Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas, Season's Greetings, Prettige Kerstdagen, Feliz Natal!

It's been a bitter-sweet year. At times I feel I'm exactly where I was last year. So much hasn't changed; yet nearly everything feels different. For example, a year ago I was feeling old. Very old. I had just quit smoking and started karate and while I didn't have a lot of breath in my lungs my muscles and bones ached and screamed.

Now? Well, I've posted Fatboy Slim's "Old Pair of Jeans" because I'm happy to be wearing an old pair pulled from the very bottom of my wardrobe. I haven't even bothered trying them recently. But not only do they fit again, my belt is on a notch not seen in 2 years. All thanks to exercise, good food and new-found health.

I have too many thoughts about "the year" to cover right now. Suffice it to say that, unlike this time last year, there's a lot I'm hopeful for. Changes have been a long time in coming, but feel just around the corner.

May your New Year also bring positive changes. I wish you a Merry Christmas and all the best!

Friday, December 04, 2009

Funkalized plays live at OT301

Funkalized tops the charts as my favourite live band in Amsterdam. Last night they played at a club called OT301 and I recorded a few snips of the groove. It hardly does the band justice.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Food Meets Gym (or Food, Meats, Gym)

The movie Food, Inc. marks what was a turning point for me. The movie, while very good, wasn't shocking nor did it tell me anything new. Instead it was like the straw that finally broke the camel's back. It was the first drop that overflowed the cup. What is shocking to me is how much I like the resulting ring on life's coffee-table.

Since the movie I have changed some shopping habits. I'm simply buying more organic (biologisch) products and more whole foods and vegetables. And once home, I'm actually taking the time to cook proper meals with these great ingredients.

A few weeks ago I also added an "indoor bicycle trainer" to my sports equipment. It clamps the back wheel and allows me to ride my bike at home. At the end of the summer my outdoor riding stopped. By mid-November I had gained 2 kg and I wasn't pleased.

After three weeks I'm lighter by about 3 kg, and that's really nice. But there's much more going on than just weight loss!

The part that surprises me is that I'm exercising at a much higher intensity level than I thought I could do. Years of exercise have taught me my limits. For example, exercise the day after a karate class just isn't possible. Or is it? Indeed, I've been cycling every day while also attending karate regularly and weight lifting. And I suspect it is the food that is making it all possible.

Inflammation is normally the limiting factor, closely followed by pulled muscles. I've got some knee pain, some sore muscles, bad tendons; I'm not superman. But I know that I'm doing more than normal, and feeling less stress on my body.

Exercise is its own reward. This I know. But I'm learning that good eating is also. My motivations were largely principle-driven but the rewards are touching me in other ways. I honestly didn't expect to feel healthier. I didn't expect how much better my food tastes. And I certainly didn't expect to be able to exercise more while seeing both improvements and weight loss.

Is it partly mental, partly a placebo effect? Of course. That's the feedback mechanism. Small improvements in the body have big effects on health and happiness, which in turn motivates results and further small improvements.

What it means to me is that I'm about to hop on my bike for a while. For later, I'm considering hitting the weights then the grocery store. And while shopping, I'll be choosing whole foods and organic sources. Such a simple difference and yet the results are worth much more than I originally imagined.