… Vote!

I’ve not voted once in my life, I sometimes wasn’t able to due to travelling, not having an address, but when I was able to it was often a very conscious choice. I am very aware that writing that sentence will awake frustration in a lot of people. But let me inform you why first before you voice your frustration about non-voters, it’s often frustrating for non-voters too.

Politics baffles me. In these modern times it’s still a very old system in certain countries. You hear a lot of people on TV and media saying when you don’t vote you let others vote for you. I disagree, I don’t understand why it’s not recognized as a warning sign, well maybe it is recognized as a warning sign but what actions are taken to help people make informed choices. Governments know how many people should be voting and they know how many people have voted. If there is a big number not voting, shouldn’t that be taken into account in decisions? Shouldn’t people realize: Ok we have this many voters and this many non voters, why haven’t people voted (and here comes the big one….drum roll….) and what can we do about that?

One thing I don’t understand is why there isn’t a website or paper made by the government or neutral body with all the objective information you need to vote, all in one place. A website and/or paper where parties are properly outlined, easy to compare them, with politician profiles so you can actually see what people have done and are doing for people and country. Isn’t that something that should be provided? Easy to access proper information about what is happening with campaigns and back up plans? It will be a lot of information easily accessible so you don’t have to look in a hundred different places. Let’s take Brexit for an example and let’s face it, this weird spur of the moment thing is a fiasco. It still baffles me that it has gone through without people even knowing what they actually voted for (some people didn’t even know what Europe is and those people voted…), no one knows what it really is, they got a YES vote and are now figuring out the details, shouldn’t that have been done before? Shouldn’t people have been informed properly what would (and will, no lies please) happen in every way when people vote yes or no? This is an issue that is happening with every election or referendum. Lack of proper objective information or lack of knowing where to find information easily.

‘Vote’ is what you hear on commercials on Youtube and TV. Ok… for who? When I google who to vote for a quiz comes up, yay a quiz who doesn’t like a quiz? But my heart sinks when there are questions such as: Income tax on people earning over £80,000 a year should be increased to help pay for essential services. Hmmm. What kind of question is that? Where is the information so I can make an informed choice? How much would it be raised? Maybe I think yes it should but not too much, or maybe I think how much tax do those people pay anyway I don’t know I don’t earn that much and I don’t know how much tax I could pay without losing so much money it isn’t worth working that hard for and earning it because I need to hand most of it in. Hard working people who don’t harm others (!!!) deserve their money in my opinion (unfortunately there are jobs where people work their butts off and not earn as much as they should which is unfair). Yes, those fortunate people can miss a little bit more but they have worked for it so they should be able to keep and enjoy a little bit more too. Balance. (I’m not going to give my opinion about people who earn a ridiculous amount of money without doing much just because they know the ‘right’ people, maybe another time on another post 😉 Oh and you can argue if a person really needs millions or even a bonus of 100.000 pounds to live a nice life and if a decent minimum and maximum salary might be an idea for certain jobs so money get to go back into the country and to the people. Fucking bloody money, excuse my language, who invented that shit? ;)). Anyway, so those kind of questions put me off a ‘who to vote for’ quiz. It doesn’t inform me properly end of. It’s up to me to find that information then isn’t it but is it? Isn’t it a duty to the people from government to make it easy to find necessary information to make an informed choice? I’m someone who loses interest in politics easily because I don’t have a lot of faith anymore in the people you hear about, there is a lot of finger pointing, big egos, and all I can think is really? These are the people that think they earn my vote? These are the people who run a country? Really? I should vote because I don’t want those people to run the country but I have no clue who to vote for and there you have it. I’m lost somewhere in the middle not far right and not far left but in the middle… I think it’s a busy place over there.

I am sad because I do care and I want to vote but I am too lost and I am not sure how to find my way again. It takes time to read up on the parties and frankly (this is a very sad thing to say) my time is too precious which I know sounds ridiculous but it is how I feel. I know but it is what happends when I see a vote quiz, think yay, start the quiz, my heart sinks when I see questions that are not complete, my interest is lost. But I have a life as do most people. I don’t have time or want to to spend hours and hours trying to find objective information about who to vote for. After a little while I try again, finding a few websites written by papers… hang on… papers aren’t often objective are they (is media in general these days ever objective)? They should be but aren’t. Can I trust it? Can I trust the websites the parties wrote? Can I trust the parties, will they do what they say they’ll do even though the past has shown that people lie to get where they want to be? Trust is not there anymore…

I’m aware that this all might sound as excuses to not vote, maybe it sounds as if I am a lazy git. But I genuinely don’t want to vote for parties I don’t trust. There are a few people I like but when I look at the whole party I’m not sure if I like what I see, I am not sure if I vote for that person the whole party will support that person and do what they told me they would do, I am not sure if parties have the interest of people and country really at heart. Egos are so big, where is kindness and where is maturity? You can’t run a country only with your mind you do need a heart too and vice versa. Where is the balance? It’s a big issue and it’s a big reason why I don’t vote (yet).

People tell me others fought hard for the right to vote and I should vote. Yes those amazing people did and I am very grateful for them but you forget… those fabulous people fought for the right to vote. It is still my right to make the choice to not vote. Am I happy about it? Of course not.

I live my life in a way I hope inspire others, I try to be the change I want to see in the world which is never easy but often necessary. At least that is something I  and you can do for people and planet. Easy isn’t always the right way. I hope parties are going to do the same so one day I am able to vote and be happy about it, supporting my choice 90 to 100%. At the moment I am between 40 and 60% (which means 40 to 60% question marks) which to me isn’t enough to vote.

You might not agree and that’s absolutely fine, that’s your opinion and this is mine. I only want to give some insight why people might not vote, these are some of my reasons.

 

Blessed be Xx

 

Note: I only learned recently how to voice this after a conversation with a dear friend who I can talk to about anything without being judged (thank you). People are getting scared to voice their opinions about a lot of things which is a very sad thing. I can only hope people are becoming more aware of the reasons why people do the things they do instead of finger pointing. I hope people return to be human beings wanting to listen to others in a respectful way without judgement and wanting to help each other to make this beautiful place also a beautiful place to live for everyone.

Review: Herbology diploma course at RBGE

Think of the scenes in Harry Potter where they’re in the greenhouse repotting mandrakes or when they are making potions. That’s the feeling the Herbology room gave me the first time I walked in… and the second… and third. Now when I walk into the room that feeling is even stronger but it’s also mixed with gratitude and love. A lot of beautiful memories are created there which I will cherish forever.

Finally I am ready to write the Herbology diploma course review. I guess I didn’t want to say goodbye to this part of my life which is why I’ve not picked up my course work until a few weeks ago. This course has given me so much but as with everything there is always room for improvement. I divided this review into the subjects and give you my experience of them and what could be improved. Hopefully it’s helpful! The duration of the course has changed, when I followed it students had 1 year to finish the course as in started in September and graduating in September. Most of the work had to be done by June. It changed from 1 year to 18 months which is a good thing considering the amount of work. If you don’t have that time but do want to learn more about herbs RBGE runs an Herbology certificate course as well.

Herbal Journal + Herbal Journal assignments
During the course you have to keep a herbal journal of your herbal experiences/research/findings, it’s a diary of your herbal journey. Everyone has their own way of doing it, I used a small notebook and lots of pictures, others prefer to write a lot, others like a big notebook. You are given the freedom to create your journal. With the herbal journal come 12 herbal journal assignments. These are great to dive into a subject (for example digestive herbs) and research the topic. You will learn a lot from them but what I found difficult was that RBGE didn’t give a word count. The problem is because it’s so interesting you could keep writing about the topics so that’s one thing that could be improved. Also 12 assignments was a lot to do in a year, I’m not sure how it’s divided now but if you have 18 months for them you should be able to keep up.

Herbarium
I didn’t expect it but I absolutely loved creating my own herbarium. You’ll visit the herbarium at RBGE and get a demonstration what tools to use and how to mount dried herbs. You’ll learn how to press plants and how to dry them. RBGE has a video about mounting herbs on Youtube you can view which could be useful. Our group had to dry and mount 12 specimens in the year and choose one herb to preserve in Copenhagen solution (alcohol and water mixture). For all specimens you have to write a monograph to accompany the herb. It’s a lot of work and you do have to start fairly early if you don’t want to have to do 10 specimens all in spring. Plan ahead! When I went for a walk I almost always had paper and trowel with me in case I came across plants I could press, you can always press more plants than you need. That way you can choose your best specimens at the end of the year.

Pharmacopoeia
If you like healing and recipes this is the subject for you! Basically… every student in my year enjoyed the green remedy classes, what’s not to love about classes that teach you how to use herbs preserving as much medicinal properties as possible. During the year you’ll have to create your pharmacopoeia aka recipe book of the remedies you made. This can include the remedies you learn about in class (balms/soaps/syrups/tinctures/creams) or only remedies you create yourself. Include the steps you took (pictures are great) and describe what went well and what you would do different next time you’ll make the remedy. At the end of the year you will be assessed on remedy making. You will be making a remedy from one or a few of the herbs you grew in your plot. I loved that assessment! We were split into two groups and you’re just doing what you love doing with the herbs you grew, explaining what you’re creating to Catherine (course director and tutor!), and when you’re done you’ll share the knowledge with the whole group, all like minded people who have walked along with you on your journey.

Some classes could be improved for example the chocolate class. During the chocolate class we melted pre-made chocolate and used that to make ganache and create chocolate bonbons with herbs. I enjoyed it but it would have been great to learn how to make chocolate from scratch working with the beans and to spend more time learning about the healing properties of chocolate. Perhaps it would have been fine if it was a morning class, but to spend a whole day on making chocolate when you’re not learning from scratch seemed like a waste of an afternoon.

Ecology
For ecology we had to visit a place in nature and write a profile for 3 plants you came across and you had the option to choose to write about an existing conservation project in that area or write about phenology regarding that area. Good news… it had a word count! I enjoyed picking an area and exploring, great to explore a new place and practise identification skills! I would have liked to pick phenology but I felt I didn’t know enough about it to include it in my project and finish on time.

Ethnomedica
An interesting project which also had a word count. We had to find someone who could tell us about a herb used for healing, interview them, and write down our findings and include a plant profile of the plant you learned about. I was lucky that my dad used tobacco to create a remedy for farm animals so he was my ‘victim’. If you don’t know anyone it might be tricky to find someone however people all over the world know a few stories. Use your local knowledge (who knows what interesting characters you find in an elderly home) or email that person you read about, never try never know right?

Garden Design
A choice between designing a garden for Lauriston Castle or designing a garden for the Botanic Cottage in RBGE. I choose to design a garden for Lauriston Castle after having visited it with Herbology. A project I thought I wouldn’t like but the opposite happened and the end result will hang on a wall in my home at some point (when I have wall ha!). You have to write plant profiles, design the garden, and write about how you can use the garden for educational purposes.

Physic garden
This is the part where you have the freedom to grow the herbs you like/want to know more about at RBGE. You receive a plot and are free (there are some rules but not many) to pick a theme, choose herbs, design your bed, and put knowledge into practise and learn. You’ll need to have a proposal (theme/herbs) that has to be approved around December (this might have changed), you have to keep a garden journal, and write plant profiles about the herbs you’re growing (this is included in one of the herbal assignments).

I absolutely loved it! But… there was a point in time where I was incredibly frustrated with how RBGE managed the process. At the end of October we all received our plots and put a lot of effort into making it winter ready. Some of us (including me) wanted to try green manure and we planted that so we would see how it would impact the plot. We also took measures to protect the plants we inherited from the previous year. Unfortunately we got news that some of our plots would be levelled in January because of the newly built Botanic cottage which meant some of the plants we inherited had to be taken out of the plots and we would lose the green manure experiment. My plot was one of the most affected plots. RBGE assured our plots would look exactly the same as they did before they started the work, they took pictures of the plots which was reassuring. When we received our plots back they didn’t look like anything they did before, they were in an awful state (I have pictures of the before and after). After putting a lot of thought, love, and work into the plots to see them in such a state understandably made my heart sink. We were the ones who had to put hard work in again to make it in an ok state, a big thanks to Catherine who picked up a fork and helped me with my plot, I think that says a lot about her. Also when we received our plants back from RBGE, the plants weren’t the same specimens RBGE took out and some plants were even lost. RBGE did provide other plants for the lost ones but how is it possible to lose plants? What also surprised me was that the people who run Herbology didn’t seem to have a lot of say in the overall process and it gave me the impression that RBGE doesn’t regard Herbology as highly as Herbology deserves.

You will get a budget to order seeds but all the students on my course bought plants to put into the plots as well (after having them in quarentaine), and we were told we would be able to take them home at the end of the year. Unfortunately that didn’t happen as there was a biosecurity issue throughout Scotland at that time. Lovely Senga offered to provide cuttings from the plants which was a nice offer but I asked RBGE for a refund; cuttings aren’t the same as a proper plant you put in and spent money on. I’ll receive a refund but it would have been great if RBGE took responsibility and would have contacted us individually about how much money we spent and organized refunds instead of students asking. Anyway for the next year(s) you won’t be able to bring plants in due to the the on-going biosecuitry issue, you can only use the plants that are in the botanics already and/or you grow herbs from seed.

The points I mentioned above were annoying but they were easily put into the back of my mind and often totally forgotten when I arrived at my plot and got to be creative, think about the herbs, see them grow, really get to know them, see what works and what doesn’t, and have amazing people share their knowledge and help you out when you get stuck. This has been a very big learning curve and it has been very magical. To me it doesn’t get much better than being outside working with the earth and getting to know plants. I learned so much and I loved it.

Dissertation
Yes you do have to write a dissertation which has a word count of 5000 words, so it’s more like a big assignment (although I have to admit some of my assignments contained more words than my dissertation… that’s what happens when you love a subject). You can pick any topic you want to write about (Herbology advises you to ask a question which you explore in the content) but you do need to get it approved before you start, just to make sure you’re not wasting your time. Pick something that’s not too difficult
to research and make it interesting!

Improvement points/tips
The schedule could be adjusted in a more efficient way. For example it would have been great if we had the tincture class with Beth and Ali earlier in the year so we could have experimented making more interesting and effective tinctures.
Personally I was disappointed with how deadlines are treated, deadlines exist to keep people on track and I got the feeling deadlines weren’t treated as they should (to be fair a lot of us had a rough year with lots going on and I am not sure Herbology could have done more to help them out). I felt management was too loose with them which made the course harder because assignments kept bulking up for some students. At the beginning of the year we got a table that broke-down how the course would be marked including how deadlines would be treated. I didn’t see that table represented at the end of the year which was a bit dissappointing. Why give it out if it’s not being taken that seriously and deadlines are extended a lot of the time without affecting marks? I don’t think that’s fair to the people who do keep track of the work because those people simply didn’t get the same amount of time to put into assignments as others and I do believe marks should be affected (exceptions obviously exist). I don’t mean to sound too aggressive on this point, however we are talking about a diploma course which management would like to get to academic level.

The course is a lot of work and my advice to you is keep up with it and don’t wait too long with starting Pharmacopoeia, Garden Design, and Herbarium. Basically when you receive assignments and projects start them, you will need the time. When you need to pick something for the course, pick something that’s healing (obviously). I picked a Witch’s theme for my plot and although it was different and I loved it, if I could do it again I would pick something else which is more easily linked to healing herbs such as ayurvedic garden, vulnerary garden, healing herbs of the mint family, healing herbs for arthritis, herbs that benefit the liver. Don’t make it hard for yourself because you have enough work to do 😉 You will have 1-2-1s during the year and be honest if you are struggling with something, there is always someone who is able to help you out or point you in the right direction. 1-2-1s are there to get feedback and give feedback, use that time and ask questions.

Some things have changed now and there is an online version of the course (look on the RBGE website for course information) but again it will be a lot of work,  don’t underestimate it. I was lucky to have enough time to focus on it, not everyone on my course was. Most of us finished on time but some lovelies weren’t able to because of the amount of work, Herbology gave them an extension which is great. Again, the timeframe has changed which should enable you to finish it on time.

All the tutors on the course are aboslutely amazing and I loved all the classes, I really did. From the less nice things that happened during the year I described all the tutors have done their best to assist and make the best out of those situations. In some ways I am disappointed in RBGE but having said that the tutors were always there if you wanted to have a chat (although it could be a challenge to get a time that would suit both due to busy schedules).

 

All in all if you’d ask me would you do it again I would say: Definitely as long as the plots aren’t medled with 😉 It’s an amazing course to do and you’ll get a lot out of it wether you choose to continue studying Herbalism or wether you will use the knowledge for yourself and your loved ones.

 

Blessed be Xx

… Touch deprived

This post if about touch showing love, affection, and care. Non consensual touch is ALWAYS wrong.

 

Sex is a big difference between being just friends or being more. You can be more for one night or you can be more for a few days, weeks, months, years and go back to being friends (yes it is possible as long as you’re adults about it and don’t let others opinions get in the way) or you can be more for the rest of your life. Brilliant. So why is it that there is such a stigma about having sex with different people when you’re single? People in HEALTHY long term relationships can’t speak here no offense but you probably don’t know (anymore) what it is to not get intimately touched regularly. If you are a girl and enjoy sex with different partners you’re quickly called a slut if you’re a guy a lot of people say good for you or call you a player or womanizer. People judge straight away not even thinking why people seek intimacy even if it’s for one night. Do you know their story? Why be so judgemental? When people are unattached what is so wrong about seeking company and affection of someone who seeks company and affection and is single too? Even if you’re not single but are in a relationship where both parties are ok with each other having more partners and communicate to everyone involved clearly what they are looking for then why should others be judgemental? That it wouldn’t work for you or me doesn’t mean it wouldn’t work for everyone. There are so many people walking this planet who grew up with different morals, different culture, and different views what is the harm when they are not harming others?

I’ve been single for 6 years now and I have had some intimate nights with different people. You can do two things when you read this: judge me straight away or put yourself in my shoes. For one it’s hard for me to meet people and even when I meet someone most guys want children which isn’t what I want so I am very selective for who I let my walls down even if it’s for one or two nights. Hey I am not just letting anyone close I do have some standards thanks very much 😉 Sure I’ve had a few intimate nights but not many especially not many when you compare it to someone who has been in a healthy relationship for 6 years or even 1. Imagine the hugs and kisses I and a lot of others are missing out on and that’s exactly what’s really hard at least for me. Of course I want someone in my life who sweeps me of my feet, who loves me and I him, sharing experiences, build memories together, and share life but that’s not the hardest part because I get a lot out of my relationships with my friends and family. Intimacy is missing and I’m not getting touched enough. Lucky me I have a few great friends who know the power of touch and don’t shy away from giving me a tight hug where I can feel their love seeping into me. It’s great but it is not enough though… not for me. I am intimately touch deprived and that’s not something a vibrator can fix so yes sometimes when I have the right mindset I do look for someone who’s looking for intimacy too. Sometimes it works out great, sometimes it doesn’t. Sex and one night stands often aren’t ‘easy’. Feelings are always there and they can really mess with people especially when both parties aren’t clear on what it is they want.

When babies don’t get touched enough they die. That says a lot about the human race doesn’t it? If babies die from not getting enough touch is it strange to think children and adults can get depressed from not getting enough touch? I don’t think that’s strange at all and it makes sense to me that people seek touch when they aren’t getting touched regularly. A lot of humans are touch deprived but have no idea they are and how could they? It’s not something that’s talked about is it? I wonder why touch is such a touchy subject to a lot of people. When you’re a child you’re touched by your mum and dad and family and friends by being stroked on the back or hugged or kissed and sometimes even a slap. It shows affection and care. Yes sometimes even a slap can show that (I’m not saying it’s right). For a lot of people the amount of touch declines when getting older. Why?

Conditioning and communication. Whoopdiewhoo here we go again. There is the culprit and the tool that could save a lot of heartbreak. We’re conditioned through years and years by religion, parents, family, and friends about what is right and what is wrong. Can you think about subjects without letting anything else interfere? When is something wrong? It’s hard to not let your views get in the way of answering that isn’t it? Try and make up your own mind but be aware what you think might not be what others think.

Communication isn’t taught properly at least not when I was in school and not in my childhood. Let me be very clear I am not blaming or pointing fingers because the people who don’t teach their pupils, students, or children probably don’t know either how to communicate when certain issues arise let alone explain to others how to tackle communication. Bloody hell some situations are bloody difficult! It’s not easy to communicate clearly but really we could all be clearer couldn’t we? If two (or more) single people get together it would be a huge help to know what it is the other wants right? Wether that’s ‘just’ sex for one night, a few nights, or a few dates to see where it could go, a relationship, children, or marriage it would be very helpful to not let your own mind roam free with lots of thoughts where things could go when it’s not at all what the other person wants. This doesn’t only apply to intimate relationships. How amazing would it be if everyone would be comfortable asking for a hug when they need it and aren’t looked down upon or are looking down upon themselves because they’ve been told asking for a hug is weak and they believe that? How amazing would it be if people know how to help others when they’re having a break down? How amazing would it be if people are comfortable to ask others for help or touch when they need it? Showing emotion and affection is something that’s been surpressed in the ‘modern’ world. People who express their feelings, show their emotion, and/or affection are sometimes even viewed as weak. That baffles me… hello we are human BEINGS not robots. It’s not like we’re at war fighting with swords staring our enemy in the eye and start crying before we stab. This is daily life I’m talking about. Emotion is what makes everyone unique, it’s what makes people strong, and it’s what makes us human.

 

People have such a distorted view of touch, affection, and sex. Let’s try to not be so judgemental, let’s try to communicate clearly, and most of all let’s be human.

 

Blessed be Xx

… Sugar Yay or Nay?

There are so many myths and ridiculous things going round about sugar it can be tricky to know what’s right and what’s wrong so I will give you some of the basics which will hopefully help you to make up your mind.

The question is sugar bad for you is not easily answered with a yes or no. It depends on certain factors for example what kind of sugar and how much do you take?

The body converts certain carbohydrates into glucose which is a sugar. I hear people say carbs are bad for you which isn’t necessarily true. Again it depends on what kind of carbs and how much you consume. Fact is that your body needs carbs. Carbs are converted into glucose (or is converted into glucogen and stored in the muscles and liver) and are the main source of energy and you need energy to function right? Without energy you can’t do anything so your body needs carbs (mainly in the morning makes sense when you’re starting your day and need energy to fuel you through the day). Keep in mind your body needs vitamins and minerals to be able to release energy. There is no set value for carb intake it depends per person although the rule of thumb is your diet should exist of 50% to 60% of carbs. This means 50% to 60% of the intake for someone your size, your health, and activity level. This can be calculated but I’m not going into that now, if you want to know more use Google or find a registered dietician or nutritionist to help you out. Are you active then you probably need more and if you’re not then you need less. There are three basic types of carbs: simple carbs (for example fruit, biscuits, cakes, soft drinks), complex carbs or starch (for example whole grain rice, sweet potatoes, pulses, fresh and frozen vegetables, quinoa, whole grains, white bread, white pasta, cake, pastries, white rice), and non-starch polysaccharides or fibre which isn’t converted into energy but assists the body in transportation of foods through the digestive system. Simple and complex carbs can be divided into unrefined (which means natural these are your fruits, vegetables, whole grains, pulses etc) and refined (man-made or processed such as pasta, breads, pastries, cakes, biscuits etc). Unrefined carbs contain fructose and glucose (sugars), vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, phytochemicals (plant compounds which benefit the body by preventing disease), fibre, and trace amino acids (protein). Refined carbs contain nothing of these instead contain often excessive sugar amounts, low quality fats, and can affect insulin levels in a negative way. Refined carbs are sometimes called anti-nutrient. Which of those do you think is better for your body? I let you decide which carbs are good for you and which ones aren’t.

So we concluded your body needs sugars because it converts into energy. This doesn’t mean all types of sugar is good for you. Sugars made out of glucose molecules can be used by the body straight away or stored in the liver as glycogen (great) or when there is excess it is converted into fat, galactose molucles are converted into glucose (or glycogen) by the liver, and fructose is converted into glucose or stored as fat. There are other types of sugars containing two sugar molecules such as sucrose (glucose and fructose), lactose (glucose and galactose), and maltose (glucose and glucose). When sugar is stored as fat it isn’t converted back into glucose it will stay stored as fat. Fat also provides energy but it is a much slower process and your body will always use glucose first and only moves to fat (and later proteins) when there is almost to none glucose left. How quickly are certain carbs processed by your body providing glucose you need? You can use the Glycemic Index (GI) to look that up. The quicker it’s broken down the higher the rating (up to 100) the slower it’s released the lower the rating (0). Which one do you want? Low, medium, or high? It depends on your health and activity you can use the knowledge to play with it (as long as you’re healthy). High glycemic foods release energy quicker so that could be ideal just before you go for a quick run or if you need energy quickly during a run. Medium to low glycemic foods release slowly which is beneficial if you want a steady energy supply throughout the day. Low GI foods help to control your appetite and causes a smaller rise in blood sugar which means the drop is much less than when you consume high GI foods. If you eat lots of high GI foods your blood sugar levels peak and drop a lot which can make you very tired which can lead to other things such as not able to concentrate.

Let’s have a look at a few sugars. White granulated sugar (refined sugar, the molasses are processed out of the sugar which is why it’s not brown anymore) consists of almost pure sucrose and has nothing else that’s healthy in it and is even inflammatory (all refined sugars are inflammatory, it stimulates production of cytokines which causes inflammation). Don’t make the mistake of thinking brown sugar is unrefined… it’s refined because it’s white sugar with the molasses processed back into it. I know right? I have no words for that…. Anyway moving on. Raw or organic cane sugar contains minerals, vitamins, amino acids, and sucrose. Which one would you choose?

There are a lot of other options to sweeten foods or drinks without using table sugar for instance honey. It is natural (unrefined), contains vitamins, minrals, fructose, and glucose (how much of each depends on the honey and some might contain sucrose and maltose). Another one is stevia. The plant contains carbohydrates, iron, phosphorus, calcium, potassium, sodium, magnesium, zinc, and vitamins A and C. It’s extremely sweet so you don’t need much of it. Unfortunately when it’s refined these nutrients are processed out of it. Then there are artificial sweeteners which are obviously refined. STAY AWAY FROM THEM! That’s my opinion. Why? They’re addictive by stimulating sensitive areas in the brain and are linked to different health issues for example high blood pressure, depression, reduction red blood cells, and headaches. Examples of these are aspartame (often hiding as E951), sucralose (E995), acesulfame K or acesulfame potassium (E950), and saccharin (E954).

 

Does that mean you should only eat unrefined foods? Everyone needs a treat once in a while and for someone that can be an apple for someone else it’s cake for someone else it’s pizza for someone else it depends on mood and so on. Moderation is key here. Your daily diet should consists mostly of unrefined foods if you want to live a healthy life. That doesn’t mean you can’t have a treat once in a while.

To me it makes total sense that a body recognizes natural substances and is able to use that substance efficiently. When something not natural but man-made is consumed the body needs more time to figure out what it is and what it is supposed to do with it. In doubt who knows where those substances go to. Some will become fats that are stored in or around the organs or veins causing disease others might become free radicals causing disease… not something I want to do to myself I like being healthy thanks very much.

 

Sugar yay or nay? I hope I gave you some knowledge to make up your own mind about that one.

 

Blessed Be  Xx

… Ode to Advent Running

2016… what a year! People wanted change and they got it now let’s hope it’s going to be a good change. It’s not been the best year for me but the good things that have happened… wow. I finished Herbology with a distinction (I will write about it I promise I’m just not ready to say goodbye to it just yet), became a personal trainer, gained a niece, really started to teach yoga, and I met a lot of sparkly souls which brings me to Advent Running.

My friend added me to the Facebook group after explaining Advent Running isn’t only for runners it’s for everyone who exercises (wether that’s running, yoga, swimming, cycling, weights, pilates, plodding – yes it is a thing, you name it) and want to join the challenge of exercising 30 minutes every day in December until the 25th of December. The idea is to spend a minimum of 30 minutes per day on yourself and your health. Especially in December people forget to take time for themselves and this challenge is perfect for the festive season. Is it easy? That depends totally on you but I don’t think anyone has found it easy it’s a challenge especially in December. I didn’t find it easy but it has been very inspiring and so much fun.

There I was in a group with mostly runners. I read some of the posts before introducing myself and found out there was something else going on: run for sprouts or run from sprouts! You could even order a red advent running t-shirt (run from sprouts) or a green one (run for sprouts). Brilliant! All the posts I read were about people running, swimming, pilates, yoga, but most of all it struck me how supportive people were no matter if you were running 5k, 10k, a marathon, an ultra, or were cycling, or spinning, or doing yoga, etc. Amazing.

I decided I was going to do yoga for the challenge and dedicated 30 to 50 minutes to Surya Namaskara (sun salutations) every day. I introduced myself and got lovely responses straight away. Every day I posted a picture of an asana or funny pictures of the cat or quotes. My days were mostly spent on doing yoga and reading through posts, commenting on some, responding to replies on my posts, laughing at pictures and peoples funny stories and sprout jokes, reading inspiring stories, looking at beautiful photos, being wow-ed by peoples strava maps that looked like christmas decorations, being supportive to people who got injured or were struggling to exercise, and even cry once in a while because when you’re in a group and you’re active in it you get a glimpse of their life and life isn’t always fun…

You don’t have to post at all and of course you can do the challenge by yourself without the group but being in the group can really help you (or kick your ass) when you’re not that motivated or are struggling or are injured and you can help others too and that’s what I loved. The people in the group really make it super special and who knows you might even meet amazing people who become friends. One thing though… if you think you still see friends posts on your Facebook newsfeed forget it, it’s filled with Advent Running fun!

 

Thank you to everyone who participated in Advent Running and a big thank you to the people organizing it. I absolutely loved being part of your group this year and I will be there again in 2017. To everyone who shared their stories and photos, has been supportive, and made me laugh and cry: Yous are awesome sparkly souls don’t ever change!

This has been a really nice way to start the ending of 2016. Who knows… maybe next year I’ll be running (most likely plodding ;)) for sprouts! Don’t count on it though 😉

 

Happy 2017 and blessed be Xx

Review: Mooncup – Menstrual cup

As promised! This is a review about a menstrual cup so I will be sharing intimate info. Consider yourself warned! Men: if you landed on my blog you might want to scroll past this post which is ok us ladies understand since you don’t have a bleeding vagina every month that sometimes feels like it’s trying to kill you from the inside (go to google images and type in period cramps dinosaur. You’re welcome). I wrote this for the girls out there who might want to try a menstrual cup instead of other options but aren’t sure about it.

There are two sizes depending on age and if you’ve given birth. Make sure you get the right one otherwise you might end up with leaking if you pick the smaller one or you end up fiddling with the bigger one when you don’t have to. Read the instructions before using it.

Day 1. Here we go I am not going to lie I’m a bit nervous to use the mooncup (mooncup is the brand I got because of their clear explanations and website. There are other brands out there.). I am not convinced that you don’t feel it and it looks huge at the moment although it isn’t huge it is just my mind playing games. It’s a bit fiddly putting it in and to know that is positioned ok but when it’s in it’s fine. I did trim most of the stem. If you trim the stem make sure you don’t cut into the cup! After walking around I noticed that I really don’t feel it at all and do a happy dance and even then I don’t feel it and then I did yoga and didn’t feel it which is awesome! Getting it out is a little fiddly because this is new to me and it is a bit bloody (obviously when you have your period) and because the rim of the cup is bigger it can feel a bit sore when it comes out at first but there might be another technique for this or I just need to get used to it. I don’t get a lot of action down there (that lovely bastard is taking his time;)) so I am a bit tight. Second time putting it in and taking it out is already a little easier. Some people seem to have issues with getting it out. You’re not pulling on the stem the cup has little airholes under the rim to release suction which you will need to keep clear of any blood everytime you clean it. What you need to do as explained in instructions is to relax your muscles, squeeze the bottom of the cup or move your finger along side the rim to break the seal, then you pull it out holding on to the bottom of the cup. Become familiar with your vagina ladies! So far so good let’s see how it goes during the night.

Day 2. The cup did its job during the night so I am happy! Taking it out and putting it in is still a bit sore but I’m sure it’ll get better. I guess it just depends per body and how tight you are. I don’t mind doing it since it saves the environment so much waste and it saves me a lot of money as well. So far it works fine and you do get to know your body (and blood/flow) in another way. I am already starting to prefer this over tampons or pads but I am still in the comfort of the flat.

Day 3. It is still a bit sore when taking it out and putting it in but I am happy it works properly and no leaks occur. I had to empty it when I was away so when you need to empty it in a public toilet make sure there is toilet paper (!!!) and preferably have bottle of water with you. You are dealing with blood and I prefer cleaning it with a rinse before putting it back in although you don’t have to as long as you clean it properly the next time. You can wipe it with paper if you forgot a bottle of water.

Day 4. I’m really liking this… It’s not sore anymore! When I take it out I followed the advice on the instructions but I press into one side so it half folds in which makes it less big to take it out. Score! Nothing else to report.

Day 5. Nothing new to report. I’m losing less blood so I’m guessing my period has finished soon.

Day 6. No more blood all finished yay!

 

Could it be better? Yes they could make more different sizes. There are only two sizes available but there is no way all women have two different types of vagina or flow. If there would be shallower or deeper cups, wider or a narrow, with and without stem, I think a lot more women would give this a go.

All in all I am a happy person and will keep using this. Like I said it’s better for the environment, better for my purse, and better for my body. It’s still a bit fiddly but for a first time using it I am pleased. I do recommend it and if you decide to give it a go make sure to read the instructions which everyone normally skips right? At least I do until I think it would have been smart to read them… Anyway it’s normal to be a bit nervous but nervousness isn’t your friend while handling this. Breath and use a logical mind when you’re struggling to put it in or take it out for the first few times. Your vagina is not going to suck it in and keep it there. Don’t give up straight away if you’re finding it a bit difficult or yuck. As with anything else some things take a bit more time to get used to. If it’s not for you it’s not for you but it is for me and I am very happy that people came up with this.

Hope this helps!

 

Blessed be Xx

Review: The Training Room – Personal Training Course Full Time

There are a few companies out there who provide personal training courses. I decided to go with the training room because of the location in Glasgow, because of the option to get the qualification Active IQ Level 3 Diploma In Fitness Instructing and Personal Training in 6 weeks which is intense, and because of their 3 year support model. I love intense courses but it is not for everyone. The training room also offers part-time options. At the full time course the first 2.5 weeks are spend on gaining qualification Level 2 Fitness Instructing without it you can’t become a personal trainer. The course also includes first aid, gym based boxing, circuits, and spinning.

When I signed up for the course an academy assessor got in touch with me to have a chat why I wanted to do the course and informed me what it would entail. When I decided to go ahead he kept in touch with me throughout the course just to see how I got on and if everything was ok which was great. He was very responsive to my emails. I do have to say most of my fellow students weren’t that lucky with their academy assessor. Some only had contact once before the course so that would be a point of improvement for the training room, the acadamy assessors could learn from mine. The same is applicable for the career support officer. This is the person who will help you get job interviews, check your CV and give advice, and sort out your first aid course. Again I was lucky with mine she was really good in keeping in touch and being responsive to emails. My fellow students weren’t that lucky some only heard once from theirs and then had to chase them to follow up or contact them with questions when the first aid course would be. Again a point of improvement for the training room. If they make sure all academy assessors and career support officers are on the same level a lot of people would be happier with that part of the service.

Before the course started I got an email from my tutor Jenna welcoming me and making sure I knew where to go and what time the course started. Good stuff! Jenna was our main tutor and Jonathan taught us for a few days when Jenna had time off. Both are great tutors and I think we were very lucky to learn from them. Every day starts at 9am unless Jenna informed otherwise. If you are late and you didn’t let her know you were treated to some burpees or press ups or wall sits. Better make sure you are on time! You get between half an hour and an hour for lunch. The day finishes on different times depending on how fast we picked things up this could be at 3pm or 4.30pm. Jenna communicated very clearly what we were doing every day and she pushed us to come in early or stay after to practise what we learned. Because we used David Lloyd facilities we weren’t allowed to use equipment ater 5pm because it would become busy with members.

Our group consisted of 14 people in the first two weeks and 4 more joined us for the personal training side of the course. This is one of the benefits of the training room if you are not able to pass your level 2 or level 3 qualification(s), or you need a break, or for whatever other reason you won’t be able to sit through the whole 6 weeks you can resit exams and/or join the next course.

Again this is an intense course. You receive 8 books which you will need to get inside your head, some at the end of 2 weeks and some at the end of 5 weeks. You will need to do homework and study at home. After 2 weeks you have theory exams for Level 2 (Anatomy and physiology for exercise + Principles of exercise, fitness, and health) and after 2.5 weeks you have your practical assessment for Level 2. For level 3 the theory exams will be in week 5 (Anatomy and physiology for exercise and health + Applying the principles of nutrition to a physical activity programme) and your practical assessment in week 6. Most mornings we spend learning theory and most afternoons we headed out into the gym to learn practical and to practise. Some full days are spend on theory because there is a huge amount to learn and some days most time is spend on practicals for example when you learn gym based exercise and spinning. Sometimes you get mock papers just to see where you are and to help you prepare for the exam. Another day is spent on business presentations from companies who are looking for personal trainers and on a presentation to prepare you for your own business.

What could be improved? Apart from the communication issues with my fellow student’s academy assessors and career support officers there are a few things. I think acadamy assessors could do more in depth screening of potential students. In our group there was someone who wasn’t mentally and physically at the level you need to be for an intense course. This was the second time she was doing the 6 week training and she probably is going to do it again. I think this could have been easily avoided for her, for the group, and for the tutors. The problem being she is holding the group back and put strain on the tutors. This wasn’t visible because Jenna and Jonathan are great with her and patient but you can imagine what it must be like for a tutor when you have one person who is asking same questions several times, doesn’t like to do certain things, and is holding people back. Don’t get me wrong I think it’s amazing she is doing the course she is lovely and she cracked us up several times but she would learn better at a less fast pace so she has time to study more, practise more, and process things.

Our uniforms didn’t arrive until week 5. Not much of a point then is it? This was due to a fault of another company but maybe the training room could have arranged something else. We were almost done with the course when we got uniforms.

I think the schedule could be slightly adjusted. We had one day for EQ training which was on a Friday before an exam on a Monday. We all wanted to study and practise for that instead of learning something else. Maybe provide EQ training after the exams for Level 2? Nutrition and advanced nutrition felt a bit rushed in the time frame and it wasn’t taught as in depth or as interactive as the other parts of the course.

Would I do it again? In a heartbeat. I loved it and I still find it amazing to see what I learned in those 6 weeks just like I did when I finished yoga teacher training. It is hard work but in my opinion worth every second of it.

A massive big thank you to everyone at the course. I was so lucky to be part of our group. I was a bit nervous that I would be stuck in a group with lots of egos running around but that was not the case at all. I was thrown into a group with lots of different people who had lots of different experiences and who all are very supportive people. I’m an introvert and find groups quite nerve wrecking but yous made me feel accepted pretty early on. I love yous and you better keep in touch once in a while! I’d love to know where your path is taking you and we should have a reunion at some point. Maybe on a cruiseship on it’s way to Canada? 😉

Jenna… I have to say we all agreed that you do an amazing job. Personally your method of teaching really worked for me. Different people have different learning styles and I do believe you have done everything you could to make sure everyone was able to learn everything. You combined presentations with tasks and games which really helped me to get it in my head, it is very interactive, and thank you for mentioning flash card! Where would we be without them? You energy is amazing and you always had time when I had questions or needed a bit of support. Having Jonathan a few days was really nice as well just to have someone else teaching and see different methods but sorry Jonathan you are great but Jenna is my favourite!

 

Hope this helps for anyone who is thinking about doing the course. If you have any questions don’t hestitate to ask!

 

Blessed be Xx