Thursday, October 17, 2013

Not So Zen: The Death of a Yoga Mat

After finishing my Team in Training (TnT) season, I realized my dear old yoga mat (together since junior year of college!), which had been used for stretching in the parking lot after TnT, needed replaced. Badly. It basically has fuel, oil, and asphalt all over it. No way am I putting my forehead on that.

So first, what to do with my old one? It could be recycled...maybe? No, unfortunately you can't toss it in the blue bin but you may find a place near you that can recycle it here. And here are a few ideas for reusing it:

Beach Blanket. Or at least something to put under your towel.
Non-Skid Rug Pad. Cut a sized-to-fit piece of your yoga mat and put it under a slippery rug.
Donate to a homeless shelter. This would probably work fantastic in SF.
Gardening knee pad. Cut and bind with twine, or just fold.
This has got me feeling kind of crafty; I think I'm going to cut my old mat into a custom-sized dog bed for my rat dog and make a washable cover for it. It will be like memory foam, sort of. There are also a million more ideas here for reuse.
As for a NEW mat, J. Brown at Recovering Yogi makes a pretty good argument that a PVC mat from a country (like Germany) with reputable manufacturing standards, like the European OEKO-TEX 100 standard, which means the manufacturing process is subject to a higher degree of scrutiny and prevents mats from containing heavy metals and DOP softeners, is a reasonable approach to the balance of usable (sticky not slick), and sustainable (lasts a while). So thanks J. Brown for that balanced approach.
I don't have any experience with natural mats made from jute or the like, but you can certainly look for ones free from vinyl, PVC, and phthalates (an endocrine disruptor linked to cancer, obesity, diabetes). You can google natural yoga mat and find a slew of the eco-friendly mats. I think it would be challenging to make both a yoga mat sticky, which requires certain plasticizers, and durable. As for the one I buy, I think I'll go with this one from Yoga Accessories that is PVC and free of phthalates. It's also thicker than my current mat which is really exciting news for my wrists and knees because, well, they hate me.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Run for Cancer

So, as brief aside from my Team in Training mission, I was diagnosed with a {really} mild form of skin cancer in August. I think pale is probably a better look than a bunch of these. I also think the amount of information and the difficulty of the biopsy was slightly ridiculous. Even for a "simple" cancer that is basically sitting on the surface of my skin, they couldn't definitively tell if it was cancer. They had to dig out the whole thing to confirm. Not to mention the cost of this "simple" procedure. If I didn't have insurance, I would have paid thousands for the biopsy, test, and Mohs-method removal. Many of us will get a form of cancer in this life. I hope that when any of my friends face it, there will be more treatments or cures than there are today. So let's work on that; let's make that someday TODAY. Also, wear sunscreen out there guys. It's worth it. 

I have a mission - to help find cures and more effective treatments for blood cancers. As a part of that mission, I’m participating in the Nike Women's Half Marathon as a member of The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s (LLS) Team In Training. I've dedicated this race to my friend's father who was diagnosed with Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia this past year. Together we can advance the cures and treatments available for leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin’s disease, and myeloma.

To get an idea of what you and LLS can fund:

  • $25 Patients chemotherapy drug prescription co-pay.
  • $50 Registration costs for a bone marrow donor.
  • $75 Provide bone marrow typing for a family member of a patient with leukemia.
  • $100 Provide a patient with transportation costs from home to cancer treatment center.
  • $250 Patient aid reimbursement grant for one year.

Any donation, even $5, can contribute towards research and assisting patients. Donations can be made right here. You are making a difference to someone.

Thank you.

I'd like to offer special thanks to: 

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

What I Ate While Hiking Mount Whitney...and What I'd Do Differently

Hiking Mt Whitney is about 22 miles round trip and 6500' in elevation gain. It's a slog, in other words, but it's gorgeous which makes it worth it.

Altitude can make you feel less hungry since as your red blood cells rush to do their thing, your other functions tend to shut down. Like digestion. How fun. I swear I took 5 extra pounds of trail mix. Meanwhile I ate:

- 1 Cytomax energy chew packet
- 1 Margarita ShotBlok packet
- 1 ProFluids Recovery packet
- Kind Bar
- 1/2 bag of M&Ms
- small handful of roasted edamame
- small handful of trail mix
- banana
- 3 L H2O (packed in)

I usually eat way more calories than that over a 13.5 hour period, even when I'm sitting on my rear at my desk. Thankfully, it was enough that I didn't bonk. My partner who ate less than I did (and weighs more!) bonked pretty hard half way to the summit.

If I did it again, I would have brought more Cytomax energy chews as they were a fantastic pick me up and easy to snack on as we hiked. Not to mention carrying extra trail mix for 20 miles isn't the most fun; it's rather heavy. The salted edamame was great too as salt intake is key, and the protein in edamame is more easily digested than jerky IMO. I made it myself so I added more salt than I usually would. I should also probably note that pre-hike (at 2 am) I ate a quinoa muffin and a boiled egg. Those sat like rocks in my stomach for hours. I should have stuck to a bagel and almond butter for my 2 am "breakfast."

Oh, and the Japanese have a saying about Mount Fuji that I think applies to Mount Whitney too, "He who climbs Fuji-San once is a wise man, he who climbs it twice is a fool."

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Organic, Gluten-free, and/or Vegan Options at Costco

Costco the land of giant carts, where people don't understand the link between non-organic produce and their "need" for bottled water....

Anyway, I found a wonderfully helpful list here with few exceptions (ahem, GoGo Apple Squeezes, which make me nearly lose faith in humanity). While it is a lovely list, it is either out of date or we get very special Costco items in California. ;) Here are a few exciting items I noticed:

Hemp Hearts 28 oz, $14.59
I've been wanting to try them  in these as an alternative to ShotBloks.

WildRoots Ancient Grain Pancake Mix 3.3 lbs, $8.59 (Gluten-free)
Maybe not healthy, as it is a highly processed item, but healthier than the death mix next to it.

Bob's Red Mill Organic Ground Flax Seed 64 oz., $7.99 
Store this big guy in the freezer. Flax contains oil obviously and can go rancid in a cabinet.

Nature's Path Organic Qi'a Superfood 22.88 oz, $14.59
Considering this is no more than chia, hemp, and buckwheat the price is hilariously good marketing.  I could buy this in bulk at Whole Paycheck and blend it myself for less. Sounds yummy though...

Other things I noticed:
- No chia seeds but they do have them occasionally. I searched for them so long; that's what gave me the chance to snap pictures.
- Larabars (less than a dollar each I think). If I were doing any traveling soon I would have bought them.
- I didn't see any gluten-free breads but they carried Bob's Almond flour and a Bob's gluten-free blend flour.
- Yes, they also have quinoa and nuts but that was covered in the reference list above :)
- No bean-based protein powder.

I don't buy produce at Costco because it's cheaper elsewhere since I live in CA. I also don't buy "snack" foods so I didn't check for healthier options there. (I lied - I bought a jar of sun-dried tomatoes for snacks. They're so sweet!) So that's why I focused on grains/seeds as they are, in addition to nuts, the biggest areas of cost savings for vegan/vegetarian shoppers at Costco! I'm curious though if people in say, Michigan, would be able to find gluten-free options and hemp hearts in their Costco stores. If I see anyone at Costco wearing a manager tag next time I'm sure I won't be able to resist asking.