Month: November 2015

I Tried It: Improving My Knife Skills

When you cook, a good knife or set of knives is really important. And they must be sharp. I learned this the hard way when I sliced my finger open trying to cut through a particularly tough sweet potato. It was there and then, I […]

Stories I loved this week.

Photo by Death to Stock Photo + Mumsy A great reminder of the importance of the lymph system and some wonderful tips on how to get it moving, as we head into cold and flu season. (The Chalkboard) Did you know that perfectly healthy and […]

What I’m Reading: Year of Yes

Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes

If you haven’t already, add Year of Yes to your Christmas list. I ripped through this book in two evenings, stopping only for sleep, childcare, cooking and studying.

Before I go on, I have to say that I am a HUGE fan of Shonda Rhimes. She’s responsible for Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal, two of my favourite shows, as well as #TGIT (Thank God It’s Thursday), the amazing Thursday night programming block on ABC in the US.

Year of Yes is a fascinating read. At first sight, based on her body of work and the level of success she’s achieved, you’d expect Shonda (we’re on a first name basis :)) to be hugely extroverted, taking no prisoners in her personal and professional lives. We soon find out that she is hugely introverted, gradually retreating into herself and her work as she becomes more and more successful. She is forced to face this reality when her older sister confronts her and says,

“You are your own boss – your job is only as busy as you make it. But you never do anything but work. You never have any fun. You used to have so much fun. Now, all of these amazing opportunities are coming your way – once in a lifetime opportunities – and you aren’t taking advantage of any of them. Why?”

Shonda realises that she has to find herself again and saying yes to everything will help her do this. I’ll let you read the book to find out what she did in her ‘Year of Yes’ and how she challenged herself to get out of her introvert comfort zone, to say yes to being healthy, to say yes to saying no and to say yes to who she is.

This wonderful book reminded me that it’s so easy for a routine to turn into a comfort zone, which can then turn into a rut.

I love routine and I am such a creature of habit, so I need to remember to keep challenging myself – with my social life, my studies and with exercise.  So I’m going to say yes to more, even if it makes me nervous (ahem, another Barry’s Bootcamp class!?!).

I’m also going to continue to say yes to being happy, yes to feeling bien dans ma peau, yes to enjoying my little family and yes to experiences, not material things.

What are you going to say yes to?

Stories I loved this week.

Photo by Jeremy Bishop It’s been a tough, emotional week. Sometimes it’s difficult not to feel powerless in the face of such terrible tragedy in the world. But there are little things that you can do – winter is coming, so coats and blankets are needed. […]

On eating meat.

Photo by Benjamin Faust Meat has gotten a bad rap recently. The World Health Organisation announced that they now rank bacon, ham and sausages alongside cigarettes as a major cause of cancer. They also placed fresh red meat in the group 2A category, a categorisation that suggests […]

Stories I loved this week.

photo-1446933810843-52d1ae9be86b

Photo by Lauren Peng

How’s your week been? It’s been a week of full-time studying and stay-at-home mothering and it feels good. Can you believe we only have six weeks until Christmas? Then that lovely two week break, full of family, food, wine and relaxation. It’s going to be great.

I’ve really been enjoying the series going through each of the Four Tendencies on Gretchen Rubin’s podcast. Are you an Upholder, Questioner or Obliger? Stay tuned for this week’s podcast on the last tendency, Rebels. (Happier)

An interesting human perspective on the many food delivery services that have been cropping up recently. (The Atlantic)

Have you been watching Masters of None? So refreshing to see such a diverse cast in a New York comedy. (Netflix)

A great infographic on mindful eating. Have you tried eating with your non-dominant hand? (Summer Tomato)

Speaking of mindfulness, could you be mindful at the gym? This could’ve been useful for me this week during my brutal session at Barry’s Bootcamp. (Well + Good)

I Tried It: Barry’s Bootcamp

Barry’s Bootcamp has been on my fitness to-do list for ages, but it’s taken me a while to ‘gee’ myself up to try it out.  Any workout that combines treadmill sprints (not my favourite, at the best of times) and strength training is always going […]

Stories I loved this week.

Photo by Austin Schmid Thursday was my last day at my freelance job and I feel like the person in the picture. Jumping for joy and ready to take on new challenges. I’m looking forward to taking the time to find a new contract, getting a […]

I Tried It: DNA Testing

sand

Photo by Tim de Groot

Have you tried DNA testing yet? I have and I find it utterly fascinating.

23andMe, the American company started by Anne Wojcicki, the ex-wife of Sergei Brin, one of Google’s co-founders, was the vanguard in the mainstream take up of DNA testing. And it’s so easy to do (and available in Superdrug in the UK!). Just a spit into a tube, send it off and a few weeks later, a full analysis of your health (risks, responses to certain drugs, inherited conditions and traits) and ancestry appears on your online 23andMe dashboard.

It’s compelling stuff. And if you have the stomach, you can find out what your risks are for common and complex diseases, such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and type 2 diabetes. It goes without saying that are many ethical issues surrounding the disclosure of this sort of information without an intermediary to explain – here’s a good overview. I took the plunge and chose to reveal the risks, because like the Questioner I am, I like having all of the available information about a subject to hand in order to make a decision.

The ancestor analysis is equally fascinating. I found out that my mixed race heritage is much more diverse that I thought. It’s roughly 49% European, 46.6% Sub-Saharan African, 2% Native American & East Asian, 0.4% Ashkenazi and the rest is unassigned.

If you want to do a deeper dive into your genome, there are services like Genetic Genie that will take your 23andMe data and give you more specific health information, such as your methylation and detox profile. According to their analysis, I don’t have any MTHFR mutations but I do have heterozygous mutations in several genes that support methylation and detoxification. I’m genuinely looking forward to finding out more about what this means and what I can do to support methlyation and detoxification in my body.

If you’re more interested in your genetic response to nutrition and fitness, DNAFit is a good service. They sent me a comprehensive report telling me that I have a fast post exercise recovery response, medium endurance exercise is best for me, and I’m slower to clear free radicals, i.e. detox, so I have a raised requirement for dietary antioxidants and omega-3s.

For the average person, all of this information can feel overwhelming, which is why it’s important to find a trained professional to help guide your interpretation of the genetic data.

The emerging field of epigenetics tells us that nature and nurture both have an effect on your genes, but that you can make lifestyle and dietary changes that can make a difference. Within epigenetics, the field of nutrigenomics is what I’m most interested in – the effect that food and supplements can have on your genetic expression. Can the foods you eat change your genes? This is exciting stuff that is on the ‘bleeding edge’ of nutrition. Dave Asprey is doing some great work in this area.

Have you done any DNA testing? What did you think?