On the Road
In May of this year I started doing this thing called bio-hacking. For about three months it captured the majority of my daily focus as I tried once and for all to take full responsibility of my physical health and wellness. Then life happened and I lost the reigns a bit. What could have been a disastrous derailing turned out to be enlightening and powerful. I'd like to tell you about it.
At the beginning of August I embarked on a ten city, five week journey from Europe to American then back again. I slept on more couches than Lindsay Lohan did to get cast in Mean Girls and did all of it while trying to eat clean and be bulletproof. It’s been six months now since I began bio-hacking, but what I garnered in the passed five weeks on the road has proved the most valuable to date on my journey to living a more optimal life.
Our very survival depends on our ability to stay awake, to adjust to new ideas, to remain vigilant and to face the challenge of change. – MLK
Every single day on the road was different which made sticking to a specific dietary regimen challenging. This is no secret, but that doesn't make the problem any less significant. And inquiring minds want to know: how do you eat clean and stay healthy while traveling? How do you stay on track when your wheels come off? I can only speak for myself, but I think it helps to be stubborn! Here's a bit about what I discovered…
First thing’s first, let’s talk accessibility.
My greatest apprehension about traveling was that I wouldn't be able to find the right kind of food. Sourcing high-quality foods and supplements is difficult enough when you’re stationary and I was after all, about to spend a lot of time in some very rural parts of America – Texas mostly. To be fair, finding high-quality food in Texas’ largest cities is not impossible. Guess which state is the beef capitol of the US ? But we’re talking grain-fed not grass-fed beef and grain is still king in America. This is an unfortunate truth, but one that can certainly be worked around if you know where to look, and it turns out that local farmers markets are steadily making a real comeback to America’s countryside.
It’s late July and I’m in Texas. After visiting some friends in Galveston the plan was to drive my rental car back through Houston, purchase a super classy beer cooler and fill it with grass-finished meat, velvety delicious eggs and grass-fed butter before I drove up through the middle of east Texas to Nacogdoches (aka “Nacog-nowhere”). I needed good food and like a squirrel hording sustenance for winter, I was on a mission. This was also in preparation of a three-day road trip to Ohio by way of Alabama, Kentucky and Tennessee. It turns out that I didn't need big-city Houston like I thought. Little Galveston had its own farmers market full of grass-finished meats, farm-fresh eggs and even a kick-ass vendor of some deliciously crunchy Kombucha beverages. I purchased enough to last me for ten days then headed up north to Nacogdoches where I found yet another plentiful local farmers market. The vendors knew their stuff and were 100% prepared for all of my cheeky questions about processing and handling. I was satiated. I was humbled. And after a few days affixed to east Texas I prepared enough sustenance for the seventeen hour car ride to Ohio. Sure it’s not ideal to consume pre-prepared food for three days and I utilized the heck out of truck-stop microwaves, but hey, we do the best we can right?
Once in Ohio I was close enough to Columbus and a Whole Foods (aka whole paycheck). A big thanks to my sweet cousin Nikki for snatching up some grass-fed beef, nitrate-free bacon and creamy Icelandic grass-fed butter Smjor (pronounced s-m-e-a-r) for me. The town I was staying in was just small enough to not need a farmers market because well, a lot of the locals have their own farms. In a lot of small-town America sharing fresh produce between one another is and everyday thing – what a novel idea! And because my aunt knew about my food preferences beforehand, she had some amazingly juicy and bursting red tomatoes and strawberries waiting for me when I arrived. After a little cooperation and a small amount of effort, I had my road-trip stockpile for the next couple of days and until I made it to my next destination, Washington, DC. At this point in my journey, I’d lived for two and a half weeks on the wagon and (my kind of) bulletproof. I had brought supplements with me from London, so the challenge there was remembering to take them amid the chaos. Speaking of chaos; after DC, things got fuzzy.
Three weeks in and I am now in New York.
To say I was distracted wouldn't quite cover
it. This is when my resolve began to waver. My attentions turned from farmers markets to
friends and from supplements to matters of the heart. I didn't completely fall off the wagon
so-to-speak as much as I just stopped trying so hard to be on it. Bulletproof coffee turned into beer and well-sourced
meals turned into handfuls of chocolate covered M&Ms. Not all of the time, but too often. I even ate American Chinese food. Eeeks! I’m
only human! In my defense it was more like an act of goodwill than a desire to
willingly consume that crap. The
healthiest thing I could find on the menu was some sort of egg and vegetable
bake called, egg foo yung.
It wasn't horrifying, but I’d rather eat
bacon any day of the week. Duh.
So, life happened and in the mean time I fell off the diet train. Instead of looking at this as a failure however, I took a hold of it as a chance to learn. There's absolutely no way to learn what works without also knowing what doesn't work, correct? In fact, in spite of all the emotional angst and missteps I learned a very valuable lesson about my body during this time: that I don’t need to eat as much as I thought - not even nearly as much. Intermittent fasting is growing in popularity and for good reason. It works! At least it’s working for me. I've lost eleven inches and about ten pounds so far. Studies show that alternate-day fasting can reduce body weight, LDL, and triglyceride levels to the same degree regardless of maintenance of low fat or high fat diet on the feeding day. Fasting prompted by stress not followup with consuming whole foods is certainly not smart, but when utilized as a part of an already healthy eating regime it might just be that extra little boost you need to upgrade your health. And you can stop listening to that nonsense about eating thrice daily. It’s a cultural construction passed down from the Puritans - not a biological necessity. Even the Romans measured more than one meal a day to be gluttonous. Google it!
Balance is best
After one final weekend in Spain I was back in the thick of it and now for two months, till I’m on the move again. I've had time to take stock in what I learned about traveling and staying healthy. And I almost hate to say it for fear of sounding cliché, but it’s true that balance is best. You see, all the preparation I put into the first half of my trip was worth it; I learned about finding good food while traveling and how a little effort can go a long way. Keeping in mind though that I wouldn't have grasped a very valuable lesson about intermittent fasting had I not let-go just a little once things started to get chaotic. Without slip-ups we wouldn't have Post-it notes, Penicillin or the colour mauve. And what would the world be like without the colour mauve?!