12 Green tips for reducing your carbon footprint

Posted on December 30th, 2009

First of all, I apologize for not bringing you Smoothie Tuesday yesterday. The Holiday’s have me all out of whack. Even though I was at home all evening, I was too busy relaxing and enjoying the third snow of the winter, which is very unusual for North Texas.

Today I thought I would share you my tips for staying green and reducing your carbon footprint. These green tips are all things I practice myself or will be implementing in the very near future. Feel free to comment and add your own green tips.

  • Use less paper products. Did you really need to print out that email? What about that article online you wanted to read? Think twice about printing documents from your computer. Another way of saving paper that I plan on implementing in the new year is using less paper towels. I plan on buying several cheap cloth towels to use instead of paper towels. This will also save money in the long run.

    Canvas bag

    Canvas bag from greendaily.com

  • Stop using plastic grocery store bags. It is now a pet peeve of mine when a store clerk bags up my one or two items I can easily carry out with my own two hands. I almost always catch this now and let them know I don’t need a bag. Canvas bags are great to use when you have a larger load to haul out of the store. I have collected a few over the past year and keep them in my car so I always have them when I go to the store.
  • Recycle produce bags. One can not help but use the plastic bags provided in the produce department to carry their lot of apples or bulk salad greens, but there is no reason you have to take a new bag every single time. I save as many of them I can and reuse them until they form holes in the bottom. They also make small reusable canvas bags for produce as well. The only thing I don’t like about them is they weigh more than a plastic bag and you will pay more for your produce or bulk food item.
  • Reuse those glass jars and plastic containers. No need to immediately toss every glass jar and container you use. Rinse out those jars and salad containers and reuse them. I have lots of jars saved that I use as smoothie glasses and holding salad dressings. I reuse salad containers for storing things on camping trips. They are very versatile. A friend of mine told me a story about a house she visited and the family only had recycled glass jars to serve drinks in – not a single store bought glass existed in the home.
  • Paperless Billing – This goes right along with using less paper products. Most credit card companies offer paperless billing now. I also know that AT&T offers this to cell phone customers. Almost all my bills are electronic now. This is not only better for me in that it reduces my carbon footprint, but I’m less likely to forget to pay the bill since I don’t pay a lot of attention to the mailbox these days.

    Compact Fluorescent Light Bulb

    Compact Fluorescent Light Bulb

  • Use compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFL) in your home. Almost every single light fixture in my house has a compact fluorescent bulb in it, and once the incandescent bulbs go out they will be replaced with a CFL. These bulbs really do cut down on your energy bill, and they last A LOT longer than your standard light bulb.
  • Turn out the lights. As a kid my parents were constantly yelling at me to turn out the light in my room when I wasn’t in it. Granted, the main reason was for saving money on the utility bill, having lights turned off in rooms that are not in use reduces your carbon footprint. I am still guilty of leaving them on from time-to-time, but I always strive to follow this rule.
  • Wash all your clothing in cold water. For years now I have been using only cold water to wash my clothing – yes, even my whites. This not only saves on your heating bill, but also your water bill because you can now wash your whites and colors at the same time.
  • Take a four minute shower. I’m not very good sticking to this one myself, but some friends of mine actually have an hourglass type timer in their shower timed for four minutes. It doesn’t seem like long enough, but it actually is. When sticking to the 4 minute shower limit I have time to soap up really well, wash my hair rinse and still have about a minute left to just enjoy the water pouring over me.
  • Recycle. This one is the most obvious, and almost everybody does it these days. When I first started recycling my main reason was to save money. I was throwing large bulky items into the recycle bin and I was buying less trash bags. But later in life as I became more green my reasons for recycling have changed. I also save lots of cardboard boxes as well. I do this so I have boxes to ship things in and store items in future moves.

    Dr. Bronner's Pepermint Soap

    Dr. Bronner's Peppermint Soap

  • Use environmentally friendly soaps. My favorite is Dr. Bronner’s liquid soap. I really love the peppermint scented option. These soaps are all natural, good for your skin and environmentally friendly. I also use a “green” laundry detergent as well. About the only soap I don’t use something environmentally friendly for is dish soap, just because I have found them highly ineffective.
  • Go Vegetarian. Not many people draw the connection, but going vegetarian reduces your carbon footprint dramatically. By not eating meat you are dramatically reducing greenhouse gases and helping combat global warming. By eliminating (or reducing) meat from your diet you are being a good steward of the environment.



Acid base balance

Posted on December 28th, 2009

Here is a video talking about acids and bases, and how to balance them in your diet. As a vegetarian I don’t personally have to worry about this much, but I do have to watch my carbs. The video is short and informative.




Nine reasons to go RAW, and simple ways to include raw food into your diet

Posted on December 25th, 2009

Looking for reasons to go raw this New Year? Make your New Years Resolution to, “go raw”. Here are nine good reasons to make this dietary transition. These are all reasons I have learned along the way and have experienced myself first hand. Additionally I would like to note, this is really not a “diet”. It’s a food philosophy. It’s not something temporary as a means to loose weight, this is about how you look at food.

Raw Tacos

Raw BBQ Tacos, my favorite, easy to make raw meal.

  1. Live a more vibrant life. I say this because to say “live longer” conflicts with my religious beliefs that our days are already numbered. But we can take good care of ourselves while we are here and live a healthy enjoyable lifestyle.
  2. Cardiovascular health – Greens contain chlorophyll, which improves oxygen uptake, thus increasing your VO2 Max. This is amazing news to any athlete, as it boosts energy levels, increases endurance and reduces recovery times.
  3. Less sick days – Since going green over a year and a half ago I have only been ill once. Sure there were days I wasn’t feeling great, but I have only had a cold once, and I know exactly how I got it too. Eating green improves your immune system, thus warding off the attacks of virus’.
  4. More energy – Back when I was eating the SAD (Standard American Diet) I would always get really tired and sluggish about an hour after lunch. I would often times have to go for a second round of coffee (which for me was another 3 cups) just to stay awake. Eating green will require less energy to digest your food, thus giving you more energy to go throughout your day and be more productive. In fact, you won’t even need to depend on coffee if you chose to give that up, as your body will naturally be more energized.
  5. Less sleep – Eating a nutrient rich diet will require less sleep. I am fully functional on six hours of sleep. This isn’t much different from when I was not eating raw foods, but the main difference now is I am actually functional and I don’t need coffee to keep myself going.
  6. Reduce Stress – Eating a nutrient rich diet also leads to less stress on the body. It also affects mental stress as well. When the body isn’t adequately nourished it becomes stressed, thus accumulating additional body fat. The less stressed we are the better our bodies and mind can function.
  7. Reduce the risk of cancer – Eating pure, whole foods greatly reduces your risk of cancer. I have read numerous articles about people’s cancer going away through raw foods. Kris Carr of Crazy Sexy Cancer is a prime example. Eating raw foods also reduces your chances of diseases in general. Today’s modern diet is a major cause of obesity and chronic disease in our society.  Take diabetes for example: simply changing ones diet will cure one of this disease, but most are unwilling to take on the challenge. They would rather be addicted to medication. (please note I say this knowing that there may be some situations where that is not the case and medications are a must)
  8. Maintain weight – Through eating raw foods it is much easier to maintain a healthy weight. When I first went raw I dropped 10 lbs FAST, but since then  have maintained that weight and have only fluctuated within a couple of pounds. I have yet to drop below 170, and usually stay around 173 – I am 6′ tall.
  9. Eating high amounts of raw food leads to healthier looking skin. That makes perfect sense – cut out greasy foods it’s only natural that your skin will begin to look better. I had some friends from Austin that commented on how great my skin looked after not seeing them for two months, and I had just started introducing raw foods into my diet the last time I had seen them.

Ready to take the plunge yet? Well, it’s easier than you think. You don’t even have to become 100% raw, I’m not. You will get many of these health benefits just from switching to a 50% raw diet. But the more raw foods you include into your diet the better. I always feel better when I am eating more raw foods.

They key to making it work for you is starting simple. I recommend starting with nutritious smoothies every morning, then begin working in fruits and other raw snacks (such as nuts, seeds and flax crackers) throughout your day and eating smaller cooked meals for lunch and dinner. Then, start phasing salads into your diet until you are having a large filling salad every day. At this point you will be eating 66% of your diet raw.

After that you can start phasing in “raw meals” made from cookbooks and the plethora of raw food web sites and blogs on the internet. I tend to have one or two “raw meals” a week, sometimes more. So, about 75% of my diet is raw. 50% is about the lowest it will ever go and that only happens when I forgot my salad for lunch or I go out of town.

Many of the raw cookbooks out there portray “raw gourmet” recipes that are difficult and time consuming to make. There are lots of blogs out there the offer simpler recipes that don’t require lots of prep time. A few of my favorite blogs for simple recipes are RawDawg Rory, Rawmazing, and Julie’s Raw Ambition.

Once you start eating more raw foods I suggest you purchase digestive enzymes to take for those times you do eat cooked foods. It will help you digest your food more easily.  You will quickly begin to notice the difference in how your body digests food. When you eat raw foods you will find yourself feeling much better afterward, as your stomach will not be churning trying to process a bunch of crap.

Also, expect to experience detox symptoms. This can come in a variety of ways, for me, it was strong headaches (but not migraine strength) for nearly a month. My system was getting rid of lots of toxins. I was also giving up coffee cold turkey at the time as well. I have sense then though allowed myself to have coffee a couple times a week. But detox is a good thing. If you are starting to go raw and experience this, just know you are doing something good for your body.




Smoothie Tuesday – Electric Green, Green Drink

Posted on December 22nd, 2009
ElectricGreenSmoothie

Electric Green Spinach Smoothie

This is one of my all-time favorite smoothie recipes. It was one that I made countless times when I first started eating raw foods. This simple green smoothie is brightly colored and is sweet and tasty to boot. All you need is spinach, bananas and water. It’s that simple! Alternatively you can use almond or hemp seed milk to add to the flavor and provide additional nutrients.

The Recipe

  • 2 hand fulls of spinach
  • 2 bananas
  • 6 ice cubes (or omit if your bananas are frozen)
  • 1 cup of water or your favorite “milk”
  • 2 TBSP of hemp seed protein (totally optional)

Directions: Throw it all in a blender and WHIRRRRR

If you want to spice it up even more use a chocolate greens powder such as Amazing Grass, or just use cacao powder. One of my favorite things about this drink is how much it freaks people out when they say it. Their reaction is always, “eww, your going to drink that”. But I promise, what looks like it flowed right out of a nuclear waste dump is one of the most delicious smoothies you will ever taste.

ElectricGreenSmoothie2

Electric Green Spinach Smoothie




New addictions, and obsession for training

Posted on December 19th, 2009

I’m not sure how else to describe my new found addiction to running and cycling that is now competing with my climbing regime. I never in a million years thought this would happen to me. I mentioned before in other posts how I couldn’t understand my other climber friends lust for anything other than climbing, but now I am right there with them. Climbing is STILL and will remain my first and primary love. Even thought I am running and cycling more, it is simply because it’s easier to do without killing an entire evening.

Anyway, since purchasing my road bike for the purpose of endurance training as I previously posted I finally got go head out on a long ride today. I also left the homemmade gels at home and only brought a bottle of water with the juice of one lime, some agave nectar and sea salt for the purpose of replenishing electrolytes. The reason for doing this is to deprive my body of carbohydrates and teach it to burn fat as energy.

By teaching my body to burn fat for energy I will be able to perform better in a carb depleted state, maintain more energy for a longer period of time and build up a higher tolerance for pain as Matt from No Meat Athlete mentions in his Running Shorts blog.  This is important because there is more energy available in stored fat, this energy source is also more readily available; not to mention sugar burns a lot quicker.

I was also recently reminded of this concept in Brendan Brazier’s Thrive, an amazing book on sports nutrition from the standpoint of a Vegan. Brendan is a huge advocate of eating a highly alkaline diet, which I am also a big proponent of. Our bodies maintain a constant PH level of 7.35, but it has to work hard to maintain that level of PH. We can help our body out thought by eating less acid forming foods and more alkaline foods.

The cleaner and more alkaline foods we eat the less our body has to work to maintain a PH level of 7.35, thus making our bodies more efficient machines and giving us more energy. This is why I tend to eat more raw foods close to race days. I usually shoot for a 100% raw diet in the three days before, but so far have fallen short, mostly due to Holiday parties at work. In the future temptations to deviate will be minimal (at least I hope).

You can find Alkalizing / Acidifying food chart here.  Its best to avoid as many acidifying foods as you can, but many of them are still healthy for you, so it’s important to balance them out with more alkalizing foods.

As far as today’s ride… it was tough. It was extremely windy and there were lots of hills. You can view the elevation profile below the route map. I rode just over 35 miles in about 2 hours and 20 minutes. My time and speed weren’t too bad considering the conditions. I also was feeling a bit light headed at times because of the lack of carbohydrate intake. It was all for the good of endurance training though.

After getting out of the winds on more rural roads without having cars whiz by be at 60mph, the course become enjoyable and I had fun soaking in the quiet countryside, seems like I saw lots of farmers out working too. There were a number of hills though I didn’t get a lot of momentum going up and barely made it to the top. One of them I actually thought I might have to get off my bike and walk, thankfully I pulled through though. Somehow I was able to do quite well on the hills though and powered up them pretty will, which was surprising since I haven’t been on a ride in over a month.

I am looking forward to more and longer rides like this thought. I plan on riding the Hotter than Hell 100 in Wichita Falls in August 2010. I don’t know if I will do the 100K or the 100 mile yet though. More than likely it will just be the 100k. There are a couple other guys I climb with in the Texas Mountaineers that ride the race every year so I will more than likely have somebody to ride with.

On a side note I should be getting back into the climbing grove starting in January, so I will be able to start bringing you some climbing content for a change! Something I am excited about. Also, be looking for the announcement of a new climbing area I know about as well. It will likely excite a lot of trad climbers in North Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas. That is all I can say for now, but if you dig through past blog entries you will see more information I have leaked! :)

Picture 1

Firs long ride - 35 Miles

Picture 2

Speed and elevation profile.




White Rock Marathon – My first half

Posted on December 16th, 2009

SportPhoto Dallas White Rock MarathonLast weekend was my first half-marathon, The Dallas White Rock Marathon. I have been training for this event since late Summer, my goal time for the race was two hours. A few weeks before the start I was starting to feel unsure I was going to be able to meet my goal; I had yet to even run 13 miles during a training run, and that didn’t change before the day of the race. The furthest I had run was just over 11 miles with a pace just over what I needed to meet my goal. On top of that I came down with a horrible cough after the Turkey Trot that never completely went away.

Race day morning was a bit hectic. I meet up with my friend Trish who was also running the race to ride down together. We meet up at her house, which meant I had to wake up at 5 a.m. in order to make it to the American Airlines Center by 7 a.m. – the race start time was 8 a.m. Despite leaving early, we barely made it to the starting line on time. We tried to find shortcuts around traffic, which only made us have to wait even longer. While sitting in traffic we began seeing runners getting out of cars on the highway and make their way to the starting line.

After having enough of the stand still traffic waiting to get into the parking lot I thought of a place we could park about a quarter mile from the starting line, but during the process of heading over there we saw the traffic on the other side of the road was just as bad, so we made our way through some roads behind where the race started until we came upon an area I was familiar with. Our parking place was almost a mile away from the starting line, so we ended up having a nice little warm up jog to the start and had only 10 minutes to spare before the gun sounded. The worst part of this was I had not stretched yet, it didn’t even occur to me either until it was too late. I paid the price for it too during the run.

Just over a mile into the run I was already starting to feel my calf muscles tightening up. This wasn’t good. I kept plugging on though – trying hard not to thing about the tightness. Shortly after that I was distracted by a guy dressed as Michael Jackson running by me with a boom box strapped to his belt playing all the King of Pop’s greatest hits. There was a number of other costume bearing racers along the way that helped lighten up the run a bit.

I was also quite surprised by all the articles of clothing I saw ditched on the ground in the first three miles of the race. I saw gloves, hats and shirts runners had taken off once they warmed up. It seems the smarter ones wore trash bags, others stepped off course and hid articles of clothing in bushes. Me, I just sucked it up and was cold until my body warmed up. But, if one wished to make a few dollars they could have easily walked the first part of the course and picked up articles of clothing to pawn off on Ebay or a garage sale.

In addition to my calve muscles feeling tight I was just feeling out of it. I didn’t feel like the adrenaline was rushing like it was during the Turkey Trot just a couple weeks ago. Early on in the race I didn’t even think I was going to meet my goal. Even though my pace in the first mile was 8:50 it felt like 10 and I really did think it was closer to 10 than 9, even after checking the GPS.

Around mile five the urge to go to the restroom that hit me around mile two had already passed and I was starting to feel a bit more solid, but knew I still had a lot more to go. I was also feeling the effects of the course; there were a lot of hills. In fact, more than half of the course was uphill. Fortunately though the last 5K was pretty much all downhill. The elevation profile provided in the race packet was really deceptive. I faced a lot more uphill than I expected, but in the end I was really pleased with my pace considering that.

Things continued to go well, I enjoyed the bands playing throughout the course, the funny signs people were holding to cheer on family members and just runners in general. This all helped break up the monotony of the run. But then mile seven hit me. Even though my pace was still fairly consistent, I felt like I had slowed down a lot. I was even passed by an old lady twice during that mile; I finally ended up ahead of her (and staying there) sometime during mile eight.

The bright side of mile eight was I calculated that I only needed a 10 minute pace to complete the half marathon in my two-hour goal. At this point I was pretty sure it was a done deal, but still knew my legs could give out at any minute, the calves were still tight and I was feeling it. I felt they slowed me down a lot. It was though they had turned to concrete and I was throwing around all that extra weight.

So, after this I allowed myself to relax into the run a bit and save some energy for the last 5K that took me down the Katy Trail back to the American Airlines Center where the race began. Once I hit the trail I knew I was almost home. At this point I began to pick up the pace a bit, but started feeling fatigue again after a mile of this so I relaxed into the run again until I regained some energy. I later learned through the race statistics I passed 53 runners during the final 5K, and 127 passed me. That feels about accurate too.

Once I got to the final mile of the race I was finished drinking my homemade sports energy drink so I grabbed a cup of water from the aid station, drank it on the run and then kicked it into high gear for the last 1.1 miles of the course. Even though I was going pretty fast It didn’t feel like it. I felt like I could be going faster but just couldn’t make myself go any quicker. Turns out, my pace for that final mile was 8:11, the fastest of the 13.

As I neared the finish line all I could think about was crossing. I wasn’t even looking for the time clock; I did however raise my fist into the air and pump it wildly for the camera as I crossed over the line. I had my priorities right here I think, it was after all my first half marathon. I avoided stopping my RunKeeper app right away too. I waited until I was completely across the line.

After pulling the iPhone out of my back jersey pocket I was ecstatic to read 1:58:17 – 13.27. My official time ended up being 1:58:10. I did it! I beat my goal by running a sub two in my first half-marathon. At first I didn’t think it was that big of a deal, but from what I hear others telling me my time was really good, especially for a first timer. That gets me really pumped. I am already thinking about my next race. I will likely run another half sometime in the spring, and possibly a 5K in the near future.

I currently don’t have any aspirations for a full marathon, but that could always change. For now I want to give me knees a bit of a rest and spend more time cycling and climbing. I feel right now my body needs a bit of a rest, so I am taking most of this week off and will resume lighter training either late this week or early next week.

For those interested, here are screen shots of my stats from the run.

WhiteRockTime

WhiteRockStats




Three days until I “Run the Rock”

Posted on December 10th, 2009
White Rock Half Marathon Course

White Rock Half Marathon Course

Well, it’s finally here – well almost. This weekend I will be running my first half marathon. Sunday morning at 8 a.m. racer number 9661 will run the Dallas White Rock Marathon. It just hit me today that the race is almost here. For the past week and a half I have been battling a horrible cough, this has been the first time I have actually been sick in over a year and a half (since going vegetarian).

Today was the first day I felt truly well enough to run, and seeing as how it was the last possible day for me to get training in before the marathon I decided to go for it. I ran a fast 4.4 miles in 8:54 (RunKeeper data here), which included a lot of walking through one stretch when I was getting a side cramp. I was happy though that my final run before the race was pretty strong. I feel confident I will meet my goal time of two hours. I may even beat it!

As you can see from the map above the half marathon route actually goes nowhere near White Rock Lake. Only the full marathon circles the lake now. Sometime in the past few years the route was change when the numbers grew too big and the start was moved to Downtown Dallas. Despite the fact the half will not be going around the lake I am excited about the route. The elevation profile shows the first half to be a gradual uphill and the second half to be all downhill – that, I am excited about!

I also recently discovered the Marathon is offering Participant Tracking. Just follow the link and enter in your cell phone number to get text message updates on my progress along the course. At several checkpoints a text message will be sent updating you with my time, mile and pace. A final text will be sent at the finish line.

So, for the next few days I will be taking things easy, getting sleep, drinking lots of water and eating lots of raw foods. I’m getting even more psyched about the race just typing up this post. But, I’m not sure what I am looking forward to most; running the race or eating as much food as I want after the race! I will be sure to post a race recap as soon as I have the energy to.

Be sure to click the link above and register for Participant Tracking so you can follow my progress. Just wish I could set it to tweet my updates :)




Raw chocolate recovery pudding – or smoothie

Posted on December 8th, 2009

Raw Chocolate Pudding

Raw Chocolate Pudding

After a run last week I found I only had a half bag of mixed berries left in the freezer and needed them for my breakfast in the morning, so I decided to get creative with my recovery smoothie for that day. What I came up with was really more of a delicious chocolate pudding, and let me tell you, it puts Jello brand chocolate pudding to shame! The ingredients really sound like an odd combination, and they are! But, I really surprised myself with this recipe, I honestly didn’t think it would taste that great, the results are amazing though.

The Recipe

  • 2 bananas
  • 1 avocado
  • 2 tbsp of honey
  • 4 tbs of cacao powder
  • 2 tbsp of raw tahini
  • 4 tbsp of hemp seed protein
  • 1.5 cups of almond milk

Combine all ingredients in a Vita-Mix blender and process until you have a nice thick, creamy consistency. The result should be a nice thick pudding like mixture that can be eaten as a pudding or drank like a smoothie. I’m not much for sitting around eating lots of pudding, so I just treat it like a nice thick smoothie and chug away.

Also, remember if you are interested in purchasing a Vita-Mix you can get free shipping by going through the links on my site.




Raw Oatmeal Cookies – A Holiday Treat

Posted on December 2nd, 2009
RawOatmealCookies

Raw Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

This is one of my favorite raw deserts to make for friends. I have brought this particular recipe to holiday parties in the past as well as shipped them in care packages to friends. This recipe is easy to make and takes very little time. Clean up after making these is a breeze.  The recipe calls for oat grouts, using raw grouts is best if you can find them. I have seen them on occasions at a local health food store, but most of the time they will not be raw; but these cookies are still extremely healthy without the raw grouts, so don’t let the inability to find truly raw grouts stop you from making these delicious treats. Unless of course you are a hard core 100% raw foodie! :)

The Recipe

  • 2 1/2 cups of oat groats
  • 1 cup of pitted dates
  • 3/4 cup of raisins pulsed in food processor (dried cranberries are also awesome)
  • 1/2 cup of raw almonds coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup of raw cashews coarsely chopped
  • 2 coarsely chopped fuji apples
  • 2 tbsp of agave nectar

Directions: In a food processor grind half of the oat grouts fine, and the other half between course and fine – pour the grouts into a large mixing bowl. Next pulse the dates in a food processor and add the paste to the mixing bowl. Mix thoroughly with grouts and then add the remaining ingredients and mix again.

After all the ingredients are mixed thoroughly mash the mixture into desired cookie shapes and place on a mesh dehydrator sheet. This should be enough to fill one tray of a nine tray Excalibur (about 20 cookies), depending on the size.

Dehydrate at 100 degrees for 10-12 hours. For those without a dehydrator you may be able to use your oven at it’s lowest setting. I would guess you would have to keep an eye on them though and flip them at some point as well.