Lunchtime Twist – 45min Yoga in the Perth CBD

Very exciting news for Perth yogi’s. A new spot in the CBD offering regular lunchtime (and evening) yoga.

The Yoga Vine (Donna Buchanan) has just opened up at 140william – above the Perth Underground train station and opposite the entrance to the Aviary.

They are offering yoga at 12.15pm and 1.15pm for 45 minutes every day of the week and a wednesday evening class at 6pm (1 hour).

Classes are only $10 – bring cash and your own yoga mat.

TheYogaVine_finx2

Kung Hei Fat Choi! Happy Chinese New Year!

Wishing you a wonderful, prosperous 2013 for you and your loved ones.

What have you go planned for this year? Is it the year of love, money, new projects, health?

Kung Hei Fat Choi (or Kung Hei Fat Choy) is roughly translated as “Congratulations and be prosperous, now give me a red envelope (filled with money)!”

Have a read about the year that’s predicted for you. Overall its not predicted to be a good year for us Fire Tigers, we are a bit incompatable with water you see, but never fear, I’ll show those black water snakes!

Remember when you are working out which sign you are that the new year starts in February, so if you are a January baby then your sign is the prevous years.

Lunar New Year

Lunar New Year – The Big Picture (Click through to see the album)

Staring at the Stairs

Many clever people have spent considerable time and effort thinking of ways to get people out of their cars, lifts and off their bums for the sake of health and wellbeing for the community as a whole (and a very noble cause it is). Have you seen the Piano Staircase? Very very cool.

I recently read this article about the book Making Transit Fun! How to Entice Motorists from Their Cars by Darrin Nordahl,  and whilst I agree that it’s always a good thing to make day-to-day activities as fun as possible and I’m a strong advocate of being very silly, I think that people would use public transit more if it was simply more convenient than driving the car. I take the bus to work because the traffic and parking in the city make it quicker on public transport. It’s not pleasant for the most part but I would prefer the operator spent funds on more buses, training their drivers to use their brakes more gently and customer service rather than making my stop look like a strawberry. Your never going to make sitting on the bus with smelly strangers more appealing than the airconditioned, quiet (or jazzy) comfort of your own car.

However, there are some places where a bit of fun and good design would really make a difference. Fun end of trip facilities and bike storage at major transit stops/transfers which made it really nice to ride even part of your journey would be great. One of my colleagues stopped riding her bike to the train station because the bike lockers provided are just a pain in the ass to use, her bike was stuck in there for a while when the card scanner was playing up, they are ugly, frustrating, dark etc.

I work at 140william in the Perth CBD , it’s a truly lovely building which has won many design awards, is pretty great in terms of its environment impact, with a pretty speccy lift system running through the centre of the building to move us all about. I get pretty horrible motion sickness and so tend to use the stairs when I can to avoid head spins.  I often only need to go up or down 1 or 2 floors so it’s even more efficient. The stairs are just the emergency exit route of the building, they are not intended to be used for access and as such are cold, ugly, dark and pretty yuck to use. This is a brand new building, built to make life in it really comfortable and healthy, but stair access was not considered other than as Plan B for avoiding horrible elevator v. fire situations. This isn’t unusual right? What a shame! What if the stairs where well lit and comfortable to use, would you consider taking the stairs at your work place?

Here’s what the stair case at 140william looks like. In fact just after I took these photos the lights went off on me and I had to go down the last floor in the dark… terrifying.

 20130201_12574320130201_125644

Maybe we should get a few hundred litres of paint (a selection of only a few colours so we don’t look insane – each floor already has a bit of a colour theme going which we could use) and get all the inhabitants to come and paint the walls. We’ll need some really really long paint roller poles and some professionals to make sure we get to the tricky to reach bits and that it doesn’t end up looking like a broken kalidoscope. Or we could hire an artist to paint a gigantic geometric mural spanning 14 floors.

Some sound dulling material/carpet on the landings to soften it up a little bit, and it would make the experience of using the stairs so much more appealing!

mural 1 mural2

New Year Inspiration: Breathing space

Desks are boring. I can’t see a long future ahead which involves me sitting at a desk in an office building, so landing at my desk yesterday morning was a bit of an uninspiring moment. I love my job but I despise ‘having’ to be at my desk for 8 hours per day. Just doesn’t really work for me.

But until I can break free I try to make my working space as comfy as I can. Starting up for the new year is a great time to add some colour and inspiration to your working space.

Plants are the best thing you can do to make your desk or office a bit more liveable. A 2007 Norweigian study found that there was a statistically reliable association between plants in the office environment and incidences of sick leave, perceived stress and productivity  after controlling for variables such as gender, age, physical workplace factors (e.g., noise, temperature, lighting, air quality), and psychosocial workplace factors (demands, control, social support).

Flowers Generate Happiness. Having flowers around the home and office greatly improves mood and reduces the likelihood of stress-related depression. Flowers and ornamental plants increase levels of positive energy and help people feel secure and relaxed. Check out gorgeous  PlantLifeBalance site for some more info and links to other studies.

At my last job I covered up the bright blue dividers behind my computer with sheets of cool wrapping paper  (not stuff you get on a roll, those thick sheets you can get from Borders, Planet Books) like wall paper. Sounds daft, actually looked pretty good, cheerful. A pattern is what you want, nothing too crazy. I might go something grey/black and geometric next.

Desk, before.

Desk, before.

Desk, After

Desk, After

 At my new job my divider is a much more pleasant grey colour (sounds like it wouldn’t be nicer than blue but there you go).

My lovely peacelilly, pictured above, did not survive the move between offices :( I am still mourning. It meant a lot to me as it was an emotionally significant plant for many reasons. It really was a surprise it lasted as long as it did, because I generally kill everything I try to help live (lessons here). Go figure, I have an environmental science degree with a major in botany… I can watch things grow on their own accord.

So! New desk and I’m cultivating a small selection of succulents which are much harder to kill off. The peacelilly didn’t like much light so probably wouldn’t be too happy here anyway.

Succulents, and pretty roses I bought myself at the markets over the weekend.

Succulents, and pretty roses I bought myself at the markets over the weekend.

I know it may seem a little show-off-ish to bring roses into work myself, given they were not delivered by some secret admirer but they were dying in the heat at home and I wasnt going to get to fully appreciate them before they died. So I brought them in, judge away!

They are lovely, picked them up from a grower from Gidgegannup at the Kalamunda Farmers Market on Sunday for $10 for the dozen. Can’t be unhappy about that!

In addition I have a lovely tea pot and tea cup, water bottle, Jurlique moisturising hand sanitiser, and a cupboard full of different teas in lovely glass jars. All essentials of course.

Going to brighten up your desk for the new year? Send me in a photo! Best photo received by 9 am 18/1/2012 wins a 50ml Jurlique moisturising hand sanitiser, perfect for your desk. (katbellavanilla@gmail.com)

(I was not sponsored for this post)

Deadly Sweet?

Which camp are you in? Is aspartame toxic and deadly or a safe,  great way to have sweets whilst keeping trim, taught and terrific?

I’m one of those people who needs to see the hard science before I’ll believe anything, I have a scientific and questioning brain. I hear smart, inquisitive people concerned about toxic products in our supermarkets and also all those who think its ridiculous and who immediately picture 40 year old men wearing socks, sandals and tin foil hats when you bring it up. Its frustrating for consumers because you can never really be sure about what to do and who to believe.

A lot of change in the word starts from the edge of the community, those people who question the powers above us, and without them we would not see change. I totally understand if you have completely bought out of the whole debate, but I would encourage you to never dismiss anything until you’ve looked at it yourself. It really doesn’t take very long. I’ll show you.

So, artificial sugar – initially I’m very hesitant because I like whole, unprocessed food (for the most part – I’m not angel), and I feel safer without people, with different agendas to my own, being involved to any large extent. Plus its got a yucky after taste in my opinion. I’m all for real sugar, butter, and milk over anything fake. Aspartame is a topic which comes up pretty regularly, and I like to dispel myths wherever I can (without looking like a jerk, of course). So I did some quick research on the issue.


The quickest, easiest way to go about this (unless you are a uni student/academic) is to use Google Scholar www.scholar.google.com. Type a few key words in and see what comes up.

Scientific articles are those published in peer reviewed journals and are structured like this (generally – there are a few rouge scientists out there who like to break bad and mix up the formatting – crazy!):

Title – should catch your eye and be informative at the same time. Although pick vague ones too because some people are just not great at titles. 
Abstract/summary – a great spot to start, this will include a brief description of what they did, why, and what they found out.
Keywords 
Introduction – why is this being researched? often gives good background/history.
Materials and Methods – how they did it, sometimes very technical so don’t worry to much about this bit. 
Results – the raw data
Discussion – what they could infer from the raw data.
Conclusion – the best bit. 
References – want more? 

So I did a quick Google Scholar search for ‘Aspartame’ and I got a mix of articles about effect on weight loss and its side effects.

Small smattering of the results:

“Aspartame induces lymphomas and leukaemias in rats” by Soffritti, Belpoggi, Esposti and Lamertini, 2005 – Cancer Research Centre, European Ramazzini Foundation of Onocology and Environmental Sciences, Bologna, Italy.

“In our experimental conditions, it has been demonstrated, for the first time, that APM causes a statistically significant, dose-related increase in lymphomas and
leukaemias in females at dose levels very near those to which humans can be exposed.

These experiments demonstrate that the increase in lymphomas and leukaemias, observed in the APM study, could be related to methanol, a metabolite of APM, which
is metabolised to formaldehyde and then to formic acid, both in humans and rats3.

Since the results of carcinogenicity bioassays in rodents, mainly rats and mice, have been shown to be a consistent predictor of human cancer risk15-17, the first results of our
study call for urgent re-examination of permissible exposure levels of APM in both food and beverages, especially to protect children.”

“Aspartame: A Safety Evaluation Based on Current Use Levels, Regulations, and Toxicological and Epidemiological Studies” by Magnuson, Burdock, Doull, Kroes, Marsh, Pariza, Spencer, Waddell, Walker and Williams, 2007 – Department of Nutrition and Food Science, University of Maryland USA.

“The data from the extensive investigations into the possibility of neurotoxic effects of aspartame, in general, do not support the hypothesis that aspartame in the human diet will affect nervous system function, learning or behavior. Epidemiological studies on aspartame include several case-control studies and one well-conducted prospective epidemiological study with a large cohort, in which the consumption of aspartame was measured. The studies provide no evidence to support an association between aspartame and cancer in any tissue. The weight of existing evidence is that aspartame is safe at current levels of consumption as a nonnutritive sweetener.”

“Life-Span Exposure to Low Doses of Aspartame Beginning during Prenatal Life Increases Cancer Effects in Rats” By Soffritti, Belpoggi, Tibaldi, Esposti, Lauriola, 2007. Cesare Maltoni Cancer Research Center of the European Ramazzini Foundation. (follow up to previous study, above)

“The results of this carcinogenicity bioassay confirm and reinforce the first experimental demonstration of APM’s multipotential carcinogenicity at a dose level close to the acceptable daily intake for humans. Furthermore, the study demonstrates that when life-span exposure to APM begins during fetal life, its carcinogenic effects are increased.”

“Neurobiochemical alterations induced by the artificial sweetener aspartame (NutraSweet)” by Coulombe and Sharma, 1985. Centre for Environmental Toxicology, Utah State University, Logan, Utah

“Such observed alterations in brain neurotransmitter concentrations may be responsible for the reported clinical and behavioral effects associated with ASM ingestion.”

Use of Aspartame in pregnancy, 1985, International Journal of Fertility.

“The low-calorie sweetening agent, aspartame, is broken down in the small intestine into three moieties: aspartic acid, methanol and phenylalanine. Acute loading studies have been performed in human beings who received up to six times the 99th percentile of the projected daily intake (6 X 34 = 200 mg/kg). No evidence of risk to the fetus was developed. Aspartate does not readily cross the placenta. Small elevations of blood methanol following such abuse doses of aspartame did not lead to measurable increases of blood formic acid, which is the product responsible for the acidosis and ocular toxicity in methanol poisoning. Phenylalanine is concentrated on the fetal side of the placenta. Aspartame in abuse doses up to 200 mg/kg in normal subjects, or to 100 mg/kg in PKU heterozygotes, did not raise blood phenylalanine levels to the range generally accepted to be associated with mental retardation in the offspring. It is concluded that, under foreseeable conditions of use, aspartame poses no risk for use in pregnancy.”

Biological properties of aspartame – Evaluation of central nervous system effects by Potts, Bloss and Nutting, 1980. Journal of Environmental Pathological Toxicology.

 “It was concluded that prolonged dietary ingestion of aspartame at levels approximately 550 times that expected for normal human daily ingestion was necessary to elicit a behavioral deficit.”

The results of a standard Google search yielded this: “Aspartame is, by Far, the Most Dangerous Substance on the Market that is Added To Foods” and whilst its well written, its not referenced (much/properly).

Its important to be aware that the internet generally shows the inflammatory side of the story. All those wierdos in the tin foil hats are the ones filling your google results with speculation. So, be cautious and inquisitive and make your own decisions.

Its important to look a the dates of the articles – of the few I picked out above, all the older ones are for and the newer ones against.

So what do you think? Better safe than sorry or nonsense conspiracy theories? What will be your response next time someone wrinkles their nose at the Equal offered on your next coffee run?

 

Necessiteas – Green Olive Tea

Green Olive Tea, sounds disgusting doesn’t it? When in fact its actually rather delicious! That’s because there is most definitely no green olives in it. Instead its green tea with only the leaves of the olive tree (and a few other special ingredients .. I’ve locked in peppermint but not sure on the rest). This beautiful tea is from Necessiteas, handmade in Jarrahdale and available for purchase at the Kalamunda Farmers Market on Sunday mornings.

Olive Leaf is especially good for you, especially in terms of  immunity (fighting cold and flu), cardiovascular health and antioxidant free radical fighting but also inflammation, anti-viral/bacterial and energy boosting . I don’t know about you but the taking of olive leaf extract in liquid form is just never going to be a sustainable part of my daily routine, and not just because I’m really bad at routine but also because  its just not delicious.

I was unable to find any resource which compared the benefits of extract versus tea, however I’d wager that the concentration of oleanoic acid in tea is lower than extract. I’ll keep an eye out for it.

Nevertheless, whilst I do look out for things that are good for me and is super healthy, I will not force something into my diet which is not enjoyable. This tea is wonderful.

Its a smooth blend which is refreshing without being sharp. The olive leaf gives it an earthy flavour which is not overpowering or bitter, sometimes thick leaved plants make for very tannin strong tea.   I find it to be more comforting than straight peppermint or green tea, its well rounded.

It benefits from a quick first rinse before brewing, I tend to do this to all green teas after finding it takes out some of the bitterness (definitely not necessary for white tea). All you need to do is pour  a small amount of boiled water over the leaves, throw that water out, and then continue filling your cup. Its probably not necessary for everyone but if you find green tea sometimes a little strong its worth a go.

A wonderful tea which is well worth checking out!

Off To Market

Speaking with my wonderful partner last night about how active and healthy we are, and came to the conclusion that I, in particular, have let this, a huge part of my lifestyle, fall by the wayside.

I’m going to assign this to the extraordinary whirlwind lifestyle we have created for ourselves, we are out all the time exploring and just being in this amazing relationship – so this is by no means a negative thing.

Not 6 months ago I was a regular gym attendee, yoga enthusiast, avid bush walker, and spent almost every Sunday morning at my local farmers market picking up my fresh and organic veggies, meat and bread. Letting these things go, ever so slowly,  has just resulted in a severe drop in my well being.

I adore the farmers market, especially in winter, wrapping myself up in my red winter coat , gathering my African woven basket and assorted bags, and taking off, wondering at my own pace through the bright, energetic crowd. Everything is so fresh, colourful, real, and fragrant. My pickings for the week come from all over the market based  on the best looking, freshest, friendliest farmer, and best price coming together to create a gorgeous basket full of colour and texture. Before munching on a yummy almond croissant from the french baker,  and lugging my full basket home.

Without the market I quickly loose inspiration to cook during the week, supermarkets drain my soul. Getting inspired to create amazing, fresh and healthy meals is so very easy when your surrounded by the best vegetables, and the most amazing herbs – and its cheaper too!!

an interesting wikihow article I found about eating organic food, without it being incredibly expensive;

http://www.wikihow.com/Eat-Organically-on-Modest-Means

so! The point of this post was not to tell you about farmers markets – because I could talk for days and days about markets, and perhaps what i’ll do is another blog post to this effect if your interested. When I travel local markets are a major priority for me, especially in small rural towns as a centre of the community and in big cities as their link to the land, so I have stories and photos to show a plenty. I’ve studied markets from a planning and ecology point of view, how they effect communities, for their purposes as a point of connection to where your food comes from and the landscape we live on, etc etc.

The point of this post was to say, I’m taking on getting back into those things that I love and inspire me. Sunday morning markets, Monday afternoon gym, Thursday afternoon yoga, weekend bush walking :) I’m so excited about it, I’m energised and so very keen to get started. The best part about this will be having my incredible Luke along for the ride. Can’t wait to take him out in the bush with me so I can share with him why I’m an enviro, and my source of inspiration! Can you believe its 7 months into our relationship and we haven’t been out in the bush yet!? How am I still breathing? Its such a huge part of who I am.