JOMO in WA’s Southwest

Joy of Missing Out; (JOMO) a rebellion against saying yes to everything, and giving yourself the space to think and experience things without freaking out about what you ‘should’ be doing instead In our busy world, JOMO is an overdue concept. Here’s the … Continue reading

ReTreat Yourself!… Yoga Retreats 2014

Are you ready to retreat from the hustle and bustle? Escaping for a yoga retreat is the perfect way to find yourself, or lose yourself!  Immersing in all things health, relaxation, flexibility and general wellbeing is something I highly recommend. … Continue reading

Free Fitness @ Kings Park and Perth Foreshore

This is the first of many Free Fitness Features (otherwise known as a FFFs here at Burn & Learn headquarters).  There’s so many reasons to get outdoors – the sunshine, the air, the space, the incredible views. There’s also another … Continue reading

Before you pop that weight loss pill….. read this…..

Nutrition has to be one of the most complex subjects on the planet. While I believe a healthy eating plan is relatively simple, there is such a huge amount of noise in the public domain that can lead us to … Continue reading

WA Shark Culling is a Travesty

Since our blog’s three themes includes the category of fulfillment, please allow me to step up on my soapbox as I consider a fulfilling life to include being an ambassador for a good cause.

Following a number of shark attacks in our waters, Western Australia’s Premier, Mr Colin Barnett has come up with a strategy that he argues will reduce the risks to WA beachgoers: set baited drums lines off our coast to ‘target’ sharks greater than 3 metres.

Image courtesy of Western Australians for Shark Conservation, www.wascgroup.com

Image courtesy of Western Australians for Shark Conservation, http://www.wascgroup.com

So why has the Western Australian government’s shark baiting policy made me so deeply outraged?

  • The shark attacks are not statistically significant enough to justify the level of fear in our community, or the government’s knee jerk policies. Just about anything you can think of is more likely to cause you death than a shark – bees, snakes, spiders, being caught in a rip or being hit by a drunk driver. Yet you do not see an outlaw of bees, front page newspaper stories on ‘monster’ redback spiders, surfers retreating from the oceans due to the fact they ‘might’ drown, or drunk drivers being euthanised as a precautionary measure.
  • Why was I not consulted?  I don’t pay much attention to politics on the best of days, but how was I not consulted on this? I believe that targeting a protected species is cause enough for a referendum. If you consult me regarding the clocks being set back or forward an hour, then why not consult me regarding this? After sitting on their hands during the previous term in office, Colin Barnett is happy to rush through a decision that could have long-term repercussions for our marine’s ecosystem yet fail to reduce the risks to beach goers, without fully costing the policy, with no public consultation, no scientific basis, and without even the support of commercial fisherman.
  • I can’t stand the contradiction.  My Facebook wall was abuzz with an outpouring of rage in November of 2013 with this story of Melissa Bachman (a US TV presenter) proudly tweeting the results of her hunt and kill of a lion in South Africa. Nearly every person on Facebook had something to say about it.
US TV Presenter Melissa Bachman, pictured with her kill, which caused international outrage

US TV Presenter Melissa Bachman, pictured with her kill, which caused international outrage

Yet with our sharks, Facebook has been strangely quiet, with a number of passive ‘likes’ of posts and just a few vocal opponents that are starting to appear slightly ‘hippy activist crazy’ for having any empathy for this endangered creature. Why is it that the shark is not deserving of the same respect as a lion?  We are in their waters, we are in their home, and they are eating us by mistake. Why are we not tweeting with equal vehemence that Colin Barnett is ready to butcher a protected species? Perhaps this eloquent article by acclaimed Australian author Tim Winton will have you thinking. Also read Misunderstood Monsters, by Peter Benchley (Author of Jaws).

The mistake we make, then, either in seeking to destroy sharks or in not caring if we even inadvertently destroy them, is one of cosmic stupidity. If I have one hope, it is that we will come to appreciate and protect these wonderful animals before we manage, through ignorance, stupidity and greed, to wipe them out altogether

– Peter Benchley, Author of JAWS.

  • It won’t work.  There is no evidence to support bait drum lines as an effective deterrent for sharks, and the by-catch will include some of the much more cute marine life that you would abhor seeing on the end of the hook. So, Colin Barnett is happy to ignore the independent and educated scientific advice, by dousing our waters with bait that will attract even more sharks to the area. Colin will no doubt be ready to count each shark swimming in the area as evidence that he is doing the right thing, and the televisions and newspapers are ready to scare you with the statistics. It makes for great front page news.

Take a look at this Freediving with Sharks video and see this magnificent creature in a new light.

In truth, I’ve never considered myself an activist by any measure. However for some reason, this particular topic has struck such a chord with me.  It is perhaps the influence of my husband, Damien Trinder. Damien is a Marine Biologist, who has worked on shark research and fisheries monitoring programs for the WA Department of Fisheries, and now works developing marine environmental management programs in the resource sector.

Damien’s view is “the increase in shark attacks, whilst tragic for the families affected, is not a result of increased shark numbers. Rather, it is the increased opportunity for interactions which has been primarily driven by the huge increases in population size, which has affected the numbers of people swimming and undertaking water sports along the coastlines. 

“While the safety of humans is important, the pre-emptive killing of sharks which are of an ecologically important size (mature breeding adults) will not only fail to reduce the potential risks to beachgoers (especially as the greater risk is driving to the beach and drowning), but could severely undermine the efforts made to protect and promote the recovery of these species. 

“This means that the policy will not only waste the $10-20 million (which it is conservatively anticipated to cost over the next decade) because the policy will fail to protect beachgoers; but will also result in the waste of the tens of millions of dollars spent over the preceding 3 decades trying to assist these species to recover through shark conservation programs, fisheries by-catch reduction and closures.”

This issue is also important to my blogging partner, Naomi Hill, who has competed internationally as a high level freediver and has shared the oceans with sharks on many occasions.  Naomi’s view is:

I consider myself fortunate to have had multiple large shark encounters, including shark species that will be targeted under the proposed shark cull, whilst freediving and spearfishing. Although I have felt threatened at times, I found their movements to be majestic and behaviour curious which has had a profound impact on me. I am now less fearful of sharks and have a greater understanding of their behaviours and characteristics. I believe that the proposed shark culling is a knee jerk response based on political point scoring not scientific research. It is unfortunate that this ill-considered approach may have unknown negative consequences to our marine ecosystem yet will not reduce the already very low risk of shark attack to beach goers.Naomi Hill, Freediver, Environmental Scientist and Burn & Learn blogger.

Either way, I have been influenced to pay attention. I hope this article encourages you to pay attention also.  This video is also worth your time, featuring William Winram: Freediving with great whites on WA Today.

So what can you do?

Please share this post and encourage your friends, followers and co-workers to educate themselves on this issue and show their support by taking action in the following ways:

….a very boho beach breakfast

There’s a few things I love in this world…. and when they mesh together, its perfection! This morning’s journey to Scarborough married up some of my great loves: exercise, beach time and a beautiful breakfast.

A 45 minute walk along Scarborough Beach is such an awesome way to start your morning. Walking is amazingly good exercise…. and with the right diet it’s just about all you need to do exercise-wise unless you have a desire to look like Miss (or Mr) Universe.

45 minute beach walk followed by stillness with a view

45 minute beach walk followed by stillness with a view

Beach Kit: lulu shorts, haviana thongs, towel, sunscreen & water..... beachtime mandatories

Beach Kit: lulu shorts, haviana thongs, towel, sunscreen & water….. beachtime mandatories

After my walk, I usually try to find a cafe where I feel completely comfortable in my gym or beach clothes, with sand stuck to my feet and hair a mess. I stopped caring long ago about how I look in a cafe. I’m not completely sure if I ever did care! In any event, Boho Espresso fits the bill.  You will be surrounded by equally shabby and happy diners.

I spoke with the owner Donny Collins who told me he fitted out the restaurant himself, making a lot of the furniture by hand and commissioning other custom made pieces. The result is a stylized beach shack, with quirky bohemian theme.

Boho Espresso is a great place to chill after a morning at the beach.  The Carribbean music had me jiving into my coffee

Boho Espresso is a great place to chill after a morning at the beach. The Carribbean music had me jiving into my coffee

Boho Espresso juices & smoothies are first class.  Try the Scarlet Pimp or the 'Ranga' (an ode to all things orange!)

Boho Espresso juices & smoothies are first class. Try the Scarlet Pimp or the ‘Ranga’ (an ode to all things orange!)

The juices at Boho are definitely worth a try. Try the ‘Scarlet Pimp‘ ($7.80) – apple, celery & beetroot; or the ‘Ranga‘ – orange, carrot & lemon; or maybe the ‘American Psycho‘ will quell your hangover – tomato, lemon, celery & tobasco.

I have not tried the smoothies yet, but with names such as ‘Ooh La La‘, the ‘Fuzzy Nut‘ and ‘The Poet‘, I’ll certainly give them a go next visit.

Sometimes it's the simple things in life!  Poached eggs, greens & toast

Sometimes it’s the simple things in life! Poached eggs, greens & toast

I avoid grain all week.... so  weekends are a special time reserved for dietary cheats

I avoid grain all week…. so weekends are a special time reserved for dietary cheats

Breakfast options are plentiful. Bircher muesli ($15.50) includes poached pears, rhubarb, blueberries, toasted coconut, honey and homemade yoghurt.  Interesting dishes such as the ‘Cha Cha Boom‘, compiled of poached eggs, hummus, smashed avocado, dukka spices, caramelised ham & watercress ($20) tickle my fancy also.

I usually avoid bread all week (as I do not believe grains should be a staple in the diet). However weekends – they were designed for cheating!  I spoilt myself with the ‘Boho Avo‘ – crispy ciabatta toast, avocado, house made labneh, lemon and black salt ($16.50) and my friend kept things simple with poached eggs on toast.

There’s all manner of temptations at Boho, and its always great to see dietary sensitive options such as gluten free on the menu. Knowing as I do that gluten free means very little healthwise for the average person (although very important for the gluten-sensitive or coeliac), I managed to avoid this delectable dessert this time. I’m not sure if I will be so strong the next time.

Just one of the many temptations at Boho Espresso, Scarborough Beach

Just one of the many temptations at Boho Espresso, Scarborough Beach

You can find Boho Espresso at 241 West Coast Hwy, Scarborough Beach in Perth, Western Australia.

Conscious Cafe’s – Swan Valley Fresh

When you have a certain approach to your diet, it can become quite the journey to find a cafe that caters to your dietary demands. I usually find eating at home is the far safer avenue, given that you know exactly what the ingredients are and can make decisions on the foods that are right for you. Having followed a primal diet for some time now, I can find it challenging to ‘eat out’, unless I’m accepting of the fact that I’m on a cheat day and stepping away from my usual guidelines. 

So you can imagine my excitement at finding Swan Valley Cafe, an unassuming and charming little place on Great Northern Highway in the Swan Valley.  I was like a kid in a candy store (yes vegetables are that exciting!) to find that fruit and vegetables are the main event, centre stage, the superstars of the dining experience (at least in this small part of the world). Serving breakfast and lunch, the passion for all things vegan and vegetarian shines through in a similar fashion to Manna Wholefoods in Fremantle.

Blueberries & Yogurt - Breakfast at Swan Valley Cafe

Blueberries & Yogurt – Breakfast at Swan Valley Cafe

For the vegetarians, you are in your mecca here, with vegetarian and vegan dishes lovingly crafted and superbly presented, with diet sensitivities also catered for in the form of gluten free, dairy free and raw food options.

The humble descriptions the cafe uses to describe the menu items really undersell the food you are about to experience… ‘salad platter’, ‘vegetable patty’ and ‘veggie burger’ does nothing to justify the lovingly crafted menu which is as visually exciting as it is full of taste.

Naomi Hill of www.burnandlearn.com.au, ecstatic with the vegetarian options for lunch

Naomi Hill of http://www.burnandlearn.com.au, ecstatic with the vegetarian options for lunch

Having also dined at Swan Valley Cafe with the company of certified cavemen, I can attest to the approachable menu which seems to get through the ‘healthy dining experience’ with a minimum of fuss and grumblings. The best one can hope for in these situations!

Due to my very inconvenient lactose intolerance (something I will never be truly at peace with) I am always very excited to find a cafe that can make almond milk coffee without the milk curdling and separating. This seems to be a near impossible challenge for many cafes – so kudos to Swan Valley Cafe for making my creamy almond milk flat white, that just about passes for the real thing.

Big Vegetarian Breakfast at Swan Valley Cafe

Big Vegetarian Breakfast at Swan Valley Cafe

The store is also stocked with a supply of gluten free breads, veggie patties, soups, dahls, curries and the like for you to take home and put in the freezer, which is an excellent way of keeping the freezer stocked with interesting options (so that being ‘too tired to cook’ does not lead to midweek dietary compromises).

Sitting outside in the café’s beautiful gardens on a weekend is an extra special treat – often with live music.

Swan Valley Cafe's food is lovingly prepared and visually exciting

Swan Valley Cafe’s food is lovingly prepared and visually exciting

I highly recommend a visit sometime, and I look forward to trying out their high tea in the near future, which has a huge array of organic teas on offer, along with gluten free treats and raw food cakes.

You can find Swan Valley Cafe, open 7 days a week, at 990 Great Northern Highway, Millendon, Western Australia.

Yogi in the City

Being new to yoga, I find myself regularly experiencing the wonder of ‘discovery’ that might get lost on a more seasoned yoga lover. 

Discovery for example, of how my body moves (or more to the point – why it refuses to move like most other bodies).  

Discovery of how, after a little time and attention to my yoga practice, I can execute unbelievable, incredible and marvellous physical accomplishments such as touching my toes, or bending without pain (something I cannot seem to recall doing for more than 10 years). 

Discovery that yoga holds unquantifiable benefits for my mental state, more than I could have ever have imagined (the most obvious of which is relaxation, but the most surprising of which is the unleashing of a more creative mind). 

One of the yoga centres that has really impressed me on this journey has been Yoga Alchemy in Northbridge.  I caught up with Amanda Noga, the founder and resident yogi of Yoga Alchemy, to find out more about all things yoga.

Amanda, what is it about yoga that has made it such a central theme for your life?

The practice of yoga has really given me a framework through which to understand and navigate the world.  Not only has it affected the way I eat, sleep and feel about my body – it has influenced the way I interact and relate to the people in my life and the world in general. I now firmly believe in the interconnection of all beings.

You have opened a beautiful studio in Northbridge – a place many of us would consider an unlikely place to relax.  Why did you choose this space and what makes it so special?

For me, it felt very natural to be in Northbridge.  The area has changed so much and I love the dichotomy of being amongst busy city life and finding balance. It allows the practice of mindfulness, patience and presence, regardless of what is going on externally. That can be so valuable.

You have a number of yoga instructors at your studio.  Do they each offer something different for your clients?  What styles of yoga are on offer?

All of our instructors are very passionate and we relish having a designated yoga space where we can share what we love and be creative. There are several class styles, as we all have different specialties and interests. There is a Beginners Class (and courses), gentle, slow styles of yoga (such as Yin and Restorative) and dynamic Vinyasa Flow. We also love incorporating live music so we run a creative Vinyasa class on the last Friday of each month, where we practice as musician’s jam out some beautiful tunes for us.

The next Yoga-Jam Session (and last session for 2013), is at Yoga Alchemy on Sunday, 22 December. See the Yoga Alchemy website for more details.

What is the meaning behind the name ‘Yoga Alchemy’

I like the metaphor of your yoga practice being a place where you can experiment and explore, to see what unfolds, without expectation.  In science (and yoga is an ancient science) Alchemy is the process of transformation, and essentially so is yoga.

Amanda Noga, Yoga Alchemy's founder, at her studio in Northbridge

Amanda Noga, Yoga Alchemy’s founder, at her studio in Northbridge

Some of the benefits I have noticed (in addition to the physical) have been greater mental clarity and an enhanced ability to manage stress in my life.  What other benefits does yoga have in store for me (or Burn & Learn readers who might like to try yoga)? 

Yes, obviously there is the physical changes which is what we notice first, such as increased flexibility, strength and balance. This balance also extends into the way we can maintain our cool, even when things get stressful. Over time, we tend to make better lifestyle choices in diet and the other substances we put into (and onto) our bodies. You will find quality of sleep improved, increased energy and vitality and a greater sense of ‘who you are’, along with a connection to yourself and to others and a capacity to be more compassionate, loving and patient to others (and to ourselves!).

Tell me about the meaning of ‘mindfulness’ and how it can be applied in one’s life

The thing I love most about mindfullness is that its so intergrated and applicable to daily life. Mindfullness (in short) is moment to moment awareness, ‘being present’ (with whatever is going on) whether its good or bad, and holding it ALL with awareness. Experiencing the fullness of life. The wholeness.

We can apply it when we are communicating with loved ones (and not-so-loved ones), when we are eating, walking, sitting in mediation or in yoga – every moment is an opportunity to practice mindfulness!

Are there any misconceptions out there about yoga that you would like to clear up?

Probably just that yoga is much more than just a physical exercise routine (although the physical benefits are vast).  When done with intention and attention, yoga can be a powerful tool for changing our lives in every way conceivable!

Burn & Learn’s central themes are food, fitness and fulfilment.  Please give us three of your favourite tips for each of our themes

Food: Smoothies!!  get a super dense hit of nutrients in a quick, easy to digest, portable drink!!

Fitness: yoga, dance, walking,…whatever makes your heart sing!!

Fulfilment: daily gratitude and living what you LOVE!!

Thanks Amanda for your tips!  Note to our readers:  Classes are held in a beautiful studio with whitewashed walls, hardwood floors and windows that open, just a short walk from Perth CBD.  See more at www.yogaalchemy.com.au

Thanks to Suzy Lou Photography for the beautiful images.

Rott Up Dog – lululemon

I fell in love with Rottnest Island as a child… all the children holidaying would instantly form BMX bandit style gangs and roam freely exploring the unique island with its cute rat like quokkas. For me, a visit to Rottnest Island encompassed the essence of summer and freedom and still does to this day. So when I heard about the yoga and fitness day being conducted by athletic clothing brand lululemon on Rotto, the inaugural Rott Up Dog, I didn’t hesitate to register.

Fulfilled fitness at Rott Up Dog, 2013

Fulfilled fitness at Rott Up Dog, 2013

Our day started at gentlemen’s hour with a 45 minute ferry trip. Once on the island we took advantage of the subsidised bicycle rental on offer (Rotto is a car free zone) and enjoyed a leisurely beachside lunch at Hotel Rottnest. Suitably energised, we then joined the masses of people cycling between events and activities. Some of the events of interest included multiple styles and variations of yoga, acrobalance (reminiscent Cirque du Soleil) and beach fit.

A highlight for me was definitely the chance to experience stand-up paddle boarding for the first time. I was expecting a core workout but the aspect that surprised and thrilled me most was the view. Not only did it strengthen my core – the elevated view was like staring straight into a tropical aquarium.

My blogging buddy Melinda, with the lululemon guests trying some Stand-Up Paddle Boarding at Parker Point, Rottnest

My blogging buddy Melinda, with the lululemon guests trying some Stand-Up Paddle Boarding at Parker Point, Rottnest

The crew at lululemon managed to capture the local’s love of the surf, sun, socialising and fitness by creating Rott Up Dog. The diversity of classes and inspirational instructors provided a great introduction to these activities and a really fun day. For those of you that would have liked to have participated but couldn’t make it, here is list of the instructors that kindly hosted the classes.

Rott Up Dog Instructors

Classes

Ash Lau and Trevor Aung Than

Acro Balance

Phoebe Jones

Vinyasa Yoga

Jo Harvey

Bikram-Style Yoga

Sandy Duxbury

Beach Fit

Laura Carroll

Rolling Yoga

Amanda Noga

Balancing & Binding Vinyasa Yoga

Carolina Obara

Core Yoga

Ceinwen Roberts

Beach Fit

I spoke to Dusty Allen, Community Connector for lululemon, who kindly provided some feedback on the event.

How did the Rott Up Dog concept originate? What were your goals of the day?

The intention for the lululemon athletica event ‘Rott Up Dog’ was to provide an escape from the everyday and an opportunity to bring together the entire community in celebration of yoga, sun, surf, music and being active – all things that we love about Perth.

Community Spirit at Rott Up Dog

Community Spirit at Rott Up Dog

The name is very quirky. How the name was created?

We wanted to give our event a name that would stand out, whilst encompassing everything the event was about – bringing yoga to the community in the form of a one-day yoga getaway on Rottnest Island.

We combined the location name, Rottnest Island, with the yoga pose ‘Upward Facing Dog’ and the popular term ‘What Up Dog’ to create a cheeky play on words which captured the fun nature of the event.

Practicing Cirque du Soleil moves during the Acrobalance (www.circusconditioning.com)

Practicing Cirque du Soleil moves during the Acrobalance (www.circusconditioning.com)

Can you explain how you selected the events and instructors? I also noticed that some of the instructors were also lululemon Ambassadors.

We chose to offer a variety of activities that encapsulated our event goal of creating a one-day yoga festival celebrating yoga, sun, surf, music and being.

We wanted to highlight the inspiring ambassadors and instructors from each of our four store communities of Applecross, Cottesloe, Perth City and Karrinyup.

Our ambassadors are leaders in the community that attract, inspire and guide our communities on their path to yoga and fitness. Rott Up Dog provided the perfect opportunity for us to share our ambassadors with the entire Perth community by having them lead the day’s yoga and fitness classes.

Amanda Noga leading "Balancing & Binding Vinyasa"

Amanda Noga leading “Balancing & Binding Vinyasa”

Will lululemon support this event in future?  If so, when should we expect the next event to be held and will there be any new activities to try?

We are passionate about opening doors to yoga through our community events and in-store yoga classes, and being a hub for yoga and health in our communities. While I don’t know if we will be hosting Rott Up Dog again next year, I can confidently say that we will definitely continue hosting community events in our stores and communities.

Perfect way to end the day, live music at Rott Up Dog

Perfect way to end the day, live music at Rott Up Dog

Check out the weekly complimentary in-store lululemon events at the following West Australian stores:

Cottesloe

Applecross 

Perth City

Karrinyup

For more information on lululemon events Australia wide, visit the local store pages on lululemon.com.au.

All photos courtesy of lululemon.

Nutritional Ketosis – consequences of a high fat diet

Before I embark on this post, I would just like to say that Burn & Learn in no way endorses nor seeks to discredit ketosis as a pathway to achieving success with our three key concepts – food, fitness or fulfilment.  The following article simply aims to describe our experience with Nutritional Ketosis. Having said that, taking dietary fat to the extreme honestly brought nothing but suffering for Naomi and myself, and for the first time in many years I felt like I’d lost my nutritional marbles.  What we hope you will get from this article is that it urges you to think long and hard about potential benefits and possible negative consequences of undertaking diets that could be considered ‘extreme’.

So where did this all begin?  Well, after reading many fabulous paleo-esque books that went against standard dietary concepts and promoted the benefits of incorporating full fat in one’s diet, Naomi and I were ‘primed and ready’ to hear about ketosis – a dietary approach where you consume more than 70% fat each day.  So… knowing how well avoiding grain worked for me in the past, I was intrigued to hear that there was a controversial diet approach that would cause glucose levels to drop so low that my body would switch to using (and burning) fat instead. Ignoring for a moment the importance of micronutrients in one’s diet – I was keen to explore this strange concept of rearranging the standard dietary macronutrient structure. So I started as everyone does these days by ‘googling’ the word ‘ketosis’, and from the enormous amount of material I found online, it appeared that the potential, dare I say miraculous, benefits of this otherwise little know approach were widely proclaimed and rarely, if at all, denounced.

Being of above-average health and fitness, without any diseases (as far as I’m aware), I’ll admit that ketosis appealed mostly to my vanity.  From what I read, in 6 short weeks I’d have shed my winter layers and rock a bikini like never before.  In addition, my energy levels and mental clarity would be through the roof. I was so convinced of its merits and believed that I may well blow the lid on a global conspiracy designed to keep us fat and sick.  The people charged with giving us dietary advice, recommending silly things like 6 servings of grain a day, when all the while we could have been eating limitless butter, pork belly and triple cream brie!?

Gripping to a small shred of my sanity…. I did find myself pondering…. this is in complete contradiction to my usual philosophy about wholefoods and ‘balance’. How can fruits and vegetables be so bad?  Were they really so hard to come by as a caveman? Is there really a magical ‘hunger switch’ which can be turned off by eating fat?  Can you really strip kilograms so effortlessly?  Was there really a global conspiracy?

After many hours researching, I was convinced that cream, butter and bacon had been unfairly demonised and deserved another chance.  I recruited my food and fitness partner-in-crime Naomi to road test this hypothesis. We agreed to spend 6 weeks using our bodies as experimental fat reciprocals, ingesting a daily intake of over 75% fat and less than 15% carbs.  We agreed to take the findings to the people by creating a blog.

Some keto dishes are actually quite delicious (http://www.flickr.com/photos/dessart/)

Some keto dishes are actually quite delicious (http://www.flickr.com/photos/dessart/)

Some basic theory

So before I get stuck into fat, let’s start with glucose.  It would be a great idea for you to read this Guide to Carbohydrates by Wellness Mama.

Our bodies run rather efficiently on glucose.  It’s the primary source of the energy to complete a university assignment or climb a flight of stairs. The trouble with the world’s weight and health issues is not glucose per se, glucose is perfectly safe if you do not exceed your body’s energy requirements. However with a western diet full of cakes, biscuits, bread, pastas, sodas and the like, along with sedentary lifestyles, it becomes easy to see that we are in constant danger of stressing (or breaking!) the coping mechanisms of our bodies.

So…. in a nutshell… having too much glucose in our systems causes our glycogen receptors to become full and our bodies have no choice but to store this excess energy as fat.  It doesn’t matter the source of the glucose once your body hits its threshold…. carbs and sugars from any source (even those you believe to be nutritious) will store as fat.

So what is Nutritional Ketosis…..

Nutritional Ketosis takes place when you carefully control your macronutrient intake so that you have a very high proportion of fat in your diet.  By eating mostly fat and very few carbs you deprive your body of glucose and hence your body will then switch to burning ketones (produced by the liver) as a fuel.  Before you warn me it’s dangerous, remember that blood ketone levels in nutritional ketosis are between 0.5 and 3.0 mMol/L (whereas diabetics who experience ketoacidosis are actually around 15 to 25 mMol/L).  For more information on this, read Peter Attia’s post on Is Ketosis Dangerous? Nutritional Ketosis is also championed as a healthful state for the body by a range of highly regarded low-carb experts (Read Steve PhinneyJimmy Moore and Fat Head Blog).  Joseph Arcita outlines a host of benefits to this fat-full approach, including:

  1. Better mental focus
  2. Lowering of cholesterol
  3. Benefits for sufferers of Type 2 diabetes, hypertension, alzheimers and various cancers
  4. Better cardiovascular health
  5. Preservation of lean body mass
  6. Loss of body fat
  7. Blunting of appetite and increased satiation

The Keto Experiment…

In a nutshell the Keto experiment that we set ourselves was to embark on 6 week controlled diet comprising approximately 1500 kcal per day of which more than 75% was to come from fat.  Some of our favourite food options were now off the menu – including most fruits, chocolate, sugar, yogurt and even 80% of vegetables.  We would both have to embrace the concept of full fat cream, butter, low carb vegetables and only the smallest smattering of low carb fruits.

A typical keto-style meal - as much fat as possible!

A typical keto-style meal – as much fat as possible!

The table below shows the difference between your options on full fat versus good carbs.  This hopefully puts it into perspective that we were faced with some serious challenges to reduce portions, increase fats to uncomfortable levels and show some of our favourite fruit and vegetables the door.  Yes, it’s true that fats are more satiating than carbs, however the learning here is that you can have a few wedges of cheese or 2 plates of broccoli!!!  I’m sorry – but you can preach about fats all you like… 2 plates beats 2 wedges.

PORTION SIZES
Full Fat Lean Protein Bad Carbs Good Carbs
(each option below represents approx. 300 kcal)
3 tablespoons of full fat butter 250 gram porterhouse steak no fat 2 potato cakes fried 1.3 kg of cauliflower
3 wedges of camembert cheese 200 grams of poached chicken breast 1 slice of chocolate cake 15 cups of zucchini
2 fried eggs with 1 strip of bacon 250 grams of steamed fish 1 small packet of Red Rooster Chips 6 cups of strawberries

Any good experiment requires data, so to provide us with something to analyse we decided we would monitor our biomarkers and general body measurements, record how we felt and make observations regarding our relative levels of hunger/satisfaction.  We were convinced that by the end of the experiment we would blow the lid on the global carbohydrate conspiracy.

Part of the experiment was not only to look at changes in weight but also to see if we were generally healthier and perhaps happier as well….there’s no point being thin if you are sick.  We wanted to measure more than just our weight and our waistlines, so to put some basic science behind the experiment,  Naomi and I decided to first get our health bio-markers accurately logged through full body DEXA scans and blood tests.  We would then get reassessed at the end of the six weeks and compare the results.  In addition to the before and after analyses, we also decided to monitor our blood ketones on a daily basis.  This involves a finger prick blood test, similar to that conducted by diabetics, to make sure we stayed in the blood ketone range for nutritional ketosis of between 0.5 and 3.0 mMol/L.

Burn and Learn's 6 week Ketosis Experiment involved blood ketone readings three times a day

Burn and Learn’s 6 week Ketosis Experiment involved blood ketone readings three times a day

We then entered our details into a keto calculator to work out our basic dietary plan for the coming 6 weeks.  The keto-calculator is really useful as it tells you not only the calories you should take for your size, gender and age but also helps you work out the proportions of each macronutrient you need to consume to hit your targets.

So, apart from realising keto is tough, what did we learn from this experiment….?

1.     Keto is a massive fail (at least for us)!

The biggest lesson of all was that keto wasn’t for us.  When we looked at the results, none of the key biomarkers showed an improvement, despite a strict and regimented following of the program.  Our bad results included:

  • Loss of Lean Muscle: 200g loss of lean muscle for me; 300 g loss for Naomi.
  • Increased Body Fat:  3% increase for me; 4.2% increase for Naomi.
  • Higher Total Cholesterol: 1 mMol/L increase for me; 2.8 mMol/L increase for Naomi.

2.     Portion control sucks

A key learning of our keto experiment was the question of portion size.  Fats have 9 calories per gram whereas protein and carbs have only 4 calories per gram.  This means if you decide to eat 75% fat in your diet you’d better get used to smaller portion sizes.  The fats quickly suck up your daily calorie allowance, leaving you wondering if that floret of broccoli is a few centimetres too big.  I don’t think I need to explain how ridiculous this is.

It’s really (really) hard to get your portions right. At the beginning – it was tough to get the carbs down low enough to stay in ketosis.  This meant that we often needed to add things to our diet that are not usually considered gourmet, such as spoonfuls of coconut butter and fish oils. Unsurprisingly, by the end – the fats were so high that we felt like we were unnecessarily torturing ourselves.

3.     Keto has side effects!

Some of the side effects we felt during and after the Keto-experiment were

  • Keto Flu.  Lethargy, fuzzy brain, headaches, nausea, sore throat and complete all over body aches. This passes within in a day or so.
  • Fibre Issues.  The lack of fibre in my diet had big consequences. If passing cement at extremely irregular intervals is your thing then by all means try ketosis. I have a newfound respect for all things fibre.
  • Carb backlash. Following keto, Naomi and I both embarked on a 6 week uncontrollable carb binge.  For two girls who have successfully avoided sugar and high GI carbs for years, this was a surprise.  We can only put it down to over correcting after 6 weeks of torture.

4.     If you are not already crazy when you start, you become crazy pretty quickly

Pricking your finger each morning and night to get your keto readings resulted not only in bruised fingers, but an addiction to chasing that perfect keto number. The readings became an obsession and went from 1 -2 fingers jabs a day to more and more jabs, and more and more readings… yes it’s getting certifiable.

We also suffered major mental torture during social events involving food – we really both felt a genuine loss and sadness for carbs.  The thought of eating bread consumed me (even though I don’t usually eat bread)…. saying no to a piece of your friend’s birthday cake, attending high tea (torture!) or saying no to the delicious home-baked food at a family do.  Did I mention it was torture?

5.     Keto isn’t all bad

There were plenty of good things about the Keto diet, Red wine probably being the best. While Keto is so restrictive that virtually all drinks with any flavour are off the menu, red wine and black coffee (due to their low carb properties) are definitely in. Another good thing, and this might be down to personal taste, but I found I could satisfy my unnatural love of roasted cauliflower, literally the most amazing thing in the world. (We will soon be posting a few of our favourite keto recipes).  Keto also helped me to start eating eggs (before Keto, I’d had a lifelong phobia of eggs, but had longed to introduce them due to their overall beneficial properties as a food source). Keto forced me to give them a genuine go, partly as they were one of the staples of the diet and partly because my available food options were so limited.  As a result, by the end of the experiment I had developed a taste for eggs for the first time in my 37 years.

For my part the bonding over keto between Naomi and me was also a key benefit. Naomi and I sent each other countless texts and links to information in an effort to stay abreast of this all-consuming dietary approach. On reflection, this may not be a good thing. Bodybuilders connect over steroids, anorexic girls connect over food avoidance, and drug addicts connect over drugs. I will say the pain of the experiment brought us much closer, and I’m pleased to report we have fully embraced our old wellness philosophies.

But perhaps the most amazing thing about keto was that Naomi fell pregnant!  At least, we like to blame keto for this. Naomi had low body fat pre-keto that was akin to an elite athlete.  By putting on 4.2% body fat she became prime breeding ground.  This is a wonderful outcome.

Conclusion

Since regaining control of our eating patterns, we tend to enjoy (mostly) a balanced diet of fruit, vegetables, lean protein and balanced (and cautious) amounts of full fats.  Energy has returned to normal for me, although the same cannot be said for Naomi who is expecting.

We much prefer to recommend Burn & Learn’s recommended diet as one that allows the embracing of full fats in a balanced way, while allowing the full spectrum of macro and micro-nutrients from a wonderful array of protein, fruits and vegetables.

Bali In-Villa Yoga with Bali Yoga Canti

Interview with Tomoko Kubota, Yoga instructor with Bali Yoga Canti 

Twice now I have been to Bali and organised my own private in-villa yoga retreat.  It goes something like this – rise and shine with early morning walk on the beach, have Tomoko visit for private in villa yoga, eat healthy breakfast, shop or relax by day, then at 5 pm get dressed to attend a gorgeous Bali restaurant, eat too much, drink too much, sleep, repeat repeat repeat.

Tomoko Kubota teaches hatha yoga, however she "likes all types of yoga"

Tomoko Kubota teaches hatha yoga, however she “likes all types of yoga”

One day I would like to go to Bali and just stick with the first half – early morning walks on the beach, yoga, meditation, healthy fresh and organic foods and early to bed.  Perhaps next trip this will eventuate as I’m sure I am stopping short of an incredible experience. So while I do not put into practice all that Tomoko could teach me, I have been fascinated not only by her beautiful approach to yoga, but her peaceful energy and wonderful lifestyle.  I knew she had to be one of the first posts on our blog and I hope to interview her more in the future.  She clearly has so much she can teach us.  Read on…..

What was it about yoga that attracted you to pursue it for yourself and as a career?

Yoga is my life. Yoga allows me to connect to my inner self by living in the present moment. We live in this world and experience various things every day and every moment….. joyfulness, sadness, pain and greatness.  Yoga has taught me how to notice these moments, accept them for what they are and ‘let go’ as an observer.  I can then expand my inner self.

What styles of yoga do you teach?  Which is your favourite?

Meditative Hatha flow, however I like all styles of yoga!

What is your faith or spiritual philosophy?  Do you believe yoga has something to offer people of any faith?

We are all servants of the universe, and we each have a special purpose for living in this world. By following the heart, you may follow the amazing universal plan by connecting to inner self (through Yoga and meditation). Yoga was created for human beings to make life better, happier and more peaceful – it goes beyond religion, culture and the colour of one’s skin. Yoga leads us to make our body, mind and spirit unite as one, and reach to our inner self.

You continually tell us to breath and relax throughout yoga.  Tell me how important breath is to yoga practice.

Humans can live several days without water or food. However, it leads to death in a few minutes if you do not breath.  Proper breathing is called pranayama, which is a Sanskrit word that means Prana or “life energy”, Yama means “control”.  To control breathing is the same thing as to control the body and mind. Thus it is so important to flow the energy to connect the body, mind and soul.

Tomoko, I come from the hectic business world in Australia and when I visit Bali and do yoga with you, I see you as very peaceful and calm soul, doing something you love each day and helping people better themselves.  How true is my perspective?  Tell me about your lifestyle.

My life is slow and flowing! I meditate every early morning before sunrise and do regular yoga practice at home.  I teach private yoga in the mornings and may have lunch with friends at a beachside cafe or Japanese restaurant. At sunset, I go to the beach to ‘reset’ with my son and husband. Sometimes I go to a fullmoon or newmoon workshop at a resort near Seminyak. I really feel blessed to share yoga with people and to connect with beautiful people all over the world.

Tomoko Kubota, Yoga Instructor, Seminyak Bali

You have such a wonderful energy about you.  Were you born like this or have you become this way over time? 

… thank you. I feel more cleansed and purified with my energy after years of yoga practice. I believe everyone has a wonderful soul, what is needed is polish! Yoga is one of the ways to polish one’s soul.

Tell me about the potential for Bali as a place where health and happiness can be pursued.  What does it offer that a Western lifestyle does not?

Balinese have an amazing and beautiful concept for their basic life, called ‘TRIHITAKARANA’ – which means ‘only after harmony and respect between humans, between God and man, and between man and nature, are we are able to obtain the wellbeing of human’.  Bali reminds us we are not the only human beings in this world.  It reminds us that we should appreciate without words.

What is your general health and wellbeing philosophy?

What you eat and how you eat is what you are. So pick the freshest and most energized foods and eat full of appreciation, without any other thought! Our thoughts become words, our words become actions, our actions become habit. Habits become character, character creates ourselves. Always use positive thinking! All is well!

Burn & Learn’s themes are “food, fitness and fulfillment .  Please share with our reader’s your 3 best Bali tips for these themes.

Food:

  • coconut water : amazing taste, natural and full of nutrition
  • ‘jamu’ : traditional spice blend healthy juice
  • tropical fruits

Fitness:

  • Yoga!
  • Nature rice field walking

Fulfillment:

  • spa, balinese massage
  • healing: Balinese healing, karma purification, crystal stone chakra healing.

If there was one thing you could recommend people do to improve themselves, what would it be?

Practice yoga and meditation. It will allow you to live in a present moment and give you more strength and flexibility.

Who has been the most significant or influential mentor in your life?

My husband…! he is my life partner who allowed me to dive into yoga, showing me how amazing it is to connect to our inner self.  He is the most influential mentor for me.

If you had one wish that could come true, what would it be ?……

To share yoga to all over the world, and become a ‘bridge’ to introduce yoga in Bali! Tomoko owns Bali Yoga Canti with her husband Putu, and is available for private villa or beach yoga. Contact Tomoko through  www.baliyogacanti.com

Burn & Learn’s Diet – simple and sustainable

The diet below has been the most successful approach I’ve ever had to being happy with my body, full of energy, with glowing skin and a happy mind.  Naomi also did this diet with great success.  Why we ever abandoned it to undertake a ketosis experiment I will never know, since it worked so well and (in the end) was absolutely effortless.

I am not a dietitian, I just know this works. Try it on for size and stay committed. This diet is all about long term commitment for a completely retrained ‘you’.  Don’t see this as a 4 month diet, see it as a 40 year diet. Long term consistency is where you will have success. All other diets are just trying to get your cash.

MONTH 14 weeks no wheat, no grain

Just focus on that – nothing else.  It will force you to find good alternatives and then you probably won’t each much of it in the future as you will be retrained.  Eat plenty of veggies and protein so you are not hungry. During this stage you can embrace full fat products (full fat cheese, full fat yogurt) – never low fat as they are usually high in sugar or artificial sweeteners.

MONTH 24 weeks no alcohol, no soda

That means even at a party or function you have to stick to the plan.  Its all about becoming strong in the mind and releasing your alcohol demons. Sparkling water is your best friend to get through this tough time.

MONTH 3 4 weeks low (preferably no) sugar

Develop a ‘bitter palate’.  That means 80% cacao chocolate to shut up sugar cravings (one piece is all you can usually eat without feeling sick).  Get rid of milk (which contains lactose) and sugar from your coffee and develop a taste for long blacks, short blacks or espressos.  Also only have plain yogurt, not flavoured.

MONTH 4 AND FOREVER – You are well trained now! 

You can be indulgent on occasion but the next day it’s straight back to healthy, wholefood living. If you are making great choices you should not have to count calories.  However if you believe you are well and truly in excess of your ideal range, then you can always use My Fitness Pal to track what you eat. 

Are you serious to give it a try?  Well, if so read on as have some more tips!

Success pointers….

  • Restaurant food is made to taste good.  That means they add lots of hidden sugar to get a full flavour. You can’t beat cooking for yourself. If you have to buy food then go for food with minimal human interference. Go to the grocery store and buy a compilation of foods that can be thrown together. Wholefoods such as nuts, fruits and vegetables and good protein sources, preferably grass fed.
  • Buy plain food.  If its not simple food then its likely to have lots of things added. Plain food is easier to come by than you might think.  In some ready-made salads you can easily see that nothing has been added other than the healthy ingredients (i.e. dressing is separate). Choose options such as this and take it easy on the dressing (which may be high in sugar).
  • Add protein (nuts, cheese or lean meat) to ensure you are not hungry. Adding nuts to fruit can slow the absorption of fructose sugars. In general, adding protein will keep you satisfied longer so its a good strategy to employ.
  • Beware the sauce!  Many sauces contain sugar, fillers, trans fats or gluten.  Instead use tomato passata (use organic), herbs, olive oil, coconut oil, tamari.
  • Oil and fats are good.  See Mark’s Daily Apple for the Definitive Guide to Fats.
  • Repetition is good.  Eating the same foods can help. Try minimising variety for a while until you get into a solid routine. For example, just two or three options for breakfast, lunch and dinner avoids the need for over analysing nutritional labels. It means you know exactly what macro nutrients are in the food you are consuming.  Later when you are at your goal, you can relax and introduce some variety.
  • Keep blood sugar low.  When your blood sugar is high, you are creating insulin and you are storing fat. Bread, grain and juice all have the ability to send blood sugar soaring. Protein, vegetables and fat do not stimulate your insulin to the same degree and keep you satisfied longer.
  • Gluten free does not mean its healthy!  If it says gluten free it probably means its full of tapioca or potato starch. Do you realise these can send your blood sugar soaring also? Take it easy on grains in general – rice, corn, quinoa and rye may be more nutritious than some sources but they can all spike blood sugar, leading to increased fat.
  • Eat full fat – products claiming to be low in fat are generally high in sugar. I’m not afraid of full fat, however I do recommend keeping it under 30% of macro nutrient intake (please don’t do anything silly like Keto).
  • Regularly implement small tweaks and new disciplines.  I like to think of wellness as a pursuit in continuous improvement. Commitment for the long term, along with continual modifications that work for you, can bring unexpected and marvelous results. For example, I once implemented a mantra of ‘leaving a tiny bit on the plate’. For me, there was something psychologically powerful about not being tied to the last mouthful. It gave me a stronger mind and more power over my natural tendency to gorge. Another mantra I tried with sweets was that ‘one bite tastes the same as twenty bites’. This helped me control how many sweets I would consume on an already full stomach if the temptation was put in front of me.
  • Read read read.  Knowledge is power. Take a personal interest in health topics. Nobody can be with you at every meal, helping you make every decision. It is up to you to understand how your body works and what particular foods do to your body. I will be posting a list of books worth reading soon. Stay tuned.
  • Get a fitness buddy!  In my opinion – this is absolutely key to long term, sustained commitment. This can take the form of one fitness buddy, several fitness buddies, team sports or appointments with your personal trainer. The key is the appointment, which you are less likely to shake off when lacking motivation. While I think diet is more important than exercise to attain weight related goals, exercise is a wonderful way to feel energized … not to mention keeping the wobbly bits less wobbly.

Share your experiences with us!

If you have a story of what works for you, please drop us a line. We’d love to hear of your food, fitness and fulfillment pursuits. We are always looking for inspirational stories for our readers.

Unassisted Kayak Adventure at Ningaloo

In 2006, my girlfriend (Lauren) and I would begin our mornings kayaking on the Swan River.  It was my favourite activity to do before starting work and always enjoyed being on the water whilst the sun rose and seeing the dolphins playing.   In these mornings, I would also imagine possibilities that kayaking could bring… kayaking in remote areas where you wouldn’t see a single soul except of course the marine animals that may show themselves along the way.

After a couple of trips to Ningaloo reef in my late teens, a love of NW Western Australia was born. Despite trips to some of the most sought after dive areas in the world, from the Great Barrier Reef to the Red Sea, I still craved the unique sea life, corals and desert that define Ningaloo reef. The idea of exploring through an unassisted multiday kayaking expedition from Coral Bay to Exmouth, Australia developed slowly until it dominated my aspiration bucket list.  This unique region of Australia definitely meets the criteria of being remote. Exmouth is located 1260km north of the world’s most isolated city, Perth.  The Region is dry and harsh with temperatures that can exceed 47 C in summer and there is no access to fresh drinking water except in the town of Exmouth. After initial planning I realised that for this trip to be successful, a whole lot more work and planning would be required. The initial investigation also revealed that a trip would need to occur between April to July:

  1. to mitigate the heat and exposure risks, and
  2. to coincide with Whale Shark session.

Sounds easy right?? For years, this limited period presented issues due to conflicting work commitments for both my partner and I. Finally, we decided that this year we would finally do it! Planning the trip was relatively easy compared to finding the time to do adequate training together. Working long hours, renovating our house and attending necessary social commitments made finding a full day to train difficult. Although we hadn’t trained as much as we should have, we decided that our combined experience and knowledge would see us through.

However, some things never travel smoothly and two weeks before we were to leave for our expedition, my husband degloved his finger. The surgeon strongly recommended that we cancel the trip due to the risk of infection and further injury.  Luckily, after negotiations with our respective employers, we were able to reschedule for what was literally the last week of the whale shark session. We ended up re-scheduling, just before the whale session finished.

The final piece de resistance occurred when two weeks prior to departing, when we thought nothing else could possibly complicate this adventure further, we were surprised to find that we were expecting our first child!! After considerable soul searching and Google research combined with an increased emphasis on safety and contingency planning we departed on the adventure.

Swimming with the Whale Sharks

kayak-wThe day before we started our expedition, we went swimming with a whale shark in the waters of the outer reef of Ningaloo. Waiting in the deep blue water, my heart started to race from the moment I saw the murky grey object in the far distance. As the object glided towards us, I noticed the ever bigger object approaching with its distinctive markings and big open mouth. It was a whale shark! The whale shark moved at a constant pace and looked so tranquil and majestic. Once it had passed us, we began swimming slightly behind it. This approach prevents the whale shark from becoming stressed and also allowed me to watch the whale shark move through the water. For me it was a truly memorable day and from the first glimpse I couldn’t stop smiling for the rest of the day!!  If you haven’t had an opportunity to swim with the whale sharks I would highly recommend adding it to your “bucket list”.

www.whalesharkdive.com

Unassisted Multiday Kayaking Expedition

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As we drove from Exmouth to Coral Bay through the Cape Range National Park, I couldn’t help but marvel at the spectacular place we were travelling through with its rugged limestone ranges, breathtaking deep canyons and bouncing rock wallabies and kangaroos. My excitement subdued and was replaced with doubt and worry.  Although this place is spectacular, it was also remote, arid, unforgiving and the vast distance that we had just traveled will soon need to be done via human effort on a kayak. This doubt was negated by the contingency equipment and procedures we had in place.

We finally arrived at our start point, we unpacked our car and waved our support driver goodbye. Other than two locations along the way that were necessary to replenish our water supplies (we dropped them off on the way down), we would not see a single person for the next 6 days.

Kayaking in the inner reef of Ningaloo was like sitting on top of an aquarium. It is a protected sanctuary from the wild Indian Ocean winds and swell.  You could see through the beautiful turquoise waters to the white sands and coral reef formations. Turtle heads began popping their heads up for air occurred every few minutes, after grasping for air they would then swim down and dart away. Ningaloo Reef is an incredible aquatic environment filled with an amazing variety of marine life and we were luckily enough to see several species of dolphins, turtles and sharks as well as humpback whales, manta rays, and lots of tropical fish.

258-kayak

One day, we decided to venture into the outer reef in the hope to see more humpback whales and to do some ocean kayaking.  This journey is definitely not for the faint hearted or non-prepared kayaker.  It is essential to understand the winds, tides, currents and also have a GPS as there are only a few access points along the reef and you kayak out some 10 nautical miles from the shoreline. Our trip was worth it as we saw humpback whales emerge on their migration north and also heard their “songs” throughout the day. We also saw the research vessel which was studying orcas attacks on humpback whale calves.

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/nation/science-wins-as-orcas-opt-to-linger/story-e6frg6nf-1226713588633

After a fabulous day of offshore kayaking, we had arrived at our planned entry location (break in the reef where you can re-enter). Unfortunately the winds had changed from the original weather forecast. We had to make the decision to head back to where we had started the day or brave the barrelling waves that were crushing over the reef. As the first option meant kayaking for at least another 8 hours, we decided on watching the waves for sets then to perfectly time our dash to correlate with a break.  Within moments, we both started kayaking at considerable pace and determination.  We both caught a large wave which took my husband to safety but I was still above the reef system, some 50cm beneath me. He turned around to find me, only to see me in my kayak parallel to the next set of imminent barrelling waves. I heard him loud encouragements at me to paddle hard. I promptly rotated my kayak and paddled with every bit of energy I had left in my body and mentally prepared to be crushed under the waves. Fortunately, I ended up getting passed the reef and caught the white wash to the sanctuary of the inner reef area. It was an exhilarating experience.

Eating and Sleeping

One of my favourite foods is fresh fish and nothing beats fish that you personally catch and eat within minutes. We took a fishing hand reel each and in the recreational fishing zones, we would throw out of line and lure. If we caught a fish we would kayak back to shore and then cook and eat it on the beach.  Even the best seafood restaurants wouldn’t be able to compare with views, freshness or value for money ; )

Other than fish, we survived on dehydrated meals, fresh fruit, tinned fruit, fruit and nuts and juice.  By this stage I was six weeks pregnant and was experiencing nausea and exhaustion (something I never considered that I would get… mainly as I never imagined getting pregnant). I was very thankful that my husband had not listened to me, I had tried to convince him that all we needed was coffee/tea/nuts/fruit and condiments for my fresh fish – tamari sauce/salt& pepper/coconut oil/pickled ginger.  Having biscuits, vegemite and lollies greatly reduced the impact of morning sickness that was becoming my constant daily companion.  The other pregnancy observation was that I could no longer defeat exhaustion… at lunch times I would arrive on shore and after eating I would need a 30 minute sleep and on the last days of the expedition I found myself closing my eyes and having to ask my husband for assistance (towing me along). This concept of not being able to work through exhaustion is still abnormal to me, I have previously done 24 hour adventure races, endurance swimming and half iron man competitions. I was forced from a person who hated bed and stopping to a person who would and could sleep at any given moment, whether I liked it or not!

That brings me to one of my favourite things to do… getting ready for bed.  Everyday we would plan our journey and then closer to the each days destination, we would start scouting the coastline for protected areas from wind and places we could safely dismount from our kayaks. Then we would cook our dinner (with any luck a fresh reef fish!). Then we would pack everything away and savour the speculator sun set whilst sipping a mug of tea. It really was an experience that I can never see myself boring of.

253kayak

We slept in a bivvy bag with our sleeping bag inside on the beach sand. Just in case you are wondering, a bivvy bag is a waterproof fabric shell that is designed to slip over a sleeping bag and provides a barrier against wind and rain. The bivvy bag was vital for us as the winds would become very strong each morning from 2:30am. We used our buoyancy vest as a pillow (though not very comfortable). So far I am probably not selling our sleeping conditions, but there is something that makes up for it a thousand times over. After dark the night sky was simply spectacular, and with no roof to hinder the view we would find ourselves waking each other up to share the spectacle above. There have only been a handful of locations that I have been where the Milky Way is revealed as an amazing band of light across the sky through the brightest constellations.

244-kayak

cafe zucchini, seminyak bali

You know that feeling when you walk in to a cafe and think “LOVE!”.  Just love it, right from the get go.  Like love at first sight.  I had a clue from the name which just screams ‘all things fresh’.

Cafe Zucchini in Seminyak, Bali declare “our food is simple, fresh and homemade with premium ingredients, local artisan breads, jams and cakes, imported cheeses and locally grown organic vegetables and fruits where possible“. Located in the heart of Seminyak’s shopping district on Oberoi, its the perfect place to refresh and recharge before your second round of shopping.

Cafe Zucchini, Seminyak Bali

Cafe Zucchini, Seminyak Bali

I can highly recommend the juices and smoothies.  Sometimes I find that venues in Bali do not quite get the balance right with the flavours.  Too much apple – too sweet.  Too much celery – too bland.  Too much beetroot – well, you can never have too much beetroot.  Safe to say, Zucchini seem to have nailed the flavour combinations.  I had a carrot, apple, beetroot, ginger & lemon juice which was perfect on a warm and humid day.  My companion had a Papaya & Lime Frappe which tasted delicious. Then to lunch.  I’m always super excited to find a wide array of salads to choose from so I was not remotely tempted to navigate the rest of the very appealing menu.

Salad's are changed daily and there are alwasy several choices, at Cafe Zucchini, Seminyak Bali

Salad’s are changed daily and there are alwasy several choices, at Cafe Zucchini, Seminyak Bali

I chose a combination of three salads which came with crostini for 65,000 Rupiah.  The portions were generous and the flavours fresh, light, and exactly what I needed after a heavy meal the night before.  I woofed it down in my usual fashion – like the meal is my last.

Cafe Zucchini's Mixed Salad Selection

Cafe Zucchini’s Mixed Salad Selection

Also a big hit with my companions was the chicken schnitzel (a 35,000 Rupiah upgrade to your salad) and the steak sandwich which was thin yet very tender beef on sourdough with caramelised onions, beetroot, aioli and rocket for 70,000 Rupiah. I’m yet to try the breakfast, dinner or desserts.  Its something I will certainly do on my next visit – with dishes calling my name, such as the ‘Green Brekkie’ of sauteed spinach, zucchini, rocket, parsley & avocado (45,000 Rupiah), fresh vegetarian tacos, rice paper rolls and my all-time favourite (yet not so healthy) – flourless orange almond cake with ice cream for dessert (45,000 Rupiah).

There’s plenty of dishes for vegetarians and meat lovers alike, which is why I find it so approachable when you are on a family holiday and not everyone feels like eating ‘clean’ that day.

My only gripe was eating my salad next to a smoker.  I know Bali allows smoking nearly everywhere – but you would think a health focused establishment could bring in a ‘no smoking’ policy, particularly given the confined setting. However…. c’est la vie!…. particularly since the cafe is happy to home deliver (to your non-smoking villa) for no additional charge (just don’t be shy with your tip!)

Quirky Aztec influenced art adorn the rattan walls at Cafe Zucchini

Quirky Aztec influenced art adorn the rattan walls at Cafe Zucchini

Find Cafe Zucchini on Oberoi in Seminyak, Bali.