Thursday, January 10, 2013

A New Year, A Lean You

Starting in just a few days, I'm going to be participating in the LeanYou 6-month challenge to see how much I can change my body, focusing on tracking my workouts and my measurements.

I have decided to revitalize this blog in order to keep the posts here separate from all the other stuff going on at Temple Sacred Flame. Stay tuned for updates, including: starting progress photos, measurements, goals, etc. along with recipes and yummy food photos, workout tracking and more.

Friday, March 16, 2012

F is for Food

Your body is a temple.

You are what you eat.

Food is sacred.

These sayings aren't just old cliches, axioms we have learned to associate with feeling guilt about our choices and shame about our bodies. These ten words are the gateway to true love... love of the body.

"We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spirit beings having a human experience."
-Yogi Bhajan 

We have bodies and for the foreseeable future, we need bodies. Yet most of us live our lives in a perpetual state of war with our bodies, spirit trying to claw its way out and be free to soar in clean air and green land. We try to "whip" them into "shape" (as if there was one kind of perfect human shape) and we talk about our "diet" as if it is a quick-fix industry like any other.

The food and drink that goes in your mouth builds the cells of your body. The air you breath, the chemicals you use, even the people you share space with, all of these things are broken down and remade into the person you are right now. You aren't a static thing moving through space. Your cells are recreating themselves as we speak, your organs and fluids transporting important building blocks to the places where they are needed most.

Your body was meant to be an efficient hunter and gatherer, to roam the land and run after large prey, to learn to tie knots and set traps even. It was not meant for midnight donut drive-thrus and running on the treadmill under fluorescent lighting then bathing in chlorine.

Unfortunately for most people, very little of our chemical intake is under our own control in the short term. While we can realign our lives with certain principals and make efforts to make changes in the future, and advocate for systemic change through activism, the one thing we can most easily control today is our food intake. How do we live for the bodies we are in?

1) Eat lots of vegetables and some fruits, in particular non-starchy ones. Corn is not a vegetable, it's a grain. White potatoes also do not count. Focus on leafy greens and colourful things like peppers and berries.

2) Avoid grains and legumes, including their oils (corn and soy). Even if your grains are organic and sprouted, soaked or nixtamalized, making them a regular part of your diet not only involves a lot of work, but a heavy carbohydrate load, which should be used to eat lots of fruits and veggies!

3) Get "plant fat" from healthy sources like avocado, coconut, nuts (NOT peanuts, these are actually legumes), or if you must, an organic and cold-pressed seed like sunflower or grape. Other great fats come from animal sources, along with your protein.

4) Get animal fats and proteins from quality sources where the animals are fed an evolutionary-appropriate diet (roots and roughage for pigs, grass for cows and sheep, insects and seeds for chickens) and try to buy locally. Not only will this help you get to know your farmers and the farms they keep, but locally grown vegetables will be fresher and more nutrient dense, not to mention seasonally appropriate.

None of these are "hard and fast" rules, and eating one piece of birthday cake or one banana shipped from Mexico isn't going to kill you.But every time you eat something, think about what purpose its contents will serve in your body. Look at the overall picture of your intake and see how it is reflected in your health and your body, both physically and energetically. See how you can make slow changes (like grow your own vegetables! or visit a farmer's market!) to begin building a better and stronger you.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

E is for the Elements: European or North American?

While most Wiccans and other neopagan practitioners in North American have readily adopted the standard Western European elemental associations - Earth in the North, Air in the East, Fire in the South and Water in the West - this has never sat well with me.

The aboriginal peoples of North and Central America conceived of these notions in a slightly different manner. Like many cultures, Mesoamerican people conceived of a "World Tree" which defined the three dimensional world. In the North, we find the realm of the white Wind and the Mind. In the East is the land of yellow Fire and Spirit, where the sun rises. In the South we have blue Water and the realm of emotions. And in the West, where the sun sinks down into the horizon again, we have the realm of the red Earth and the Body.

But the map does not end there. In the center, we find The Void, that from which all things are born, the "I Am" and the Nothingness. Above us we find the Heart of Sky, that which throws down lightening bolts, the light around which our planet moves, the darkness in the center of the Galaxy, the point from which the Universe was born and to which it will return. Below us we see Heart of Earth, that which sends lightening strikes up to meet the sky, the fire in our blood, the hot core around which all life on our planet revolves.

Have you ever wondered about the origin of modern elemental associations? Do you think that the land itself speaks these associations to us? Do you resonate with the elements of your land or of your teaching?

Saturday, March 10, 2012

A is for Adventure... Awesome? Or Awful?

Adventure is one of my seven core values. I celebrate one each day of the week, and Sunday is typically my Adventuring Day, when I dream, make plans, and carry out actual adventures!

The thing about and adventure is that you can never be sure whether they will be awesome or awful until you try it out and see...

awful Look up awful at
c.1300, agheful "worthy of respect or fear," from aghe, an earlier form of awe, + -ful. Replaced O.E. egefull. Weakened sense "very bad" is from 1809; weakened sense of "exceedingly" is by 1818.

Full of awe? That's too much, like staring directly into the sun.

awesome Look up awesome at
1590s, "profoundly reverential," from awe + -some. Meaning "inspiring awe" is from 1670s; weakened colloquial sense of "impressive, very good" is recorded by 1961 and was in vogue from after c.1980.

Just enough awe is how much we want... just some.

We want to revere our lives, but sometimes respecting it can be hard, and we may not enjoy fearing for our lives, but perhaps the stress of outrunning a jaguar was better for our bodies than the stress of sitting in an uncomfortable seat watching a giant-screen horror flick.

How do you know that the thing you're about to do is going to be an adventure? You resist it. Some part of your body cries out for it, but then resistance kicks in. Not a gut instinct telling you "No! Danger!" by that aching nag in your limbs that says, "I'll just check my email first," or "What will the neighbours think?!?"

Adventure doesn't come easy. Sometimes you can find yourself in the middle of an adventure quite unexpectedly, but the primary aspect of adventuring is hard work. You can never plan enough for an adventure, because nothing ever goes exactly as planned on an adventure. But all adventures make good stories, stories you can tell yourself to weave your own Hero's Journey, your own "Tale of Awe" - whether the experience was awesome or awful, you'll have something to tall your friends at parties and your grand kids around the fire.

“A man practices the art of adventure when he breaks the chain of routine and renews his life through reading new books, traveling to new places, making new friends, taking up new hobbies and adopting new viewpoints.” — Wilfred Peterson

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

09 Ix - Gestation and the Natural Altar

09/13 - nine is the day of pregnancy and growth

Ix - the day of the jaguar, the natural world, the great guide, the elemental altar

In nine months, I will be on my way back to the land of the Zapotec people to celebrate the beginning of the 13th Baktun with great friends. Anything could happen, but we are excited for the future, "apocalypse" and beyond. The graphic novel Promethea taught me everything I needed to know about the apocalypse - get ready for your mind to be blown... then move on, with everything you've got. (If you haven't read this Alan Moore series, get on with it already. While you're at it, check out the original Watchmen and pay close attention to the parts missing from the movie. Just read, gaddammit!)

Nine months. Like birth, the 260 day cycle isn't the scientific exact length of pregnancy, but it represents the length of time that lies between the moment a woman realizes that her cycle has shifted, her basal body temperature hasn't dropped, something feels... different. Between that moment are 260 (or 260) days, nine moons, or one sacred calender year - 13 runs of 20 sets in sequence but forever repeating, going on, forward into the future.

December 21, 2012 marks in the Mayan calender. This Baktun marks the passion (I meant to write passing, but I like passion better) of a few months more than 5126 years, a count up from "August 13th" of the year 3114 BCE. Approximately 5 Mayan Long Counts lie within the space of the precession of the equinoxes, estimated to be 25771 years. This "apocalypse" marks the beginning of the "Fifth Sun" or the fifth long count. Predictions about how the world will change "in 2012" should more likely discuss how our world will change in the next five thousand years. If the world is going to end at all, it'll be then. Let's focus our energy on trying to make the next five millenia better than the last, shall we?


Being the type to travel so extensively, it is imperative that I carry my "altar" with me, that my sacred space is inside of me and comes with me everywhere. Finding natural altars in nature, like those honoured on this day in the 20-count, is a boon... a sacred surprise that calls out for responsible action. In many ways, our bodies are the sacred altar upon which we live our lives.

How are you going to refine and give gratitude to your body, the altar, the sacred space through which thoughts become action, through which your magic manifests?

Boot Camp!

In an effort to gain control over my health and fitness through hard work and accountability, I have the distinct pleasure of being involved in the inaugural boot camp program being organized by friend-of-a-friend via Facebook, as she prepares to launch her own website and nutrition+fitness program.

I have my "before" photos taken, and will update at the end of the 12 weeks with a progression of photos throughout, along with measurements and weight. I'm going to update here weekly with a bit of info on my progress, but expect the greatest reveal to be at the end.

Of course, for the entirety of this program, plus an additional 16 weeks afterwards, I'll be far enough away from friends and family that I'm tempted to keep my progress a secret. We'll see how I feel in twelve weeks.

For now, a bit on my goals. My trainer has suggested a weight loss goal of 20 pounds for this time period. Based on how much I tend to lose right away with diet changes, I think it's possible that I will lose more, but I'll stick to the goal for now.

This change will be effected through calorie reduction (1500 calories on rest days, 1900 on training days) and carb limitations (50g on rest days and 100g on training days) with an emphasis on high protein foods and "clean" eating - no grains, rancid oils, legumes, or factory-farmed meat (most of those restrictions are my own).

I am very excited about heading for the coast, where fresh seafood will be easy to come by!

The final component of boot camp is, of course, fitness. My regime includes 2-3 (3 is my goal_ days of strength training per week, plus the occasional bit of HIIT (high intensity interval training) and LISS (low intensity steady state) cardio - typically, sprinting or hiking.

Keep reading and I'll be sure to update with my trials, tribulations, successes and results!

For now, here are my starting measurements:

Navel: 48"
Natural Waist: 42"
Hips: 54"
Underbust: 43"
Overbust: 48"
Upper Arm: 15"
Thigh: 29.5"

Weight: 250 lbs

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

To Hoard or To Share: Evolution Collides, Christmas Edition

Once upon a time, when humankind was still young, we developed slowly the drives and desires which still permeate our species today. Some of these drives have ushered our civilization into a technological future full of possibilities. Others however are at odds with these technologies, struggling to adapt.

Our drive to share, to engage in social interactions and benefit from mutual enjoyment and effort, is innate. Forming the bonds of communities allowed humans not only to survive but to flourish in a dangerous world, full of predators. Likewise for our desire to hoard, to protect our meat and fruit and nuts and other delicacies from the critters around us, to feed ourselves through cold winters or dry summers.

But our ability to do both of these things has outgrown our need. Hoarding happens for profit, at the expense of other humans in need, on a grand scale. Sharing exists among elite "communities" of those who have too much, leaving those without to beg, to starve, and to die.

We have the potential to share just as well as to hoard. Only profit stands in the way.

What do you have too much of in your life, more than you need? Who in your community could you share this abundance with during the holiday season? Whether you have something to celebrate this season or not, the winter is a time to gather together around the communal fire and share what we have to give.