extensive ladders. This world renowned hiking trail also has the reputation of being one of the most beautiful scenic areas in the world with huge trees, lush forest canopies, and spectacular shoreline and beaches.

We spent many hours preparing for the hike, dehydrating food to pack, getting together packs and tent, going on training hikes, reading books about the trail, etc. Everything had to be packed with us…not many hotels, stores,or restaurants on the West Coast Trail. And the mental preparation was most important, being prepared to face inevitable adversity…the west coast of Vancouver Island is well known for major rainfall and storms coming in from the Pacific Ocean. Conditions can get nasty in an instant. Fortunately we had mostly clear skies.(on the west coast fog counts as clear skies) The physical requirements for hiking the West Coast Trail can’t be taken too lightly, and here we were, two guys in their fifties taking on the trail that many 30 year olds would find difficult.

The raw beauty of the West Coast Trail is difficult to describe. The surrealism of the forest and beaches, especially when shrouded in a blanket of fog, punctuated by the crescendo of waves pounding the shoreline, with the tang of salt air in our nostrils to round it all off is something that must be experienced to be understood!!

I’ll always remember how we felt when we completed the hike, physically exhausted, with aching muscles, and needing a shower in the worst way. But we knew that we had just accomplished something very special with a sense of awe for what we had the privilege to see and experience.

It took a lot of persistence to plan and prepare and then to keep pressing on when aching legs and backs were telling us to quit (we were packing about 60 lbs on our backs) But it was all worthwhile! I can honestly say that completing this hike is one of my most memorable accomplishments in the past 10 years.

I’m sure that your examples of memorable accomplishments will have the same common ingredient…the power of persistence. When you have to stay focussed and persist in overcoming obstacles in reaching your objective, the rewards of accomplishment are so much sweeter.

Have a fantastic day

Peter

“Persistence beats resistance”

Making Choices

To feel good and be healthy is a worthwhile objective, and we have a lot of information about healthy choices at our fingertips, but to reap the rewards of great health and wellbeing we have to decide to make improvements in our current habits. Being aware of our choices is an important first step. The next step is taking positive action and actually making improvements in our diet and lifestyle habits.

If you have the knowledge and don’t do anything with it, you’re no better off than the person that doesn’t have the knowledge!

The choices I make will not be the same as yours. We are unique individuals in unique situations with different habits, body types, metabolism, etc. An important element of making decisions that are best for you is to become clear on what works for you…and sometimes the only way to find out is to try something new.

I’ve been frequently questioned as to why I decided to take the 21 day vegan challenge with Karlee. My answer is that I wanted to determine the effect of a meat and dairy free diet on my health and how I felt. (Another reason was that Karlee challenged me to try it) I found that dairy products affected me more than I realized. And I haven’t yet reintroduced them into my diet. My plan is to stay with a dairy free diet for the next few months to see if there are continued improvements in how I feel. Then I’ll try reintroducing a few dairy products…(I really like cheese)

Many people don’t realize the effect that diet has on our overall health and wellbeing. The decision to find out how different foods affect you is the first step in determining the ideal diet for you. And once you have the knowledge, then of course your next step is to make the changes that are best for you, and which will ultimately become part of your personal ”Excellent Health Program”.

Have a fantastic day

Peter

 

“Not to decide is to decide”

 

 

From Vegan to Caveman?

Now that I’m almost through with the Vegan Challenge I’m reflecting on what I’ve learned and am thinking about my next step in discovering the ultimate healthy diet.

I’ve been doing a little research on the Paleolithic/Caveman Diet….no cereals, bread, milk, butter, cheese or sugar but lots of of lean meat, fish, fruits, vegetables and nuts. Also known as the hunter-gatherer diet, it is based on the foods that would have been consumed by “cavemen” during the Paleolithic Era that ended about 10,000 years ago along with the advent of agriculture.This diet consists of foods that can be hunted and gathered, such as meat and seafood, eggs, nuts, seeds, fruits, vegetables, mushrooms, herbs and spices. Foods that are excluded from the diet are the ones that were rarely consumed by humans before the agricultural revulution such as grains, legumes (beans and peanuts), dairy products, refined sugar, alcoholic or fermented beverages. Many “Caveman Dieters” eat only lean cuts of meat, such as wild game meats and grass-fed beef since they contain higher levels of omega-3 fats, less saturated fats, and fewer additives than grain-produced domestic meats.

I like the idea of eating food free of additives…If I can’t pronounce the ingredients, I’m not eating it. And I’ve already decided to reduce or completely eliminate dairy from my diet. But cutting out bread or sugar entirely could get a little dicey. I’m going to do a little more research on it before I make my decision.

In the meantime, I’m on the “Get off the Couch Program ” I’m taking my dog for more walks, getting a few more things done around the house, taking the stairs instead of the elevator….at least 30 minutes of activity,  just like Karlee prescribed. Getting a little closer to my goal of being in great shape and at my ideal weight.

One more day of being veggie man!!  Yaaaaay!!  Maybe the carnivorous thoughts I’m having is really the caveman in me coming out :)

PD

 

“We must not cease from exploration. And the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we began and to know the place for the first time.”  T.S. Eliot

 

Almost There!

The end is in sight! Yeehaw! I’m really looking forward to the expanded list of food choices I’ll have when I complete the 3 week vegan challenge. Don’t think I’m quite ready to join the ranks of veganism. However I am committed to continuing on with making healthy food choices and pursuing positive lifestyle changes to enhance my overall health and wellness. I know Karlee has some more recommendations for my excercise program that she’ll be sharing with us over the next few days. I’m looking forward to it!

The experience of eliminating meat and dairy products from my diet has been a real  eye-opener. I tried a lot of foods that I wasn’t used to eating, ie tempeh, eggplant, kale, romano beans, lentils, pecans, quinoa…the list goes on. It’s expanded my daily food choices. I know I can easily cut down on consumption of meat products and eat other foods that I not only like but are good for me too…bonus!

Over the past 18 days, there’s been just a couple of instances where I slipped up a little :( Karlee calls it cheating!  Anyways, I had a couple of veggie burgers that I found out contained dairy…who knew that veggie burgers weren’t all veggie. And it was at Thanksgiving that  I really felt thankful for the good food we had to eat and decided to have some turkey, stuffing, and mashed potatoes.(just a little though)  Then there was the time I put a some milk in my coffee…force of habit. Oh yaa, I had a couple of pieces of california roll. But that’s about it. I hope Karlee’s not too upset at me for my Thanksgiving Day transgressions, since I know that she resisted temptation and had a bean salad while others were chowing down on turkey dinner with all the trimmings….too bad,so sad :)  But Karlee, I’m back on the straight and narrow for the next few days to finish off the challenge.

I heard something profound the other day. There’s a common perception that people resist change. People don’t resist change…They resist “being changed”. When people have reasons to change and make the decision to change, they will make lasting positive changes. But only once they’ve decided that the benefits of change are greater than the benefits of continuing on with the status quo. When’s the last time you made a decision to change just because someone else told you to? Hmmmm. Food for thought.

Have a fantastic day!

Peter Diesing

 

Karlee says “Get off the Couch ”

Here’s Karlee’s response to my latest post. I gotta go now. I’m taking my dog for a walk :)   PD

It is very common to have withdrawal symptoms when you cut out certain foods. For most people sugar is a very addicting food, and not having their sweet start to the
morning can really affect them. Until you start to eat unprocessed whole foods,
you may not realize how much sugar you are actually consuming. The first few
days are always the hardest, but I have noticed sugar withdrawal symptoms
lasting over a week. The ‘spaced out’ feeling my dad mentioned is actually a
clinical symptom of the withdrawal phase. In the long run cutting out processed
foods will not leave you mentally foggy forever - your body (and taste buds) will quickly get used to the different sources of energy!

Now that we are progressing into week 3 of our challenge, our bodies are a little more used to the foods we are feeding it. The cravings are starting to be eliminated and we
are starting to feel fresh and energized. It is the perfect time to start an exercise program. Instead of drilling in the benefits of daily physical activity (you have all heard it before), I am going to tell you some ways of incorporating it into your busy life. The time is now to stop being sedentary and making excuses for every reason why you can’t exercise. Everyone has time, everyone has the energy and everyone has the willpower.

Although scientific research is always changing and new theories are always coming out, experts say you only need about 30 minutes of exercise in a day. For some
people that means 30 minutes of running or 30 minutes in a fitness class, but
for most people vigorous physical activity is not an option.  There are numerous benefits from light to moderate physical activity including walking, swimming, yoga and dancing. A structured fitness regime is not for everyone, and you don’t have to be sweating balls to get a good workout. Yes, resistance training is important (especially as you age), but that is not where you have to start.  How about you start by spending 30 minutes a day doing any type of activity – all you need to do is move your body! My challenge to you this week is to find away to spend 30 minutes a day doing anything active – walking the dog, washing the car, swimming, yoga or even dancing in your underpants.  It doesn’t have to be 30 minutes in a row. You can split it into three blocks of 10 minutes – 10 minutes of walking the dog, 10 minutes of yoga and 10 minutes of walking up and down the stairs. Whatever floats your boat!

After your body gets used to moving more, you can start adding in more advanced exercises like strength training, running or fitness classes! But for now, just focus on
moving more, and eventually you will be ready to sweat balls.

Karlee

Vegan Challenge Day 12

OK, I’ve got a confession to make, I’ve been thinking carnivorous thoughts these last few days… but I haven’t succumbed to my desires and don’t plan on it for another 10 days. I’m thinkin I’ll have a barbecue on day 22.

Actually it hasn’t been that difficult to go without meat and dairy products for the past 2 weeks. And I’ve noticed some positive changes in how I feel!

The aches and pains that I’ve become accustomed to over the past few years have diminished substantially in the past week…it’s really quite amazing. And it’s got me trying to figure out the reason or reasons behind this welcome improvement.  Is it that I have a sensitivity to one of the foods I’ve eliminated from my diet? Is it that my body is able to eliminate more toxins now that I’m eating foods that are more easily assimilated? Could it be dairy products? chicken? fish? shellfish? I’m going to be paying close attention as I reintroduce these foods at the end of my vegan challenge and I should be able to determine how they affect me so that I can make the necessary changes in my diet.

I feel a little lighter both when I step on the scale and in an overall sense of lightness. I haven’t had a meal in the past 12 days that has left me feeling sluggish or tired…hungry maybe, but not tired.

It hasn’t been all roses though. I’ve been a little “spaced out” the past week, although I’m not convinced it’s totally attributable to my vegan diet. I’ve also been a little more ”on edge” than normal. I think it’s the adjustment my body has had to make to my new diet…it had to be a shock to the system!  We’ll see if these symptoms diminish in my final week of the challenge.

My plan over the next week is to take advantage of the overall improvement in how I feel and start a physical excercise program that will keep me on the path of continuous improvement in my health and wellbeing. Karlee has “threatened” to set up a program for me and I’m looking forward to her opinions and recommendations…which Karlee has an abundance of. :)

I wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving.

Peter Diesing

 

 

Karlee’s Vegan Thanksgiving Treats

It is starting to get chilly out and there isn’t anything better than a warm cup of tea and a yummy baked goodie. Just because you are vegan doesn’t mean you have to eliminate baking! Here is a handy cheat sheet I found telling you how easy it is to make delicious treats.

 http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-3169/Ultimate-Vegan-Baking-Cheat-Sheet.html

 Try thinking outside of the box

 Yes you can make vegan chocolate chip banana muffins (can’t lie and say I don’t enjoy them), but there are soo many delicious flavor combinations.

 Vegan Sweet Potato and Cranberry Muffins (From Food for Vitality)

 1 1/2 cup baked sweet potatoes, mashed and cooled

3/4 cup almond milk (rice milk or organic soy milk also work well)

1/3 cup water

1/2 cup agave nectar

1/4 cup canola oil

2 cups organic unbleached flour

2 tsp baking soda (no aluminum brand)

1/2 tsp fine sea salt

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp ground ginger

1/8 tsp ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1 cup dried cranberries (no sugar brand)

 Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 400* Lightly oil the muffin tins and dust with flour. In a bowl,  combine the sweet potatoes, cranberries, rice milk, agave, oil, water, and vanilla.

2. In a separate bowl, sift the flour, baking soda, sea salt, cinnamon, cloves, and ginger.

3. Add the flour mixture to the sweet potato mixture until mixed, taking care not to over mix.

4. Spoon the batter into the pan, to the top, dropping a few more cranberries of desired. Bake for 20-25 minutes (test with a toothpick) until golden brown.

 http://www.foodforvitality.com/2011/09/vegan-sweet-potato-and-cranberry.html

 

Spiced Up & Stacked Pumpkin Butter Pancakes For One

Adapted from my healthy Spelt Pancakes For One 

Ingredients:

                            1/2 cup stone ground Kamut flour (or flour of choice)

                            3/4 cup almond milk

                            1 tbsp baking powder

                            1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste or 1 tsp pure vanilla extract

                            3/4 tsp cinnamon + dash of nutmeg + dash ginger

                            1/2 tbsp sugar

                            Pinch sea salt

                            1 tbsp coconut oil, melted

                            Pecans

                            Homemade Pumpkin Butter

         Directions: Grease and preheat a skillet on the stovetop. In a medium sized bowl, mix the dry ingredients (baking powder, flour, sugar, sea salt, spices). In a small bowl mix the wet ingredients (vanilla, almond milk, coconut oil (melted). Add wet to dry and whisk well. Pour less than 1/4 cup per pancake and cook until bubble form. Flip and cook until golden on the opposite side. Layer with Homemade Pumpkin Butter and pecans and sprinkle with coconut. Serves 1.

 http://ohsheglows.com/2010/10/07/spiced-up-stacked-pumpkin-butter-pancakes-for-one/

 http://ohsheglows.com/2010/10/05/happy-thanksgiving-homemade-pumpkin-butter/

 

Healthy Peanut Butter Coconut Swirl Pancakes (by Ohsheglows.com)

Ingredients:

 Batter:

                            1 1/4 cup whole wheat flour

                            2 T organic cane sugar (or regular will do)

                            2 t baking powder (I use aluminum-free)

                            1/2 t salt

                            1 1/3 cup soy or almond milk

                            1/2 T egg replacer (ground flax or store bought mix) mixed with 2T  water

Peanut Butter Swirl:

                            2 T peanut butter

                            1-2 T natural unsweetened applesauce

Coconut Maple Syrup:

                            1 generous T coconut oil

                            1/2 T Pure Maple Syrup

 

Directions:

1. Mix dry batter ingredients into a medium sized bowl. Mix egg replacer in a small bowl and set aide. Whisk in milk into dry ingredients. Whisk in egg replacer. Add more milk to thin out if necessary. Set batter aside and preheat skillet. While skillet heats up, mix swirl batter into a small bowl or mug. Place swirl batter into a baggie and clip off end. This will allow you to pipe it into the pancakes. Pour batter onto skillet and immediately pipe the swirl onto the pancakes. Once bubbles have form and popped, flip pancakes and cook the otherside. Mix the syrup ingredients together and brush onto the cooked pancakes with a spoon. Garnish with shredded coconut. Now enjoy the most decadent and moist tasting pancakes you’ve ever had! Makes 6 medium sized pancakes.

 http://ohsheglows.com/2009/08/05/healthy-peanut-butter-coconut-swirl-pancakes/

 Yummmmm!! I can’t wait to get in my kitchen to try some of these recipes!

Karlee

It’s a Gas

Well, I’ve got a few things to share with you now that I’m one third of the way through the 21 day vegan challenge.

Didn’t think I ate a lot of dairy products, but now that I’ve totally eliminated them for the past week, I realize that they were a considerable part of my diet…milk in my coffee and in my cereal or porridge, cheese in sandwiches, cottage cheese and yogurt for snacks and with meals.Then there’s ice cream, cookies, milk chocolate…the list goes on.

The absence of red meat in my diet hasn’t been a big deal,and I didn’t have a real hard time saying no to the barbecued chicken that made it onto our dinner table,  but I do miss the fish we normally eat a few times a week. Maybe I’ll become a pescatarian.(A fish eating vegetarian)

I feel good…lot’s of energy. I’ve probably lost a little weight…definitely haven’t gone hungry. No shortage of vegetarian recipes, just check out Karlees Vegan Survival Guide or one of the many internet sites that cater to vegetarian cooking.

And yes, it really is a gas!…with eating all those beans, I’m sounding a lot like a locomotive these days. Even my dog won’t sit beside me.

Looking forward to week 2. I’ll keep you posted.

Peter