Archives for category: SUPERchick on Tour

Hello SUPERchicks

Unbelievable! The end of my eight months trip is near. But before breaking down in tears I enjoyed the beauty of British Columbia, Canada. I’ve already spent a lot of time in Beautiful British Columbia but every single time I come back here I love it even more!

Vancouver ranks as Canada’s healthiest city. And I believe this is justified. Surrounded by the snow caped tips of the Rocky Mountains on sea level the Vancouverites have all kinds of outdoor sports on their doorstep: skiing/snowboarding, kayaking, running, rollerblading, climbing are only a little selection of a vast menu of activities to choose from. Yoga is probably the activity everyone seems to do. At every corner there is a yoga studio, every third store on the high-street sells yoga-inspired clothing.

Apart from all common yoga classes I came across “Laughter Yoga”, which made me giggle just by the pure thought of it. Everybody knows how contagious laughter can be, so I had a bit of a research into the benefits of laughter. Apart from getting you obviously in a good mood it causes a number of chemical changes within the body. Good hearty laughter helps release enzymes and hormones that are helpful for normal functioning of various organs. This is due to a connection between laughing and stimulation of brain and different glands. Laughter reduces the levels of certain hormones, namely cortisol, growth hormone, epinephrine and dopac, which are associated with stress response. Thus it helps relieve stress, depression, anxiety, grief, anger and irritation. Laughing also decreases pain by releasing a hormone, endorphins. It improves our attentiveness, pulse and heart rate. Laughing is proven to be very beneficial for the people suffering from hypertension. It helps lower the blood pressure to normal. Laughing causes deeper breathing and increase in blood flow, due to which oxygen and essential nutrients are supplied to all body parts. Laughter is a good workout for respiratory, abdominal, leg, back and facial muscles. It tones intestinal functioning, massages abdominal organs and strengthens abdominal muscles. This activity is advantageous for digestion as well as absorption. Laughter also helps burn calories and is beneficial for weight loss. I might consider a “Laughter Yoga” class myself with those many benefits!

During my time in Vancouver they had one of the biggest sporting events, besides the Winter Olympics earlier that year, for the first time there. The UFC – the Ultimate Fighting Competition, where fighters from all backgrounds come together and test their art. Whilst I’m not really into fighting sport, my friend Troy who was in the commission that brought the UFC to Vancouver got me excited about it, just purely because he was so excited about it. He was literally meeting all his UFC heros and shadowing them on the night of the event. Shame that during the biggest fight of the night Liddell, the guy who was shadowed by my friend, got knocked-out by his opponent Franklin. I can only imagine the adrenalin of my friend flowing whilst the crowed in the sold-out GM Place stadium got wild.

But I didn’t spend my time only in Vancouver, I travelled to Vancouver Island in the South, to the Okanagen, where I tried out some yummy Canadian wines and admired the only desert in Canada in Osoyoos, before I stopped in the Slocan Valley to visit another friend of mine and her family. On my drive there I came past a variety of natural hot springs, endless long and deep lakes, alpine meadows and mountains as far as they eye could see. Also being deep in bear country meant that I crossed the path of 13 bears. I could only hope that the number wasn’t a bad omen.

Golfing, biking, canoeing, skiing and of course hiking are the main sportive attractions in the Slocan Valley. Obviously with all those magnificent mountains and scenery I was spending a lot of time hiking, walking and jogging. Luckily my friend has a Siberian Husky who protected me from unwished encounters with bears. One hike took me 8km straight up a steep mountain to a fire look-out point. From 3km in I was really glad to have the dog with me. Signs that bears are active in the area are: turned over rocks – tick; shredded trees – tick; bear fur on the ground – tick. Obviously all the bears were awake and testing theirs strengths on the trees, finding food under the rocks and doing some fur maintenance. Glad Truman, the Husky was there to chase the bears away before I even saw them. As Huskies are born to run I really enjoyed having a dog with me when going for a run as it took my mind off the fact that running sometimes can eventually be a bit boring. Dogs are great running companions, they are reliable and adjust to whatever pace you want to run. Plus no matter what weather, you’ll have to go outside with them. So instead of a slow stroll, why not go for a run?

The town (well with 400 people living there it’s rather more a village) my friend lives in has rather traditional roots which have nourished an eclectic community, and is probably the funkiest little town in the Slocan Valley, which celebrates its diverse lifestyles and liberal ways. So one night my friend took me with her to an African Dance class. African Dance in Canada? Right… I was probably more than just a bit sceptical, but I was also curious. So I moved my two left feet together with my friend to a barn conversion where I was about to experience an hour and a half of serious work-out with great fun. As is usual with African music where multiple rhythms are played simultaneously, we had two drummer. It’s an interpretative and whole body expression dance. The low impact and highly energetic dance movements are translated into a series of choreographed movements that burn calories down, build stamina and endurance and get the excitement going. Movements in African dances are simplified as a part of daily activities so that anybody – even I – can do them. Dancers must feel how their body parts move. Participation in rhythmic movement, especially dance, triggers a mind/body response that helps people become more relaxed, more focused, and, in turn, more creative.

I had a brilliant time travelling around the world and finding health and fitness related topics per country to write about. I hope you enjoyed reading my blog.

Gaby

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Bula from Fiji!

After escaping near ‘drowning’ in New Zealand, I am now in Fiji, where heat and humidity welcomed me with open arms. 10 days in Fiji gave me only a very limited time to explore some Fijian health and fitness related topics, but I found a topic, which is dear to me, and I thought, it might give you food for thought.

What springs to mind when you hear Fiji? Probably white sandy beaches, palm trees, maybe even a coconut bra and a straw skirt. But by now you’re probably picturing a square plastic bottle, with a blue lid and a flower on the label – calling itself ‘FIJI WATER’ and promising ‘A TASTE OF PARADISE’. This bottled water is available all over the world, mainly in upmarket shops, in the shelves next to all other known and less known bottled waters from all over the world.

It might take you by surprise that a (U.S. owned) company in this country ships bottled water 10,000 miles around the globe but one third of Fijian don’t have access to safe and clean drinking water. On the South Pacific islands bad water can trigger an outbreak of typhoid and a constant flow of patients laid low by dodgy drinking water is common in hospitals.

Besides the carbon footprint the distribution of any bottled water brings along they also cause an incredible amount of pollution. In fact, a million plastic bottles are disposed of daily and it takes 450 years for one bottle to decompose! It also has been proven, that bottled water vs. tap water isn’t better, in fact, the UK tap water contains fluoride which isn’t available in any of the bottled waters. Check-out the lifecycle of bottled water and the influence on the environment on: http://storyofstuff.org/bottledwater/

Don’t get me wrong, so far I was also one of the people, who bought bottled water every now and then, probably mainly out of convenience. Knowing that the bottles are bad for the environment I reused them a few times too, especially when I hit the gym or an outdoor activity. So when I first heard that you shouldn’t reuse plastic bottles as they can have an influence on your health, I thought it’s time to investigate a bit closer into this. And what I found out is pretty shocking: for the lining of food and beverage containers the chemical BPA (bisphenol-A) is used to harden polycarbonate plastics. Plastics with BPA can break down, especially when they are washed, heated or stressed, allowing the chemical to leach into food and water and then enter the human body. BPA mimics the female hormone oestrogen and may affect fertility and promote cancer. And just last year it came out that BPA may also lead to heart disease, diabetes and liver problems.

How can you avoid getting in contact with BPA? Plastic that contains BPA carries the #7 recycling symbol,

so try to avoid those bottles and/or plastic containers. I used to be a serious plastic bottle ‘reuser’ but from now on I will check into what I put my food and drinks into. Although stainless steal bottles with BPA free lining seem to be expensive when you purchase them first, I will definitely invest into a couple of them. In the long run, I can only benefit from it and hopefully it will also help the environment.

If you want to know more about the numbers on recyclable plastic go on http://www.recycle-more.co.uk/images/static/resources/plastic_symbols.pdf

This shouldn’t be a lecture on an environmental issue as I think it’s ones own decision what to do. We can’t possibly fight all current world issues in one go; pollution, extinction of animals, world poverty… But I do believe, that if we start at one point and if it’s solely for a selfish reason, your own health, we can get step by step slowly but surely to a better, fairer and healthier planet. The choice is ours.

My next and last stop on my trip around the world will be British Columbia in Canada.

Gaby

Kia ora SuperChicks!

I’m on the South island of New Zealand now and am thoroughly enjoying it’s natural beauty and it’s natural foods!

New Zealand is one of the new age wine countries and known for it’s white wine, especially it’s Sauvignon Blanc. Together with my friend and former yoga teacher, who now lives in Blenheim, I went wine tasting in several wineries and I can confirm that the Kiwis do have some truly good wines!

And there are health benefits linked to wine too: It has been scientifically proven, that if you drink wine in moderation it can effect the following:

• anti-aging process (in red grape skins) – Harvard Medical School, Boston, 2004

• improve lung functions (antioxidants in white wine) – American Thoracic Society, 2002

• reduce coronary heart disease – University of California, Davis, 1995

• healthier blood vessels in elderly – University of Ferrara, Italy, 2004

• reduce ulcer-causing bacteria – American Journal of Gastroenterology, 2003

• protein kills cancer cells (in red grape skins) – University of Virginia Health System, 2004

• polyphenols keep arteries clean (in red grape skins) – William Harvey Research Institute, 2002

• decreases ovarian cancer risk – The Queensland Institute of Medical Research, Australia, 2004

• stronger bones – Twin Research & Genetic Epidemiology Unit, St. Thomas’ Hospital, London, 2004

• lower risk of strokes – Centres for Disease Control & Prevention, 2001

Now, what’s moderation? Moderation is defined as a glass or two each day, and no, you can’t save them up all week and drink all of them on the weekend. I’m sure everybody is familiar with the negative health effects of too much wine/alcohol in a day, but isn’t it great when you discover that something you enjoy could actually lead to better health?

Another brilliant main ingredient for different health products that comes from New Zealand is Manuka Honey.

Manuka Honey is exclusive to the New Zealand region and costs significantly more than the ordinary grocery shop honey. This medical-grade honey is made from bees that feed off the nectar of Manuka flowers, or what is commonly more know as tea tree. Tea tree oil is another common antiseptic that is derived from this medical plant. Manuka Honey is packaged with a UMF rating or ‘unique Manuka factor’ label. This lets a consumer know what kind of antibacterial properties that jar of honey contains. The higher the UMF, the stronger the antibacterial potency. It is much darker than normal store bought honey and has a richer flavour. It can be used as a sweetener for variety of drinks and products while providing extraordinary health benefits.

Being aware of the ingredients in your skin care products is important. Check all of your personal care products and avoid ingredients such as preservatives, petrochemicals and added fragrances. Antibacterial cleansing has become increasingly popular, but the antibacterial agent found in most body washes and soaps is triclosan, which is bad the environment and suspected of causing cancer in humans. There’s no reason to risk exposure because there are natural antibacterial agents, including Manuka Honey. Manuka Honey soap is an excellent choice for daily skin cleansing. Products that include exfoliation is damaging and unnecessary. Micro-beads cause irritation, inflammation and free radical damage which leads to wrinkles. There are a lot of skin care products available with Manuka Honey as a main ingredient. I love ‘Dr. Organic Manuka Honey’ products, available in the UK.

But it’s not all about self-indulgence in New Zealand, the wild beauty of the country is absolutely fascinating. From soft and gentle rolling hills to snow covered rocky mountains, from white sandy beaches to rough cliffs, from river to glaciers, from bushland to rainforest. It’s another great country for outdoor sports. And as it offers such impressive nature, hiking is one of the must-do’s. The Milford Track is regarded as one of the worlds most beautiful tracks and it takes four days to walk the 54km, staying overnight in huts.

As there is only a limited number of people allowed on the track, you have to book it in advance, bring your own sleeping bag and food. The area has over 200 days of rain per year and good wet-weather gear is needed for this hike. I got all geared up and made it to the first hut. Just in time, before it started raining. And it rained and rained. The next morning the ranger informed all hikers, that we had to stay an extra day at the hut due to flooding on the track. And flood there was: only 2min from our hut the river burst its banks and we couldn’t go anywhere. One night more and we were informed that all three huts will be evacuated as the floods damaged bridges. Hut two and three were already to far into the track so they received a free helicopter ride. But as we were only in the first hut and not too far into the track, we had to wait for the water levels to drop by 2m and then wade back to the jetty, where we were dropped off by the boat 36h before. Forget the over-trousers, gaiters and waterproofing of boots, once you’re hip deep in the water you’re just wet! And cold! To protect my body from dropping in body temperature and coming to a state of hypothermia, I fuelled up on food and sweet snacks to boost my energy supplies. I put on several layers of clothing to prevent me from sweating and cooling down too much. Since the human body loses so much heat from the head I also put on my beanie. Trust me, a hot shower never felt so good than after this adventure

Since the hike adventure was finished a day earlier then expected and since it left me back a bit disappointed for not seeing some of NZ’s best country side, I had very much the feeling, that I had to do something typical Kiwi. And what’s a typical Kiwi thing to do? To throw yourself off a perfectly fine bridge on a bungee rope. Yep, I did it and I have to say that you’ll figure out if you’re an adrenaline junky or not afterwards – I’m not! The heart pounding, the adrenaline rushing through the system ready to fight or flight. I’m a flight person. I didn’t feel invincible afterwards nor was I exhilarated. Anxiety is probably the feeling I experienced afterwards. But I do LOVE the photos of the jump!

Watch Gaby in action here

That’s it from New Zealand, Fiji and Canada are calling.

Gaby xx

Hey SuperChicks!

This is my second and last health and fitness update from Australia as my time here is already coming to an end and I now travel on to New Zealand. As Australia is known for it’s great outdoor sports, this entry will be mainly about riding and about my two experiences of completely different types of riding.

The best part about trying out new outdoor sports for exercise is that it’s so darn fun that by the time you check your watch you’ve already been exercising for two hours, and you don’t want to quit! Usually when I go to the gym or for a run I want to be done before I’ve even been going for two minutes as I know exactly what comes after 5min, 10min, 15min etc.!

After seeing some guys riding waves offshore I thought it looked like good fun, and I’ll give surfing a go. I mean, how hard can it possibly be? Paddling a bit through the water, finding your balance, stand up at the right time and this all whilst being surrounded by some tanned Aussie blokes who show off their six packs? Well, this was my initial thought and I was ready to find out. My first surfing lesson was going to be in Byron Bay, the Surfing Mecca of Australia. The course I booked promised me to stand up for 40metres or I would get my money back. With my group I was taken to a river inlet and after some basic instructions I soon found my balance on the board and soon was riding a wave for over 40m. Ha! What a success!!! Though, I had to admit, that paddling back out into the water from the shore was more tiring then I first thought it would be. It was definitely taking it’s toll on my shoulders and the next day I was experiencing some muscle stiffness in my rotator cuffs as well as my ribs which felt a bit sore from constantly hopping onto the board and paddle back out. But all in all I thought I mastered it quite well and was ready for more and bigger waves.

Next surfing stop was further up North on the East coast, a place called Noosa. Unfortunately the “surfing” in Byron Bay didn’t prepare me in the slightest to what was expecting me in Noosa. The “board” they gave me in Byron Bay more resembled a boat compared to the one in Noosa (and it was still bigger than me). The 30cm “waves” in Byron Bay at the river inlet were nice and gentle. The up-to 2m high waves at the beach of Noosa were hard, constant and unforgiving. Several times I was “ready” to take the wave but it turned out the wave rather more took me… Board high up in the air, Gaby upside down and the wave crashing with all its force over me. Several wipe-outs later, after gulping far too much seawater and having had my sinuses unwillingly syringed several times, I had to admit, that: YES, IT IS HARD!!! All those blokes who make it look so easy were probably born on a surf board! Oh how I envied them at the time! But still, it was good fun and after “surfing” for 4 hours I slept like the dead!

Now, what are the health benefits of surfing, once you master it? It improves the general fitness, develops muscles (mainly shoulders, arms and core) and is also a cardiovascular conditioning. Being in the seawater brings along the great side effect of skin care and acne prevention. So if you have the possibility to try out surfing, give it a go, it can only benefit you! Though, I would recommend you to try it out somewhere warm as, if you are like me, you surely will be a lot more in the water than on the board in the beginning.

After the rude awakening of riding a wave, I turned to horseback riding. Before moving to London I was a passionate rider for over 20 years and I can probably speak for many riders that it’s every riders dream to canter along a deserted beach. I always experienced riding not only as a good outdoor sport in the fresh air but also as a good way to relax and escape a busy lifestyle. There is a real sense of exhalation and freedom when you ride, a feeling that is second to none. Furthermore, developing a relationship and sense of trust between yourself and your horse is highly rewarding. It’s a sport that anybody can learn and do, no matter what age you are or abilities you have.

A prejudgement that riders often have to fight is that it’s not a “proper” sport as the horse is doing all the walking. This can easily be proven wrong as the most evident contribution to horse riding in keeping one physically fit comes through muscles and joints. A regular rider develops a more flexible and well-toned musculature in response to the horse’s movements. This effect is more pronounced in leg muscles, up to thighs, though the entire body receives the benefit. For people with underdeveloped muscles and those with tense musculature, horse riding is the most natural and enjoyable therapy. After your first ride you may feel muscles that you never knew you had.

Another attraction of horse riding is the improvement and command in balance and movement that horse riders generally enjoy. Through the horse’s movements and the contact of the rider’s body through the hips, every step of the horse moves the rider automatically to the best achievable natural balance. After good practice of horse riding over time, the rider attains a greater degree and range of balanced movements.

Some recent studies on the health benefits of horse riding have found that horse riding not only improves general physical condition and helps in relaxation, but even contributes to treating psychological problems. That is why horse riding is now used as a physical therapy for different health conditions such as Down Syndrome and Autism.

You can imagine that riding along the beach for two hours helped my bruised ego to recover well. Who knows, maybe trying to surf and then riding a horse might be the answer to learn, how to ride that wave!
So long, hope you all stay well and enjoy the spring time!

Hey Girls!

Here I am again, this time from Down Under, where I already spent my first two weeks. As you probably know, summer is nearly over here and it’s supposed to be autumn. By the time I arrived at the South West coast in Perth, summer had no intention to leave very soon and greeted me with it’s full power of 41 degrees! And I thought Asia was hot…

Surfing rock in WA

Although it’s really nice to soak up the sun, it brings a lot of dangers along, especially in Australia, where the Ozone hole is. Everybody always talks about the Ozone hole, so I thought it would be a good idea to gain certain knowledge of how to protect myself against sunburn. If you’ve ever frazzled yourself in the sun, you’ll know how painful this can be, but the long-term effects are even scarier. Many of the skin changes that were thought just to be part of the ageing process, including wrinkling, broken veins and ‘liver spots’, are known to be due to sun damage. Worst of all UV rays can damage the metabolism of skin cells, leading to skin cancer. Skin damage doesn’t just start with sunburn; any time you spend in the sun contributes in the long term. It is thought that sun overexposure results in suppression of the immune system and may make you more vulnerable to infections. Although a suntan can protect against sunburn after two to three weeks, it won’t protect you against the ageing or cancer-inducing effects of UV radiation.

Now if you spend a lot of time outdoors where the sun is almost always shining be on your guard all the time! Generally think of doing the slip, slop, slap thing:

– slip on a shirt – covering up with clothing; special protective tops (rushy) and sun suits are ideal for wearing on the beach and doing water sports

– slop on sunscreen – use liberal amounts of high protection factor (SPF 50 is available at Boots) on any exposed bits of skin

– slap on a hat – a wide-brimmed hat will help to keep damaging rays off your face, ears and back of the neck

Covering up in Oz

Sun does just as much damage to your eyes, so you’ll need to protect your eyes with sunglasses. And when trying them on and checking out which ones make you look most like Victoria Beckham, check that they have also UV protection.

Another thing I came across a few times during travelling and especially now in Oz, is wheatgrass. If you’re not too much into green vegetables this is your ideal solution: only 30grams of wheatgrass is equal to having 1.5kg of green veggies! The benefits of wheatgrass are immense. It’s a powerful detoxifier, helps to heal quickly, builds up the immune system and red blood cells. Further studies have shown that a certain type of pigment (chlorophyll), found in high concentration in wheatgrass, can prevent certain types of cancer. It provides high dose of vitamin C and iron, has 30 times more vitamin B than fresh milk and 11 times more calcium.

Wheatgrass shot

Now don’t you get worried that soon you’ll have to chew on a bit of grass every day like a cow, as wheatgrass is often available in juice bars as a shot or in mixed fruit and/or vegetable drinks. Or you might be able to find it in health food stores as fresh product, tablets, frozen juice or powder. If you drink it, go for the mixed fruit and/or vegetable drink as the shot by itself tastes – hmm…. not very nice (especially compared to all the tasty wine they grow here!)

Fitness wise I’ve done some more running in the early morning hours or shortly before sunset, when the heat is more bearable, swimming and snorkelling in a rather cold sea and cycling – many times against a strong wind as it can get quite windy in SW Australia. But the most impressive thing I did was that I dared to climb the Gloucester Tree, which is laddered with a daunting metal spiral stairway that winds to the 60m top. It took me two attempts as the first time I looked down after 15m and considered this as a mad adventure. The second time I just forced myself only to look up and when the thoughts started creeping up on the first platform that I’m only standing on a wooden plank, 45m above ground, I had to push this thought quickly aside. Once on top I was overwhelmed by a stunning view over the Warren National Park and I didn’t regret it a bit (well maybe on my way down I did a tiny bit…).

Coming down from the 60m tree

Well, that’s it for now. Shortly I will move on to the West coast, where I’m sure I will find more to tell you about.

G’day and see you soon!

Cycling with added weight

Gaby

Hey SuperChicks!
It’s already February and I’ve been traveling for 3 months now.
Since 4 weeks I’m in Indonesia and enjoy yet again a different culture. Starting point in Indonesia was Bali. From the airport I went straight to Ubud, which is regarded as the cultural and spiritual centre of Bali. Since the book “Eat, Pray, Love – A Woman’s Search for Everything” by Elizabeth Gilbert, Ubud is probably as known as the famous white beaches of Bali: Batik, wood carving, different balinese dancing, cooking classes, jewellery making, Yoga and mediation – all can be learned and studied between 1/2 day to months long courses. I took Ubud as a hub and did several excursions on scooter. Yep, I rented a scooter – had to come to terms, that cycling in 35 degrees Celsius in very mountainous terrain and the sun frying the brain, just can’t be regarded as healthy anymore… There are again many temples to see and some still active volcanos to be seen. One night I got up at 2am, jumped on my scooter and drove for an hour whilst still rubbing the sleeping dust out of my eyes. Then ‘staggered’ in pitch black dark for 2 hours up to the rim of a volcano and from 5:45am experienced one of the most wonderful sunrises I’ve ever seen. This hike was so worth while – although I wondered what I was doing when the alarm clock first went off.
After Bali I took the boat to Gili Air, one of the three Gili Islands, just off Lombok. If heaven is missing a piece of paradise: here it is! An island with sand paths only, no motorised traffic, only horse carts or bicycles. It’s big enough to see different things but also small enough to walk around it in 90min. Snorkelling grounds are literally in front of every beach bungalow. I was told to go snorkelling at 11am and/or 5pm to increase the chances of seeing a turtle.The island must be lying on the turtle commute as I wasn’t disappointed. What gracious, wise animals! And they didn’t mind me swimming with them for about 15min. And when I went diving I experienced more of the underwater world: sharks, many more turtles, snakes, moraines, octopuses are some of the amazing creatures I’ve seen next to all the tropical fishes in all different shapes and sizes.
But next to snorkelling/diving and lazing on this marvellous island I also went for a few runs on the beach. It’s a great workout and has many benefits! Because of the sand, your body is able to strengthen your ankles, arches and muscles below the knees as well as significantly strengthen your lower-body stabilizer muscles and it torches your quads. You’ll develop power in your lower legs in a shorter time frame than you will when running on hard surfaces. According to some researches, you’ll burn 1.6 times more calories per mile on each run and and those stubborn extra pounds from Christmas will melt away and be replaced by muscle. The reason is that running on sand consumes more energy – as most of you probably already experienced by sprinting to the towel over hot sand. After pounding in the sand for an hour your quads might end up singing like a seraphim. It really burns!
You’ll be surprised to hear that although it’s daily between 33-35 degrees hot here, they are going through the yearly “cold” season at the moment. (Probably “wet” would be more accurate as it rains every now and then for an hour, but quickly dries up with the sun.) Although the temperature is more or less the same year-round, but with some showers between Dec and Mar, it’s interesting to see that the local English newspaper informs its readers how to protect themselves from the flu and how to keep themselves warm. Apart from the common ‘elevated vitamin C intake’ and ‘plenty of sleep’ recommendation I also came across some slightly more exotic items, which aren’t as commonly promoted in the UK:
Chestnuts – They are different from other type of nuts as they are low in fat, high in fibre, rich in potassium, folate, vitamin B6 and vitamin C. It has the function of strengthening the kidney-system to fight off the flu and combat infections.
Honeysuckle – It’s a natural anti-microbial herb that has been used for centuries to increase resistance and fight against bacterial, viral and fungal infections.
Royal Jelly Bee Products – It’s naturally used for feed queen bees. It has long been regarded in Asia as a longevity tonic that enhances energy, virility and immunity. Contains a lot of vitamins and collagen material. An anti-bacterial protein in the substance, dubbed royalisin, is effective against certain bacteria, including streptococcus and staphylococcus.
I leave it up to you to raid the nearest health food store or Chinese herbalist but it’s worth a try.
Two more weeks in Indonesia before I fly on to Australia, from where the search for health and fitness around the world will continue.
Keep yourself warm and well!
Gaby

Sabadee SuperChicks!

I hope you all enjoyed a brilliant Christmas/NYE holiday. I certainly enjoyed a very different one. No snow, no ice, no cold… Christmas Eve I spent in Ho Chi Minh City (former Saigon) and on Christmas day I found myself yet again on a bus journey, this time to get from Vietnam to Cambodia.
Cambodia is such a fascinating country. It’s rich in cultural heritage, the people are really friendly and the food is just amazing! It’s truly an inspiration! I stopped in Siem Reap to go to the grounds of Angkor Wat, to discover some of the beautiful temples of the ancient Khmer empire, which ruled from 9th to 13th century. Now climbing the ruins during day time in intense heat was sometimes a bit of a challenge. But staying well hydrated when it’s hot is definitely a must and therefore a lot of water was drunk all day long.
However, hydration is vital to your good health all year around! Water is considered as an essential nutrient. It has many important roles, such as moving nutrients and waste through the body, maintaining normal blood pressure, regulating the body temperature, protecting and cushioning joints and organs and of course it lowers the risk of dehydration and heat stroke.
After a hefty NYE in Bangkok I left the city and went South, to enjoy a bit of a lazy lifestyle at the beaches of Koh Phangan and Koh Tao. Soon enough I started getting a bit bored by the lazying around and was looking for something new, something active I could do. That was when I took the decision, to sign up for a PADI Open Water Scuba Diving course.
Scuba diving is an excellent way to improve physical and emotional wellbeing, you learn new skills, meet loads of new people (and yes, they generally are fun), expand your environmental awareness and you experience the world from a new angle.
You don’t need to be super fit to become a scuba diver; it’s a sport that can be done  by nearly everybody. But you do need to be in fairly good health. First I had to fill out a looooong medical questionnaire, which I didn’t mind as it’s safe to say – my life was dependant on my answers. Luckily I didn’t need an extra medical check from a doctor, so I was allowed on the course straight away. Next to 10hrs theory in a classroom, I did a 3 hour ‘dive’ in the pool, to learn the basics about the scuba diving gear and breathing under water, as well as 4 dives in the sea, down to 18 meters.
As you’re probably aware, exercising in water is highly effective due to the natural resistance of the water. Swimming in depth strapped up to scuba equipment makes for a great work out! The tank alone weighs about a ton and the weight belt didn’t improve the situation… But of course this becomes insignificant, once you’re under water, as it actually helps you to stay under water and exploring the underwater environment effortlessly. So if you should decide to dive on a regular basis, your general fitness will slowly improve.
Besides the fitness aspect, it won’t take you by surprise that it also improves your emotional well-being. Maybe you’ve heard the theory that watching fish in an aquarium is a stress buster. Imagine how the calming qualities of observing an underwater environment are intensified when you’re actually down there and interacting with it. So after I spent my first 40mins in the sea, I realised, that you have to experience it yourself to understand, what the divers talk about. If it’s floating with a school of barracudas, seeing Christmas Tree Worms disappearing into the corals and coming back out, finding Nemo in the anemone, being ‘chased’ by a trigger fish, discovering a sting ray sleeping or simply watching your air bubbles getting bigger the higher they climb to the surface is simply breath taking! Though ‘breath taking’ only as a figure of speech. Rule number one in diving is that you never hold your breath! But since diving is a great way to get back to nature, de-stress and relax, you’ll learn, to adjust your breathing to a calm, natural breathing, as breathing calmly under water makes your air last much longer and therefore you can dive for longer.
Although you can’t talk underwater for obvious reasons, this isn’t a lonely sport. You’ll always ‘buddy-up’ with somebody, go through gear checks together on board before you dive, watch and help each other out whilst diving and there is a sign language you’ll use underwater. This means that you’ll meet immediately like-minded new people.
Once you’re a PADI Open Water diver, you can go on and improve your skills, do advanced training and choose to take speciality courses such as underwater naturalism, underwater photography, deep diving, night diving and much more.
So you won’t be surprised to hear that I am really looking forward to the upcoming 6 weeks in Indonesia, where I will make sure, that I will find the time to discover not only the terrestrial beauty of Bali, Lombok, Gilli Islands, Komodo and Flores but also the underwater world. Hopefully I can again report many new exciting things to you.
Gaby