Costa Rica Arrival and Botanical Gardens

p1000418.JPGPhillip is fasting in Costa Rica, at Dr. Douglas Graham’s fasting retreat, and I am serving as an intern. We arrived in Costa Rica yesterday, tired of travel by the time we reached the hotel, and went to bed early. It took two plane rides (2 hours and 5 hours apiece) to make it here. We flew from San Jose, California to Phoenix, and from Phoenix to San Jose, Costa Rica.

We got up at 5:45am in Santa Cruz to get ready for this yesterday, and Stuart kindly took us over the hill to the airport. Once checked in for our flight, Phillip and I rested for a few minutes before going through security and consumed our orange juice breakfast (which heaven forbid they should allow us to take through, that could be some explosive OJ!) 84 oz. of shared OJ held us for hours, until the second flight, when we pulled out our bananas, dates, lettuce, and celery and munched down. People around us ate $7 sandwiches or $5 snack boxes, and there were no more small, expensive salads by the time they got back to us anyway.

p1000403.JPGThis morning we awoke refreshed at our hotel and enjoyed papaya, pineapple, watermelon, and bananas for breakfast with a few other early arrivals. Well, Phillip doesn’t enjoy papaya, claims it smells like baby throw up, but I enjoy it. A lot. We we each ate copious amounts of the fruit we like and were grateful for it. The papaya is sooooo good here. Did I mention I like papaya already? A lot? I thought not.

p1000420.JPGSince we arrived early, Phillip, Rachel, Victoria, Jan, and I decided to take a van-sized taxi over to the Else Kientzler Botanical Garden this morning and have a look. The taxi driver didn’t speak English, but the friendly hotel staff helped us explain to him where we wanted to go (sadly, no one in this little group of 5 is all that good with Spanish). Along the way (a 40 minute drive) he stopped a couple of times to ask for directions. Apparently that’s the way it’s done here, the street signage is somewhat scarce.

p1000410.JPGThe gardens were beautiful (you may click on these smaller images for a larger version of each). I got to feed my inner monkey, by crossing some rope bridges we found in the back of the gardens. Don’t tell my mother, but those bridges were 30 feet in the air which made it all the more exciting. Oh wait, hi Mom, um, I was in no danger at any time, kind of like tree climbing when I was a kid, and you knew all about that, right? (Hugs!)

p1000415.JPGWhile we were in the gardens, Jan had gone walking down the hill to look for interesting town-like things instead. He was thinking about lunch and came across a lovely orange orchard where he met the owner, who gave him a big bag of oranges for free. It made a great lunch for him, sitting in the sun and he brought us some too, a welcome and refreshing snack after an hour-long hike in the gardens.

p1000406.JPGTonight’s dinner at the hotel included everyone that has arrived so far (mostly interns, as most of the fasters arrive tomorrow). Papaya, pineapple, and a huge salad of lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, and avocado slices. It was Phillip’s last meal for a while, as he’ll fast tomorrow, on the start of the New Year. Tonight we’ll be falling asleep to the sound of Costa Ricans setting off many noisy fireworks in celebration of the occasion. Good luck Phillip!

In Gratitude to Orange Juice

Oranges and Kiwi FruitsI love Orange Juice and it has been a big part of my diet for almost three years. I attribute a good deal of my health and the improvement of my eating habits to the simple practice of drinking Orange Juice every day.

It all began with a gift from my friend Rupa, who gave me an electric orange reamer. The reamer has a straining basket to catch the pulp, but I enjoy throwing the pulp back in (except for those pithy white stems from the middle of the orange). It seems more like eating the whole orange. I try to drink it slowly, and chew the pulp a bit before swallowing the juice.

Each morning I drink water as soon as I arise, wait an hour or two until I’m hungry, and drink 40 oz. or more of fresh-squeezed, unpasteurized, organic orange juice. There were a few days I tried using oranges in a second meal, but I found a single citrus meal each day to be the best for me.

I used to occasionally go to Jamba Juice when in a hurry. But as I started drinking larger quantities, I would occasionally get headaches from drinking their juice. I suppose there were a few reasons for this:

  • they don’t use a reamer like I do, so some of the skin of the orange is getting into the juice and I understand the skin contains toxic substances (to protect the orange from insects and birds)
  • their oranges are not organic
  • their juice doesn’t have as much pulp in it, so I imagine the sugar uptake to be quicker
  • I was in a hurry and driving my car (my digestion is typically better when I only sit and eat and do nothing else)

Since I’m drinking so much, I tend to draw out my breakfast over 20 - 30 minutes. After each glass of OJ. I wait a little bit, trying to listen to how I feel, before I get another glass.

When you are in the mood to have a little variety in your OJ meal you can cut a couple of pomegranates in half and ream them just like the oranges into the rest of the juice (throw out the seeds). It gives a little different color and flavor to the juice. Or, blend a bit of nectarine or mango into your juice. I’ve also found that I can eat nectarines or mangos about 10-20 minutes after drinking the juice and they seem to combine well. Another favorite combination is dicing up kiwi fruit or strawberries in very small chunks and adding it to each glass. It makes for some enjoyable, chewy texture. The added kiwi fruit is a favorite of my son, Michael.

Orange juice can be left out on the counter all day. Other folks in the family drink it in quantity too, and it seems everyone would rather have it at room temperature than cold from the fridge. Nevertheless, if you know you are preparing OJ for tomorrow, put it in the fridge right away. Left out on the counter all day and then refrigerated overnight it doesn’t taste as good.

I used to need my OJ right away in the morning, but as I become better nourished, I find that I can wait longer and longer before drinking it. Occasionally I wait until noon, run several miles and then drink, and it’s a pretty phenomenal feeling.

The 80/10/10 DietAs I transitioned to the 80/10/10 Diet, I had days where I binged on cooked food. I found that when I felt bad (clogged up, icky) the next morning, an all orange juice day was a nice idea. I would fast as long as I could in the morning, then drink only OJ all day as I got hungry. Sometimes I felt like eating a lot of greens later in the day on those days (or even bananas), so I would go ahead and not be too strict with myself. The effect of an OJ day is very cleansing, but I never needed to extend it beyond a day. The next day I usually feel more like myself again.

An electric orange reamer can be had cheaply, for less than $20. These days we juice so many oranges, that I splurged on a bigger, more sturdy model that cost $80. It was well worth it.

That surely cannot be all the secrets oranges have to offer. What are your experiences?

Ruling by the California Supreme Court Disappoints

The court has taken the easy way out. Instead of upholding the procedure for voter revision of California’s constitution (which involves the state legislature), the court has set a dangerous precident. The state’s constitution can now be substantially changed by a simple majority vote, and the rights of all minorities are endangered.

Do you hate illegal immigrants? No problem, get enough votes and you can limit their rights, perhaps even keep them from marrying residents of the state.

Are you a landlord and want to evict people different than you? No problem, you can amend those pesky equal rights clauses to allow landlords to be a little more discriminating.

What about dog lovers? Do you hate barking dogs? No problem, you can ban their owners from your town. Oh wait, dogs are pretty popular, certainly more popular than gay people, so better not try that. It pays to limit your hating to the traditional targets.

Well guess what, haters, your days are numbered. After a lot of work and expense last year, Proposition 8 supporters could only muster 52% of the vote. The longer this issue is discussed, the more people see and understand that gay relationships are substantially the same as straight ones. It will be hard to pull the wool over people’s eyes again in the next election.

This issue will be set right by a new proposition in 2010, one which allows gays to marry. But sadly, the damage done to our state constitution today will endure. No minority rights are really safe in California anymore.

Legal Recourse for California Proposition 8

Van and PhillipIt looks as if California Proposition 8 is passing. Sigh. I don’t normally write about politics, but as a gay man, happily partnered with another man for almost 11 years now (my dear Phillip), I feel a need to say something. As you may know, Proposition 8 aims to amend the state constitution to say that “Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California”, thus eliminating the right of same-sex couples to marry in California.

Changing the state constitution may not be so easy, however. There are only two ways to amend the state constitution, and from what I can tell, Prop 8
should have been done as a “revision”, not an “amendment”. A revision requires a 2/3 vote of the legislature, or a constitutional convention, to start a ballot initiative that will change the state constitution. It’s not supposed to be so easy to make important changes, and Prop. 8 did not follow the proper process. Prop. 8 went with a signatures-only start, which is only appropriate for a minor change (ie. an amendment).

The California Supreme Court granted wide-ranging legal protection to our class this year, in clear legal wording that goes well beyond the single right that Proposition 8 addresses. Among other things, they said:

An individual’s sexual orientation — like a person’s race or gender — does not constitute a legitimate basis upon which to deny or withhold legal rights.

The California Supreme Court will get a chance to rule on this amendment, and it’s likely they will consider the elimination of rights for a protected class to be a major change to the state constitution, i.e. what is legally referred to as a revision, which would have required a 2/3 vote of the State Legislature before it could even be considered for a public vote. In this way, the court can rule that Prop. 8 is invalid.

For example, what if Prop. 8 had said “Only marriage between a WHITE man and WHITE woman is recognized in the State of California”? Naturally, these days, everyone understands that would be absurd. But, the court will likely treat Prop. 8 the same way that they would treat an amendment that took marriage rights from couples based solely on race. Race = gender = sexual orientation… all are now classes of individuals protected from discrimination, according to the highest court in California. Removing rights based on race would certainly be seen as a major change in the state constitution, and so will removing rights based on sexual orientation. With the court on our side, we have already won, our opponents just can’t see it yet.

And keep in mind that Prop 8 had a much smaller margin of victory than Prop 22 did 8 years ago (it won by 66% back then), and a 10%+ change in public opinion in 8 years is really quite amazing and represents a fast-moving trend. Naturally we will not give up this fight, and if amending the state constitution is so simple, it’s just a matter of time before our young folks (bless ‘em), reverse this some day with a new inclusive, right-granting initiative.

The year 2008 will still stand out as a year of progress for us. Our enemies are hanging on desperately, but despite their efforts, many of us are married already, our community is energized once again, and they have only been able to prolong the inevitable by another couple of years, at best.

Costa Rica Walking Tour Wrapup

I need to take a moment and catch up with my final posting about the Costa Rica Walking Tour, which started with my post about Traveling to Costa Rica. Life kind of up drew me back in when we returned, and I have had trouble finishing up my blog entries.

On the final full day at Rio Chirripo (Thursday, February 21st), Phillip and I visited the hot springs again (read about our first visit). People kind of went off and did their own thing a bit that day, separating into a number of different groups depending on what they’d like to do. Phillip and I wanted a rest day. Although the walk up hill to the hot springs isn’t exactly restful (it’ll get your heart rate up), it helps make the springs more enjoyable when you get there, like you’ve earned your soak.

Walking Tour Group PictureIn the afternoon, at the final afternoon meeting/lecture, Dr. Graham got everyone together, walkers, fasters, and interns. He asked us each to describe a goal we’d like to reach within the next few months. After after each person spoke, he encouraged people who thought they could support that person in that goal to speak up and offer to help them/remind them of the goal they’d made over the next few months. Robbie kept a list of these goals and sent them out later over email (very helpful Robbie, thanks!)

I thought that it was a nice touch. It’ll keep everyone in contact with the new friends made at this event. Even now, weeks after the event, I think of these folks often. Some were staying to fast, I hope it went well for them.

Spiralized Cucumber "Pasta" DinnerThat evening at dinner it was a buffet style “Pasta” night. There were mangoes and tomato/mango soup. The “Pasta” was really spiralized cucumber, along with your choice of tomatoes, marinara sauce, sun-dried tomato and mango dressing, and heart of palm (grated it looks like like Parmesan cheese).

Victoire and Phillip and the Farmer's MarketFriday was devoted to the bus ride back to San Jose. In the afternoon we visited the farmers market (Victoire and Phillip are pictured on the right). It was an interesting experience, so many people, so much fruit, 20 bananas for a dollar. We bought way too much fruit to take on the plane, and ended up leaving some of it behind on Saturday with folks staying behind. The plane ride home seemed long, but getting back home to Santa Cruz was nice.

Overall the experience was wonderful, and key to our continuing on the diet since then. Back home, our friend David had bought us a case of bananas, a few days before our arrival. We transitioned directly into having banana smoothies for lunch the next day. They weren’t quite ripe enough though, and the first couple of days were a little rough because we just didn’t enjoy them as much as those we’d had in Costa Rica. Then, as they ripened, we realized, ‘aha!’ they just hadn’t been ripe enough yet. You’ve got to wait until there are numerous little brown spots on them. In addition, it helps if you don’t add too much water, the smoothie stays sweeter.

Breakfast was easy, we returned to juicing oranges every morning. We had missed our oranges while in Costa Rica. Our favorite organic farmer brings fantastic oranges to the farmer’s market at nearby Cabrillo college on Saturday mornings. Mmmm.

Dinner was more of a challenge. But thanks to seeing it done so many times in Costa Rica, we had some new ideas to try, and even some old ideas to try that no longer seemed so radical now that we’d seen it done. Still, we were hard-pressed to make dinner as easy to eat without those great mangoes to rely on. Later we learned that mangos also require some time to soften before you eat them.

I’ve been able to stay on 100% raw food since we returned (for a total stretch of 3 months now, my longest ever). I credit the 2 weeks of immersion in the techniques and lifestyle that I received in Costa Rica. It’s never felt so easy before. True there are some cravings still there that I feel occasionally (pumpkin pie anyone? fried potatoes?), but the longer I go without eating these things, the easier it gets and the less often the cravings come.

Because I ate 100% raw food during the week between Costa Rica and the Napa Valley marathon on March 2nd, I accomplished my goal of being all raw by the event, and experiencing what it’s like to run a marathon powered by fruit. I will write more about the marathon in my next post, until then, let me just say that I made it all the way to the end, and the fruit really helped.

Van, from the beginning of the Walking Tour to 3 weeks later during the marathonThese are before and after pictures, from the beginning of the Walking Tour to the marathon. Three weeks of focused eating, 100% raw food (the The 80/10/10 Diet way), lots of walking, lots of rest, and my body decided to take off another 5 to 7 pounds.

This weight loss occurred despite the fact that I was eating a pretty healthy diet already, and getting in a lot of running leading up to the trip to Costa Rica. My diet was about 85% raw food for 4-5 months, while I trained for the marathon. I couldn’t stay 100% on track with the diet for more than a week at a time until the Walking Tour.

Overall it has taken me two years of trying with raw food to get where I am at now. I’m three months completely on track, and I plan to continue. I haven’t weighed this little since I was 19 years old. I feel fantastic living this way, and can’t wait to see what’s next. Until we speak again, best wishes to you on life’s fantastic journey!

Dr. Douglas Graham and the Raw Spirit Festival

Audience at Raw Spirit Festival 2006Today I was inspired to write a post on a message board about Dr. Graham, because I hear he has yet to be invited to speak at the Raw Spirit Festival. Perhaps because of the difference between his message and that of the mainstream raw movement. (Wow, isn’t it cool that the raw food movement has become big enough to have a ‘main stream’ component?!)

Here’s what I wrote:

I attended the festival in 2006 and loved it! It was a fabulous opportunity meet many new, interesting people. My partner and I were near the beginning of our path to raw food and it gave us quite a boost. We enjoyed listening to talks by a wide variety of folks with different viewpoints. Some great new viewpoints that I didn’t even expect to be exposed to were represented, such as Hiran Ratan, who came to speak about Sun Gazing.

Hiran RatanI appreciated the opportunity to hear about things I hadn’t been aware of before, because I strongly feel that each person needs to find their own way in life. Different things work for different people, or even for ourselves, at different times in our lives, and we must be free to experiment. I tried Sun Gazing, for example, and although I ultimately decided not to pursue it (because it didn’t quite feel right for me at the time) I was glad of the chance to hear about it.

I’ve been struggling with raw food for 2 years, and for a long time I couldn’t stay on a 100% raw food diet for more than 4 days in a row. I’d start to feel weak and experience bouts of vertigo and nausea after workouts that made it too difficult to continue. Nevertheless, I’ve continued trying and within the last six months I finally found an approach that works well for me. Now I’m able to stay 100% raw for much longer than 4 days at a time. I’m 7 weeks into it so far right now, my longest stretch ever!

The approach that is working for me is to greatly increase the amount of fruit and greens I’m eating, and reduce the amount of fat. A lot of the raw food recipes I’ve seen rely on avocados, nuts, and seeds to provide calories and substance to the meal. However, dishes that contain large amounts of nuts don’t work well for me, so I ended up avoiding them altogether and just focusing on the salads and avocados. It took me a long time to realize that’s not enough calories with the way I exercise, and as such it was only be a matter of time on each stretch before I’d feel weak and dizzy.

I found a new approach last summer, when I read Dr. Douglas Graham’s book, The 80/10/10 Diet. Here was someone telling me why it’s okay to eat fruit instead of fat on a raw food diet for the calories I need. For me, reading his work was like having a light bulb go off in my head. A big “Aha!” And after trying it for the last 6 months, I can now say it really works better for me than anything I’ve tried so far. I wish I’d been exposed to the idea of eating more fruit back in 2006 at the festival.

I understand that Dr. Graham has yet to be invited to speak at a Raw Spirit Festival. I think it would be a boon to many folks to hear from him. He’s a fine educator, a thoughtful, sincere person, and has been proving the effectiveness of his approach by living it the last couple of decades. The level of health and fitness he has attained is enviable. I had an opportunity to meet him in February, at one of his events, The Walking Tour of Costa Rica, which I attended with my partner and about which I wrote numerous blog entries.

Friend wen met at the Raw Spirit Festival 2006I hope the folks running the Raw Spirit Festival will find it possible to include Dr. Graham at the event this year, so that people can be exposed to the widest possible variety of approaches to the raw food diet. When I think back to the festival in 2006, there wasn’t anyone there that I remember who advocated eating like Dr. Graham does, and this meant a year-long delay before I found these ideas (while surfing the web one day).

When I attended the festival in 2006 and heard such wide ranging views, that included Sun Gazing, I felt confident that I was getting exposed to the state-of-the-art info on diet and health. To remain competitive and relevant, I hope the festival will continue to entertain as many viewpoints as possible, and let the attendees decide for themselves which approach to apply.

I wish I’d been there in 2007, and I hope to attend the festival again some day. To all that are headed out to Arizona this year, I hope you have a great time and enjoy the friendships and experiences you will have!

Best regards,

Van

I hope it helps influence the organizers of the event to invite him to speak. I hear he is willing and ready!

3 Days of Walking, Higher and Harder

Simon, Doug, Phillip, Thomas, and Van at the top of the trailOn Monday, February 18th, the group walked up to La Chispa, as far as the private property sign where we posed for this picture. Stephanie took the picture, which she immediately declared “Hot”. Eating this way and doing a lot of hiking will definitely start to clear some fat from your bones.

Phillip and Thomas took lots of pictures, and it was a great hike, but alas I didn’t feel like writing much when I returned in the evening, so, moving on to Tuesday…

Ideal house in a valley viewed along the wayOn Tuesday. the group walked past Herradura, a little town up the road from the hot springs. These walked are getting tougher, we keep going further and higher. The group’s fitness level is improving to accommodate it.

I felt like I needed a rest day from running and/or walking hard, but Dr. Graham challenged Simon and I to run up a “little” hill on the side of the road on the way. Somebody’s driveway, apparently. Well that was some driveway. It took us a good 10 minutes or more to run up that very steep dirt road. Beautiful views though. So much for taking a “rest day”. We then had to run down so we could run up the road to catch up with the rest of the group.

Once we’d run back to the bottom of the hill, however, we stopped to talk to an older local man (or a “Tico”, as the locals call themselves in Costa Rica). I said “Beunos Dias”, which he took to mean I understood Spanish., and proceeded to tell me about his swollen thumb. I got the impression that he had stuck his hand somewhere and a spider or other insect had bitten it. But that’s just my best guess at what he said. The tropics are a bad place to put your hands or feet into places you haven’t looked into first. After a moment, he figured out I wasn’t completely understanding him and instead switched to trying to learn a little English. What a friendly guy!

More beautiful landscape in Costa RicaThe rest of the group were waiting for us at a bridge, where they’d probably been doing push ups, knowing them. Indeed they informed me when we arrived that were were behind on the push ups. No rest for the weary!

Celery tastes good with banana smoothie, incidentally, but not with an unripe pluot. This is something I learned when we got back for lunch on Tuesday. Between us, Phillip and I finished off 25 bananas worth of banana smoothie and individual bananas that day. That’s more like it!

Wednesday, February 20th was the last, long, hard walk of the trip. We walked up part of the Mt. Chirripo trail, used recently in the annual race up and back down the mountain that starts in nearby San Gerardo. We made it as high as about 5600 ft. in elevation (hike started at 4000), before we came down a connecting trail we could use to make the whole walk into a loop. We did pull ups at every soccer field we passed, and we stopped at every bridge to do push ups. Doug managed a total of 100 pull ups for the day by the time we were done.

Talented Kitchen Staff at the RetreatI thought I would take a moment and thank the talented kitchen staff at the retreat, on the right. Pictured: Kevin, Lennie, Danielle, Stephanie, Thomas, and Robby. Victoire and Samara are not pictured, perhaps one of them is the one taking this picture with Thomas’s camera. They were all so helpful and the food so consistently good, it made it easy to eat raw food. Thank you all!

I’ve been asking Doug questions about how much to eat or drink during my upcoming marathon. I want to know to survive it on raw food. He guessed that I probably have about 1800 calories of glycogen store to start with at the beginning of the race. I will use about 2400 calories during the race, and I should try to replace the 600 - 800 calories difference.

He suggested raisin water. Soak a pound of raisins in a quart of water overnight. In the morning you’ll have a pint of water remaining, in addition to some well-hydrated raisins. The water will have absorbed about 3/4 of the sugar from the raisins. Use the water, without the raisins in it, during the race, taking a swallow of it every 1/4 or 1/2 mile.

This is in addition to the meal I will eat two and a half hours before the race. Those calories should be coming online before/during the run as well. If done right, apparently you need never hit the wall during the marathon. The key seems to be to consume simple sugars slowly enough that a lot of energy does not go towards digestion during the race. After the race I get to refuel (and eat those raisins.)

Marathon Preparation in Costa Rica

A banana plant growing on retreat groundsToday I got to do my long run. I’m training for the Napa Valley Marathon on March 2nd, and today was about the time I should be doing the last of my long runs.

I really should be going 20 miles on a flat road, but it’s totally hilly out here, so there’s no chance of doing that. Instead I figure I need three and a half hour of sustained effort.

I got that this morning: the first two hours were spent walking uphill with my fellow walkers at a brisk pace, then half an hour of running/walking uphill on my own, and an hour running back down the hill. I ran up a road that eventually becomes a footpath where cars could go no further. I passed two interesting shacks which looked like temporary housing when out tending the farm. There was a spot by the river perfect for taking a quick dip in the water (refreshing!)

Jungle trail on the way from the waterfallIt felt great, it’s hard to believe all I had for breakfast was cantaloupe and watermelon at 7am, yet I could make it all the way to noon with that effort in between and feel fine. In fact, at certain times, the running felt nearly effortless. I had to slow down when running down at one point, because I was going so fast I placed myself at risk of spraining my ankle. That would be no good! After 3 hours had gone by though, some of the running started to feel like work, as I was getting tired.

I made it back with 15 minutes to spare before lunch, so I drank a lot of water and showered first. My need for food didn’t feel as urgent as I would have predicted, but those bananas at lunch were certainly satisfying once I reached them.

Pacific Ocean Beach in Costa Rica

Beach on Pacific Ocean in Costa RicaWe’d been talking about going to the beach today earlier in the week. Doug organized it for us, ordering a taxi for the group of folks heading out. It would be about a 2 hour ride, from the Rio Chirripo Retreat in the mountains above San Isidro, to the beach near Evita. We hoped to see a little more of the country, and experience a Costa Rican beach.

The driver arrived soon after breakfast and 9 people opted to go on the trip. We had a van that you could have squeezed 15 people into (including the driver), so we had a bit of extra room. It was similar to the bus we took from San Jose to the retreat back on February 10th, but narrower, and without a center isle.

Doug spoke with the driver, giving him directions about the trip we wanted to take, and asked the driver to wait for us at the beach, so that we could ride home in the same way. That would be much simpler than finding another taxi. The total cost ended being $120 U.S. Dollars, or 60,000 Colones.

GrenadiasOn the way, we stopped at a fruit stand to pick up some lunch. I love grenadias, so I bought a dozen of those and around 16 bananas. They had watermelons there too, but I’d had those for breakfast already.

Phillip picked out some pluots and some small papayas. They also sold chilled coconut water in plastic bags. Phillip and I each had one of these, and drank those in the van, as you could just bite a hole in the corner of the bag and enjoy.

We ate the fruit after we had gotten to the beach and spent some time frolicking in the water. The sand was soft and muddier than we are used to in Santa Cruz. The waves were gentle (due I understand to a sandbar called “The Whale’s Tail” out a bit from the beach). The water was quite warm, and was easy to get into without slowing up at all to get used to it.

There were few rocks or shells to step on, although Thomas did step on one little spiny one, which he later gave to Phillip (who enjoys collecting shells). We enjoyed watching some “slugs with wings” that live at the water’s edge. They go in and out with the little waves and then burrow themselves into the sand to hide. Personally, I thought they were still too exposed and if I’d been a sea gull I could have had a great meal. No sea gulls here though.

Van eating a grenadiaI ate all of the grenadias, most of the bananas and half of one of Phillip’s papayas for lunch. That was satisfying, and defintely held me through to dinner, which wouldn’t be for another 6 hours.

We stayed at the beach for about 2 and a half hours overall. It had been hot and muggy, so we were glad once the van got moving, and again when the van got high enough into the mountains to cool off.

At the beach we’d been in the shade most of the time, to avoid being burned. The sun is hot due to Costa Rica being only 500 miles north of the equator. It’ll burn a gringo like me in no time, if I stay out too long. Frolicking the water, playing frisbee, and a short walk to look for shells with Phillip were my moments out of the shade. I was still a pretty pink when we got back. I think I might actually tan from this, it’s not that bad.

Dinner BuffetBack at the retreat, dinner was buffet style, with whole, cut up foods: romaine lettuce, pineapple, tomatoes, mango cheeks, heart of palm. It was delightful to be able to choose the ingredients that appealed and apply the provided mango and tree tomato dressing.

Tree tomatoes are tangy. You just use the inside, and not the skin too like you would with a regular tomato. These are tasty little guys, and I got to taste one by itself because Robbie was eating a whole bowl of them. He says they taste like candy to him.

Looking forward to another night of 9-10 hours of sleep. Adequate sunshine and rest are certainly two healthy lifestyle components in 80/10/10 that I enjoy practicing here. Tomorrow I’m going to talk about my long run.

Blue Mountain Waterfall Walk

Bridge over a creek on Blue Mountain walkI got up early this morning and did a run before breakfast. I feel like I am acclimatized now to the altitude here at the Rio Chirripo Retreat (about 4000 feet in elevation). This makes the area cooler and less humid than lower lying areas in Costa Rica. The weather is quite variable, since sometimes clouds come in and cool things off quite a bit.

Breakfast was all watermelon. I made a particular effort to eat slowly, taking a new piece only when Phillip did. That worked well until he was done, after which I had no crutch, and had to pay attention to my own eating speed. It seems if I eat the melon slowly enough and chew it well enough, I don’t get “melon belly”, that uncomfortable feeling of being overfull. Fortunately melon belly seems to pass in about 15 minutes.

Swimming Hole at Blue MountainThe walk today was to the Blue Mountain waterfall. A long walk up past the village of Los Angeles. It was a pleasant swim there, the water was cold again, like yesterday’s swim at the “Ol’ Swimming Hole”, but very refreshing after such a long hike. It seemed to take ages to get back, and so bananas at lunch were highly welcomed.

When you “earn your fruit” by doing a lot of exercise, such as walking, it makes it that much more satisfying to eat meals. Certainly it makes it easier to enjoy plain foods. I noticed myself eating a lot of greens today, after previously wondering whether I even wanted them at lunch or not.

Ping Pong with Dr. DougAt Karen’s request (thanks for your comment, two posts ago), I’ve included a pictures of Dr. Graham playing ping pong with Stephanie (Faychesca is watching), and one of his wife Roz, with their daughter Faychesca at the table. Ironically, Stephanie is in both pictures (nice work Stef!) Faychesca is 3 years old and when she talks she’s absolutely adorable.

At dinner time, the papaya orange juice smoothie combination didn’t do much for me, but the soup was excellent. It was tomato, celery, and mango, garnished with a few half slices of tomato and small stalks of celery. Phillip found it particularly satisfying, because he’s been craving salty things rather than so much sweet fruit, and has been finding sweet fruit a little difficult to eat in large quantities.

The third course was spiralized cucumber, covered in a delicious sauce made from sun-dried tomatoes and red pepper. Time had been taken to creatively decorate it with slices of cucumber.

We discussed at the table for a while whether such a thing should be called “pasta”, since although that is what it reminds you of, it certainly isn’t going to weigh you down like a big pasta meal.

Robbie, Stephanie, Roz, and FaychescaThe only disadvantage to a delicious meal of tomatoes and celery, is that although these vegetables have a lot of minerals and vitamins, they are low on calories. Thus I find myself not getting enough calories from the meals. It helped a lot to add some mangos (I think I ate 4 of them), and at the end of the meal I felt satisfied.

After dinner a couple of folks decided to watch the movie “Chariots of Fire” in the common area, but Phillip and I opted to return to our room, read a while, and get to sleep early (8:30pm) in preparation for a full day tomorrow. We have a trip to the beach planned.

Valentine’s Day in Costa Rica

Breakfast on Valentine's DayI ate all watermelon for breakfast this morning, I didn’t mix it with cantaloupe. But I ate too much, too fast and got painfully full again. Ug, I think I will try eating cantaloupe instead tomorrow. I love the watermelon, I just need to eat it more slowly and carefully. Apparently I understand folks find it easy to overeat watermelon.

The walk today took us up the mountain past the Talamanca Retreat center, where we swam briefly in the “Ol’ Swimming Hole”. That was some considerably colder river water than we get a little further down the river here at the Rio Chirripo Retreat. The last bit of trail to the river was the most jungle-like walking we’ve done so far.

Lunch bananas were well-earned, and there was papaya as well. This seemed to mix okay with the nectarines and grenadias (that we bought back in San Isidro on the bus ride up to the retreat). I ate them all together. I have given up the idea of storing snacks (like these nectarines and grenadias), because the meals are so nourishing. I don’t feel like I need snacks anymore. And certainly I don’t need the energy diversion that more periods of digestion during the day would bring. I’m quite comfortable with three solid meals a day eaten this way.

So anyway, that fruit would have eventually gone bad if I hadn’t incorporated it into one of our meals. They are quite flexible here about what you can eat, as folks needs to be somewhat individual. I’m confident that if I felt like I needed or desired some fruit or green combination in particular at mealtime, they would try to accommodate me. There are a number of people here who have particular food sensitivities or requirements (like an allergy to pineapple, for example) that they are happy to work around.

Afternoon talk with Dr. Graham was a fruit quiz game where we learned about many more of the varieties of fruit found here in Costa Rica. There are amazing number of different kinds of fruit in the world, many of which we don’t see in the United States, because they have to be picked ripe and are then too soft or fragile to. Or perhaps in some cases it is because the demand for these unusual just fruits isn’t there.

Valentine's DinnerDinner was special. They arranged tables for couples for Valentines Day. What was served for dinner? Orange juice, tomato and pineapple soup, and the final course, sun-dried, whole, red peppers stuffed with mango, cucumber, and tomato chunks on a bed of lettuce with a red-pepper, tomato and orange juice dressing poured over top.

Phillip and I and the other three couples on the walking tour enjoyed special tables set up for us in the dining area, with candles and special decor. They put in special effort to make it romantic for us. Phillip and I agreed is was our best Valentine’s Day dinner together.

Walk to the Hot Springs

I slept in a little this morning, and hung out in the room with Phillip until breakfast. That was relaxing, we’re getting a lot of sleep here, 9 or 10 hours every night so far.

Breakfast was lots of watermelon. I didn’t try to mix it with cantaloupe today (and they didn’t serve cantaloupe anyway), so I felt a lot better. That was, until I ate too much watermelon too fast. That made me feel pretty overfull for about 15 minutes until the feeling passed. It’s so simple to eat just watermelon for breakfast, if you eat slow and enjoy the company of the people around you (i.e. don’t eat it fast like I did.)

Banana Plants Here and Hills Out ThereWe walked up to the hot springs today. A beautiful, but steep walk. We were ready for a break by the time we arrived, and getting in the water felt great. There is no sulfur smell to the water here like other hot springs I’ve seen. Two rustically finished off pools, provided a couple temperatures to choose from. Time passed surprisingly quickly. We got back a little late for lunch, and we were hungry.

Lunch: banana smoothies, as well as solid bananas, and “me-mei”, a fruit that tastes a lot like sweet potatoes (or perhaps pumpkin pie filling). Naturally there was lettuce as well, but I’m found today I felt like waiting for dinner for a salad.

Banana Room at the RetreatThis afternoon I had a chance to ask Dr. Graham questions about bananas, receiving tips on how many to buy and how to stage them. He and his wife go through a case of 100 bananas (about 40 pounds), in about 3 days. At any particular time they might have two to four cases in the house in various stages of ripeness.

They use different parts of the house to ripen them, at speeds necessary to insure a constant stream of ripe bananas. That many bananas is a 6 to 12 day supply, which they will allow to dwindle in numbers whenever they’re about to leave on a trip, and they need to let the number drop to zero by the time they leave.

When the bananas get ahead of them, and too many are ripe at once, they have an extra banana meal (it’s usually bananas for lunch, so this means dinner too). Or, perhaps they invite someone over for a workout and have banana smoothies together afterwards.

When they get ahead of the bananas, and have a shortage, they instead may have whatever other fruits are in season. In fact, when persimmons are in season, Doug said he might not even be eating bananas at all, instead concentrating on persimmons.

Tonight’s dinner started with tomato/orange juice and mangos. Then there was a big platter of cut vegetables and fruit (pineapple, mango, papaya, cucumber, and chayote) for dipping in a personal bowl of sun-dried tomato and red pepper sauce. Skewer sticks were provided, and it was sort of like fondue, but all ingredients were raw and remained uncooked. Tasty and light.

Rain in the Jungle

Today I’ll be wearing a t-shirt. The sun will be out in force again this morning on our walk and I’d like to avoid further burning. I think what I’ve got now is manageable, and probably contributed to my needing 10 hours of sleep again last night. It’s only really the tops of my shoulders that got burnt. No biggie.

One of the great flowering vines we sawSleeping 8pm to 6am felt pretty good. Everybody goes to bed early here, because once it gets dark, it gets really dark, and there’s not much to do on an evening like last night where the power was out. Outages seem to happen for a few hours every few every day here.

The power came back on sometime between 2 am and 6am this morning. I enjoyed being the first back into the main common room this morning, but it was a bit cold. Stephanie came in and asked about the power, and when I told her it was back on already she was surprised. She said she had assumed it was still out, and didn’t even try it in her room. Instead she got ready in the dark, and she chuckled at that.

This morning I can get back on the internet again. It was kind of nice being forced off of it for a while when the connection wasn’t working due to the power outage. It kept me feeling relaxed and calm. Now when I go back on, I’m not planning to look at the yahoo news page like I usually do. I don’t want to see the news in the outside world right now, but I would like to see my email.

Breakfast was watermelon juice, watermelon, and cantaloupe. I think I should have skipped the cantaloupe and not tried mixing it with watermelon. I was feeling totally great until I did that. The watermelon juice was delicious. They simply cut and blend the watermelon, and run the juice through a strainer to remove the seeds. Tasty. I can’t wait to make it at home.

Walking Group at one of the BridgesOur walk was a longer one, and I think it was hotter and sunnier today. We did the same loop as Monday, but added an extra loop around the village of Los Angeles. That was quite a bit of extra climb, but we saw a small soccer field, some extra river tributaries (some of us decided to do push ups at each bridge, so I remember all the bridges), and many more cute houses. This seems an idyllic place to live.

There were a couple of cute, little dogs along the way, which of course Phillip loves. I have to admit they were cute, and the dogs around here don’t seem to bark much. Maybe they are really happy.

Lunch was banana smoothies, bananas, and lettuce again. Phillip is really appreciating the banana smoothies at lunch time. It’s like two bananas in a glass. Pretty easy to eat them that way. Oh, and there was papaya too, which I really enjoyed. I love papaya, and it mixes okay with bananas for me. Dr. Graham’s mother, Bea, sat across from me and she asked if they would make some papaya smoothie for her. I tasted some of that and liked it as much as the plain papayas. She thought it didn’t have as much taste that way though.

Our lecture period after lunch with Dr. Graham was a good one. He started it with a question and answer period, so he could learn about us (due to the questions we asked.) And he read three more chapters of the story he’s been writing, which is about walking in Costa Rica. The story is a nice way to learn more about the local plant and animal life, because he has filled the story with descriptions and information.

Before the lecture, a most delightful thing happened - it began to rain. It hasn’t rained since we arrived, and I was so excited I went out to stand in the rain with my shirt off, letting the cool drops of water land on my burnt shoulders. A delightful, cooling sensation. Thomas came out there to stand in the rain with me and not long thereafter Phillip walked up from the room. Steph got a picture of the three of us in the rain.

Tomato and Mango SoupAt dinner they had rearranged the tables again. I asked about that. They had noticed in the past that if they left the tables the same all the time that people would tend to sit in the same place and interact with the same people at every meal. This way gets everybody talking to everybody else better.

At the other table I noticed that Robbie was asking Dr. Graham a lot of questions. He is a very intelligent and passionate 19 year old, who’s been on the raw food diet for over a year now to reduce his dependence on insulin (Type I Diabetes). I understand he’s had a lot of success so far. He eats A LOT of lettuce at dinner, a huge bowlful, in addition to the mangos he’s eating.

Orange juice and mango smoothie. Much more orange juice this time. Great for those of us who are missing our oranges. But our oranges back at home are actually better. First time that had happened.

Cabbage and Mango Slaw on Top of TomatoThe rest of dinner was based around tomatoes and mangos and started with a delicious soup. Tomato and mango blended together with little chunks of mango in it. Phillip and I both loved it. The third course was a cabbage and mango slaw on top of tomato halves in a bed of lettuce. Nice combination and the cabbage made for a different taste than the other parts of the meal.

After dinner folks watch a movie, The Peaceful Warrior. We’ve seen it before, so I only watched a little. Instead I figured out how to use a phone card and called my mother (it was her birthday, Happy Birthday Mom!)

First Day of Walking in Costa Rica

I’m up early this morning, at 6 am, to catch up my writing. I hope keeping a record of my experiences will help others decide whether this is the right thing for them. I know that for us it was a leap of faith to come to Costa Rica without meeting any of these folks first. I’m so glad we did.

10 hours of sleep felt really good, and I think I’m pretty close to being adjusted to the time changes and the travel. Breakfast isn’t until 8 am and I am decidedly hungry already. At home I would normally have eaten something already. But here, I am going by scheduled eating times. So far that’s made me more hungry at mealtimes than I am at home, where I tend to satisfy the urge as soon as it appears. I like the way waiting makes the food taste, and now I want to eat just three times a day when we get home.

Cantaloupe and Watermelon BreakfastAh, breakfast felt great. Cantaloupe and watermelon. Hanging around in the kitchen beforehand, I learned a new way to cut these fruits. You can cut them like I was already cutting kiwi fruit. Cut the ends off, place them on an end and cut the peeling off in strips down the sides. The watermelon is easier to do this with if you also cut it in half first (in a plane parallel to the cuts you made on the end.) Watermelon is an excellent thing to eat before going on a hike (think of this comment as foreshadowing…)

After breakfast, Thomas, one of the interns, asked me if I’d like to get a “before” picture taken, to compare with another one at the end. It should be interesting to see the difference. I expect to lose some weight, particularly water weight, from water my body might still be hoarding to dilute the toxins in me (perhaps from things like that rice and bean burrito we had Friday night :-)

Riding a Bus to the Rio Chirripo Retreat

We were up early this morning to put out luggage for the bus at 7 am. Breakfast was watermelon and pineapple again this morning, but tasted great nonetheless. Great pineapple here in Costa Rica, it makes it easy to enjoy eating fruit. I do miss oranges though. At home in California Phillip and I have been eating oranges all week for breakfast together, and we haven’t had any oranges or orange juice since arriving in Costa Rica yet.

Interesting how we crave what we are used to. But that does beg the observation that if you can make yourself used to something, anything, then you will crave it or continuing to follow the same routine. That probably works for eating raw foods as well. So let’s hope that when we return home from this trip we will be continually craving raw fruits and vegetables.

In any case, my plan when I return home is to continue eating raw foods 100% through the marathon on March 2nd, so that I can experience and report on what it is like to run a marathon after eating raw foods exclusively for 3 weeks prior.

Bus we took to Chirripo on 5 hour rideThe bus ride to Rio Chirripo Retreat took a little over 5 hours. As we left San Jose, the cityscapes turned into landscapes and the country around us became so much more beautiful. We stopped a couple of times, the first at a great spot on the mountain with a view to which the pictures here don’t really do justice. At 10000 feet, the air smelt and felt great.

The second stop was about 45 minutes from the retreat, in the town of San Isidro, the closest large town to the retreat. We bought a bit of fruit for a snack. These were nectarines and grenadios that we enjoyed the hot sun for a few minutes in the park in front of the church.

Grenadios are a new fruit that Phillip and I hadn’t seen before. Sort of like a passion fruit, but bigger, orange yellow on the outside, with green goopy seeds on the inside that are sweet and tart at the same time. It looks like of like eating brains. Pretty tasty though.

Despite the snack, we were quite hungry when we arrived at the retreat at about 1pm, and lunch made an amazing impression thanks to the appetite factor. It was banana smoothies (just bananas and water) at first, followed by bananas wrapped in lettuce leaves (if desired), and papaya. Even better papaya than at the hotel (and I thought that was pretty good).

Phillip said he was craving bananas, and just ate the smoothie and some bananas. I think that might have been Phillip’s first-ever mono meal. I thought it was pretty cool that it’s what he naturally wanted. And I was loving the fact that I could eat as much fruit as I like.

Bus parked in back of the retreat centerAfter lunch Dr. Graham led an orientation session. We each had an opportunity to introduce ourselves, and it was pretty special to hear other people’s reasons for coming to the retreat center for the walking tour. It’s a great group of people, and I like everyone here.

Dinner was simple. We started with an orange juice and mango smoothie. I understand it was about 60% mango and 40% orange juice. The mango portion was actually squeezings I found out later, ie. after cutting the mangos down the sides of the pit (to create the big “halves” that we ate later in the meal), they saved the middle bits that still had flesh on them. They squeezed these by hand to create the mango juice and fiber that went into the smoothies.

Oh, so I just gave it away, but the second course were the big pieces of mango. Best mango I’ve had in a good while. The ones at home are hard to find this sweet, even when I let them ripen for a long time in the kitchen.

Third course: Chayote diced up (a squash-like vegetable that when diced this way looks kind of like rice), covered in a blended sauce made from the tomatoes and red peppers I saw drying in the sun earlier. Really nice taste in the tomatoes. The Chayote is rather flavorless, so the taste really comes from what you put on top. Quite a pleasing combination when you wrap it in a lettuce leaf and make a little burrito.

At the end of the meal I wish I’d left a little of the orange juice and mango smoothie to drink like a little dessert. I still had that urge for dessert and it would have fit the bill perfectly. Overall, meal satisfaction however could be rated as very high.

Meeting Douglas Graham in San Jose, Costa Rica

When we arrived at the airport in San Jose, Costa Rica, I sort of felt like I was stumbling through immigration. It was 5 in the morning, California time, and I hadn’t slept at all on the plane. For some reason, the idea of going through immigration made me feel nervous.

The man at the immigration counter was friendly enough though, and he tried to hold a conversation with me in English. I don’t remember much of the Spanish I’ve learned, I need to work on that. He commented that his uncle had worked at the Rio Chirripo Retreat. Wow, small world.

We took a taxi to the hotel. That went pretty smoothly. They have a bunch of taxis waiting for folks like us at the airport. It makes the process pretty easy for stumblers and bumblers like me.

Once at the hotel we were told by the staff that Dr. Graham was out “running around the hotel”. We figured he’d be back from his errands soon and we sat in the lobby to wait for a while with some other folks that had arrived. When he returned we found that he actually had literally been running around the hotel, for exercise. I had to remind myself that it was 7 in the morning, a pretty logical time to be working out.

The 80/10/10 DietHe came into the lobby shirtless, tanned, and unmistakable. He’s a smaller man than I imagined him to be, and very fit. I suppose when you are reading books and seeing pictures of people on the internet you don’t get much idea of their relative size. I have to admit that I had probably built up a larger-than-life image of him, since I have enjoyed his writing so much (he wrote The 80/10/10 Diet).

They had a breakfast buffet in the dining room at the hotel that included fruit. I have to admit that some of the other stuff looked good to me at the time, but my doubts disappeared when I tasted the yummy pineapple, papaya, and watermelon. I’ve never had papaya that good before.

Dining Room in Hotel AeropuertoPhillip and I were really tired, however, so after breakfast, rather than try to go to the farmers market in San Jose, or some other touristy thing, we decided to take a nap. We met our temporary roommates, Cam and AJ, who were on their way home after interning (Cam), and fasting (AJ), at the retreat during the last 6 weeks. They were headed back home that day or the next morning. I was impressed by the vibrancy of them both. Lots of energy and enthusiasm.

We had lunch on our own in the hotel restaurant after our nap, and made some good choices, ordering up salads and fruit plates. After lunch I lay in the sun for a while by the pool. I overheard Dr. Graham talking with his daughter, Faychescha. He told her stories about Winnie the Pooh and Tigger and Piglet, that had a decidedly healthy life and food slant to them. I thought it was cute, and I was entertained to hear him actually use the phrase “fresh, raw, ripe, whole, organic plant-foods” (not necessarily in that order, but using all six key elements) during his conversation with her. She’s going to be a giant raw food expert some day! Faychesca is about 3 years old, talks well, has a lot of energy, and is curious about everything.

Dinner was great, with everyone coming or going to the retreat there. Some new people had arrived, and the hotel staff served up watermelon juice, fruit platters, and two huge salads that we all shared. It occurred to me that this was the first time Phillip and I had ever had dinner with a bunch of folks all eating raw fruits and vegetables, where the meal included this much fruit. I didn’t even feel like a freak for eating nearly a whole pineapple by myself before munching down three big platefuls of salad.

Traveling to Costa Rica

Well, it was exciting enough on this day simply to be leaving on a trip. There was a lot to do before we could leave and it seemed like there was plenty of time to do it, but of course, even with all day to prepare, I left myself only 35 minutes to pack at the end of the day.

River out behind the retreat centerOur friend David drove us to the airport (Thanks David!) and we got through security with 15 minutes left before boarding began. In the time we had remaining, we decided to buy veggie burritos to take onto the plane. We figured we’d get pretty hungry during the upcoming 9 hours of travel. Not exactly an auspicious way to begin a trip to a raw food retreat, with rice and bean burritos, but hey, it’s better than many things we could have had.

Burritos are one our remaining dietary indulgences. We’ve been making an effort during the week to eat as much raw food as we could, so two weeks of raw vegan food wouldn’t come as a big shock. But fact is that we’re not all the way there yet, to 100% raw food. And this is part of the reason we were going to this retreat. During the retreat we expect to find out whether being 100% raw and focusing so much on fruit will work for us. Neither of us have ever gone 2 whole weeks without eating anything cooked before. It will be a record stint on raw food for both of us.

Indeed, later in the flight, we were grateful for those burritos. There hadn’t really been time for dinner anywhere else along the way, and all they offered us on the flight was pretzels, which we politely declined. Travel has got to be one of the biggest challenges to eating right.

On the second flight we were offered a warm cookie with milk. We didn’t eat that either, but it was a good thing I had some dates along. Phillip picked them up for me at the store during the day. All in all, we were pretty tired by the time we arrived in Costa Rica, at 7 am in the morning, Costa Rica time, on Saturday.

Worried About Back Pedaling on Raw Food Diet

12 Oranges, 3 Kiwi Fruit, and 2 LemonsOh yum! I just had one of the tastiest meals yet. I juiced 2 lemons from next door, 12 oranges from my favorite organic farmer, and peeled and cut up 3 kiwi fruit into tiny chunks and threw them in (when I was near the end of drinking the rest, just for fun). What a combination! That’s about a quart and and a half of juice. Plenty of calories to keep me going today, the lemon gave it a nice twang, and the kiwi added some interesting flavor and texture.

I read a blog post today that inspired me to comment. I have worried many times that if I were to eat some cooked food, even a small amount, that I would fall back into old eating habits.

Phillip and I have been transitioning to a raw vegan diet for almost 2 years now. I have given in to the urge to eat cooked food a number of times. In each case, the severity and length of the “binge” has decreased. And likewise, the length of time I can now stay raw has increased.

These days, when I fall off the wagon, it isn’t for very long, and what I eat isn’t all that bad, as I don’t crave the really bad stuff anymore. I haven’t had anything deep fried in a long while, and dairy is not a temptation at all. Letting some time pass while you are transitioning is helpful.

I’m having good results following Dr. Graham’s 80/10/10 program, as described in his book, The 80/10/10 Diet. When I first started out with raw food, I was eating:

  • a ton of salad, with lots of avocado
  • “combo-a-bombos” (as I’ve heard someone describe them, ie. gormet raw foods with too much fat)
  • not enough calories from fruit

I didn’t know it at the time, but now that I’ve read The 80/10/10 Diet, it seems pretty clear that the above formula, although nutritional, wasn’t giving me what I needed to sustain myself. After 3 or 4 days without getting enough calories, I got too dizzy and nauseated to function during exercise, particularly Tae Kwon Do practice, when we would do backward kicks. These require some balance and spinning, which exacerbated the problem. And some mornings I would wake up dizzy and weak from the get-go.

It was discouraging, because I really liked how the raw foods made me feel and I wanted to be completely raw right away. It makes sense to me now though. What I was doing was nearly like fasting, while still piling on my regular exercise program.

I’ve had more lasting success on raw food now that I am getting enough calories (like with the orange/lemon/kiwi fruit combination described above). I’m not losing weight so fast and I feel comfortable. It almost seems like if I eat right, some days there are no cravings at all. It’s just a matter of time until I figure out how to keep it this way for good.

Grandma Tipton Arranges a Family Photo Session

Everyone in the Tipton Family or associated that was there for the photo shootOn Sunday, Doris called for a Tipton Family photo shoot down at the mall. She likes to do that around Christmas time every year to get pictures of everyone. I like to think of Doris as an adopted Grandmother, thanks to the fact that she is Rubin’s grandmother and we adopted Rubin when he was 14. She’s warm and caring, places a high priority on her family, and makes a fabulous Christmas dinner.

We originally spent time with her to promote Rubin’s contact with his birth-family, but we got more than we bargained for, we got some additional family. I marvel over how well she has accepted and promoted Phillip and I in our role as Rubin’s new “Dads”, and she adopted us right into her own extended family. She has been a champion for Rubin, and when Phillip began mentoring Rubin, and we later talked about adoption, she was highly supportive.

Phillip, Rubin, Van, Marisha, and IceisThanks to our being invited for the family pictures, we were able to get our own little family shot with Rubin, his wife Marisha, and 1 year old daughter Iceis, on the right. There are other pictures as well, we don’t quite have all of the ones taken that day, but I scanned in the ones we got.

December’s visit by Rubin and his new family to California is the first time Phillip and I have been able to spend time with our new granddaughter Iceis. Wow, I’m a grandfather, gulp! It happened all so fast! Up until now, they were living in Missouri and Germany. Rubin has been stationed with the Army in Germany for almost a year now, and is supposed to be heading to Iraq in March. So, it’ll probably be at least a year and a half before we have a chance to see him again.

Logging a Raw Vegan’s Marathon Preparation

Well I’ve decided to get started with this blog, finally. It’s been prepared and ready to go for a long time, but somehow I kept procrastinating the real writing. Am I afraid to fail? How could that really happen? I imagine the initial readers will be people I love that care about me. How could I go wrong?

What can I write about that’s interesting? I’ll write about my attempts to live a healthy lifestyle: to follow a low-fat, raw, vegan diet and run a marathon in March 2008. What is a low-fat raw vegan diet you ask? It sounds pretty restrictive. Well, I don’t look at it that way, but instead focus on what I can eat: many amazing raw fruits and vegetables, in quantities that satisfy and nourish my body. Of the numerous books on eating raw foods, by far my favorite is Douglas Graham’s, The 80/10/10 Diet. He’s in amazing physical condition and has been eating this way for over 25 years! I want to be like that!

I first heard of raw foods from Victoria Boutenko, at a small seminar at Cafe La Vie in Santa Cruz, California. Phillip and I went there on a whim, to hear her speak about green smoothies and better health. Cafe La Vie is a wonderfully positive and alive place and her one-hour talk was inspiring. I bought all of her books that day and started to read and study. The story of her family’s improved health through diet change is fantastic.

An older picture of me running up at Rancho San Antonio parkAnd what’s this about a marathon?! Well, I’ve run many races and half-marathons and love running. This is something I really have needed to do for a long time, in order to properly call myself a runner. And it’s a great way to keep from putting on too much holiday cheer this season, ho ho ho! I don’t want to be asked to play Santa Claus at the next party (sorry Santa, but you can keep your jollies!)

Marathon training actually began weeks ago and I have already made long runs of 8, 10, 12, and 14 miles on the last 4 Sundays. This Sunday it’s time for 16 miles. The 14 mile run took 147 minutes to complete and included a big hill at Wilder Ranch State Park. Hills and ocean go together and getting out there really motivates.

A great run is exhilarating. That 14 miles felt like 3 separate runs. The first third was up hill, slow and easy, felt like a lot of work, but well worth it. The second third was downhill, running fast, an amazingly great feeling, with beautiful views, this should never end, feeling great. The third was flat, around the top of ocean cliffs, wow how long is this going to take, only 5 miles left, wow this is a long way, chugging along, feeling okay but getting increasingly tired.

I was a happy man when I finally got back to the car. And I couldn’t afford to give up early, because it was a big loop, and it was 5 miles to the car at the beginning of that last third and walking it didn’t feel right. I’m glad it wasn’t an out and back from the parking lot, because I admittedly would have been tempted to skip it.

Running for more than 90 minutes is a different kind of feel than 30-45 minute runs. It’s long enough to get a runner’s high in the middle of the run, and that feels great for as long as it lasts. Once over 2 hours though, and high fades, the end of the run feels more like work.

So what do I eat before a 14 mile run? Lots of fruit. Sunday it was orange juice at 8am, followed by 12 oranges at 9am (erm, that’s a lot of oranges!). The run began around 11am. Two hours between eating and running helped, I felt really energetic. Energy is easy to come by if I’m eating just fruit and salads for at least 36 hours before a run. This one worked because although it was on the Sunday after Thanksgiving (ug! and my eating on Thursday on Friday was the worst its been in a long time), I cleaned up on Saturday, and felt really good by Sunday.

Two-thirds of the way through the run, I ate 2 oranges I hid 90 minutes earlier, near a road I crossed in the car on the way. Could I “refuel” during the run? I ate these when I still had 5 miles left. I stopped running completely for 3 minutes to eat them and the next 10 minutes I felt slow, not sure if from stopping or from eating. After 10 minutes, strength returned, and it helped during the next 45 minutes to have those sugars. I would have felt more depleted at the end without it, so on my next run, I’ll experiment with placing the oranges earlier in the run, or putting fresh squeezed orange juice into my water bottles. About 1 part OJ to 4 parts water should do the trick nicely.