Wednesday, July 13, 2011

[Article Blog] How To Get Energized: When It's HOT

I've been hearing people say, "I'm just too tired to do anything in this heat," a lot lately.

I'm also seeing facebook statuses like "I have no energy to work out lately."

I can relate. Growing up, I hated summer. I dreaded it like most kids dread school. Bugs, which bite. Sunshine, which burns the eyes and skin. Growing things, which make me itch. Heat, which drains the energy. Sweat, which is sticky and gross.

Right up until a year ago I hated sunshine. I not only sun-burned easily, but just the feel on the sun on my skin literally hurt. Within seconds of contact my skin felt like it was already burning. Literally burning. I wouldn't have dreamed of going outdoors in the sun without long pants, a sunhat, sunscreen, sunglasses, and often a long-sleeved billowing shirt. I'd carefully craft my path to get as much shade as possible.

I've always believed this was the sane, correct thing to do. Obviously we should protect ourself from the aging effects of the sun!

And then I saw Markus Rothkranz, John Kohler, Mimi Kirk and others who are deeply tanned, well over fifty and not wrinkled. Complete exceptions to the rule. What do these three have in common? Raw vegans.

It turned out that the same is true for me. I used to burn in the sun within ten minutes, twenty minutes at the longest. Now, I tan easily without burning... And I don't burn. I've been outside every day this summer with no sunscreen, with shorts and sleeveless shirts and no burn. In fact, sunlight feels amazing and I craft my paths to avoid the shade!

I have to do more research on the cause of this, but here is what I've heard and read so far on this topic (but I am uncertain as to how true each of these is, they are just what I've read that explain why 100% raw vegans don't burn, tan easily, and don't experience aging sun effects):

The best sun protection is within our skin cells themselves. This protection comes from antioxidants in food.
The biggest cause of sun burning and sun damage is toxins in the sweat and in the skin.
Natural oil soap which leaves our own natural skin oils on our skin help protect from sun damage.

My other complaints have virtually vanished as well. Bugs are no longer half as interested in me now that my sweat isn't rich in junk. Eating foods with high amounts of refined sugars will draw bugs to you like a magnent. I used to be the one person who got all the bites when in a group of people. Now, I'm never that person. Also, the bites itch a lot less when I do get them.

My eyes still are not as strong as they could be. I used to get splitting headaches from going into the sun with sunglasses. I now rarely wear sunglasses, but I still sometimes need to squint in bright light. I notice this is better after I drink carrot juice two or three times in the span of five to seven days.

I no longer get rashes, swollen hands or a runny nose from gardening, at all. And I now do way more gardening than I did before. I used to love gardening, but I had to go in because my hands would swell from touching the wild plants. Now I eat many of those wild plants. Dandilions, burdoc, mint, plantain and clover all grow in my yard and around Buffalo everywhere. They're very good for you.

My heat tolerance used to be 78 degrees. By the time it got up to 80 degrees I could be found indoors, in front of a fan, my hair dripping cold water, reading a book or napping. I was rendered completely inert and helpless. I would take cold showers repeatedly trying to cool down and remove the sticky smelly sweat. I felt disgusting and loaded on deodorant/antiperspirant every morning and afternoon.

Sound familiar?

When I moved to California to live with my husband (whom I met online through OKCupid), I was very leery of the coming summer. More accurately, I was terrified.

When I complained to my husband of my sticky disgusting sweat, he advised me to drink more water. Back then, I hated water and the idea of drinking it was appalling. He persuaded me to drink it by adding lemon juice to it. Unsweetened lemonade, essentially. It was a huge start. When I got up to drinking three tall glasses a day, there was a noticeable difference in the smell and feel of my sweat. It was much closer to being bearable.

When I became a rawvegan in September of 2010 (and proceeded to be 100% raw vegan with no exceptions whatsoever for three solid months, and only very small occasional exceptions after that)... My sweat stopped smelling and sticking. Today, as I sit in a hot poorly-insulated attic to write this, in a room approaching 90 degrees (it was 91 up here yesterday), I'm quite comfortable. I'm sweating a little, but I don't even notice it anymore. It's not until my clothes are quite wet with sweat that it begins to bother me, and that's fine. Getting all covered in sweat once a day and then showering in a mildly warm shower is very good for the skin.

I am doing some things differently however to add to my ability to cope with the heat.

I'm very carefully avoiding foods that take more than two hours to digest. For a raw vegan, those are nuts, seeds, oils and avocados. Essentially anything with fully-formed proteins or fats. For people who eat anything/everything, that includes grains, meats, dairy, eggs and starches.

Digesting these dense foods causes your entire system work harder than it needs to, making you overheat more rapidly.

I'm eating almost entirely fruit this past week to keep from getting tired. Banana-mango smoothies, banana-kiwi-lemon home-made ice "cream" sherbet, simple spinach and lettuce salads with salt and a fresh-squeezed lemon juice, raspberry-banana pudding, grapefruits, apples, home-juiced lemon-orange juice, fresh pea pods out of the yard, and cooling salsas made up of cucumbers, celery, tomatoes, bell peppers and parsley.

All of the above will digest in an hour and a half or less, meaning more energy now and less energy wasted digesting food.

Let's return to why I used to hate summer for the first 21 years of my life: "I dreaded it like most kids dread school. Bugs, which bite. Sunshine, which burns the eyes and skin. Growing things, which make me itch. Heat, which drains the energy. Sweat, which is sticky and gross."

Bugs rarely bite me because I don't eat refined sugars or flour. Bites no longer itch as much or for as long.

Sunshine no longer burns my skin, and now feels pleasant.

Sunshine hurts my eyes less, especially when I drink carrot juice. I no longer require sunglasses.

Plants no longer cause my hands to swell or itch at all.

Heat no longer drains my energy or makes me feel tired.

My sweat is no longer sticky or smelly. I don't wear deodorant or antiperspirant anymore.

And now I love summer! So many beautiful flowers, so much fresh produce, and everything is so very gorgeous in the sunshine! It bathes the world is gold.

If you want to start enjoying your summer, try this:

Be a fat-free raw vegan until 4:00pm each day. Eat whatever you like after 4:00pm, but for breakfast, brunch and lunch, eat nothing but fresh fruits and vegetables. Also, drink plenty of water. If you dislike water, add a little fresh-squeezed lemon juice &/or orange juice. The glass of water I'm drinking now has several slices of orange in the glass.

Important note: Never remove salt entirely from your diet. Natural sources of salt include celery and seaweed. I also add additional salt to my salads. This is very important. You do require salt to survive, and without it you will not be able to hydrate. You also need potassium to be able to hydrate. A combination of a salted salad, plenty of water, some celery and a few bananas in one day is a great combination for getting fully hydrated.

In the middle of this heat, I'm finally getting back to working out regularly. Now that I've settled a bit since the move. One trick I use to get myself to work out is to be aware of my energy level at all times, and when I realize that my energy level is higher than usual I tell myself, "I've got the energy, there is no excuse not to do just one minute of working out."

Once I've done one minute, sometimes I'm game to do five minutes or ten. Often I just do one minute, but one minute is better than none! Besides, this usually happens three to seven times a day. If I do squats and lift weights for one minute at a time seven times in a day, that's still seven minutes worth of squats and curls.

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