Good evening! It’s Erica here and back again for another (belated) WILW. It’s been a pretty fab past two weeks, since I have been filling (read: jamming) my brain with a whole semester’s worth of knowledge in preparation for my exams that begin next week. Nonetheless, I have had plenty of ‘study breaks’ in which I’ve discovered more things I want to share with you, so let’s get to it!
WILW ED #13
This week I am…
This book has been on my ‘to read’ list for some time now, so when I spotted it for sale for $5 at my local market last weekend I couldn’t help but buy it. So far I’ve only read one chapter (about the beginning Universe) and I have to say it is no easy reading… Well, it is well written and engaging, but quite simply the concepts are so enormous and challenging that my brain kind of hurts as I read it. Despite this I feel like this is the kind of book who anyone with a love of science or a curiosity about life would thoroughly enjoy.
Listening to: Why Do You Feel (Flight Facilities ft. Bishop Nehru)
This is another tune I picked up from my yoga classes earlier in the year and it has remained a favourite for the past several months. Enough said!
Watching: TedTalk – Why fasting bolsters brain power by Mark Mattson
It was my Mum who linked me to this article containing the above TedTalk (original article: http://www.collective-evolution.com/2015/12/11/neuroscientist-shows-what-fasting-does-to-your-brain-why-big-pharma-wont-study-it/). Although I am not new to the idea of caloric restriction or intermittent fasting (IF) for increased longevity and brain health, this video is a great culmination of all of the most recent research and findings regarding the health benefits of IF. It also prompted me to recommence IF, a practice which I experimented with last year (read about my experience here). I tend to follow the 16:8 style of IF, meaning if I choose to do it on a particular day I won’t eat breakfast and simply eat between 12 noon and 8pm. Whilst IF has most often been promoted for weight loss, especially with the surge in popularity for the 5:2 diet, for me personally the most exciting findings about IF are those pertaining to its impact on insulin sensitivity, the brain and longevity. If you are curious about IF then definitely watch this video. Also, if you do choose to experiment with it please consider which style of fasting will be most appropriate, as there are many versions that all work in a similar way on a biochemical level.
Quoting: We crave what we habitually eat.
I think this quote was originally from the Food Matters film, or something to a similar effect. I have found myself quoting this in conversation with a few people lately, as I feel it explains fairly simply why it is so hard to break bad eating habits, but also why it is often quite easy to maintain good eating habits. As someone who knows what it is like to crave sugary and carbs constantly, I can assure you that once you start eating healthier you naturally start to crave healthy food. These days my cravings are generally for delicious nourishing meals including soup, stews, or just big bowls of roast veggies. Even when I want a ‘treat’ I crave the healthier versions, such as raw vegan cheesecakes or sweet potato brownies. Yes, initially transitioning to a cleaner diet takes a lot of effort and planning, but gradually it becomes effortless. So keep going, until you crave the foods that nourishes you, rather than those that harm you.
Eating: Mayver’s Cacao Super Spread
I have a confession to make. I bought a jar of this and it lasted less than 24 hours. Yes, I am that girl who spoons peanut butter out of the jar and calls it a meal (or snack)! I have been a fan of Mayver’s spreads for some time now, they are all natural and a great healthy alternative to regular peanut butter, but this new combination of cacao, peanuts, other nuts and dates makes is next level amazing (and addictive). I love spreading it on sliced apple or celery, or dipping strawberries into for a quick snack. And had it lasted longer I imagine it would make a great topping to banana pancakes… Maybe another day!
Pondering: the Universe and the miracle of life
Yep, some kind of big things have been on my mind this week, mostly thanks to reading ‘A Short History of Nearly Everything’. In the first chapter Bryson covers the theories of how the Universe came to be and highlights how unfathomably enormous it really is. The vastness of the Universe has always scared me, because I realise that we probably don’t even have the imagination or intellect to ever fully comprehend it. However, I do find some comfort in all these mysteries because it reminds me of just how miraculous life, and in particular our ability for conscious thought and self-awareness is. You can’t help but be grateful for life when you consider the trillions of atoms that come together to make up the molecules that make up the cells that make up you are defying the entropic law of the Universe that prefers disorder. Perhaps we will never understand how the Universe really began, and maybe we will never answer all the questions, but the fact that we can create these questions and come up with some of the answers is pretty freaking incredible in itself.
Pilates is another style of exercise that I actually quite enjoy. After taking a few ‘proper’ Pilates classes at the local gym in April, I was keen to continue my practice at home. Then I found Blogilates – a channel dedicated to short and easy at home Pilates classes with the ever-energetic Cassy. She is the Pilates equivalent of my online yoga guru Erin Motz. I did this workout yesterday, definitely a quick way to get your core working in only 13 minutes: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lBmdAzJzYYg
Aiming to: focus
Anyone who knows me at university or school is probably aware of the odd fact that I actually quite enjoy SWOTVAC and exams, but that doesn’t necessarily mean I find focussing on studying inherently easy. Instead, I have take an approach to study that I know to helps me focus. I use my anticipation of the holidays to focus on study during this period. I also write a daily schedule each morning of the things that I want to achieve that day, including time allocated for study breaks and activities that will keep me calm, such as yoga and meditation. I also plan out my study leading up to exams on my calendar (my iCal is my life at the moment), ensuring that I have plenty of time to do practice exams and avoid last-minute cramming. Lastly, to achieve my goal of focus, I study with my phone on silent or even aeroplane mode, without Facebook open in my browser and try to create a quiet, distraction-free study environment. When I do take breaks, I make sure to give myself a finite time to scroll through Instagram before returning to my study without an internal tantrum (it’s taken years of practice, trust me). Oh, and one final note, meditation has been shown to enhance mental focus and memory, so if you want to be more focussed I would recommend giving it a go!
Grateful for: home
For the past few days I’ve been lucky enough to enjoy the comfort of being at home whilst I study for exams. I always love coming home, as I appreciate family time and especially having a beautiful wood fire to keep me warm despite the winter that is most certainly upon us. More importantly it is probably the last time I will get to be home for this long until after my exchange, so I am soaking up every second of it. I also got to enjoy a trip with my Mum and sister to the markets on the weekend, an opportunity that I rarely pass up.
Love Erica x