Understanding Carbs

Are you looking at improving your overall energy and vitality? Do you want to surf for carbohydrates for healthlonger periods especially when you have back to back consistent swell? Whichever your needs and goals are, it’s important to understand the pivotal role that carbohydrates play within the body as carbs are your primary source of energy throughout the day.

Carbohydrates assist in the proper function of your nervous system, metabolism, brain function & clarity and muscle repair & growth.  When you consume  carbohydrates, the body then breaks it down into simple sugars and is absorbed through your bloodstream. The pancreas in turn releases insulin which is needed to transport the sugars from the bloodstream into your cells. It’s important to understand the difference between the two main types of digestible carbohydrates:

Simple Carbohydrates

  • Only contain one or two sugar molecules strung together.
  • Fuel the body for a short period of time, much like a sugar high. This can lead to subsequent consumption of takeaway foods or packaged foods as you are left unfulfilled.
  • Are often heavily processed such as candy, soft drink and cereals but are also naturally occurring in many fruits (the obvious healthier option!).

Complex carbohydrates

  • Contain complex and multiple chains of sugar molecules strung together.
  • Fuel the body for a longer period of time and are therefore the preferable type of carbohydrate to consume as you will be less likely to overindulge in other unhealthy foods.
  • Examples of foods which contain complex carbs are whole grain breads, nuts, legumes, nutritious vegetables, yoghurts and dairy products.

Why carbs are vital for high performance surfingwomens surfing

If you engage in high energy workouts or surf a lot, you probably are more habitual than most in monitoring your intake of carbs as you understand this to be a vital aspect of your training regime. This is particularly true if you wish to gain muscle or lose excess fat.

A diet which is moderate to high in complex carbs provides the energy to get through a workout. A bodybuilder’s diet in particular might combine a high intake of protein to assist in optimal muscle growth and recovery post workout. The higher your energy output, the more fuel (carbs) required.

Carbs and their link to weight loss

As a culture we are slowly beginning to understand that there is no “one size fits all diet” as our bodies are all unique, with different fitness goals and energy outputs, not to mention incredibly vast genetic structures. In saying that, it’s widely know that a diet high in carbohydrates combined with a lifestyle that is largely sedentary is closely linked to weight gain. This is also due to a high intake of fats, sugars and far too many refined foods

stripped of any trace of nutrient. Believe it or not, the Japanese have one of the highest intake of carbs globally, however still remain slender due to their low intake of saturated fats, sugars and refined products and a particular focus on complex carbs rather than simple carbs.

Often those that follow fad low carb diets for weight loss, find themselves low on energy. With careful observation of specific energy needs, it’s possible to reach a fine balance of just the right amount of carbs. We can all learn from the eating habits of Japanese as they have been touted to be one of the healthiest cultures in the world.

Is there an ideal time of the day to consume carbs?

Carbs are either used for energy or stored in the body, therefore you want to ensure everywomens surfing gram of carb you put into your body is going to be used. Consuming carbs late at night is often linked to weight gain for this very reason. The ideal time to consume carbs is at breakfast or lunch time in order for your body to burn through the carbs. However if you engage in high energy sports like surfing, you know to replenish your energy needs pre and post surf, regardless of the time of the day.

The main thing to remember is you don’t need to avoid carbs completely but rather to select nutrient dense, complex carbohydrates and to use them according to your energy output.

Mentawai Islands

If you’re a princess kind of surfer who must wear delicate designer bikinis and only paddles out to be “seen” by the men,  I highly recommend staying home as this place is not for the faint-hearted. If I could associate one word with Mentawai my first pick would be “wild”. Think jungle meet waterfall, meet crystal clear lagoon and waves that will absolutely blow your mind type perfection. If you’re a surfer, this is the one part of the world you definitely should not leave untouched.

Stay at home princesses

Just getting to the outer islands can become a treacherous and very tedious adventure, depending on your style of travel. For me I opted heading over to work at a surf camp, which turned into an accidental-lets fall in love at first sight with owner of camp- have craziest period of my life to date type of travel.

Totally unplanned. Totally let’s drop everything I thought I knew about life. Totally and utterly unforgettable.

Doing it rough

Over the period of two months in these islands, my mock itineraries included being the 10361064_10152102063020168_2727645846378015545_nonly Westerner sleeping top to tail amidst hundreds of local Indonesians on the floor of a rusted out boat.

The very same port to port journey in which a boat of similar description capsized in rough seas killing seven locals that same evening.

I sat for 12 hours in a tiny fishing village wondering if a boat home was ever going to arrive. I found myself being transported in dug-out canoes built to strictly transport supplies to the camp.

The scariest of all was stepping foot onto the same supply boat racing out through a narrow reef passage into the biggest, roughest stretch of ocean I have ever seen before, drenched to the bone and terrified if I would make it out alive.

vs doing it in luxury

Now, enough of the crazy stories.  The majority of surfers that visit the Mentawais opt for a more comfortable experience for their short period of time in paradise. There’s thirty or so charter boats from budget to luxury that buzz around the chain of islands.

You’ll also find a select number of land camps to choose from- most in which offer a safe and enjoyable ride from the mainland (to avoid the crazy alternatives that I found myself taking). The Mentawaisocean house feature the “no rules, anything goes” type lifestyle where you can truly live with no restrictions that you find back home.

Some surfers take this too far and end up living out there too long and completely losing their minds or going “troppo” as they say.

An amazing experience

Being a chick in the Mentawai rocks. Guys give you massive credit and respect in the lineup as they’re stoked to have a female join them in some heavy waves. Your surfing ability will improve faster than you can imagine, with mechanical barrels galore and long green walls that seem to peel forever.

When you’re not surfing  you can go brave the dense jungle, practice your Indo on locals in the small villages, pick fresh tropical fruit from the trees, explore outer islands and reefs,  snorkel & spearfish, gaze at picture perfect sunsets or pretty much anything your heart desires. But remember- no barbie dolls in these neck of the woods.

exploration

Every bite counts

This past week I’ve had an almost endless supply of energy where I’ve been able to wake at 5am every morning ready for a surf, a run, yoga or workout session before work. That energy just keeps coming as the day goes on and I’m able to commit another couple of hours after work to another session of any of the above.

Prolonged energy through food 

It didn’t take me long to figure out why I’ve felt so overly energetic. I’ve literally gone the whole week without eating anything “bad” as in heavily processed, high in fat or sugar or anything that you might consider to be junk food. I can’t remember the last time I was so health well behaved for an entire week as I usually follow an 80/20 rule when it comes to eating healthy vs eating average. By average I mean most of the products sold in the supermarket in packages. This week every time I thought to buy a pizza or something greasy I just thought why would I have that when I can extend my energy even further.

I’m not avoiding junk food because I’ll put on weight, my metabolism is lightning fast but rather I’m eating healthy food because I know the difference in the way my body and mind react to eating great food which is predominately raw and from nature rather than from a packet.

Foods attributable to this week’s energy

Fruits

I forgot how many amazing tropical fruits come out in summer in Australia. I’ve made a dramatic increase in my fruit intake including mango, pineapple, watermelon, apple and banana. Through eating more fresh fruit I’ve found my sugar cravings are a lot lower than
normal. Lately I’ve been inspired by FullyRawKristina who has eaten nothing but raw foods for over a decade. While I could never be fully raw it’s great to take small parts of her diet and integrate it into mine. I’ve also been inspired to make lots of fresh fruit smoothies and take a lot of recipes from GreenBlender. organic gardening

Fresh Salads

My salads are becoming a lot more of a mix of fruit and greens with watermelon and apple as the base fruits and shaved fresh broccoli, carrot, feta, tomato, roast veges and fresh corn as the bulk. I then add leafy greens like spinach, baby pak choi or Chinese kale fresh from my vege garden (organic) along with a selection of herbs, radish and cucumber (soon
to be tomatoes!).

In my Daily Habits article I talk about the importance of establishing what your golden meal is. This is the meal that you know makes you feel good inside and out and that yousalad can rely on for an energy hit. Mine is salad as I’ve used it in a mini detox as my main meals (lunch and dinner) for three days straight. I recognised a massive spike in energy, clear mind and overall wellbeing even after the first day. Most of my main meals this week have been salad on its own or with smoked salmon on the side.

Adding carbs

Morning

My breakfast is usually the meal with the most carbs as I know I can easily burn that healthy breakfast
energy during the day. Rolled oats are a great way to start the day as they are rich in fibre, carbohydrates and protein and contain a large array of minerals including manganese, zinc and selenium. On warmer days I’ve been enjoying them uncooked with a couple of tablespoons of greek yoghurt, a dash of honey and a sprinkle of muesli clusters or frozen berries. Eggs prepared in any way are also a great option as they are such a complete protein (contain all 9 essential amino acids needed for proper function) and contain many beneficial vitamins and nutrients.

Because my main meals (lunch and dinner) are low in carbs and protein I try to find other ways to fit them into my day and eat every few hours rather than three massive meals a day. There’s a great dried cracker/nut mix by Bhuja which is free of nasty flavouring & MSG as they use classic spices such as paprika, fennel seeds, cumin and chilli to flavour their mixes. They’re very addictive and I’m regularly snacking on them throughout the day. I love them because they’re high in protein-around 48g per 200g bag and carbs are around 88g per 200g bag. Occasionally I will use protein powders or bars if I’m on-the-go or the surfs pumping and I can’t wait to get out there, however I prefer to find more complete protein sources.

Evening 

My eating backs right off in the evening as I generally have a very early bedtime in order to organic saladrise early. It’s always good to listen to your body and if you’re not feeling overly hungry then there’s no need to prepare a main meal just because it’s ‘dinner time’. I know my body doesn’t like to have a high carb meal at night as I’m not burning any of those carbs and find I wake up feeling sluggish the next morning. If you don’t have the quickest metabolism then you need to watch your carb intake at night otherwise you can very easily put on weight as your body stores those carbs for future use.

Food as medicine

These past few years I have been drawn to the idea more and more so that food absolutely is medicine. I struggle to watch people suffer with many chronic diseases which are so painstakingly linked to diet but just aren’t being taught that by their GP’s. That’s not surprising given doctors are practitioners of medicine not nutrition. Of course they are great at what they do in so many aspects of their role, but there certainly is a huge gap healthy women when they simply write a prescription to blanket symptoms of a disease rather than look at the reasons why the patient is in that state in the first place. Sure they are successful in curing the symptoms, until the patient returns four weeks later asking for a further script.

One of my clients was a qualified pharmacist who suffered greatly from an auto-immune disease which doctors explained was “incurable” and that he had to live with for the rest of his life. He was prescribed medication that only induced more pain by way of crippling side effects. It wasn’t until he carried out his own research into a more natural approach where he began to experiment with adding and subtracting different types of foods and supplements in his diet that he saw astonishing results whereby he eventually cured his own disease.

He took what he had learnt back to his clinic and started sharing his wealth of knowledge healthy livingwith his patients and instead of writing a prescription for medication, wrote a shopping list for the patient to take to their local supermarket. The outcome was remarkable and patients would present weeks later totally cured of their disease that they had suffered from for years. Guess what happened to the pharmacist? He was made redundant as that particular pharmacy saw a huge loss of profits as he was sending all the patients to the fresh produce section of the supermarket! You can find more of his story here- www.therenegadepharmacist.com.

It’s not about a ‘perfect’ diet

It’s great to be on top of your diet and know what it takes to feel full of energy through the foods that you eat, but I also think you need to give some leniency for being misbehaved. When you do have a high focus on what you’re putting in your body then it’s a great thing to have a guilt free pig out on pizza and chocolate. It’s all about balance and moderation. I do however challenge you to go a whole day without putting any junk food in your body and feel the difference in your energy levels.

Mentawai adventure

The land of dreaming

I’m a big believer in dreams carrying significant messages or images of the predication of the future places, people or situations you might encounter. I also believe strongly in Déjà vu and its powerful meaning and confirmation that you are on the right path in life. Surely Déjà vu is intertwined with some parts of our dreams, either that, or we are re-visiting the same scenario that we faced in a previous life.

Now with dreams I’m not talking the weird ones where you sleep with your best friend and wake up feeling nauseous or find yourself ridingNew Zealand exploration giraffes in the outback. To me, those type of dreams are just plain weird and I can never find any foreseeable explanation of what just occurred in my mind imagery.  The type I want to talk about are certain places I seem
to visit consecutively for nights, if not weeks on end. I also feel this strongly when I meditate, however the places I go to in meditation, I seem to always recognise as places from my past. Laying in a lush green paddock, gently floating down a river on my back or climbing through a knee-deep snow capped mountain- these all seem to be scenarios from my childhood growing up in NZ. The dreams that repeat for me, are all places I have not been to before and come to me as visions of the future. Let me describe how this happens.

The actual vision

So as I’m drifting off to sleep, faint images of a certain scene start to seep through my mind. Tonight it is somewhere in a rainforest, I follow a path where the forest floor feels damp under my bare feet, I have a destination in mind, although the vision is not strong enough, I know from the previous night’s sleep it is upon a raised land and I feel strongly that I am heading to that familiar spot. Nothing significant happens in this dream, I am just given more pieces of a puzzle, almost in slow motion, meaning the visuals come to me at no fast pace, almost like my eyes are only half open. From what I know, this dream only lasts a short period of time before I continue a random set of insignificant other dreams for the night.

Now what captures my waking mind’s attention the most, is that I willThailand exploration return to this same place each night for up to two weeks until the scene manifests in my reality. In this case I was living in Northern Thailand at the time of these dreams and ended up on a completely random weekend trip away to a lush forest area full of mysterious ancient temples and caves. When I arrived at the forest I had a sense of familiarity wash over me and the memory of those repeated dreams came flooding back to me. After that weekend I no longer continue these same dreams.

This is where I believe we are much more connected to nature than what we remember our existence to be, pre-technology overload and fast-paced lifestyle. Each of my visions always involves the outdoors, much of which is my deep love of the ocean. I have found myself in some of the most stunning places in the world and vividly recalling the very scene before my eyes-from previous repeated dreams.

One step further

When I found myself living on a remote Indonesian island in the Mentawais my dreams became very powerful. At one point I wasn’t quite sure what was reality and what was dream and when I talk to other surfers that have spent long periods in these islands they can tell me the same situation. It’s a beauty that cannot be truly described. I previously wrote about this reality flip here.

Another strange set of reoccurring dreams was at the time I was dating the owner of a surf camp in these islands. What didn’t make sense to me from the beginning of meeting him, was the fact he never featured in any of my dreams. Generally each person who is in my life frequently, shows up in my dreams. However, I had a certain dream for two or three weeks straight, where I had this deep feeling within my being that I had met and connected strongly with “a” man. In my dreams I am not only picking up on the dream visually, but also energetically. I could actually feel all these feelings of being in love and being completely and utterly content, however the man I was with in my dreams had “no face” and I couldn’t recognise who it was, therefore I could not link it to the actual man I was dating.

What happened in those dreams is that I had the memory of meeting aMentawai adventure man I was deeply connected with, but at the same time I couldn’t find him and he would vanish from my side like a puff of smoke each and every dream. The dream would then take me to an unknown city, a really busy environment with lots of people moving in many different directions around me and I felt so incredibly alone to be in a city that I hated. I was overwhelmed to be in such a busy place when I knew my current home was set amidst a dense jungle, where waterfalls tethered off into tropical lagoons.

At the time these dreams occurred I was very much in love with this man and was seeing a long future out in the islands. It wasn’t until one night when he abruptly decided that the relationship was to end and insecurely dictated my very feelings for him. He told me I was not connected with him and that I didn’t love him, when that was the furtherest from my truth which (not coincidently) fell on deaf ears. Being an intimidating man who notoriously had the last say in any situation, the relationship was deemed over.

After a wild escape from that island and two days travel, there I was, sitting at a huge city in Malaysia, feeling more alone than ever and so confused how things could end so quickly and how he could vanish from my life (like a puff of smoke?). I believe those dreams were trying to indicate to me future events and with greater practice I am sure I could use these dreams more powerfully to predict future occurrences.

If you have trouble recalling any dreams that you had at night, the key issurf girl dreaming to first practice with meditation and mindfulness. I had a friend who claimed he just didn’t have dreams at all and really couldn’t understand some of the dreams I described to him that I had. He only just began practicing yoga and was brand new to the world of meditation. It wasn’t until he attended a 10 day Vipassana retreat that he was able to still his mind enough to begin recalling his night dreams. Upon his return from the retreat he ecstatically described his new discovery of a peaceful mind and dream occurrences. Vipassana can be perfectly described as below:

“Vipassana is a way of self-transformation through self-observation. This simple code of moral conduct serves to calm the mind, which otherwise would be too agitated to perform the task of self-observation. It focuses on the deep interconnection between mind and body, which can be experienced directly by disciplined attention to the physical sensations that form the life of the body, and that continuously interconnect and condition the life of the mind. It is this observation-based, self-exploratory journey to the common root of mind and body that dissolves mental impurity, resulting in a balanced mind full of love and compassion.The scientific laws that operate one’s thoughts, feelings, judgements and sensations become clear. Through direct experience, the nature of how one grows or regresses, how one produces suffering or frees oneself from suffering is understood. Life becomes characterised by increased awareness, non-delusion, self-control and peace”.- dhamma.org