Wednesday 29 February 2012

Bye-bye carbs

In January/Feb the big news came out in the media from Prof. Tim Noakes, who essentially told us that he'd been wrong and that we could tear out the chapter on nutrition in his book, 'The Lore of Running' and to toss it in the bin.

Noakes was referring to his 'old' premise that a high-carb diet is the way to go and that you can shovel them in but to play it easy on the fats. His new tune is to say no to the big carbs, which are the bad guys in our societal plague of obesity, diabetes and degenerative diseases. Noakes has been taking his own 'medicine' and he's lost weight (like 15-odd kilograms) and has improved his running performance.

Other current dietary trends include the Dukan Diet and the Paleo Diet, both of which are in a similar vein; say no to the cereals and grains, which offer up the most common carbohydrate form - starch - in our diets.

Dukan is all about high protein, low fat and low carb and it has a four-phase structure where the first phase focuses on a dash of rapid weight loss for two weeks; next phase is a slower and more steady weight-loss regime over weeks and months; then consolidation (slow incorporation of some excluded foods) and then stabilisation in the fourth phase, which is about maintaining your newfound, desirable weight.

The Paleo Diet aims to take us back to our roots, before we began cultivating fields of cereals and grains. It's a 'hunter-gatherer' style eating programme.

They say, "What we should really be eliminating in our diet are grain products, excess sugar, vegetable oils, legumes and dairy, some of which are at the very basis of the US food pyramid."

I've got two friends in NZ who have been into Paleo for a while and it seems to be working very well for them. Both are sporty.

All of these make quite a lot of sense to me and for a few years now I've kept a grip on my starch - especially wheat - intake. Nothing serious but you generally won't see me chowing down on a big starchy meal. I generally just feel better if I have a starch as part of a dinner once a week, not more. It's cutting out my lunchtime sandwich that is actually the hard part because a basic cheese and tomato sandwich is my all-time favourite - and it is convenient.

I'm aiming to be a bit more mindful of my carbs; fortunately my natural inclinations don't make this very difficult.

The difficult part for vegetarians is that Noakes, Dukan and Paleo are all very meat-based, high-protein lifestyles. Meat is easy. Veg equivalents are a little harder to be organised about.

Driving back from the weekend away, I declined the offer of a cup of coffee (I don't drink coffee - never have). The guy in the car commented something to the effect of, "You don't drink alcohol or coffee and you're vegetarian... geezzz". When you put it that way I feel like a big-time tree hugger. But, it works for me. Hahaha.

Some links:
- Noakes: A PDF of a column written by Noakes in the Discovery magazine (Winter 2011)
- Noakes: Article on Health24 (Mon, 27 Feb 2012)
- Noakes speaking to John Robbie on 702 radio (23 Jan 2012)
- Article in Modern Athlete (Tim talking about the effect of no-carbs on his body and running) (Jan 2012)

Appreciating animals

I was in the Timbavati Nature Reserve, in the Kruger National Park area, this past weekend. I've never been big on game drives; it just feels all wrong to be a lazy-ass tourist being driven around. But, this time I really enjoyed it - probably because I was quite focused on getting some photos of the animals. We were very fortunate to see a lot of them. A lovely adventure. Some pics below.

Tuesday 28 February 2012

Technology vs design

I recently got to try some new sports tops - for release in the US Spring 2013. Can't say much more than this. These garments have new technologies that increase wicking and drying for better moisture management and cooling.

What I did realise is that unless you're in a controlled environment, like on a treadmill in a weather chamber with controlled temperature and humidity, it really is hard to tell whether one fabric dries and cools better than another. Say I run in one top today and another tomorrow, the conditions could be quite different; even if I wear garments an hour apart the conditions are different and I am different in my exercise response.

Another thing that was very much on my mind is design. You can have the fanciest fabric technology in the world but if I don't like the feel or weight of the fabric and if I don't like the colour or design of the garment, I won't buy it. I actually won't even wear it after the first time even if given to me.

In July last year I had a rant about women's sports clothing and this post is in a similar vein. I am tired of wearing slightly tailored men's garments. I am not a guy!

I want pretty; I want sexy; I want to take my running top out of my cupboard and feel delighted to be putting it on; and I want to go out for a run thinking, 'Geez, I look good in this'. When you feel good, you run good. Easy.

It seems a hard task for designers to get right. Skimpy doesn't equal pretty/sexy either.

A bit of pretty detail, a flattering neckline, sleeves (sun protection), not too body hugging... can't be that hard eh?

Thursday 23 February 2012

Too busy?

While preparing a special something for Metrogaine Jo'burg in April I found this quote/comment:

"Any day that you are too busy to run is a day that you are too busy."


Metrogaine Jo'burg in April

Scouting. Done. Suburb is fan-tastic. So fantastic that I'm adding contour lines to the map... ;)

Event information and entry details are all online and online entries are now open.

Ja, it is still a good while until April but as I'm away for two weeks from mid-March, I thought I'd get it all sorted now.

If you haven't done a Metrogaine Jo'burg, you just gotta come. Bring a friend to do it with you (pairs). It really is good fun running (or walking) around Jo'burg suburbs at night.

If you're on FB, share it.

And the date? 11 April 2012 is's 11th birthday.

Tuesday 21 February 2012

Can you climb a tree in it?

Over a couple of years I have developed a clothing maxim - but it was only today I arrived at the sentence that defines it: "Can you climb a tree in it?".

I'm not good at restrictive clothing. I like to have a full range of motion from all my clothing, whether sports, casual or smart. If I can't lift up an arm properly in a shirt or am unable take a big step up in a pair of pants, then the item won't be purchased. And, if I do - because I've failed to follow my own guidelines - then, inevitably, I'll rarely wear it.

Part of the problem is fabric - I like a bit of stretch - and the other is cut.

Stretch fabric (like elastane / lycra and such) is the best fibre invention ever and not just for skin-tight garments.

As for cut... I realise how damn-near-impossible it is to design and produce clothing that is a reasonable fit for the majority of the population. Afterall, we've got such different shapes and preferences so it is a hit-and-miss.

As a sporty girl I maybe have more difficulty than the general sedentary population to find clothes that fit properly? and even more so because I like clothes in which I can climb a tree (this post is about whether you can climb a tree in what you wear and gives no consideration to whether you'll flash your knickers or not so skirts are also included in my consideration).

For example - I haven't been able to wear a proper shirt for years. Darts are very rarely added to the back of women's shirts. If I stand with my arms at my sides the shirt fits fine but if I reach for anything I feel like The Incredible Hulk undergoing transformation from man to green dude. The back pulls, the sleeves ride up... two little darts would go a long way to improving the fit.

And jeans and pants... oh dear! I don't like my jeans so high that they're under my armpits nor so low that I dare not sit down. My BIG gripe is that the length from the crotch seam to below your belly button should be shorter than the length from the crotch seam to the back of your pants, over your bottom. Very common problem. Goodness, where did those designers go to college?

My statement-by-which-all-clothing-must-be-considered is really useful to determine yes-and-no garment selections. All I've got to ask myself as I jump around in the change room is, "Can I climb a tree in it?". So simple really ;)

Monday 13 February 2012

Colours from Jan

I made these all in January-ish; in between blanket missioning. Tonight was 'implementation' night for my first yarn bombing item -  a Valentine's Day themed band for a stop sign in my neighbourhood.

The little hearts (turned into keyrings) were made for the girls in my Monday night dance class (they received them tonight).

One of the coloured puffs - with keyring - was given to my dear friend -  a bit of light and colour to brighten her days after a rough time recently. The other is a bit too big for a keyring and I'm not sure what to do with it...

And, the tin covered in the flowery and colourful wrap now resides on my mom's desk at work for her paperclips.

Thursday 9 February 2012

Colours go to new owners

My cousin, Sandy, helps at a non-profit organisation that works with abandoned, abused, neglected (and all those other apt, negative words) children. She has been with Magical Moments for years and when I recently told her about my crochet blankets that needed a home (I've battled to get hold of the guy who ran the blanket collection two years ago), she said that she'd take them. I passed them on this weekend and they made it just in time for their 'Market Day', which was held at Lulamani Day Care.

This seems like quite a fun concept where they give the children a packet of Magical Moments money, which the children then use to purchase various items. My cousin's garage had been bursting with toys - all brand new after she received a call from Makro just before xmas. They were getting rid of old stock and wanted to donate the toys. It wasn't just a car load but a truck load of toys! These were available on 'Market Day' too. Magical Moments also has treats and other gifts that the children could purchase from the 'Magical Moments spaza'.

These are some pics of my knitted/crochet items with their new owners. I am grinning from ear to ear this morning - absolutely delighted that items I so enjoyed making (and learning how to make) now have a home and seeing these pictures makes me want to get cracking on more goodies to send through with Sandy. What joy this has brought me today.

Knitted beanie with big pom=pom

Knitted beanie with pom-pom 'ears' (it's back to front... there are little flowers on the other side)
and in the background are other little round crochet critters in the children's hands.

Ripple blanket, the green friendly monster and a green-blue-and-orange goldfish
Nap time with green monster and colourful granny square blankie
Photos by Ilana from the Magical Moments Facebook page.

Monday 6 February 2012

Sasol Half

I ran my first road half marathon for the year on Saturday. There's definitely a bonus running on a Saturday morning rather than a Sunday morning - it just feels right and once the run is done then you've still got the rest of the weekend ahead of you for play.

Fred, Michael and I drove through to Sasolburg on Friday night. We decided to rather stay over than leaving just after 4am on Saturday morning to be there in good time for the 6am start. What a good idea that was because the added benefit was an early night - at home there are too many distractions and things to do. It wasn't painful waking up at 5am after an almost eight-hour sleep.

I first ran the Sasolburg 21km in 1999. It was my second half marathon, two weeks after the Bedfordview 21. A varsity friend was working at Sasol and he told me about the run. The various divisions man the water points and he would be at one of them. I had a super run and returned the following year to run the marathon, which is still my one-and-only road marathon to date. Back then I was fast, running a 3:29 marathon and placing 3rd lady (I won R75 - now 3rd place gets R800).

The race was much smaller then and I remember the festive water points. Each division selects a theme and they all dress up. I've heard that there's a competition for the best water point / costumes.

Although not as dress-up as 12 years ago, I liked the superhero station (cool superhero costumes) and the beach-themed one with little beach buckets and spades lined up along the middle of the road. Also saw some beach towels. Actually, I think there were two beach themed stations.

Fred and I ran the half together; Michael and Tommy ran the marathon (a double lapper). While the other two were still running Fred and I headed back to the b&b to shower and have breakfast. We returned to the race with my camera so I could practice this week's homework - panning. Got some nice shots and with the continuous stream of runners I could just click away.

Tommy in the top row; Michael in the middle row;
and then Fred, Michael and me in the bottom photo.
Whenever I do road races I remember how much fun they are an vow to do more. Always such a good vibe and these races barely impact your time as they're run early in the morning. Fred and I were done by 8am. Well, let's see. Tons of choice with races every weekend. Would be good to use my race number this year more than twice, which is how many road races I did last year!

Friday 3 February 2012

Career counselling with AdventureLisa

I recently connected with an old friend from varsity/underwater hockey days. He's been in computers/programming/IT for at least two decades - like back when he had to build his own computers and Windows 3.1 hadn't been launched.

He tells of his complete change in career direction - into green plumbing and energy management plus a few extras. He's busy with courses and certifications. He adds, "Not sure where this is headed but sure is a lot more fun than sitting in front of a computer".

I'm so with him! The way that my work has evolved means that I do 99% of stuff on my computer. Emails, writing articles/releases, communicating, websites, graphic design, organising... everything on this machine. Even social and play elements - writing blogs, drawing maps, catching up with friends. Indeed, many days I'm on it for more than 13 hours a day! That's just silly, but has to be done (this is another reason why I took up crochet - to keep me off this computer).

If I was a career counsellor I'd focus on lifestyle ambitions not only aptitudepersonalityinterests and skills. Sadly, a teenager doesn't yet know what kind of work lifestyle they'd like and too many are pushed into traditionally respectable tertiary studies. I'm all for practical jobs that draw on a little bit of this and a little bit of that and not just 90-100% sit-on-your-butt-looking-at-a-screen careers.

Not always easy to make big changes and probably risky in the beginning but a great thing to do. Start re-skilling now through part-time courses and studies so when you've had enough of sitting behind a computer you're equipped to make that jump (and please encourage your children to keep a foot on both sides of the doorway by developing practical, manual skills as well as computer prowess).

Thursday 2 February 2012

Say NO to hot cross buns in February!

I have absolutely no religious sentiment when it comes to the Christian holidays of Easter and Xmas. Easter is hot cross buns and Easter eggs; xmas is about hot summer days and an opportunity to catch up with friends and family.

Two weeks before Easter I like to see the Easter displays in malls (there used to be such good ones when I was a child), grab a bunch of strips of the chocolate marshmallow eggs (with yolk, no funny flavours and Beacon only!) and a box of the white eggs. And when I walk past the bakery section in the supermarket, I like to be tantalised by the aroma of hot cross bunnies. <- from a joke when I was a child "What do you get when you pour boiling water down a rabbit hole? A hot, cross bunny"

At xmas time, I like the tinsel and decorations in malls, lights on houses and fairy lights everywhere. I can never get enough of fairy lights. And there's that end-of-year, holiday vibe happening. Last year I was appalled to see xmas decorations up in OCTOBER! They gonna try get them up for August this year? Shopping malls, 1st December. That's the only time I want to start to see decorations going up.

This year Easter falls over 6-9 April. Today is 2 February and there are hot cross buns and Easter eggs on display in my local Pick 'n Pay. It is abominable! I pulled out my phone to take a photo and a P'nP guy asked me whether I liked and I replied, "It is the second of February!". He responded, "We're starting early". In fact, my mom told me last week that she'd seen hot cross buns in the Bedford Centre branch last week.

And so he got a brief marketing lecture on products and occasions being special and that if they've got hot cross buns available for the next two and a bit months (and post-Easter too) then what's special about that. Where's the buzz of rushing in to get a pack of freshly baked, aromatic buns in the week or so before Easter - because that's the only time of year that you can get them. These buns are just that - they've gone from a special treat to ordinary.

I totally get the commercialisation of occasions (Valentine's, Easter, Mother's Day, Father's Day, Woman's Day, Xmas etc.) but this is pushing it.

So, I want to ask you and your friends and your relative and cousins and colleagues to say NO to this ridiculous bringing forward and de-specialising of holidays. Don't buy into it. Please do not purchase any Easter-related products until late-March. Save the special-ness of spicy, cinnamon-y hot cross bunnies for Easter and absolutely enjoy them then.

The weeks and months pass swiftly enough - we really don't need Easter in Feb.

P.S. Yes, I'm drafting a letter to Pick 'n Pay.