Plato, Aristotle, and Your Fitness

What a title, right? 

Before you turn your nose up at a dry, academic, metaphysical interpretation of wellness in modern society, give me a chance to break this one down.

… And use it at your next dinner party, you’ll sound super smart.

Aristotle and Plato were two brilliant men who came to two very different interpretations on the nature of things.
Plato, with a heavy affinity for idealism, came to understand things as innate, free-floating ideas from which all variations were derived.
Aristotle with a passion for logic and metaphysics, came to understand the opposite -that the idea of things was composed of our embodied experiences with all of the things we categorize as “similar to”.

Modern Wellness Culture, as it stands, walks a fine line between these two approaches. If I were to ask you which of these philosophers’ ideas of “thingness” you agreed with, most of you would probably agree with Aristotle.

Where I think we start to trip up, and where I find my clients often get confused, is when we talk about wellness. How often have you heard the phrase, “this is supposed to be super good for you,” or  its million variants?  It is an incredibly platonic phrase. It assumes that there is some sort of innate wellness smoothie floating in the sky from which we can derive wellness upon consumption.

Do you see the problem?

Here’s an example from my life:
My little brother and I have great fights about what’s healthy and our conversation looks like this…

Him: “Tell me something healthy I can have for dinner.” <-Plato
Me: “I dunno, what did you do/eat today?” <-Aristotle
Him: “Just tell me what to eat, K?” <- Stubborn little brother who is sick of Aristotle

Just because something makes sense for me, doesn’t mean it automatically makes sense for you. Somehow, even though we agree with Aristotle, we talk about wellness as though we were more aligned with Plato. Next time you catch yourself talking about something’s healthfulness, ask yourself, are you Plato? Or are you Aristotle?

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My Body Couture and Model Intentions

Guys, it’s Facebook official, Model Intentions and My Body Couture are tying the knot.

Janis and I are each others’ fitness yin and yang, and after years of banter and working together, we’ve decided to “get serious” and move in together.

Model Intentions will continue to be my brand, blog, newsletter, and calendar for all rowing, modeling, and group fitness events. So, please, continue to follow along!

For you, this move in means two things:
-an increase in super cool offerings and access to more practicioners
– expedited results (in one location with only one set of paper work! Yaaaaas)

So, follow along at:
https://www.facebook.com/mybodycouture/
https://twitter.com/MyBodyCouture
and Insta, we promise, will be up and running soon.

Xo
Danika

Want to Make: greater than or equal to Want to Eat

Thank you people for continuing to inspire me to write cool things about the culture of wellness and how we participate in it. On to this blog’s topic…

A recurring conversation that I have is:
Friend, “Well, what do you eat?”
Me, “Honestly? I just eat what I want.”
Friend, “Lucky!”
Me, “Noooo, not really.”
Friend, “If I ate what I wanted, I’d just eat junk.”
Me, “Noooo, I don’t think you would.”

I feel that quite often there is a fundamental misunderstanding over what we want to eat and what we want to make to eat. 

You and your body are super smart (most of the time).
You and your body probably agree on what you want to eat more often than you think you do. What you might disagree on is how much time and effort you are willing to put in to nourishing yourself.

If you had a world class chief and a cornucopia of amazing foods available to you at all times… Would you really only eat that giant bag of potato chips for supper?

Maybe. Maayyyyybe once in a blue moon… after having run an ultra marathon or something.

Really, it’s far more likely that you’d order something delicious, that met all your cravings and needs… and then you might add on a small snack after supper of something sweet or salty (depending on your leanings).

Please, toss that self-depricating language in the garbage; you’re better than that.

If you ate what you wanted, I’m certain you’d eat far better than you think you would; you might just need to do a little clarification.
Next time you’re getting ready to nosh, clarify what it is that you’re doing. Are you eating what it is that you want? Or are you making what it is that you’re willing to make?

Is “wanting to make” greater than or equal to “wanting to eat”?

Healthful Holidays

Managing your expectations for the holidays, and yourself, is always an interesting exercise in reflexivity.

My first instinct is to string up all the lights, bake all the cookies, attend all the parties, write all the cards and doing all the day dreaming…. while still eating mindfully and working out regularly.

And sometimes, I manage to do it all.
Most of the time, this is at the expense of my partner’s sanity (thanks, manfriend; sorry, manfriend).

So, first and foremost, let’s address the thing that will set us up for failure or success, our calendars. 

It’s important to decide which activities this holiday season are most important to you. If it’s the special holiday events that make you sparkle most, jot those into your day planner first. If it’s maintaining your workout regime or diet, plot out the time to address those priorities first.

If you decide that the holidays have precedence, even to the “detriment” of your exercise practices, stick to it. Have the Holiday-est Holiday anyone has ever seen. See:  To Exercise or Not

Once you’ve set up your calendar to reflect the time needed to do the thing you value most, season it with everything else. If your work, yoga, gym and cardio mean you’re often up early and putting in long days, then that should be the bulk of your calendar soup. Add in your holiday adventures in a way that won’t impede the lifestyle you want to have, for example:
If yoga class is at 5:30 am Monday morning, it is unlikely that I will eat particularly poorly or stay up late at a Christmas party Sunday night.

However, if it is my best friend’s Christmas party and I can’t imagine missing it, I will reschedule yoga for another day that week… or even just drop it. There’s no point in setting my alarm clock for 4:45 and then feeling the fatigue and guilt of not going for hours afterwards.

So, be honest with yourself and what you care about and don’t be afraid to drop the ball on certain things. They are, after all, your holidays. You should do with them as you please.

Wellness is not Separate

“I could never do that”
“I’m going on a diet” 
“I’m trying to eat clean”
“I went for a run today”
“New day, new you”

We are inundated with messages of wellness as other, or separate, from normal/average practices. We speak of clean eating as though everyone else is eating dirt, we speak of making exercise changes as if what we were doing before was absolute inactivity, we give up “bad habits” for “good” ones.

What if this forced dichotomy isn’t quite true?

What if real, sustainable wellness comes in the form of noshing on beaver tails while walking around the zoo?

Although we talk about lifestyle blogs, urban and rural lifestyles, athletic lifestyles, student lifestyles and many other descriptor variants of “lifestyle,” the idea of lifestyle rarely seems to encapsulate what, by definition, a life style is.
The pursuit of health or wellness is a component of many different lifestyles but, it is rarely (with the obvious exception of athletes) considered as an integral component of absolutely everything that an individual is already doing.

So, dodge that diet change and skip the guilt trip about the gym and start unpacking all of the ways that you pursue wellness in your day to day life.

For me, it involves not only my identity as an athlete but my decision to cook my food from scratch, my walks with my dog, walking to work, being obsessed with tea, gardening in the evening with my partner and running away to play in the mountains as frequently as possible.

With all that on my plate, it hardly matters (from a wellness perspective) if I miss a date at the gym.

Guest Blogger, Jessie Cuthbert: Sulphites are best saved for wine

Last week I reached out to my childhood friend and neighbour, Jessie Cuthbert, a fabulous Chef based out of Winnipeg, Manitoba. This girl has taken her current restaurant, Bellissimo, by storm; fine tuning specials and garnering adoration from clients and food critics alike. When I asked her if there were any topics surrounding food that she’d like to address, I offered her a couple of examples… to which she replied, “Oh no, I already know what I’d like to write about.”

So, with out further pause, Jessie Cuthbert:

The first TV dinner ever was created in the 1960’s by Swanson and sold over 10 million units in their first year. It has since grown and morphed into a wide variety of sulphite, preservative, and saturated fat laden products. Yum. Sure, it’s convenient, cheap, and fast (which I guess is the same as convenient…); but what are the effects it’s having on our culture, our bodies, and our mind set? Ok maybe TV dinners as a threat to society as we know it is a bit extreme, but when it comes to pre-made vs. homemade, are we making the right choice?

As a Chef I like to imagine people have limitless time to cook up these fabulous, and healthy meals for their families every night. As a person who works 45 hours+ a week I understand the need for a quick, easy meal. So, why not reach for that delicious looking turkey dinner in it’s neat little compartments? Glad you asked! A standard “lean” pre-made meal boasts 15% saturated fat per 250 g serving. Now, if that’s not enough to make you put down the box, think of the sulphites (sulfites)! If you are asthmatic, this can be a serious health concern for you; you need to stay away from sulphite-rich foods/drinks. If you are not asthmatic, chances are you would rather do as I do and save your preservative intake for wine.

In the past 10 years a rash of sulphite allergies/sensitivities have sent many to hospital prompting regulations to be put in place to reduce the risk. However, pre-made meals are full of them, and while I personally haven’t felt any adverse issues with them yet, I’d rather limit my intake where possible.

So, I guess what I’m trying to say is: wouldn’t a meal plan be better?
Planning your meals means that you produce less waste, save money and can better prepare your meals in advance so that they really are as convenient as store bought pre-made foods.

Cook your own food and know what’s going in it. Cooking gives you and your family the opportunity to learn and be creative together. I don’t know about you, but working alongside my mom and my grandma on those day to day meals are how learned to cook.

So, if I were to say anything on the topic of lifestyle and food, I’d say: Get out there and cook! And drink wine!
But, that’s just one person’s opinion.

I’m eating dinner: The process of food selection at restaurants

Somewhere in the middle of my partner and I’s relationship we discovered that we were really different about how we approach eating food at restaurants.

I mean, yeah, I knew that I was a vegetarian and he was not but, it went way beyond that.
When we’d stop for a bite to eat at a pub/ restaurant after a day of hiking I’d eat dinner… and he’d eat at a restaurant.
It sounds a bit funny to phrase it that way but, it’s the best I’ve got.

I would eat something akin to what I would make myself for a meal and he would “splurge” on something that he’d never make at home. I’m not talking technically difficult food here, I’m talking deep fried fries, burgers, deep fried fish, wings/ ribs… things soaked in salts, fats, sauces and what ever else goes into meat things (I confess my ignorance here).

If I made something like that at home, he’d tease me relentlessly about my poor taste in food. 

But somewhere in our brains, I’d maintained what I considered as a stable entity for meal appropriate food and he’d created a subsection for what one eats at a restaurant.
Therefore, I eat like I do at home and he eats restaurant food.
The excess of food consumed, not only because of portion size but, because of the nature of what his brain had categorized as food that is appropriate to eat in a restaurant setting meant, that the different caloric intake between our two meals was huge!

If you’re a super busy person like me who often needs to supplement her packed meals with something purchased, eating out a lot can really add up on your waistline.
When I go to a restaurant, I look at the menu and ask myself, “What do I want for dinner?”
Try it out, see if it helps 🙂