29 October 2013

My year of walking (a la Katy Bowman)

Humans were made to walk miles every day. It's the hunter-gatherer thing we did for so long, of course.

In my last post I explained how I've been intrigued by the blog (and now one of the books) of Katy Bowman, who's right into this stuff. So now I'm walking a lot, and was able to do lots of it over the holiday weekend we've just had. It was gorgeous stuff, for the body, mind and family & friends feeling.

The thrill of a dead bird. Well, part of it.
Baby mussels on a rock.

Raglan beach is a wonderful place. Especially if you have
a warm jacket.
Here's what I'm doing a bit differently while I walk as a result of 'What Katy says', and the sheer common sense her approach oozes:

- I'm barefoot or close to it (i.e. my Keen footwear, not rigid, foot-can't-flex, shoes.) (The Keen shoes I have and love are similar to these. Very durable and get me lots of compliments.)
- feet straight ahead. Like many people my feet tend to point out when I work - too many years of dance training I think. Of course, close inspection reveals that our feet are designed for the weight to transfer from the centre of the heel to the longest, strongest toes, not from the outside of the heel to the side of the big toe. It's hard to remember to point my flippers straight ahead, but actually feels fine.
- weight going firmly through heels, where there's solid tough bone to take the impact. For ever, perhaps, my weight's been forward over my toes, where there is a cluster of delicate bones and joints prone to deforming. Hence my foot shape, below. Ugly and hard to find wide shoes for. It's also amazing how much more the buttocks work when the weight is back on the heels. Easy butt shaper, I think?

I have to shift my pelvis/bottom back to put the weight through my heels. Hence the spine position changes. Hence... the whole stance changes. Wow. That's why Katy's first book is about FEET.

(Try standing in a way that's normal and comfortable for you. Can you lift your toes easily? If your weight is far enough back, you should be able to.)

My left foot points out a bit further than the right when I'm not thinking about it (i.e. not in this photo), and the left foot is correspondingly more spread. I wasn't born with these feet, I walked and ran (ran a lot) them into this shape! But no bunions - phew, no bunions. Small mercies. At least now I have the information to make sure that never happens, either.

I doubt it will be just a year of walking. Probably a life. It's great.

24 October 2013

Moving like a caveman

I'm being almost consumed by something. Something I find really, really (times 20 like my children sometimes say) interesting that I think is going to change the way I do things for the rest of my life.

I wasn't going to blog about it until it was less of a jumble of "WOW!s" in my mind, but it is spilling out and I can't help it.

It's a blog by a woman called Katy Bowman who talks about things like this:
- proper body aligment
- chairs and throne toilets are a disaster for our bodies
- we should all be able to squat with our feet flat on the ground and all our weight in our heels
- we are meant to be barefoot. Shoes are also disasters.
- standing and squatting workstations
- and so much more...

The lower workstation. The standing one is yet to come.
Katy also has two books that I'll be reading. She has a BSc in maths and physics and an MSc in biomechanics. She loves science.

Usually before I part with money for food, supplements, surgery or anything else 'health enhancing' I want the evidence. That's me putting lots of hits on the pubmed website. But I don't need to for this. It is so obviously true.

It really hit me in 1996 when I entered a toilet in a camping ground in the south of France. The throne was missing and in its place was a porcelain ring in the floor. My first squat toilet. I lowered my bum and tipped forwards. I could not squat comfortably because my heels came off the ground. Now I am 40, and they still do.

It struck me then that the vast majority of the people who have ever lived on this planet have had no throne toilets, so had/have to squat several times a day, no matter how old they are. And I, who prided myself on being in fairly good nick physically, could not do it. What did this mean for my hips, back, legs etc?

Although I am still in reasonable shape, the truth is I don't consider myself in good physical nick because I get frequent migraines. Which is why I've been talking to an osteopath, chiropractor and Hellerwork person (the latter who is a friend). And why my forward head posture keeps being mentioned by these people (I was sure I didn't have it - what a blow!) - and the fact that the arteries supplying the brain go through the same place the skull meets the neck. I know these arteries do bad things when it comes to migraines, like dilate, contract and cause pain, because I feel the effects.

So here it is - surprise and wonderment that I have lived many of these 40 years interested in 'natural' ways of living, and have never thought about natural movement. Goodbye to much of my chair sitting, shoes, pillow, walking style (my feet need to go straight ahead, not outwards) and toilet sitting (yes I will keep you updated). Goodbye to sitting and reading or chatting while my children swing around on the playground and in trees - from now on, I'll be joining them. It is exciting stuff. I love the frequent stretching and moving I'm doing (I WILL squat - I know I can, I know I can) and hopefully the migraines will ease also. With the prospect of having years of them ahead of me if things don't change, I really can't afford not to do this. Plus I love it, and my back has stopped hurting already!

The blog I have to stop visiting so often: http://www.katysays.com/

18 October 2013

Slimy milk and other dirt cheap health supplements

As I wrote in my last post, I've been reading Lyn Webster's Pig Tits and Parsley Sauce book. When you're living on a budget as limited as hers, there's not an ounce of room to buy health supplements. It occurred to me that I make some so cheaply that they wouldn't even dint the budget. Here they are:

1. Probiotics. I eat fermented milk - in other words, yoghurt - every day. For about a year now I've been doing it in an unusual way.

Some people buy ready-made yoghurt. I rarely have - it's expensive and the packaging is never recyclable - but used to always use an easiyo yoghurt maker, and I'd make unsweetened yoghurt with whatever brand of yoghurt sachet was on special at the supermarket. I did this for a very long time - in fact, I have the same yoghurt maker I bought when I was 19 and first went flatting!

But now I have a cheaper and more environmentally friendly option. No more foil packets or electricity to dry the milk at the factory, or boil water for my yoghurt maker. And it costs exactly the same as milk, whereas the sachets, which are mixed with water, cost significantly more.

I make Caspian Sea yoghurt. I bought it from here. It is so wildly simple: you mix a bit of yoghurt with milk (about 1 part yoghurt to 10 parts milk) in a clean jar and sit it at room temperature for about 12-18 hours. Then you have a new batch of yoghurt! It apparently has more healthy microflora in it than other yoghurt, although I have no evidence for that.

The only trick is not to eat it all up without saving some to make the next batch. Also, I find it doesn't last as well as other yoghurt. The sachet yoghurt lasts about two weeks, but five days is long enough for the Caspian Sea stuff. You can make as much or as little as you like though, so it's wise to make only as much as you need.

It does have a slightly different taste - sharper, more fermented. You get used to it though.

(If anyone who knows me personally wants to try this, let me know and I'll drop you round a jam jar of yoghurt. It's a 'share the love' kind of thing, and the more people  it's shared with the better, because then you have someone to ask for more if you accidentally eat all of yours!)

2. Essential fatty acids. Some people buy ground LSA (linseed, sunflower and almonds) for the good essential fatty acids they contain. I buy whole linseed from the Bin Inn, where it's dirt cheap. I grind it with a $10 coffee grinder I bought on Trade Me, and keep it in glass jars in the fridge so its delicate oils don't oxidise. I grind two or three weeks' worth at one time, and we have it on our breakfast weetbix or porridge. It also goes well in smoothies.

Often I also grind up sunflower and pumpkin seeds and add them to the mix. I used to grind almonds, but broke several coffee grinders in the process. Now I just gobble a handful of them when I'm hungry. If you're going all pig-tits, just linseed would be the best option.

3. Raw greens/juices. I don't have a juicer and I don't buy spirulina. But silverbeet grows wild in the garden, and every two or three days I make myself a green smoothie by adding a couple of raw, well-washed silverbeet leaves to a jug with yoghurt, a banana and some vanilla paste. I whiz it up with my stick blender and it is totally delicious, not silverbeet-y at all. I have not had a cold all winter, despite some other family members oozing germs, and I do think the silverbeet might have had something to do with it.

Sometimes I add these things too when I'm feeling decadent: frozen berries, two teaspoons of cocoa and a teaspoon of raw virgin coconut oil. Then I get a coconut/berry/chocolate flavour and it is very, very good. I know, chocolate and silverbeet - who would have thought! Trust me, the silverbeet regresses.

Pig-tits sticklers would use just bananas (probably old and marked down in price accordingly), yoghurt and silverbeet, and perhaps cocoa.

Do you have any other ideas for real food supplements on the cheap? Possibly home made sprouts count.

16 October 2013

Pig Tits and Parsley Sauce

I've recently been reading Lyn Webster's book Pig Tits and Parsley Sauce. Here is an indication of how popular it's been in this country: when I reserved it from the library a good four months ago I was 25th in the queue!

Basically it's about how she lives very frugally by spending only small amounts on food, cleaning and personal care products.

I loved the book, and really recommend it. The illustrations are gorgeously retro. It really encourages people not only to have a frugal (but not stingy, I think) mindset, but to feel good about it. She also talks about the sustainability of living that way, and how advertising has sucked us into believing an awful lot of rubbish in order to separate us from our money. An example is the notion that expensive shampoo gives you nicer hair - me, I'm baking soda all the way! I remain delighted with my hair after ditching shampoo (although have gone back to conditioner). I also believe that expensive anti-wrinkle creams are all lies, and you may as well chuck money down the toilet.

In those sentences alone, how much plastic packaging have I avoided?

The book's name came from something her mother used to say when then the children asked what was for tea: the super-cheap, scrape the bottom of the barrel meal. In our house, the answer to that would be omelette, for we are overflowing with eggs and silverbeet!

(You might also be interested in my next post on dirt cheap health supplements.)

Small disclaimer: I shuddered when I saw a photo on the author's website of her recent grocery shop purchase that included 'budget' caged eggs. This is what happens when you put frugality above ethics - you save $3 a week and thereby support an enormous factory farming system that keeps animals in horrific conditions. Admirably, Lyn does have her own chickens - obviously they weren't laying when the photo was taken.

9 October 2013

Fairytale castle

Spotted on the beach these school holidays:

 I can claim credit for the subjects of only two of these photos.

The sandcastle amazed us. It looked like it should have been part of a professional sand sculpture competition, but it sat alone, a work of imaginative magic on a peaceful afternoon, with the tide advancing towards it. The sculptor or sculptors were nowhere to be seen. Perhaps they were crouched behind the dunes, watching for the reactions of beach strollers like us.

When we walked back along the beach, the castle had vanished, washed away by the sea.

6 October 2013

October garden

The weather's been so great here that I think everyone with a scrap of gardening urge is heading outside and getting their hands dirty. A friend of mine recently aroused gardening envy in me with her bed of flowering tulips and poppies, plus tomato plants! I always resist, though, putting tomatoes in before Labour weekend. (Mind you she did it last year too, and there was a frost in late October, but she got tomatoes before me regardless).

We've had fairly dirty hands. The bed of oats has been tugged out, had potatoes planted under it, and had the oats laid as mulch over top. We've never done it this way before.

I've been given some comfrey, and it seriously does have roots like a tree! A lovely gardening man gave me a few roots and I planted them under an ailing lime tree, and they are coming away. He gave me a few leaves, too, which the chickens rejected as being anything like desirable. I was saddened by this because they are meant to love it, and it is very nutritious. After a recent wandering-free period, however, I noticed they'd eaten some of the newly emerging leaves. Plus a heck of a lot of silverbeet, of course.

Comfrey emerging from tree-like roots.
Ravaged silverbeet
There's been a bit of weeding going on, and the laying out of pea straw around the strawberries. Once a friend said of pea straw that it makes a garden look like a bought one! It does, when it's fresh. Chickens love turning over mulch for the bugs underneath, of course, so they messed up my arrangement during their hour or so of roaming. Heads up, tails down, as they so love to be.

But where are all my peas? They've been in for weeks and are doing very little. Disappointing. They are, of course, competing with wild parsnips all over the place.

The zucchini had to go into the garden. I've tried a fancy 'Florence ribbed' type this year, and the seeds popped up fast and grew like billy-o, rapidly outgrowing their punnets. Mostly everything else has sprouted nicely, too. I always wish capsicums would get going faster. I've ended up with almost all big tomato plants (Brandywines) and maybe one cherry tomato (Gardener's delight) due to incorrectly second-guessing myself with what I'd already sown. I sowed two batches of biggies, instead of one of each. It is so important to not only label well, but to believe your labels!

Meanwhile we are eating silverbeet (we have spare!), cauliflower, parsley, coriander and lettuce. Soon we will have artichokes, a truly gourmet vegetable. I simmer them in lemon juice-spiked water and eat them with mayonnaise.

I've finished my tree planting for the winter, and we have two new orange trees, a tangelo tree and a ballerina apple. Anything else - namely the macadamia tree of a certain cultivar we're trying to get hold of - must now wait until autumn.

So we have a little break now until late October, when our big tub of ripe compost will be planted with the tomatoes and other seedlings, and basil seeds will be sown. Our runner beans will resprout from last year (hopefully).

This post is part of a garden share collective. Click on the icon below and you'll be able to see what others have written - that should really get those gardening juices flowing!

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