Vitality

The third of my small tattoos is a V for Vitality. It’s on the back of my neck – the nape. I like that word, but I digress.I desire vitality inside and out.  I want to be vibrant in mind, body and spirit. I want to be active and strong. I think this comes from a general desire to age well, to age gracefully, to age with dignity.  And that in part is because my father died of colon cancer when he was 54 and I was 24.

He was diagnosed at age 49 and died 5 years later. He went through all kinds of treatments – traditional and experimental. He fought hard. I know he was doing it for himself and for his love for me and our family. I want to live with wellness to honour him, my family and myself.

But I saw what cancer does to the body and the mind. I want to avoid it – very badly. Prevention and early screening are my tools. Not 100% guaranteed of course.

I was already a nutrition geek (had been since I was in elementary school) and fascinated by physical wellness science. Seeing my father edge then leap towards disease and decay inspired me to have a different future.

So I embrace vitality. I seek it out. I create it. I am active in my pursuit. I use all the wellness tools available to me. I focus on getting enough sleep and eating a whole foods diet. I have never smoked and I have quit drinking. I meditate and practice loving kindness and gratitude. I surround myself with people I love and that love me.

This is my path to vitality.

My Favourite Vegan YouTube Channels

As many of you know I was a vegetarian for 1 year then vegan for 15 years (1995-2010), but with my midlife crisis I fell off the wagon for a few years and then got back on this spring. When I returned to my vegan waysI felt like lots had changed between when I stopped being vegan, the few years I ate eggs and dairy (2010-2013) and then when I also ate land and marine animals (2013-2016). To refresh myself I decided to look to some of my old favourite sources of information (Physicians Committee For Responsible MedicineVegetarian Resource Group and VegNews) AND the latest additions to the vegan info scene. This is where YouTube came in.

There are so many people chatting about vegan eating and vegan lifestyle choices on YouTube. Some are just broohaha clickbait drama (oh, dramatic and competitive YouTubers, you bore me), but there are others that are informative, positive, friendly AND entertaining.

Here are my top 3 favourite vegan YouTubers.

Lauren Toyota – websiteYouTube

Also Hot For Food (recipes she makes with her boyfriend John)

Lauren’s videos are so nicely shot and edited, but what really shines through is her authenticity. Her What I Eat In A Day videos are not at all like the uber pristine ones so common on YouTube. She keeps it real, as the kids say (OK, the kids of the 1990s). She’s also a little woo. Her ideas about life, the universe and how to make your dreams a reality – I dig it, as the kids say (OK, the kids in the 1960s). Anyway, I like her and think we would get along and be friends. This means she is a REALLY good at her job as a YouTuber.

Georgie and Darren – Vegan Fitness TV – YouTube

Their videos bring much value to my life. Their fat loss series is very informative and helped me devise a plan for myself. I keep watching because their daily videos are so positive and informative. They help me stay on plan. Motivation strategies are a must for me when it comes to eating well and exercising. I’m an introvert and I can easily just stay inside and hibernate – cocoon – tune out.

I’m a Patreon supporter of their work.

Hayley – Sea and Silva – YouTube

Hayley brings an interesting life experience to the topics of veganism, atheism, minimalism and living on less. Her transparency about her finances and lifestyle choices are both very inspiring. Same thing with her journey as a YouTuber. She just moved states and I’m interested to learn how the transition goes and what new adventures come her way.

I’m a Patreon supporter of her work.

 

BONUS: If you are nutrition geek like me you need to check out Dr. Michael Greger at Nutrition Facts. He reads EVERY published research study on nutrition every year and then makes these short, informative videos. All proceeds from his books, DVDs, and speaking go to charity.

How Not To Die – Video

As many of you know I am a bit of a nutrition information junkie and I really enjoy the work of Dr. Michael Greger. He claims to have read every nutritional research journal of the year (now that is a nutrition info junkie – wink), He examines the research and synthesizes it for the average person interested in how food affects health, quality of life and longevity. He also brings a critical eye to how research actually doesn’t translate to improvements to the food industry. As someone who wants to live a healthy AND a simpler, more frugal life his work has been a very useful resource.

Most of the things that make us healthy and keep us healthy are cheap and largely available without professional help or commercial prodding. – Michael Greber, M.D.

Here is a great (longer) video on his examination of the leading causes of death in North America. Super interesting and also told with a fair bit of humour.

Seska Trivia

I have a BA in Child Studies and a BA in Psychology. In my twenties I worked as an educational consultant. I have continued my education by taking courses in nutrition, energy healing, mindfulness and online business.

I have been active as a burlesque performer and cabaret producer since 2003.

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my costume for my Welcome to the Jungle number

After recovering from a rare autoimmune disease called Paroxysmal Cold Hemoglobinuria I was inspired to train for a 1/2 marathon. I ran it in 2 hours and 14 minutes in the freezing rain. After a break from exercise I have switched things up and now take daily early morning 40 minute power walks.

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my 1st 5k race

In the fall of 2014  I made my professional theatrical debut in the Segal Centre’s The Graduate.

I’m a former adult industry performer and I wrote an essay on why I do not hide or deny my past here. I have spoken about my personal and professional experiences at SXSW, Concordia University, McGill University, Sexual Attitude Reassessment Seminars and various adult industry conferences.

Yes, that was me on HBO’s Real Sex Xtra : Pornocopia : Going Down in the Valley : Women on Top. The business has changed dramatically from when that was filmed (2004). I cannot provide you with any relevant advice on how to “make it’ in the industry in its current state. It’s changed too much.

I have two cats – Rufus and Martha.

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Rufus on left – Martha on the right

Fitness Journey

These photos were taken 2 years ago over the course of 6 weeks of working out and eating 80% clean under the supervision of my trainer Sophie P Fitness. I think the results were pretty impressive.

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At the start point in early 2014 I was at around 160lbs.  Over the past 3 years I had gained weight (30lbs) and lost muscle tone.  Post-divorce I did a lot of emotional eating and excessive drinking as well as dealt with all the anxiety, depression, fear and over all stress that comes with struggling over how to rebuild one’s life.

When I got sober in January 2014 I dropped 10lbs quite quickly and then I lost another 10lbs by eating well and working out with Sophie during my 6 week programme. I was feeling pretty good, but I got off track by the end of 2014. I spent much of 2015 stressed and working as a waitress and manager at a restaurant. While it brought some stability to my life, it also took up all of my time and my mental and physical energy. It was not my ideal work/life situation. My healthy habits disappeared. My meals were not plant-based or centered around whole foods as it was more economical and convenient to eat at the restaurant. Then in the summer I suffered a back injury and after that I didn’t work out at all. While I was not living the same unhealthy lifestyle as before, I wasn’t making my health a priority.

I decided in January to change that. I started with small changes in my schedule, doing less of what was not working and doing more of what I know does work for me. Now I’m moving to a new space, being more consistent in my exercise and healthy eating. I have a ways to go as I want to be able to run and lift like I did some ten years ago.

I decided to share this photo to keep myself accountable AND to remind myself of what I can do in six weeks if I am consistent with my healthy life routine.

How Breakfast Changed My Life

Breakfast. It all started with breakfast. But first let me back up a bit.

After 17 years of being together I left my then-husband and went to live on my own. It was scary in many ways. It was the first time in my life that I ever lived alone. I was 39 and I went through a multi-year learning curve on the simple and complex aspects of being independent. One of the major adjustments I had to make was to learn to cook for myself – and only myself. I was used to cooking for us.

At the very beginning I was all about convenience foods that I could heat up and serve with steamed rice or quinoa. I didn’t have a stove at my place – only an electric wok and small steamer.

Once I got a stove I tried some recipes for one person, but found they required me to buy large quantities of specialized ingredients that would go to waste.

At one point I tried batch cooking, but I found it overwhelming to shop for large quantities of food. If I didn’t make the recipe in time the produce would go to waste. Plus, I found it depressing to have a lot of food. It emphasized how alone I was.

Later I went through a lengthy ordering-out phase and soon after had the bills and waistline to show for it.

Clearly these were not the strategies for me. Then I realized there was another way. I could take what was working for me and see if I could apply it to all of my meals.

So what was working? Yes, it was breakfast and it was always the same thing.

Oatmeal with blueberries and ground flaxseeds
Yves Veggie Sausages (the only processed soy I can digest – wacky, I know)
Coffee

So I looked at other simple meals I enjoyed and asked myself if I could also make them my standards as I did my oatmeal breakfast. After a little trial and error I discovered I could. Not every recipe clicked, but the ones that involved minimal preparation and cooking became my classics.

A favourite turned out to be a poached egg, a big bunch of steamed spinach drizzled with a tiny bit of olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and a side of baked beans.

Here are 5 other of my simple meal classics.

– vegetable curry made with coconut milk

– lentil Bolognese (or if I switch up the spices it is a Sloppy Joe)

– tomato bisque *

– mushroom soup *

– tempeh cassoulet *

My favourites snack is a cold Granny Smith apple and some almonds. I also really love a sandwich made with a nut butter and some blackstrap molasses. I grew up having molasses as a treat so it is part nostalgia and part taste bud familiar.

I have eaten this way for over a year and feel so much better. The simplicity makes my to-do-list much shorter and a meal all the more pleasurable. From time to time I get fancy and make something from a cookbook, but it is no longer a chore or a challenge. It is a delight. As it should be!

From the book Breaking the Food Seduction: The Hidden Reasons Behind Food Cravings—And 7 Steps to End Them Naturally (disclosure Amazon affiliate link).

Juice Cleanse

A few people had asked about the juice cleanse I’m doing this week so I thought I would write a little bit about it. For six days I am consuming nothing but fresh fruit and vegetable juices (mostly vegetable) and getting daily colonics as well as engaging in other cleansing activities (dry brushing, Epsom salt baths and neti pot nasal irrigation). It’s a supervised cleanse with an experienced colon irrigation specialist and holistic nutritionist.

I decided to do it after we discussed various forms of fasting and cleansing in one of my nutrition classes. I have been eating very poorly or at least nutritionally inconsistently for the last few years and especially so since my separation. I know for myself that a cleanse or limited diet that clears the slate so to speak helps me get back to healthy eating and exercise patterns. I did it back when I was training for a half marathon and had awesome results (food cravings gone, no more asthma and loads of energy). I really need to get back in that place.

After my cleanse I’m going to continue to see a holistic nutritionist to address my issues (pms, asthma, and food cravings) and have her help me develop the optimal diet for me.

About the nitty gritty of the cleanse: it’s doable for me as it is 6 days of juicing bookend by days of transition eating. I do find I’m a bit hungry but not intolerably so. I consume water with psylium and bentonite clay 4 times a day which helps me feel full and pushes and scrapes things along in my colon. The juices themselves are not too bad though I have been experimenting with different combinations and some have not turned out so well. Keeping it simple helps: cucumber, kale, romaine lettuce, celery, and ginger is my favorite.

As for the colonics they feel odd but not painful. I have tremendous amount of bloating in my abdomen and I’m noticing an improvement in that. Same thing with under eye bags (which have been the bane of my existence for quite some time but in the past year have really become huge) and with my breathing.

I’m drinking a lot of fluid so I am peeing often. Very often. Number 2, poop or as I like to call it BMs are just fine. I’m pretty happy and regular in that department on any given day but they have changed with the colonics but nor in any detrimental way. I cannot believe I wrote about poop in my blog. A first! And let’s hope a last. Again, I’m a pretty healthy person when it comes to that department and I have to admit I do talk about it with appropriate friends and family members but it’s not something I journal about. Though you do end up thinking about it more than ever during a cleanse and when people hear the word colonic they just have to know the nitty gritty details. This is the best I can do. ;)

I have three more days to go. I looking forward to eating and chewing. I am looking forward to more variety in terms of flavoured and textures. But three more days of juicing I can do as long as I hang out at home, do my yoga and not watch any cooking shows!

Crazy Sexy Diet Cleanse

I am on Day 4 of my 21 Day Crazy Sexy Diet Cleanse by Kris Carr. I feel great today. I had some withdrawal-detox headaches and a crazy runny nose on Tuesday and Wednesday, but that seems to have subsided or even gone away. I neti potted today and it as the best it has ever been. I have issues with asthma and allergies. I have cleaned up my diet before and it helped to greatly improve my breathing and diminish my symptoms to almost none. My diet has absolutely sucked this past year (part of my whole rebelling against my past thing) and my body is suffering because of it. It was one of the physical reasons I knew I need to clean up my diet again. Anyway, when I neti potted today it just flowed like a waterfall immediately as I started. It felt awesome.

One of the reasons I am doing the Crazy Sexy Diet 21 Day cleanse is beyond the physical. It is to get me back on track. Or rather I feel like I just figured out where the track is and I am ready to get on it. My track – not anyone else’s. After a year of rebelling and trying all sorts of things, of hiding, of escaping, of tuning out – I feel I know myself better. I know what I value more than ever before. I know what I want in my life. I feel like its time to put the focus on me and living the life I want to lead.

Great what a bit of a nervous breakdown, a year of therapy and and whole lot trial and error will do to a gal.