health

Today is my 1 year Vegan-niversary 🙂 Cheers to you, tummy! How time flies!! I have to admit it hasn’t all been sunshine, rainbows and butterflies (especially in the beginning!) but it has definitely been my calling in terms of mental and physical health and clarity. So to celebrate I decided to write a little blog post on some of the memorable moments that have happened over the past year including everything from the good, the bad and the ugly! So why not start with the ugly, shall we!?

The first week of hell…

When I first started this lifestyle I decided to write a bit of a food journal and boy am I glad I did this looking back at it now! The diary entries are priceless and it’s pretty clear to see that I was feeling like death in those initial few days. The general consensus of each day being – I HAVE A HEADACHE, MY STOMACH HATES ME, KILL ME. Really my body was just going through a detox from a lifetime of eating crap but even knowing this didn’t make it any easier! Here’s a look at my struggle through Day 3..

Thursday 28th April 2016 – Day 3 Vegan

Woke up with a headache AGAIN.

Made a smoothie for brekkie at 10am

  • 4 nanas
  • 5 dates
  • coconut water
  • almond milk
  • cinnamon
  • ice
  • spinach

Have had chronic upset stomach all morning.

Midday- STILL HAVE HEADACHE. Time to drink a gallon of water to see if that helps.

Tried to eat some fruit (peach, apple + banana) and a cucumber around 2pm but still have headache.

Had a coffee at 4pm.. still have headache.

Made an early dinner of baked sweet potato wedges with homemade tomato soup – headache finally gone! YAY.

Bloated as all hell today, hoping to wake up to a non-bloated, flat tummy tomorrow morning.

HA HA even reading it back again, it still makes me laugh. I can’t actually remember how horrid I felt but from the sound of this bad boy I was not too chipper. These feelings definitely started to clear after day 6 or 7 and I remember how amazing I started to feel once that initial phase was over! No more bloated-ness, no more brain fog and no more HEADACHE. Maybe this was going to be something I really enjoy!?

Revealing the new Vegan diet…

It sounds pretty strange but I was actually really nervous about telling people of my new vegan ways haha. I knew that people would ask questions (they did, and still do!) and I wanted to be able to answer them truthfully and knowledgeably without sounding too preachy or making anyone question their own food choices. Truth is, I still find it tricky sometimes because there is always the odd wangchong out there that gets off on making me feel like I’m missing out or telling me that I am totally batshit crazy but I’ve just come to be able to blow it off now and realise that maybe they have their own insecurities that has nothing to do with my choices. Food is a pretty crazy topic!! My close family has been so supportive (always worrying more about what I can eat before themselves!) and so many of my friends have actually been open enough to suggest going to Vegan restaurants and giving it a go too! So for that I am extremely grateful and feel so lucky to have such supportive, understanding and non-judgemental people in my life 🙂 You too Seewah 😉

Making new discoveries.

The other day I was discussing why I transitioned to Vegan-ism with someone and it really made me realise how many doors it opened for me. Whilst most people would feel like they were giving a lot up (this person I was talking to included), I was never a great lover of meat anyway (I only really ate chicken and fish) and dairy upset my stomach so for me I felt like it wasn’t that hard to just go into it all guns blazing. Little did I know it would then lead me to try SO MANY other new and exciting things ranging from skincare, haircare, beauty products to things like Veganaise and Vegan Cheese! I used to turn my nose up at Tofu, now I crave it! Beans? no thanks.. nowadays they are a staple! It’s forced me to try new recipes and think of different ways of creating meals which has been so much fun 🙂 A few weeks ago Steve and I made Vegan Lasagne and it was AMAZiNG… I never thought something like that would be possible to eat when first starting out on this diet but these days it seems anything is possible! Vegan chicken schnitzels anyone?

So for now I’m going to keep on keeping on with this whole Vegan thing. Steve has become a bit more of a flexi-Vegan, eating Vegan at home but doesn’t mind going for something Vegetarian or Pescatarian when we go out which is totally cool too. I think that people should just do whatever makes them feel best and hey, if you are craving fish.. then maybe your body needs some dang fish! My body however hasn’t craved anything over the past year so that’s why I’ve found it so easy to stick to what I’m doing, not even straying once! I’ve had a few mishaps though which have obviously been when eating out; I’ve been given a focaccia full of cheese one time even after telling the lady I wanted no cheese or dairy in it because I was Vegan.. man I was HANGRY that day (my family can vouch for that!), generally my Asian students have a tough time understanding what Veganism is and always seem to be trying to force feed me Cheesecake and giving me rice balls that contain “no meat” only to bite into it and find a whole heap of red meat and egg inside.. hah! Oh the joys, but luckily I have done a pretty good job at avoiding these obstacles and sticking to my guns 🙂 I haven’t had to give up the things I love in life; coffee, ice-cream (sorbet), pizza and bread and using these new vegan products have improved my skin and hair dramatically so no complaints here!

I think I’ve saved a lot of little animal friends this past year too and as Steve said to me this morning, “Your stomach must be so green it’s growing trees in there.” He he.. #yeahboiii.

 

 

 

These past couple of weeks have been a little on the hectic side. Not only have I increased my own training in preparation for the Australian Dancesport Championships (a big competition in Australia for those of you not in the dance scene!) but I’ve also been helping students in their prep also. Throw in a couple of Christmas floorshows and a quick TV appearance on top of that and it’s no wonder why I’m sitting here post competition absolutely knackered and putting off unpacking! So this is why I wanted to post a little blog on recovery and it’s importance, but also I thought it seemed appropriate considering the stressful times that have been the last few days! I shall explain..

Let’s rewind back to last Wednesday morning. The Aussie Championships were 3 days away, we were flying down to Melbourne for the comp the following day, all was well and we felt fit and ready! That was up until Steve got out of bed and couldn’t put any weight on his right foot without being in 7/10 pain. Slight Drama.. talk about throwing a spanner in the works!! Being a head strong male he decided to still head to work for 3 hours of teaching to see if it would “go away” (I know, don’t even get me started!). After about an hour and a half he couldn’t hack the pain anymore and so he cancelled the rest of his day of work and went home. Now let me say at this point that cancelling work and going home is a big deal for Steve, so I knew immediately it wasn’t looking good. He rested a few hours and thought it felt a bit better so after a big fight I finally gave in and decided to let him see if doing some practice with me would “stretch it out”. BIG FAIL. All our practice did was make it worse and ended up leaving him with a limp when he walked. I thought there was no chance we were going to be dancing that weekend.

With our sports masseuse having no time available we spoke to a few people and figured it might be plantar fasciitis which is stemmed from tight calves and hamstrings and overuse of the feet, common in dancers and marathoners. What we also found was that there is nothing that can be done to make it go away, you just have to deal with the pain, stretch that bad boy out and rest. Rest wasn’t really an option in the short-term so we did everything we knew of in terms of active recovery to make it bearable for the coming weekend. In the end we ended up being able to dance at the competition with most people probably not even knowing that there was a problem so it just goes to show how much this stuff works and can really help! So here are a few of the things I swear by:

  • Rest: This one is pretty obvious I know and isn’t always an option but I feel it’s the most important! People dont prioritise rest enough when it comes to a training regime and can easily end up burning out or creating an injury. If you rest well you can come back the following time you train so much stronger and clearer and it’s less likely you will lose determination. So keep that in mind when you aren’t feeling 100%.
  • Stretching: This is something I never really did when I was younger as I never had it drilled into me nor was I ever sore! But.. after you hit 22/23 I think that’s when you really start to feel sore and old haha! Well that’s when I did anyway. What helped me was getting into Ballet Beautiful because it made me realise how much better my body felt after a good stretch. Also if I go into the studio feeling tight (every day!) then I always try to stretch and warm up my muscles before going head first into it! Tight muscles can pull on other muscles which can then lead to injury. As Steve said to me this weekend after learning he really needs to start stretching “I’m really not getting any younger am I!!”. I definitely feel the older we get the more important stretching becomes 🙂
  • Foam roller: If you are a semi active person and you don’t have a foam roller then its time to invest in one! If you’ve never heard of foam rolling then click here! They are the best for rolling out any excess lactic acid in the muscles and releasing tight muscles in your legs, butt, back and shoulders. I love rolling out my ITB’s on the foam roller and always look for it when I’m feeling stiff and sore. Probably should be rolling on it right now rather than typing this to be honest!
  • Massage Ball: The massage ball/trigger ball is one of my favourite travel essentials. I use one with spiky ends but you can use any type of ball really. You can try using a tennis ball, rubber ball or even a golf ball if you’re game! It’s the best at getting into those tricky spots and working on those knots and twinges. So just find the points that are aggravating you and literally roll that on the ball. I like to lay down on some carpet and get the ball into my hips and psoas muscle. It’s also great to roll your feet on after a long day of standing. This was actually one of the things that got Steve through the competition this weekend, rolling his foot out on the spiky ball!
  • Ice Baths: Ok, so I have to admit I’m still a bit of a newbie when it comes to ice baths and at the moment I’ve only tried it on my feet. I know that a lot of athletes use ice baths for their whole body for fast recovery and it was actually suggested to me from my Sports massage therapist. All you need to do is fill up a bucket (or wheelie bin for full body!) with cold water and chuck in around 20-30% ice. You don’t want too much ice that you get freeze burn but you also don’t want just a couple of cubes floating around there either. Then try to stay submerged for roughly 8-10 minutes. Like I said I’ve only attempted feet and its pretty darn painful the first time but once you get used to it it’s not so bad. Also the benefits you reap afterwards are addictive! You will feel like a new you I’m not joking!
  • Anti-inflammatories/gels: This isn’t really active recovery but they are more so a when all else fails type of thing. I love gels as I can apply the product directly to the area I need it and it gets to work almost immediately. Also taking Nurofen isn’t my favourite thing in the world but like I said when you have no other option they do work. I always try to have some form of gel and tablet on hand just incase!

So I think the best advice I can give on this topic is to listen to your body and try not to turn a blind eye to what it’s telling you! A few years ago I sprained my ankle quite badly and never got it properly checked by a doctor to see if I had done serious damage. I let it rest for only two weeks and was pressured into getting back into my dance shoes and on the floor as soon as possible. Now after getting it properly checked out it turns out I did ligament damage and because I didn’t take at least 8 weeks off and let it heal properly I now have scar tissue. Silly me and even sillier me for listening to other people’s un-expert opinions rather than listening to my gut!! My ankle is now going to be something I constantly have to manage and have looked at because if I don’t it will just turn into a club foot.. haha not what you want as a dancer! I have to crack it everyday otherwise it starts to feel stiff and it’s just a nuisance really. So my advice is look after your body, trust your instincts and put time into recovery!!

If you have any more questions please feel free to ask in the comments below! As I’ve said many times these are only my opinions and things that have worked for me so keep in mind that they may not be right for you 🙂

Love, Rachelle xx

 

A dancer’s clock is not like most. We go to bed late and wake up late-er. Usually, I’m in the studio for 10 – 11am and then finish around the same time in the pm. That’s not to say I don’t get a few hours free here and there but it’s still a loooong day for the body. Because of this schedule I’m not really a morning person. You will definitely not see me running the streets at the crack of dawn showing Rocky Balboa how it’s really done. No, I will be asleep until my 3rd alarm goes off meaning I have 45 minutes to get my ass into gear!

breakfast-smoothie
Good Morning!

This love of sleep/sleeping in means that I need a nutritious brekky that I can whip up like lightning. At the mo, I’m eating a plant-based diet. (Yes, I’m Vegan.. wanna know more about it? Comment below!) This means that I need to get in a lot of nutritious foods and calories so that I don’t burn out before lunchtime and get #hangry. My favourite way of doing this of late is with my trusty little blender. Hello morning smoothie!

Now, don’t be alarmed by the sheer size of this smoothie. I’ve been downing one of these a day for about 4 months now (when I’m not travelling of course.. no gargantuan smoothies at the buffet brekky) and if anything I feel it has made me leaner. Don’t get me wrong, I do believe giving my whole diet a re-haul has helped but I’ve tried other vegan breakfast options and none leave me feeling as satisfied and energized as this smoothie. And as an added bonus, it tastes like frothy, dreamy, amazing-ness. My mum (non-vegan) tried it and she said it was so good it made her want to turn plant-based.. that’s a big deal if you don’t know my mum!

pre-blend-smoothie
Pre-Blend.

 

Ok so let’s get to it, my smoothie usually includes the following:

  • 3 or 4 bananas. Make sure they are as ripe as possible, the more spots the better. Nobody likes a hard, green, sour banana.. except maybe a really hungry monkey.
  • 1/2 cup of frozen mixed berries.
  • 6 or 7 dates. Don’t ask why such a random number! I started with 10 dates and gradually lowered it til I found the amount I liked 🙂
  • 1/2 cup Almond milk or any other dairy free alternative I have. I like Unsweetened Vanilla Almond milk from Almond Breeze!
  • handful of spinach
  • 1 big cup of water.. very accurate I know. Usually I just pour water in and stop pouring when it gets to the top of all the fruit..
  • sprinkle of cinnamon (optional)
  • coconut sugar to taste (optional)
breakfast-smoothie
Smoothie as big as my head!

I add coconut sugar because uhh.. it’s not sweet enough already with all them bananas and dates, obviously! Ha ha! No but seriously, it adds a caramel-y flavour that I love and just brings out the other flavours so much more. But, if you don’t want to add more sugar but still want a little hit of flavour you could always add vanilla essence instead.

Blend that bad boy up! I always keep the base ingredients the same but sometimes mix up the amounts if I decide to add extra/different fruits (dried cherries are the BOMB.com) Also, if I feel like it I sometimes add a tablespoon of Peanut Butter. I say ‘sometimes’ because Peanut Butter is my weakness so I try not to eat it everyday because once the lid is off I literally have no stop button! The smoothie is a little calorific but I don’t count calories to keep them low, I count them to make sure I’m getting enough. Especially since becoming vegan, I aim for around 2500-3000 cals a day. This way I have an abundance of energy for dancing and teaching and I lower my risk of injury.

So even if you don’t eat a plant-based diet give this smoothie a go and try to start your morning with fresh fruit and veg 🙂 It will leave your tummy feeling happy and will wake you up better than a cup of coffee (this is coming from a die-hard coffee lover btw). Enjoy!