Sunday thoughts

Apologies for the belated Sunday thoughts but this time I do have a good excuse – I have spent  about 20 of the last 24 hours on a plane. And no, I wasn’t about to spend my last few hours in Australia typing when there was a dog to be walked, legs to be stretched and sunshine to soak up!

So not only have I come to the end of another week but also to the end of my holiday. I have experienced plenty of wonderful and new things this week, and I will write up a proper post on my vegan adventures in Australia which will go up this week. However, because I am a fan of consistency (also known as: “fun sponge”), here are a few reflections on the past week.

New things I have learnt this week

  • I’m not going to pretend that I eat chocolate for any other reason than I love the taste (and texture, etc). Of course, I don’t consider dark chocolate a junk food and I know about its health properties, but I know there are plenty of other places to get antioxidants and whatever else chocolate is supposed to be good for. However, Ben kindly informed me that cocoa is actually one of the highest sources of antioxidants, which helps combat lactic acid build-up. In fact, he told me that it was outperformed only by acai berries. As chocolate is much cheaper, and more readily available, that makes it a perfect post-training snack along with your protein shake!
  • I learnt lots at TedMed Sydney – the two most interesting talks were by Dr Paul Baldock and Prof Adrian Bauman. Dr Baldock talked about the possibility that rather than being greedy gluttons, obese people are actually starving – that is to say, their brains are sending out signals that they must eat more in order to gain weight and stand the best chances of survival in case of an impending famine, and they lack the necessary mechanisms to shut off this signal. If this proves to be true or most likely, it could be very significant for the treatment of obesity. Meanwhile, Prof Bauman’s talk dealt with the “calories out” end of the equation, highlighting the importance of “incidental exercise” – that is, regular movement which does not necessarily constitute a sport. We all see the magazine articles advising us to stand up from our desks at least once an hour, suggesting walking whilst on the phone, urging us to walk up stairs rather than take lifts – Prof Bauman showed some damning research on just how important it all is. All the talks were fascinating, however, and I would urge anyone to look up more on the speakers and their areas of research!

New things I have eaten this week

  • I finally tried Bounce balls! I have been meaning to try them for so long but was always put off by the price and the high calorie content for such a small snack, but when I came across Expo prices at the Australian Health & Fitness Expo – and hadn’t eaten anything all day – I sampled all of the vegan flavours (Spirulina & Ginseng, Cashew & Pecan and Fudgie Walnut) and actually my favourite was the Spirulina & Ginseng – it was the one which tasted the most “different” to other similar mushed up wholefood snacks.
  • At the risk of sounding in this post like I have gone all antioxidant-mad (which I really haven’t – I can’t imagine it would be easy to be low on antioxidants on a vegan diet), I tried Rio Life Acai berry fruit bars at the Expo. Wow. I was expecting your average mushed-up fruit bar, but got something that tasted far more complex – tangy, juicy, not overly sweet, and more chewy than mushy, these little 75kcal bars are ideal to finish off a meal and don’t take up much room in your bag. Really surprised and delighted!
  • I tried heaps of new protein powders – but I will save those for a my write-up of the Expo.
  • Although, as I explained last week, I’m not listing all the different establishments I ate at while away because it’s not particularly helpful to anyone, I am going to point out that I visited the Nourishing Quarter in Sydney – all vegan and mostly gluten-free. The menu is mainly Vietnamese-inspired, but you could call it Asian fusion, with an emphasis on wholesome healthy balanced dishes. The food was impeccably seasoned, portions were huge, and the décor was cosy and cute, but the only thing that keeps me from getting more excited is that it is quite easy to find vegan-friendly Asian food. Nevertheless, everyone raved about it (especially the non-vegans!), and I would recommend it as vegan places in Sydney don’t seem so easy to come by!

Other highlights this week

  •  Visiting Jenolan Caves again – so stunning! If you are ever in Sydney you must make sure you book a tour, totally worth it. It was nice as well, after a week of being driven around and a couple of days sitting on trains, to actually spend the day on our feet walking up and down the 900-odd steps required to visit the Lucas Cave. My calves hurt a lot the day after which is a sad sign of how much I had neglected my muscles over 10 days!
  • Finding two vegan-friendly restaurants in the strange little town of Katoomba – it was the last place I expected to find vegan offerings on the menu, but there you go, a stark reminder never to give up hope 😉
  • Attending TedMed Sydney. The theme was “Tackling the Obesity Crisis” which couldn’t have been more perfect!
  • Visiting the Australian Health & Fitness Expo and seeing the range of Australian companies specialising in vegan proteins. Here we come, world!
  • After a morning without appetite, wandering around Bondi, Ben and I finally settled on Bondi Massive café. I didn’t feel like much, so I just had a soy latté and two sliced of homemade sourdough toast with fig and ginger jam – it doesn’t sound hugely exciting but it absolutely hit the spot and the bread and coffee were both incredible, leaving me feeling really happy and energised. More importantly, Ben and I had a great chat and came up with some exciting business ideas which, even if they never come about, always gives me a new energy boost. Anybody out there know what I mean…?
  • Getting my appetite and diet back on track in the last few days of the trip, after days of excess leaving me feeling heavy, bloated and self-conscious. I don’t think I changed my body composition too dramatically but I could feel that my body wasn’t functioning at its best, which always gets me down, so to turn things around just felt great.

I could go on. The whole of my last two weeks has been one massive highlight for the past few years, and that’s no exaggeration. Getting to see family friends I haven’t seen in at least 8 years, getting to see family I haven’t seen in 5 years, being able to relax in gorgeous houses with dogs and cats, baking two cakes and decorating them, eating great food both home-cooked and in restaurants, being able to spend time with Ben with no work or life interferences… I feel like it has totally refreshed my current outlook on life and I am determined to make more good things happen!

I hope, whoever you are, that your week has gotten off to a good start and I look forward to posting more write-ups of my holiday soon!