Pescetarian… and so what?

Last month I attended “Feira Alternativa” in Lisbon, an event dedicated to the well being, personal growth, healing and health matters. At his speech “Shamanism, the individual, the tribe and the Earth”, António Paiva challenged the crowd to rethink how can we use the death of animals to feed our own life. Death-Life.

At the age of 15, I became what they call “pescetarian”. You may be wondering “What do you mean, pescetarian?”. Pescetarianism, or pesco-vegetarianism, is a branch of vegetarianism which one cuts out red meat and poultry from the diet (like vegetarians), but does not cut out fish and seafood.

When I made the decision, family and friends couldn’t understand my reasons. Even today, people often ask me “Why are you doing that? I couldn’t live without meat!”.

Here are 3 arguments I use to defend this life-changing decision:

1. Benefits our planet

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Based on Cowspiracy documentary (2014), below find a few facts about animal agriculture we must reflect about:

  • 45% of the Earth’s land mass is used for animal agriculture;
  • Uses 55% of the water in the USA;
  • It’s the source of 51% of all greenhouse gases;
  • It’s the lead cause of deforestation, water pollution and species extinction.

2. Less animal cruelty

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Most of people have an idea about what’s behind of the doors of slaughterhouses of cows, pigs, chickens and turkeys. However, it’s comfortable not to think of it. It’s not about death itself, but all the process until it gets to our plates. I find it against nature.

3. Health is the priority

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“What about fish?”. What about vegetarians who need to take fish oil capsules to maintain their level of omega-3 acids? Keeping fish in your diet gives you more alternatives and freedom to have a balanced diet. Moreover, eating with pleasure feeds your mind and soul, I believe.
Your intentions with worldwide problems may be good, but an unbalanced diet may be the reflection of an unbalanced life. Doing good to yourself is the first step to do something good for the world.

Then I ask again… What did REALLY make me change the way I was eating everyday?

The answer is simple: the gut feeling, or instinct.

Although I see truth in the 3 given arguments, I must confess that it’s not the whole story. The shift happened when I felt that I don’t need meat anymore. It’s like your body is rejecting something and you’re not sure why.

What I want to share with you is that we should be authentic with ourselves. We tend to underestimate decisions based on our intuition because we cannot clearly justify them. What we are really doing is to give an answer that satisfies and makes sense to the listener.

I’m not trying to convince anyone to change their diet. We live in a world of diversity and it’s one of its beauties. 🙂

Enjoy your Sunday!

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5 Reasons to practice Ashtanga Yoga

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Yoga is a well-known word from our vocabulary. But do we really know what yoga means?

Giving it a try was in my bucket list for years. When I was in India, once my flatmates and I woke up at 5 am to have a yoga class in the rooftop. Chennai, Yoga & Sunrise. Everything was looking pretty. Since I’m as flexible as a stick, I wasn’t convinced.

A few months later, back to Portugal, the family doctor, knowing my entire historical issues, directly asked me: “Did you ever try yoga?”. “This is it!” I thought.

Next week I was having my first class in Casa Vinyasa. It was love at the first practice.

Literally, Ashtanga Yoga means 8 (=Asta) limbs (=Anga), which are:

Yamah (Social codes)
Niyamah (Personal observances)
Asana (Posture)
Pranayama (Breathing exercises)
Pratyahara (Withdrawing of the sences)
Dharana (Concentration)
Dhyana (Meditation)
Samadhi (Self Realization)

Since yoga came into my life  I may say that I became a happier person. Let me tell you why.

  1.  It’s for everyone

    Doesn’t matter if you’re men or woman, young or old, sick or healthy. Or if you have a busy life, not a fan of vegetarian food or if you don’t see yourself as a spiritual being. Ashtanga Yoga is a path to your own truth, a journey that awakes the inner wisdom, not forcefully a lifestyle. It’s never too late to begin to save some time for yourself. The only thing you need is discipline and a burning desire to push yourself forwards.

  2. Clarity of mind

    Choosing between green or blue was never so easy. The answer is always with you because, more than ever, you know what you need, what you want and what you are. You may not know the exactly next step, but the vision about yourself becomes clearer. Also, helps you with concentration and balance.

  3. Discover your deep emotions

    Each asana touches you in a different way. One year after I began my practice, there was a certain asana that was making me cry. Seriously. I thought I was feeling perfectly fine in that period – but then I realized I was NOT. There’s no way to escape from your emotions because yoga, sometimes, shows you what you wish you had forget. Afterwards, it was a cleansing.

  4. Being at your perfect state of body

    After my first ever Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga class, I noticed what, at the time, was quite shocking to me: I couldn’t find pleasure in smoking cigarettes anymore. Moreover, I got aware that I was eating what my body was asking for. It’s not only about getting in shape. It’s about learning to love and respect your body. I’m not forcing myself to eat healthy, it just comes naturally.

  5. Self Realization

    Dedicating 1 hour of your day to Ashtanga Yoga will turn the tables… for the good. The bridge between who you are and who you want to become gets shorter day by day. There’s a boost of energy and well-being which reminds me the childish gut feeling that makes you see a world of abundance and possibilities to embrace. It’s when your Mind, Body and Soul answer as One.

If you’re living in Lisbon, I strongly recommend you to try a class in Casa Vinyasa. It’s amazing how Isa, Liz, Ana and Stefanie can make you feel like home and teach you skills to carry along the way. I see CV as a shala made of beautiful souls freely expressing themselves as human beings. There’s something in the air. Something very special. From the bottom of my heart, THANK YOU.

“Ashtanga Yoga is 99% Practice 1% theory.”

Sri K Pattabhi Jois

Watch Your Back

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Sharing Dancing In The Rain with people from the hospital is one of my goals for our blog. Therefore, I did this craft so they can have it in the rooms. On the back of the paper is the blog’s link for the patients to pull the piece and take it home.

It’s also a metaphor to aware everyone to literally watch their back.

 Marketing is my background, I can’t help it… 🙂

The First Fortnight – Checked!

When I first heard about the consequences of the Pilonidal Cyst excision I was terrified. Nurses (believe me, I met many of them) warned me about how painful and ugly it would be. Lucky me, the doctor made the closed wound method, so in 3 weeks after the surgery I would be totally recovered.

What happened next is another story. I knew that the chances of getting it infected were high. I tried visualization technique and I hoped for the best. It didn’t work: some things are meant to be. And it gave me the strength for writing this Blog. 🙂

The good news is that each person has their own reaction to pain. Plus, each tail has their own personality and shape. This hasn’t been the nightmare I pictured.

It’s been 2 weeks since they opened the wound and I don’t walk like a pregnant woman anymore. Actually, sometimes I forget what’s behind the gauze.

These are my Top 5 learning points.

  1. Stay Positive

    Your mind can have a powerful effect on your body. Researches found that activation in brain areas associated with negative emotions led to a weaker immune response. Another healthy benefits associated with optimism include a reduced risk of death from cardiovascular problems, less depression, improved stress management and an increased lifespan. Complaining won’t help. Instead, focus on what YOU CAN do. Do you remember the book you wanted to read but you’ve never took the time?

  2. “U” Shaped Pillow

    After the surgery, sitting is one of the biggest challenges. If you’re standing and/or kneeling to eat, don’t worry – it’s normal. Nurses advised me to buy the so-called coccyx cushion to relieve the pressure on the butt. You can easily find them on amazon.com. Personally, I didn’t buy one because I don’t need it. What I do is to put a soft pillow inside a cloth bag and carry it everywhere. How fashion.

  3. Tiger Balm Hero

    Skin isn’t happy about changing the gauze once a day. In order to avoid the scratching, I tried ice, aloe vera gel and hydrating cream. The result was pretty much the same (ok, ice is good but we have to hold it for the whole time – boring). Until one night, Tiger Balm white (contains menthol and eucalyptus oils) became my best friend. I used it for mosquitos bites, congestion and even to handle the warm weather in India. But never for this. Why not? This is so refreshing! Oh, and if you feel comfortable, ask someone to clean the skin when changing the gauze. Small details make big differences.

  4. Kill the Pain 

    Taking a pill (metamizol/nolotil) one hour before the gauze change is a good idea. If your stomach is sensitive, try something softer like ben-u-ron or natural remedies. I haven’t taken pain killers for the past 2 days and I feel ok. However, if it hurts too much, please take it in advance. Pain creates anxiety and stress, which delays wound healing.

  5. Get rid of it as soon as you can 

    The later you get the operation, the bigger the cyst becomes. And the bigger the cyst becomes… More pain you’ll feel, the fear of the wound size will swallow you and the longest it will take to recover. Running away is easier, but not the smartest.

I’m having the best treatment I could expect. Nurses are taking care of me like angels.

I hope this helps. We all made it through and so will you.

Love,
Juma

Foods with Super-healing Powers

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If you’ve been an active person for most of your life, suddenly finding yourself a patient can be demoralizing. I’ve never imagined to need my mom to wash my hair again. It happens and, somehow, it gives me a warm feeling in my belly.

After surgery, pills, fatigue and complications can make eating unappealing (in my case the story is different: I started to eat like a whale). Though recovery process is different for everyone, good nutrition can speed wound healing, improve immunity and ensure the best outcome.

The type of operation isn’t important, the body always requires extra nutrients to heal. Focusing on nutrition can mean the difference between bouncing back and a lengthy recovery.

According to my research, this is the must list of a diet after surgery.

ProteinRequired to repair tissue, slow muscle catabolism and decrease the inflammatory phase.

  • Gelatin (jelly, agar agar, pectin)
  • Legumes (beans, lentils, chickpeas)
  • Nuts & Seeds (peanuts, almonds, walnuts, pistachios, quinoa, chia seeds)
  • Tofu & Soy Products (soy milk, soy ice cream, soy yogurt, tempeh)
  • Wheat protein (seitan, veggie burgers)

Vitamin A: Stimulates the early inflammatory resonse to healing.

  • Fruits (mango, papaya, tomato)
  • Vegetables (carrot, sweet potato, spinach, pumpkin)
  • Eggs

Vitamin C: Needed to make collagen, it is an antioxidant and thought to strengthen the connective tissue in skin, muscle, and blood vessels.

  • Fruits (orange, kiwi, papaya, guava, strawberry, pineapple)
  • Vegetables (pepper, broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprout, pea)

Selenium: Reduces edema (swelling) and inflammation.

  • Nuts (Brazil nuts, cashew, walnut)
  • Fish (tuna, sardines, salmon, halibut)
  • Seafood (oyster, mussels, squid, lobster, shrimp)
  • Grains (wheat germ, barley, brown rice, oats)
  • Seeds (sunflower, sesame, pumpkin)

In the picture above there’s my first homemade jelly. I added one peach and a teaspoon of chia seeds.

Creativity knows no boundaries. Have fun!

Love,
Juma

Life is a Journey

I was luckly born with an extra: a tail (aka Sr. Pilonidal Cyst). Not the Sangoku type.

It isn’t one thing that you want to keep as a memory. When it gets infected, it’s literally a “pain in the butt”!

Best solution? To excise. Method? Open wound. Time recovery? Two months, at least.

Among others, these are some implications of the post-op:

  1. Daily nurse visits;
  2. Sponge bath;
  3. No Yoga;
  4. Pain killers;
  5. Find ways to keep active!

It was now or never.

In the beginning of June (2014) I said “yes” to my tail farewell. My summer plans were suspended, but my life wishes are stronger than ever.

Before I get in touch with the hospital, I didn’t realize how common pilonidal cyst is. So I’m sharing this situation not only to motivate/inspire others who may be going through the same, but also to find how to make the best lemonade out of green lemons.

In the meantime, I’ll keep dancing. Life is your creation.

With love,

Juma