Sunday thoughts: 27th April 2014

I can’t believe a whole week has already gone by since last week‘s Sunday thoughts! It’s been another good week, alternating between bouts of furious productivity and total inertia – I’ve either been totally focussed and determined, or utterly incapable of motivating myself. In the end though, everything got done that needed doing, so I can’t complain!

New things I’ve learnt this week

My brain has been active this week, but nothing particularly in depth, just lots of pottering around and even more talking. Here are some of the items that kept my brain ticking over:

  • I know that cognitive function and balance are closely linked; one of my clients told me a friend of hers had studied the link, and another got quite excited about us doing balance work together as she had read that it helps prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. I had never read anything as conclusive as that, so I did a little more research. Indeed, the two are linked – individuals with any form of cognitive impairment have lower scores in strength, posture, and balance-related tests – but I have yet to find any study which has found that actively improving one’s balance can help ward off cognitive decline. If you know of a study, or indeed of any article which makes any conclusive claims, please share it in the comments! Either way, if loss of balance and agility are a consequence of cognitive decline, then actively training those can at least help with quality of life in the face of cognitive decline, which is ultimately what matters.
  • Ben and I got back on our TED-talk watching sprees, and watched a couple of talks by Bill Gates as well as the talk by Chris Hadley (the astronaut of guitar-strumming-and-singing fame) on what he learnt “from going blind in space”. Currently, I am partway through the playlist, “How does my brain work?” – and learning a lot.
  • I’m back on a Bill Bryson book, this time Notes from a Big Country, which – as usual – is serving up fantastically obscure little facts that force me to interrupt whatever Ben is doing every few minutes. Some of my favourites included a series of statistics on yearly injuries – specifying the number of people injured every year by cars and furniture as well as stationery and clothes – a dissection of the ridiculously large sums involved in the American economy including some brilliant analogies, and a parody of instructions on how to fill out your tax forms (a topic close to my heart, as I foolishly thought registering for every form of tax self-assessment possible would be the best way to stay out of trouble when becoming self-employed). Are any of you Bill Bryson readers?
  • I’ve also been reading loads of Men’s Health magazine in preparation for the podcast Ben and I want to create with our friend Tom, where, among other topics, we regularly review and discuss popular fitness and health trends in the media. I can safely say that they have taught me nothing, apart from the fact that information is continuously recycled in the media over a period of at least five or six years, and simply refreshed with the buzzwords of the day (e.g. “ripped”, “stacked”, etc). It’s more than a little depressing.

New things I have eaten this week

  • This week I got to try the Piri Piri Hummus wrap from Harris + Hoole, our local coffee shop. I hadn’t had confirmation of whether they were vegan or not when I first saw them, but Ben got hold of the ingredients list which listed cow’s milk as an allergen, but couldn’t see any mention of it in the actual ingredients, so we deemed them suitable. They’re tasty! Soft tortilla wraps generously stuffed with creamy hummus and vibrant rocket (and the odd pumpkin seed which I find entertaining), and they come with a good kick. Always good to have another vegan option in a high-street chain!
  • I arrived in our family house for a weekend with my granddad, to find that my parents had kindly left me a collection of chocolates from La Maison du Cacao in Guadeloupe. I (almost) immediately tried both bars of dark chocolate; one flavoured with ginger and one flavoured with chili. The ginger was disappointing – I could barely discern the spice – but the chili was fantastically fiery! I also have a block of chocolate paste and instructions for making hot chocolate which I am eager to try!

Other highlights this week

  • I got my new laptop! All shiny and efficient – it’s been five years since I last got a new laptop, so it’s very exciting for me. I also got it a wealth of protective sheaths, so fingers crossed it enjoys as long and healthy a life as its predecessor!
  • Two of the girls who work in Harris + Hoole came to our running group on Monday night. It was a beautiful evening for running… until the heavens opened and positively drenched us as we were just seconds from returning to the studio! Nevertheless, we had a lot of fun!
  • Ben and I have been training solidly and consistently for the first time in a little while, and I’ve really been feeling the benefits of it this week. I might not be the leanest I have ever been, but I am possibly stronger and healthier than I have ever been.
  • As much as I hated getting up at 5am on Saturday to catch the train to France, I just can’t describe to you how much I love sleeping on trains. If I had a bucket list and more money than sense, one thing I would have on it would be to spend an entire day catching random trains and seeing where I ended up, just enjoying watching the world whizzing by.
  • I arrived in France to find – along with the Guadeloupean chocolate – a fridge stocked full of soy yoghurt and various flavoured tofu and falafel! Thanks Mum! I’ve been enjoying cooking up some basic yet tasty meals from what I can find lurking.
  • It might be strange to list this as a highlight, but one of the guys who works in Harris + Hoole sent me a link to 5th Dimension Tattoo, an all-vegan tattoo and piercing studio in London! I’ve been looking for a good vegan tattooist as I’ve had a few designs in mind for a long time, and I really like some of their artwork, so I’m really excited to be able to pay them a visit hopefully not too far away from now! (also, I’m touched that someone I chat to over a counter a few times a week goes out of his way to keep me abreast of vegan businesses!)

Ah the wonder of Sunday thoughts, where I always sit down thinking “What on earth can I possibly write about this week?” and then end up having to cut down on my list of highlights. Do you dedicate any time to a weekly or daily reflection? If not, try it!

And with that, I will return to my TED talks and start wondering what I can craft out of fennel and tofu, strategically planning what needs to be eaten so that I don’t have to cart around a bunch of half-open food packets when I leave tomorrow. I hope you have all had a happy and peaceful week and are looking forward to welcoming May!