Tag Archives: plant-based diet

The Power of Two

30 Dec

(In the order they happened)
Happy Hannukah, happy first day of Winter, merry Christmas, happy Kwanza, happy Boxing Day, happy Election for Jamaican Prime Minister Day, and when it comes, wishing you all a happy and healthy New Year!

I’m here with guest writer and best friend, Molly Dworsky! Hi from the both of us! We feel so lucky to be spending this time together. Laughing, eating, and bonding—it’s a real treat.

This past month has been breezy and exciting. Because the seasons don’t change, and the culture here is so different, it’s hard to realize that the holidays have arrived. Luckily, school let out on December 14th to remind me that I’m on vacation!—at least from the pickni dem. 🙂 And the fact that Molly’s here obviously adds to the spirit of things.

Already, 2012 is looking good: a generous book, crayon, and shelving donation for the basic school (!), learning how to tow (ride two people) on my bicycle, my COS (close of service!) conference on January 25th, eating a whole-food, plant-based diet (check out the documentary “Forks Over Knives”), and being P90X-ified.

Before Molly got here, she and I chatted on the phone about our extreme ability to influence each other. We talked about how on this trip, instead of motivating each other to consume more frosting–like we once did freshman year in a cake-eating-contest–we’d try inspiring each other to be healthy and strong.

Our goals are ambitious. The ideal would be to exercise in the morning before breakfast, eat moderate, plant-based meals throughout the day, and exercise again in the evening.

So far, we have an amazingly meticulous and obsessive food plan in high gear. Um, it’s kind of all we talk about. How much is in the fridge, what’s going bad, what needs to be saved, what things should be paired together, etc. Molly is in charge of chopping the veggies (she loves this job) and I am responsible for planning and orchestrating the meals (I love this job). And over and over again, we keep congratulating each other on how HEALTHY it all is. We’re very proud.

(Though it’s “winter” in some parts of the world, here in paradise, we have reason to make summer squash soup.)

Picture of Health

We’ve made a calendar of all the days Molly’s going to be in Elim, and at the end of each day, we mark on the calendar how we did with our plan. A smiley face is the goal (with other symbols for less impressive days).

In terms of exercise, we’ve found our favorite activity is swimming. And, dedicated to our goal of fitness, we came up with some unique water exercises to keep us laughing and challenged.

The exercises:
(In case you’re looking for creative underwater activities this time of year)

“The Superman”—on your belly, with your arms outstretched and unmoving, use your legs to propel you forward (you know, picture Superman, but in water, and kicking his legs).

“Synchronized Swim”—(popularized by many Olympians) on your back, lift your legs out of the water in unison with your friend’s in dance-like motions of your choice (there’s no limit to what you can do here. Just don’t drown. That goes for all of these.).

“The Twirl”—with your head above water, swim in place in one direction. Repeat on other side.

“Leg Lifts”—contrary to its name, this one works your abs. With your legs together, arms flailing, hinge at your hips to bring your knees as close to the surface as possible. Do not fear if you look or feel like a fool. Under water, everyone is graceful.

Finally, the most effective and versatile technique:

“Kick and Punch”—this one is self-explanatory, sure. However, for those interested parties, we will elaborate. With your head above water, kick your legs and punch your arms wildly as if a giant squid were trying to steal your purse. (Inquire about our full-length Aquatic Self-defense class.)

In the past few days, we’ve upped our game: P90-style. For those of you who don’t know, “P90X” is a series of militant, full-body workout videos. They are led by Tony Horton, a hardcore (hence the “X”?) and merciless teacher. I have five of his DVDs on my flashdrive. The workouts are an hour to an hour-and-a-half, and we do at least one a day.

"Bring it."

To be fair, you might call what we do “Ghetto P90X.” Tony has a selection of equipment that he utilizes throughout the circuits to increase the intensity and add variety to the routines. Sammi & Molly have a selection of found items that THEY employ to increase the intensity and add variety to the routines. For example, in our gym (kitchen) are dumbbells (a few rocks), two pull-up bars (4 cans of garbanzo beans) two clean yoga mats (1 nasty one that we share), yoga blocks (books), two chairs (zero chairs. No need to get creative here. Regular push-ups are hard enough without making them “declining”), the delicious P90X recovery drink that Tony plugs at the end of every workout (water), and a thriving online community of people following the DVDs (“Page Load Error”).

For the most part, we’ve been doing really awesome with our health plan. Our calendar has more smiles than any other symbol, our fridge would impress a vegan chef, and our arms are always sore. But we’re not perfect. Even we are not immune to warm, homemade South African pudding.
Or seconds.
Plus ice cream.

We were Shabbat guests at my South African friends’ house, and had eaten too much to do our traditional evening workout. Knowing we were long past “smiley day” status, we had to think of some small way to redeem ourselves. We held our bellies and remembered the good times when we were swimming, burning calories, getting strong. Oh how we wished those times were now.
Could they be now?
Is it possible to swim on land?
Could we recreate Aquatic Self-defense in bed?

Attacking the land-squid

At least we did something.

Well, it’s almost dinner time here, so we’re gonna go chop and cook something green, visit with Mama, and squeeze in a cardio workout before bed.

More to come in the new year. (Here’s to hoping 2012 isn’t the end of the world.)

‘mi and ‘ly

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