March 20, 2008

Randy Pausch on Life, and some less important things

one of the more important videos i've ever seen. it seems everything we do nowadays is an investment of time, you know, because we're too busy for most things. this is not most things:

in other news (and i'm really hoping you're reading this AFTER watching that video rather than just skipping over it, because i really think it's way more important than anything else in the blog), i've been slowly evolving my diet and different physical habits of mine in the last month. since february break, i've been exploring the raw food diet intensely, and in trying to adapt it, i've learned a lot about myself and eating habits in general. i'm probably going to go off on tangents, but it all relates back to physical health in one way or another. enjoy.

for the most part, i've been eating about one non-raw meal a day for the last month. my breakfast usually is a smoothie of some sort, where i blend various fruits/veggies with ice and some flax oil to start off my day. it was definitely a departure from the typical hot oatmeal with vanilla soymilk, cinnamon powder, and dates, but it was refreshing. i've been starting most of my days waking up (that is, when i haven't been up all night) and taking a shower. i'd run the water burning hot for about 3-4 minutes, then i'd switch it to cool, then to freezing cold for the next 10 minutes. it's completely revitalizing, and you can't help but close your eyes in the close water and really just breathe in the cold air around you. it sounds painful, but trust me, it's anything but that. it's truly blissful. getting out of the shower almost feels dirty, but you gotta do it sometime or another.

continuing the morning with a quality, pure smoothie really provides for a great morning, despite any obstacles that you may encounter in the coming hours (and yes, it's satiating). throughout the day, i'll have a pretty big, varied salad, a bag of mixed nuts and dried fruit, a larabar, an apple, two bananas, and at least a liter of water. trust me, it's filling. when i get home, i'll make another smoothie and continue doing what i do till din, where i usually have my nonraw meal (usually a vegan burrito, pitas with romaine lettuce, tomatoes and hummus, or indian food), and really, dinner is the most pleasurable meal when i'm eating it, BUT (don't disregard the but), it is also the least satisfying after i finish it. i feel crappy about the way the complex carbs rest in my stomach, about how it's gonna take five times longer for that one meal to digest than it took for all the other meals in my day combined, about how during my workouts, i'll actually have to worry about burning those calories rather than simply working my heart, and most of all, how i just can't let go it.

i've realized that i have an addiction to bread and refined foods. i've realized that we ALL do. there's a reason people consider the raw food diet crazy. that reason is because they're afraid of it. adopting the diet is leaving the food that's most familiar to them. since going vegan, i've detached myself from a lot of the gluttony in my life, but now that i'm trying this new diet, i can't help but frown upon my own lack of self-control. now you may be thinking, "oh ankit, what are you talking about? you're vegan. isn't that enough?" no. it's not. i'm not vegan for my health. i'm vegan for a purpose that is besides me. you can be an overweight vegan. you can load up on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and live off as much high fructose corn syrup and refined carbs as you want, or you can follow a healthier path. there are plenty of different routes you can take, but i prefer the raw one. there's plenty of scientific evidence to back up the benefits of a good approach to raw foodism (and note that i say "good approach," for there are plenty of ways to screw up and not get everything you need).

aside from the scientific evidence, though, eating raw food just makes you feel good. an hour after i make myself a smoothie from a few strawberries, an apple, a banana, and a kiwi, my stomach is empty. "well that sucks. maybe you should start eating some bread, ankit." my stomach is empty in a good way, though. blending the fruits -- stem, seeds, skin, and all -- makes it so much easier for my body to process to foods and absorb all the nutrients and vitamins in them that such a relatively minimal portion of my energy is dedicated to digestion. my stomach isn't empty because i haven't eaten. it's empty because it has done its job quicker than it usually does, and my body has absorbed all the energy i'm gonna need for the next few hours. the food does nothing to slow me down, and i never feel heavy after eating it, which is something completely new to me (and probably would be to you too, if you tried this for a few days).

on top of all that, you just feel cleaner. you can't really substitute anything for feeling pure, which brings me to something else i tried in the beginning of the month. the day after the SAT, my sister proposed trying bikram yoga. i figured it'd be a good way to relax, and i saw it on celebrity fit club three years ago. i've always wanted to try it, so here was my chance. we went and took advantage of the the one week introductory plan, going four times in that week. i don't think i've ever had workouts like i did that week. bikram yoga, if you haven't heard, is yoga art that's done in 90-minute sessions in rooms that are around 100-110 degrees. it allows your muscles to stretch much more than they'd be able to in room temperature, and you sweat out the toxins present in your body. once you get by the whole "oh my god. this is so hot. how am i going to survive in here for 90 minutes?" mentality and you really become present in the room, it's a really spiritual experience. the internal body cleansing that takes place isn't just in the blood stream; you begin to think clearer. i found that i became detached from so many of the stresses in my life, and i just came out of the sessions thinking so positively and i was really just liberated from the unnecessary distractions that surrounded me. i definitely intend on going back on a somewhat regular basis when i have a more regular flow of income and my mom doesn't have to pay for my gym membership and the yoga classes. i would definitely recommend it to anyone, whether you're into spirituality or not. an intro week is just $25, so you can go to up to seven sessions. there's really not much to lose, so definitely check it out (in carle place, next to q-zar).

i guess this post was just me rambling on about these different things i've tried recently that have impacted my physical health, but it really is more than just that. i don't really know how to emphasize it enough, but physical health is so heavily linked with mental and emotional health. i mean, i'm sure we're all happy with our lives and our relationships and whatnot, but really, when you are by yourself, detached from external factors, can you truly say you're happy with yourself? if you are, fantastic, but i'm very sure we can all be a little more satisfied. a huge factor in this is your physical health. i may be preaching to a deaf audience because i know a lot of people don't care to hear this (and i think it's partially because they prefer indulging in things that counteract physical health), but taking care of yourself -- eating right, exercising, sweating, getting your heart rate up -- is extremely correlated with your happiness. with me, i'm most unhappy when i sit idly in front of the computer all day. my best days are those when i eat a crapload of fruits and vegetables, play tennis for three hours, run to the gym, do an hour of cardio, and run back. it gives me a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction with my physical self. when you are physically healthy, and you're making strides to make that so, you have a reason to be confident and happy with yourself. it may not make much sense to you right now, but when you actually make it a priority, it becomes very clear.

that basically sums up the last month of my being. i've been keeping my heart healthy and making smoothies. now that we have off from school for another five days, i'm gonna try to take on one of the harder raw food recipes i've encountered -- soft corn tortillas with spicy "beans," avocado-corn guac and tomato lime salsa -- but it'll definitely be a worthwhile one. let's hope this tastes good.

take care of yourselves guys. much love.


Anonymous said...

Aren't you missing protein, vitamin B, etc. Or do you take supplements. I thought your post was quite comprehensive, and its impressive that you managed to completely change your lifestyle. I would like to try but the raw diet does sound "crazy"

devon! said...

i watched the randy pausch video a while ago (from a link on your g-talk thingy) and it was epic. then i watched another of his lectures at UVA about time management, which ironically took an hour and a half, but convinced me to spend a little less time on facebook/aim everyday and such.
i'm glad your diet works for you. i know what you mean when you say you feel good after eating something really healthy. but i personally feel good WHILE eating something unhealthy but yummy, and unlike you, don't have the will power nor the want to stop eating that junk. ohwell.
i just read your comment on my own blog (i forgot to look at it for the last like. 3 weeks.) and i think you may have misunderstood my post-- i was sort of categorizing three types of people who happen to cross the line-- the one who doesn't realize the line exists, the one who sort of does, but doesn't realize little things can drag them over, and the kind that are completely aware of the line and prance between it thinking they'll get away with it. so yeah. the unaware need help, but the specific someone i'm sure you know i was refering to in that entry didn't fall under the "unaware" category.
this comment was way too long...

Anonymous said...

the last lecture! i bought that book for my mom for mother's day! she loves it :) i have to watch that -- danielle