food journal

HAPPY GUT

happiness

HOW TO HAVE A HAPPY GUT?

What have you been eating while staying at home? When eating at home and working from home during Covid-19, colorful meals seem a happy gut choice. As the saying goes, we’re what we eat. So, why not eat healthy food that makes us happy. From the book, Happy Gut, what makes our gut happy is sugar-free and gluten-free whole foods. Meanwhile, yoga and meditation are a big plus to get a stress-free gut.

Simply put, HAPPY GUT = HAPPY MEALS + YOGA! That’s how I sum up the key ideas from the book. The first part of the book talks about the science and biology of how the gut works. If you’re into the details, check it out. I’m more into the actual work that leads to a happy gut so I did an experiment to see how happy my gut could be. Will my gut be happy after a new diet?

First, I homemade happy gut meals that are made of sugar-free and gluten-free whole foods. To be honest, I have no fancy cooking skills. As long as the food is boiled until cooked with oil, salt, and pepper, I think I’m done. Dicing the veggies, making them warm, and adding seasoning are my cooking skills at their best.

Second, I did mindful eatingfocusing on the food only and being grateful. No TV, no radio, no cellphone, no chatting, or any other entertainment. I stopped doing everything but eatsmelling the food, watching the food, tasting the food, chewing, and swallowing. This makes me think I’m no different from a cow chewing slowly in the countryside. The only difference is I’m inside and it’s outside.

Third, I tried to drink a cup of water at least 30 mins after a meal as suggested, for not diluting the stomach acid. But I did take a sip of water to rinse my mouth when I finish eating, for the sake of not having bad breath. Too much detail here. I better stop. Anyhow, the key point is I drink between meals, not during meals.

OK, how do I feel and how does my gut feel with the new diet and yoga practice or workout? I pay attention to my gut feelings and I have noticed these changes:

1 Less brain fog after meals

2 My stomach feels less full and gets hungry soon

3 My waistline is the same

Overall, a happy gut diet makes me feel good as I can think with clarity most of the time! Also, I’ve made sure the food is colorful so it looks happy and boosts my good mood. I didn’t follow the exact recipes or the supplement suggestions from the book Happy Gut as they’re complicated to me. So I keep the main concept of gluten-free and sugar-free whole foods and make a simple version.

For dinner, I choose low cabs green veggies, and meat. As dinner looks repetitive, I have no photos for the record. But I have snapshots of breakfast, lunch, and snacks in my food journal. Total gluten-free is a challenge indeed because I eat gluten food by default. So I cheated one day. Scroll down to see if you can find which day I had gluten. 😛

Day 1

Breakfast: blue berry + chia seed
Breakfast: blue berry + chia seed

Lunch: sweet potato + tomato +cucumber
Lunch: sweet potato + tomato +cucumber

Snack: boiled egg + cucumber
Snack: boiled egg + cucumber

Day 2

Breakfast: apple + chestnut
Breakfast: apple + chestnut

Lunch: pumpkin + chicken breast + mushroom + cherry tomato
Lunch: pumpkin + chicken breast + mushroom + cherry tomato

Snack: boiled egg
Snack: boiled egg

Day 3

Breakfast: oat + goji + black sesame
Breakfast: oat + goji + black sesame
Lunch: sweet potato + garlic shrimp + mushroom scramble egg + cucumber
Lunch: sweet potato + garlic shrimp + mushroom scramble egg + cucumber
Snack: banana
Snack: banana

Day 4

Breakfast: orange + date
Breakfast: orange + date
Lunch: Wonton (gluten!) + cherry tomato + cucumber + broccoli
Lunch: Wonton (gluten!) + cherry tomato + cucumber + broccoli
Snack: hummus + bell pepper
Snack: hummus + bell pepper

Day 5

Breakfast: weird coconut milk + dragonfruit
Breakfast: weird coconut milk + dragonfruit

This drink’s color and taste is so gross! I swear a lot while forcing myself to finish half. And the coconut milk makes me sick!

Day 6

Lunch: fried egg + zucchini + pumpkin + bell pepper
Lunch: fried egg + zucchini + pumpkin + bell pepper
Snack: apple
Snack: apple

Breakfast: goji + oat + black sesame (my mum prepares this for me every morning)
Breakfast: goji + oat + black sesame (my mum prepares this for me every morning)
Lunch: avocado + shrimp + mushroom + cherry tomato
Lunch: avocado + shrimp + mushroom + cherry tomato
Dinner: fried rice with pork + avocado + bell pepper

Day 7

Breakfast: goji + oat + black sesame
Breakfast: goji + oat + black sesame
Lunch: salmon + avocado + cucumber
Lunch: salmon + avocado + cucumber
Snack: Macadamia nut + pecan
Snack: Macadamia nut + pecan

AND MORE

A happy mind will help our gut to stay happy too. From time to time, practicing yoga and meditation to declutter the thoughts in our mind will make a positive impact. Solve for happy!

zig zag

creativity

How to solve a problem creatively?

We all have problems to solve in our lives. If we see creativity as new ways of problem-solving, how creative are we? We can be creative in a zig-zag way as suggested in the book Zig Zag: The Surprising Path to Greater Creativity. When I take the zig-zag approach to solve my problems, will the results be different? Here’re the 8 steps (the key zig-zag concept from the book) that I take to improve my core strength. I hope this can help reduce my lower back pain.

ASK

Ask questions no one has thought of before

How to build a habit of exercising 30 mins or more daily? How to exercise and have fun at the same time? How to train my core daily without getting bored? How to keep fit every day? How to maintain an everyday exercise routine? How to build strong core muscles with progress and without spending too much money? How can I keep practicing core exercises for at least a year?

LEARN

Learn from a mentor. Practice deliberately and get a deep understanding.

What I have learned by googling my questions is that core muscles are not just about the abdominals. The core also includes the obliques, glutes and lower back. I have collected a series of core exercises for strengthening the core. I also saved many yoga classes for core strength on Youtube.

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LOOK

Look with fresh eyes and mindfulness. The way you look at the world determines how creative you can be.

I see a strong core as my strong motive to exercise daily now. My lower back pain problem becomes an opportunity for me to learn yoga and lead a healthy and zen lifestyle. I feel and listen to my body more closely. With new perspectives, I see life differently. Well-being becomes my top priority. Fitness is a part of my lifestyle.

PLAY

Free your mind to wander and get into a relaxed state.

Play is about doing other things for a while when we get stuck at solving a problem. When I feel exhausted at a challenge, shifting my focus to something else is a great way to get new inspirations.

THINK

The best way to come up with creative ideas is to come up with lots of ideas.

We can generate lots of ideas by setting an idea time and quota. Say, I set 10 mins to think of 10 ideas each day. Idea 1: Pick one sport (i.e. yoga) to practice for a year. Idea 2: Practice different sports quarterly. Idea 3: Form a fitness group to exercise daily together. Idea 4: Have a fitness buddy. Idea 5: Join meetup about fitness. Idea 6: Join the gym. Idea 7: Play video games about fitness (i.e. Ring Fit Adventure). Idea 8: Join a fitness boot camp. Idea 9: Record the daily exercise in a journal. Idea 10: Report daily exercise results to a friend. Idea 11: Focus on doing exercise that can train the core. Idea 12: Have a sporty vacation overseas. Idea 13: Exercise 30 mins every morning on weekdays. Idea 14: Exercise one hour over the weekends. Idea 15: Hire a personal trainer. Idea 16: Follow different videos on youtube to exercise. Idea 17: Play VR sports games Idea 18: Participate in sporty events.

FUSE

If you start with unrelated things, you’re almost guaranteed to be more creative. Get inspiration from nature. Imagine you’re the objects of your challenge. Talk to someone different.

I imagine I am the core muscle. How would I like to grow? I like to have a nice view of nature while training. I want to train with other core muscles to have fun together, too.

CHOOSE

Go for simple, elegant, robust. Even after you’ve selected a great idea, there’s always room for improvement.

For my lower back pain problem, I choose a one-year exercise plan as below. Jan: Yoga class daily; Feb-Apr: Ring Fit Adventure daily; May-Jun: swimming/tennis weekly + core yoga daily; Jul-Oct: surfing overseas/wake surfing weekly + core yoga daily; Nov-Dec: hiking weekly + core yoga daily.

MAKE

I started to execute my one-year exercise plan from Jan 2020. I have practiced yoga for 20 days in Jan. Now I’m having fun with Ring Fit Adventure every day. I’m excited to exercise at least 30 mins daily in a fun way. It’s so fun that I can’t help playing more and more until exhausted. This video game is such a great idea to make people exercise more. I’m loving it and can’t wait to play more! It works for me so well. I hope the rest of the plan will go well, too.

What problems are you trying to solve at the moment? You can try the zig-zag way to see if you can come up with new solutions that work for you.

Creative doing!