Tag Archives: Travel

Not settling

Hi everyone!

Times have been wild since I have last written. I have been working at the same primary care medical practice, went backpacking solo through Argentina, Bolivia, and Peru, completed a part time post-bachelors program, and have been experimenting with some other projects and goals. ;)

My two year anniversary at the practice is coming up soon, and I have been thinking a lot about what I have learned. My role has been something similar to a health coach, and I have worked with patients with a wide variety of conditions, goals, and personalities. These are people that are both just like you, and not at all, coming from every stage and experience of life.

I am fortunate to be able to get to know patients on a very personal level. I learn their stories, understand their environment, and listen to their struggles, triumphs and goals. This is one side of the equation of their reality. The other side is genetics and epigenetics (the nature in nature vs. nurture). All of these factors converge into a complex web that determines their health and disease state at the present moment.

You cannot know 95% of these things when you look at a person on the street or meet them at an event. It would be hard to know most of this stuff even if you had been known them for years, unless you have a medical background and ask a lot of personal questions… Being able to see how each side of a person, including their genetic and environmental history, lifestyle choices, motivators and challenges, interrelates with their medical pathophysiology has increased my compassion for others and understanding of the amount of power that people actually have to change.

It isn’t just medical conditions that have complex roots; it is every aspect of a person. Their personality, quirks, habits, and choices are all influenced by a multitude of factors. For example…

  • Mood disturbances and mental disorders are tied to neurotransmitter imbalances in the brain, which could be genetic, environmental, chemical, or even nutrition related (not adequate intake of necessary precursors)
  • People have varying levels of pain perception and stress tolerance due to stress exposure in utero
  • Overweight people may be more susceptible to overeating due to low dopamine or altered gut bacteria (ex: h. pylori in excess results in stomach ulcers, but a deficiency leads to a lack of leptin, which is responsible for satiety)
  • Sexual orientation and gender identity is influenced by the hormonal exposure in utero (and theoretically there are external factors that can alter this hormonal environment)
  • It is theorized that some mental issues, including chronic anxiety and poor self esteem, are related to lack of parental attachment in early life
  • Our diets play massive roles in our mood, energy level, sleep, immunity, health, weight, and daily choices. And our diets are massively influenced by our geography, early life experiences, parenting, and socioeconomic past and status.
  • Habitual drug or alcohol use can create a cycle involving neurotransmitters that makes it very difficult to break free of (but also- what spurred the first use? )

I think recognition of the influential unknowns also has huge implications for how we interpret and interact with others. With the understanding that each individual is the outcome of an extremely complex web of factors and events, we can have a bit more compassion for our fellow human beings . We are constantly being influenced and changing, and we can’t know what all of those factors are for ourselves (let alone others). More compassion from the acceptance of our ignorance and the complexity of nature v. nurture interactions, in combination with efforts to change what we aren’t content with, could bring about some seriously positive change in the world. Instead of judging other people (and ourselves!), we should try to be more accepting, while empowering others to make the changes they desire.

I have emphasized the complex roots of personalities and medical conditions in order to bring about compassion, not hopelessness. Most days, I hear someone somewhere saying that they have ‘always been’ a certain way. Whether it’s being overweight, anxious, depressed, or whatever, they appear resigned to this particular trait. It seems logical to me that the best way to change something is to get to the root of the problem, and so I have tried to trace back to the start of a certain problem, habit, or quality. Things quickly turn very murky, as there is not usually one answer.

What I have realized though, is that it does not matter.  There are countless elements that influence who we are that we cannot change. While you can’t change your early life development, genetics, or what others do to you, you can change what you do and how you think. After all, our bodies are made of the foods we eat, and our personas are made of  our actions, words, emotions and thoughts. We do not need to feel resigned to our condition. There are so many things (mental, physical, emotional, personality traits, habits, spiritual) that we can change and the tools are great and varying:

  • Sleep
  • Diet
  • Addressing medical conditions properly, proper medications
  • Probiotics (this can be complicated, different strains do many different things)
  • Supplements, herbs (with medical advising)
  • Therapy of all types
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
  • Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction
  • Meditation
  • Yoga, Tai Chi
  • Introspection, brain storming, goal setting and planning
  • Calendars and list making
  • Positive self talk, positive affirmations
  • Regular reminding self of values
  • Life coaches, health coaches, career coaches, advisors
  • Education, books, reading, studies

In summary, you are awesome. People are complicated with incredibly different life situations. Better to have compassion than pass judgement on others, and  focus on making the changes you wish to seek in yourself – because you can. I hope you all have an awesome Friday and weekend!

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me, the salt flats in Bolivia 

 

 

Lofty

Hello from Park City, Utah!

Finals ended last week and I am now enjoying Spring break. Rather than having a wild, typical college break somewhere, I opted to visit my parents at their new home. It’s lovely here, but so cold! I have just been relaxing and enjoying this view.

We went to a lovely dinner last night at La Caille, but I don’t have a cord to share the pictures at the moment, so foodie pictures may have to wait a bit! The only thing missing here is Nina! I miss her. And I am so glad that I am saying that right now because, not gonna lie, I was seriously worried about that for a while. The first two weeks of puppy ownership were hell. It actually made me question my desire and ability to have children one day. A couple nights were so bad that the next day I wondered if I would be one of those extremely unfortunate women who suffers from post-partum depression. Yeah… She is being watched by a puppy sitter while I am away. She sends me pictures of her throughout the day – it is precious!

Before I left…

On my flights over here, I had ample time to think about a few things. I have much more growing up to do and I have a few goals that I need to put out in the open in order to hold me accountable – no matter how embarrassing.

1. Be a better driver. This means always wearing a seatbelt and not speeding. I have improved in both of these areas, but the 25 mph speed limit in all of Davis is my weakness.

2. Be a more neat and clean person. Adults don’t skip showers for a day or two. They clean their bathroom and vacuum on a regular basis. They hang their clothes up immediately after drying or use. They do not wear black jeggings and Uggs in public. I need to do (or not do) these things. And take off that damn crusted nail polish!

3. Don’t be a grumpy beez. Especially to your mother, who put up with your shi-nanigans during your high school years.

4. Spend less $ on food. I actually have the opposite problem of most people – I need to decrease my consumption of veggies and quality proteins. This sounds ridiculous, but hear me out. I thought that because I never eat out and prepare all my meals at home, I could spend whatever I needed on groceries because I was saving money in comparison. My last meal before leaving California for Utah changed my mind. In the fridge, I had a chicken breast, a bunch of kale, 1/3 of an avocado, and goat cheese that needed to be eaten. So, I grilled the chicken and sauteed the kale, and rubbed both with goat cheese and threw in the chopped avocado. This is what I brought with me to the airport for lunch.

Chicken = 2.50$ (half pound at 5$ a pound)

Kale = 2$ a bunch

1/3  avocado = .50$

1-oz goat cheese = .75$

So my homemade meal cost 5.75$. I am a college student. Who do I think I am?? Two years ago, I wrote a pamphlet on healthy eating that was aimed at teenagers and their families who live below the poverty line. I distributed them at the high schools and grocery stores in the least affluent areas of Austin. The pamphlet included a grocery list to sustain a family of 4 for a week for 60$. Obviously, goat cheese was not on that list. As a 21 year old student, I should not be spending more on my own eating than a family of 4. I eat tons of fresh veggies and lean proteins several times a day, so cutting back a couple times a week is not going to harm my health at all. I plan on incorporating a bit more beans and lentils into my diet and having a couple more typical college kid meals a week (think milk-and-cereal, I’ll never be down with Ramen). Feel free to comment with your thoughts, agree or disagree!

5. Continue to keep up with world events and always take the time to put yourself in other people’s shoes. What must it be like to lose your entire family to a tsunami or live in fear of a nuclear radiation leak? How would it feel to take part in riots that succeeded in forcing a multi-decade dictator to step down? How desperate must one be to light themselves on fire to protest police brutality? I want to do more than just acknowledge these things, but at the moment, I do not know what or how.

Before I go, I want to share with you a cool link! Yale University has a center called the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity. On their website there is a page with tons of presentations from fabulous professors and experts on topics ranging from The Economics of Food Pricing to Food and Fashion in Our Society. Just read through the titles, pick one that sparks your interest, and click on it for the powerpoint!

“Now, those are some sexy crab cakes!”

I have been missing New Zealand lately; the fresh seafood, the ocean, the warm weather, the people, everything! So to transport myself back there, I decided to make crab cakes for lunch today. Unlike in New Zealand, the crab came from a can, but that didn’t stop these crab cakes from rocking my pants off. These were seriously so, so good.

The outside was perfectly crisp and the inside was packed with buttery crab meat. When my house mate walked into the kitchen, she made a beeline for the crab cakes, stopped, stared, and yelled “D*AMN, those are some sexy crab cakes!” And she’s right. Albeit, she does call everything sexy, including her dog. To top ‘em off, I made a light lemony aioli that contrasted perfectly with the savory cakes.

Buttery Spiced Crab Cakes

Recipe: Makes 3 crab cakes, serves 1

1 can crab meat (½ cup, drained)

1 organic egg

½ tbsp onion, diced

½ tsp dijon mustard

½ tbsp butter, melted

1/4 tsp garlic salt

1 heaping tbsp whole wheat panko bread crumbs

big pinch of paprika

pinch cayenne pepper

fresh ground pepper, to taste

1 tsp ApresVin garlic infused grape seed oil (to fry in)

Directions –  Drain the crab very well. Mix all of the ingredients, except the oil, in a bowl. Place a pan on the stove on medium heat and add the oil. Divide the crab mixture into three round patties and place in the pan. Let them cook until the bottom is medium brown, then flip. Make sure that there is some oil on the pan when you flip them. They are down when they are medium brown on both sides! Serve with lemon aioli.

Light Lemony Aioli

½ tbsp mayo

1 tbsp sour cream

½ tbsp greek yogurt

1 tsp lemon juice

garlic salt

pinch salt

Directions – Mix all together in a small dish.

Benefits:

Crab meat * extremely high in protein and low in fat and carbohydrates. The fat that crab does contain is largely omega 3 unsaturated, which helps prevent heart disease. Also contains high amounts of selenium which is anti-carcinogenic and chromium which helps regulate blood sugar.

Paprika * contains the antioxidants flavonoids, carotenoids, and capsicum, which aid in circulatory system health (thus preventing heart disease). Capsicum also raises the metabolism temporarily. Also used as a digestive aid.

Cayenne pepper * high in antioxidants and temporarily raises the metabolism!

Eggs * the yolk is where all the nutrients are! It contains tryptophan, selenium, iodine, B vitamins, and phosphorous, many of which are necessary for optimal metabolism. The egg white has 6 grams of complete protein!

Question: What are some of your favorite breakfasts and lunches? I need some inspiration over here!

A little too much about me..

Nicole and Alex tagged me in one of those cutesy blogger things, so I will pass it on…

Four TV Shows I Watch

I’m not really into TV but whenever I have free time and TV sounds appealing, I watch it on my laptop.

1. House (I love him.)

2. Pretty Little Liars (it’s a secret, can ya keep it)

3. Modern Family

4. Americas Next Top Model

Four Things I’m Passionate About

1. Making and maintaining meaningful friendships. (Say it 5 times fast!) But really, friends have always been my primary support system and source of joy. I cherish each and every one of them. :) (Keeping family relationships healthy and open is also important to me, but those are different in that you do not choose your family.)

2. Learning about the rest of the world and my roles within it. This is why I love reading and traveling. There are so many groups of people, issues, and histories that I do not know about. The more we learn about our past and present, the better we can dictate our actions for a better future.

3. Nutrition and delicious food. The fascinating properties in foods that can heal and protect our bodies really excites me. But on another level, I just love food, creating it, and eating it.

4. Being active. This just means doing things. Not necessarily working out, though I do love lifting weights, swimming, and running. I mean doing anything and everything that is not inside of your house. Going out dancing with your friends, going to a new restaurant in town, exploring the city, attending random festivals and events, and saying YES to invitations.

Four Words/Phrases I Use Too Much

1. Merh

2. Neener

3. Creepin’

4. Holycrepe

Four Places I’d Like To Go

1. Sweden

2. Palestine

3. Peru

4. Bali

Four Things I Did Yesterday

1. Went to my 8am class

2. Went to San Francisco for the day with Courtney

3. Ate at The Plant and Triptych

4. Went to the Embarcadero farmers market and then shopped for 5 hours, but only bought 1 shirt (on sale!)

The market..

Vegan muffins! Checkk out the amazing flavors.

Mushies!

Four Things I’m Craving

1. To start reading my Systemic Physiology book. After this post… It is time.

2. Apple Cinnamon Tea with cream

3. Leave the house and do something… Trader Joes? Yes.

4. Something cold, sweet, and creamy. What’s new? (Nothing.)

Four Things I’ve Learned From The Past

1. Go with the friggin’ flow.

2. Stay true to yourself and others.

3. When you take the time to recognize something seemingly hidden about someone and let them know that you noticed, it makes them feel special and tends to brighten their day.

4. Everyone has their own problems and traits. If they do something to hurt you, don’t take it too personally. It’s their shiz, not yours.

Four Things I Love About Winter

1. Flavored coffee creamers (ONLY OCTOBER-DECEMBER) like peppermint mocha and pumpkin pie spice.

2. Pumpkin flavored everything.

3. The calm feeling of a chilly, rainy day and being content inside with a book and warm beverage.

4. Cute boots.

Four Newest Blogs Added To My Reader

1. Eats Well With Others

2. Cotter Crunch

3. Sprouted Kitchen

4. Anecdotes and Apple Cores

Four Bloggers I’m Passing This Along To

1. Katie 2. Meg 3. Tricia 4. Kailey

That took way too long. Sheesh! And your food for the day is…

Favorite Fallback Veggie Sandwich

2 slices whole grain toast, toasted

2-3 tbsp real cream cheese

1/2 avocado

1/2 tomato

2 tbsp white onion, chopped

1/4 cucumber, sliced

fresh ground sea salt

Enjoy!

New Zealand wrap up

After 12 days in lovely New Zealand, I am home! Getting back was a bit more difficult than I had anticipated. After a three hour flight from the South island to the North island and a 12 hour flight to the US of A, I arrived at LAX. I figured I could just take Amtrak to Davis, so I hopped on the Flyaway bus. Once at the Amtrak station (after being propositioned to be “taken out to hollywood tonight” and then “driven up the beautiful PCH to Davis” by a total stranger), I learned that there isn’t actually a train to where I live. So I took a 3 hour bus ride to get to a 5 hour train ride and then topped it off with another hour and half bus ride. It was just so much fun. During the third bus ride I realized that I didn’t have a key and my housemates weren’t home yet. Oops. It’s all good, though!

I didn’t take pictures every day but I will post some of the best that I have to sum up the remainder of my trip…

My step sista Brittany’s house, see all the Tibetan flags and things?!

Her driveway and horse

New Zealand has the coolest yogurt flavors.

Unfortunately their greek yogurt has the same nutritional profile as regular yogurt..?

Pastoral

Farariki beach, which my mom just called “Freaky Beach”

And the best meal I had on my trip..

Zucchini bruschetta with goat cheese and mint

Amazing goat cheese salad with fresh pears, walnuts, endive, and croutons

BBQ scallops with chili, lemon, olive oil, and wild rocket

Beef carpaccio with gorgonzola Dulce, lemon, chili, rocket, and grilled baguette

Pan fried snapper with tomatoes, red onion, basil pesto, and lemon

Clearly, we feasted.

Although the trip was truly great, I am excited to be back home and get back into the swing of things. This includes cooking and blogging new recipes! The discovery that I enjoy some cheeses has opened up a whole new world to me…

Happy 2011 everyone!

Bird poop in New Zealand is clear, but in the States it is white….

I am not sure if the title of this post means anything, but I feel that it is worth noting.

Day 3:

Madre and I woke up and had breakfast at the hotel and then set out for what is said to be the prettiest section of the Queen Charlotte trek. Unfortunately for us, it began to rain pretty hard about an hour in. I did manage to capture a pretty photo between the bursts of rain.

After the 4 hour hike, we decided to drive all the way across the country horizontally to Westport to go on one of the most beautiful treks in the country, the Heaphy.

The drive was gorgeous. We passed through so many different terrains, including pastoral scenes of sheepies, jungle, thick wooded forests, and vineyards!

God?

We arrived in Westport late on Christmas Eve and Madre almost had a panic attack because no hotels were open. Eventually, we found a gem of a motel and crashed there. As I cozied into bed after a long day, I smelled this really strong odor of garlic-butter-onion-aioli. Is it me? I smelled myself and it definitely wasn’t me. I tossed and turned, each motion granting me a fresh whiff of garlic butter, and eventually fell asleep. The following morning is when I learned that you are always supposed to pull back the top blanket on a motel bed. The rich buttery scent was eminating from my blanket, which I had previously been so cozily curled up in. To be honest, the stench would have actually been half way appealing if I hadn’t been sleeping with it.

Day 4:

We woke up early and went to the lobby for the free continental breakfast and were met with fruit from a can floating in a vat of syrup, stale toast, sugar saturated yogurt, and fake eggs with canned mushrooms. Mmm.

Grossed out but full, we hopped into the car and drove to the portion of the famous Heaphy trek that we intended on hiking. It was gorgeous.

About 2 or so hours in, I started getting pretty loopy. My feet were heavy as stones and instead of focusing on the gorgeous scenes around me, I was looking at the ground. The sounds of nature were drowned out by my pounding heart and inner monologue “IM HUNNGRRYYYY!”

Just another hour… keep on walkin’. Ordinarily, I am against listening to music while hiking, especially in a foreign country. One should focus on taking in all the details of their surroundings and ingraining the beauty in their memory. You never know if you will be back there again, or if it will even exist. But desperate times call for desperate measures. I pulled out my ipod and started my favorite dance/workout playlist. It was like someone had injected me with adrenaline and seratonin. My pace quickened… I felt great. My favorite song came on and suddenly I could breathe, I could run, the trees parted for me and I was so free. It dawned on me…

I AM IN NEW ZEALAND! THIS IS AMAZINGGG!

With my mom’s back to me, I broke out in dance. Yeeee!

Finally, we reached our lunch destination on the beach. I devoured my canned chicken, crackers, nuts, goat’s feta, and apple. I layed out and napped while mom explored and then we headed back the way we came.

I spotted a creek of what looked like blood..

After seeing that, I quickened my pace a bit. I kept looking over my shoulder for a swarm of mosquitos, or towards the water for a stampede of frogs…

5 hours after we began, we arrived back at the car. We drove to Nelson and arrived at about 10pm last night. This morning we had a nice breakfast at the hotel (not really photo worthy though..) and are going to go pick up my step paps from the air port.

I miss reading all of your blogs! My reader has 78 unread! :(

Greetings from New Zealand!

Hello! I am currently in Portage, New Zealand! I left on Saturday around noon and arrived in New Zealand almost exactly 24 hours later. The 12 hour flight from LA to Auckland was actually perfectly comfortable. Being in coach on New Zealand Air (or pretty much any other country…) is like being in business on an American air carrier. Sad, but true.

I am meeting up with my mother and step family to spend Christmas with everyone at my step sister’s home! I am so glad to spend time with them;  it is a rare occasion that we are all together!

Day 1:

Land in Auckland and take a short flight to Nelson on the South island. Get a rental car and eat lunch.

Pan seared fish atop roasted asparagus and potatoes with sun dried tomatoes and buerre blanc

Explore the cute little town of Nelson and nap. Eat dinner. Pass out.

Interesante

Pan seared blue maki with pumpkin risotto, steamed asparagus, salt and pepper fried calamari with a balsamic reduction and a sweet red pepper sauce

Day 2:

Drive 2 hours to Portage. Go on a gorgeous 4 hour hike.

Slightly lost en route, but thats okay.

Mama’s behind.

I brought goodies to make lunch on the trek. Look at the cool stuff I found in the supermarket!

Whole grain crackers topped with goat’s milk feta, pumpkin-kumara hummus, and caramelized onion spread. A few with chicken as well.

Hello gorgeous.

After the hike, we cozied into the Portage Hotel and lazed by the pool. Then, we cleaned up for dinner and passed out once again.

SWEET JESUS. Caramelized pear, onion, and blue cheese tart with candied walnuts and vincotto.

Seared groper with caramelized fennel, puy lentils, and citrus Sambayan butter

The internet is being sketchy, so I must go!