Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Barefoot running & fitness as a virtue

The thing I love about barefoot or minimalist shoe running is the thing I am always working toward in pretty much everything I do - moving closer to the essential, removing the excess until I arrive at something fundamental.  That invites an entirely untethered sense of fullness that I think of as the sweet spot.  I've experienced it in my art, in my creative process as a whole, in my yoga practice, in running, in communication, in relationships.  It is something that can be achieved in every area of life.  This is really how I think of fitness in general and is the reason I hit the mat or the trails with dedication and enthusiasm.  I love those activities in and of themselves and because they help me stay fit and clear minded, but on days I just don't feel like doing anything at all, it's important to have a deeper motivation than just physical fitness.  I am able to stay committed over a long period of time because what I am able to do on a run or through my regular yoga practice or with vicious circuit training transcends those activities.  I break through mental and physical barriers, I achieve the seemingly impossible, I push through pain and sweat and sometimes blood.  I go far beyond my comfort zone and face my biggest fears and learn that I can trust myself in those places of uncertainty and vulnerability.  And perhaps most importantly, I learn to smile with my whole body when it sucks the most.  Being fit is not just about running long distances or twisting myself into a pretzel on my yoga mat or about lifting heavier weights or doing an obscene amount of lunges.  I believe being fit means being strong, capable, and empowered in every area of my life, in absolutely everything I set my mind to, in everything I do.

I was sold on barefoot running long before I even heard of Born to Run or the Tarahumara.  After reading Christopher McDougall's fantastic book, I was even more dedicated and enthusiastic about barefoot running.  That book in large part inspired me to start training for longer distances and to work toward my first marathon.  Granted, I don't go totally barefoot, mostly because I do a lot of trail running here in central Texas and need at least a little protection from rocks and debris.  I wear either my Vibram Bikala Five Fingers or my new favorite running shoe, the Merrell Pace Glove.  Merrell has been using Vibram soles for years, and their relatively new entry into the world of running shoes has made a slam dunk for those of us who love minimalist footwear. They look like normal shoes, so I don't get weird looks from people like I do when I wear my Five Fingers.

I'll leave you with a little video about the Tarahumara and barefoot running in general.  I highly recommend reading Born to Run and then go out and enjoy some trails.

Monday, July 18, 2011

My favorite things...

I get asked a lot by people who are just starting to incorporate more raw foods into their diet what my favorite must have things are.  Here is a list to get you started on the right track.

Vega products, specifically the Whole Food Optimizer and Performance Protein powder.  These are not technically 100% raw, but they are mostly raw and totally vegan.  They are high quality products designed by vegan Ironman triathlete Brendan Brazier and can be used as meal replacement while on the go.  I rely heavily on Vega while I'm traveling.  I take a shaker jar with me so I can make a smoothie on the go instead of compromising the way I eat.  I also highly recommend Brendan's books, Thrive Nutrition and Thrive Fitness.

I love Navitas Naturals superfood products.  I use their raw cacao, maca, and lucuma on a regular basis.  I love chocolate and eat it almost daily.  I whip up a super easy, healthy, and delicious chocolate with just a few basic ingredients.  Cacao, maca, a few drops of liquid stevia, a pinch of sea salt, and enough coconut oil to bind the powders.  When I'm feeling more extravagant, I'll add spirulina, bee pollen, and sometimes some kind of nut or cacoa nibs for the crunchy texture.  I love to sprinkle with cinnamon as well.

I also love Healthforce Nutritional products, especially Vitamineral Green.  I add it to my Vega smoothies, especially after a workout to help with recovery.   I also regularly use Radical Health's superfood mixes, Fiesta Mole and Chocolate Bliss, and also their super high quality Sunfire salt.  The family that makes those products lives right down the street from me, so I just stop by and pick up my order, but for those who aren't in Austin, you can order from their site which is also a great source of info on raw foods.

Some of my daily staples are apples, almond butter (I sprinkle with sea salt and cinnamon, and sometimes add vanilla extract), kale, avocados, tomatoes, peppers, flax crackers, green juices, and an array of other seasonally available organic fruits and veggies.  

I've found that I recover much more quickly from my rigorous workouts by eating raw foods.  With just a little creativity and resourcefulness, I don't have to compromise flavor or texture by eating raw.  In fact, everything tastes so much MORE flavorful because it's all fresh and alive.  You don't have to go 100% raw to reap the benefits.  Increase your raw food intake over time, and you'll notice you develop a taste and preference for it quite naturally.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

The social impact of raw foods

I wrote this as a response on someone else's blog several years ago.  It's relevant, so thought I'd share it here.

The social aspects of going 100% raw are indeed numerous and can be unnecessarily alienating if a raw foodist is not imaginative enough. It's one of my greatest concerns as a raw foodist myself. There are ways around this, like preparing a dish and/or dessert to bring and share to family gatherings. There are lots of great, extravagant, and divinely yummy dishes to make for holidays that EVERYONE will enjoy. Most people will like it so much, they'll demand that there must be cooked food/sugar/flour/egg/dairy in the food. And if all your friends are going out to a restaurant, there are usually ways to throw something together off the menu that is suitable. It might not be the best raw food you've ever had, but it will work, and in that situation, it's more about the company than the food. Pretty much all of my friends are willing to meet at one of the local raw food places if we're having lunch together. Even non-raw people enjoy the tastes and sensations of raw and living food, and it's a great way to introduce people to the variety they can get by eating in such a way.

When you experience the amazing changes that happen with a raw food diet, it's really hard to go back, unless you remain fearful and unwilling to deal with the changes that arise and thereby keep 'medicating' yourself with cooked food. Once on the 'other side' and in vibrant health, things seem much more clear, and cooked food, even 'healthy' cooked food, seems devitalized and wholly uninteresting.

And people have been eating predominantly raw food for tens of thousands of years. This is nothing new, in fact, it's the oldest way of eating there is. The history and culture that raw foodies are squashing is a relatively new one, namely that culture born of fragmentation, disconnection, fear, greed, and rampant disease. The fabric of culture is not based on eating cooked food, it is based on the ways people come together and create the story of their life through a huge number of means like art, architecture, spirituality, mythology, etc. Yes, food is a big part of this, but cooked food specifically is in no way intrinsic or necessary to this task. Culture is much greater served when its individuals are awakened to the potential they have for vibrant and radiant health. They will create a much more mindful way of living on the earth and in relating to each other. And while a lot of raw foodies are escaping the evil of modern diet, when the modern diet leads to an untold number of diseases and ailments, fatigue, obesity, cancer, and general malaise, how is this a bad thing?? Yes, it may be alienating at times, but when in the company of disillusioned people, you must keep your own council. It is a logical fallacy to say "Things are this way, so this must be the right way." It doesn't take a very long or thorough looking around to see how imbalanced (to use a nice word) things are. For one example, a huge benefit of eating raw is the drastic reduction in the waste a household produces. I now produce about a kitchen trash can full of compost every two weeks. I probably throw a garbage bag out every two to three weeks, if that, and most of it goes in recycling. Raw food lifestyle has far reaching, positive, repercussions for the earth and for the health and well being of all its inhabitants. There's a reason so many people enthusiastically advocate for this lifestyle, because it works untold wonders on every level of your consciousness!

Try going 100% for 30 days. One month is nothing in the scheme of things. And then come back and argue that raw food is somehow undermining thousands of years of history and the very fabric of culture. Raw food, and the state of mind it produces in people who follow this lifestyle, might very well be one of the few things that can actually make and preserve history and culture in any sort of meaningful way.

Saturday, July 16, 2011


I have been living (and thriving) on raw foods for several years now.  I've fluctuated between 80% and 100% raw, just depending on the season and circumstances of my life.  I have become passionate about inspired wellness through raw and living foods, along with my regular Ashtanga yoga practice and my new adventures in marathon training.  I thought I'd start a blog to share ideas, experiences, recipes, and adventures on my journey to radiant health and inspired fitness.

Welcome, and be sure to come back often,
Laura Lea Nalle

You can find out more about me at www.lauraleanalle.com

And if you're into live music, follow me at austinlivemusic.org