June 03, 2012

Inspirational Friends: Jessica from The Wellness Warrior + A Giveaway!

Happy Sunday my friends!

I can't believe it's been almost a week since we landed in Finland - time is flying past way too quickly! Next week things will get really busy; the wedding guests will start to arrive from what seems like all corners of the world (Australia, Japan, France), we will get to start decorating and propping the venue and I will have appointments for rehearsal make up and hair. Amongst all this madness, my soon-to-be husband and I have been going for long walks in the forest, breathing in the clean air and the calming smell of the trees. I just love being away from the hustle and bustle of big cities, in this remote part of the world what I call home.

Before I'll introduce you to my next inspirational friend (see previous friends here and here), I would like to announce the winners of my first-ever giveaway - Sarah's new e-book "I Quit Sugar Cookbook". I was really overwhelmed by all the great responses I got from all of you, 120 comments altogether! Needless to say, my task of  choosing just three winners was extremely hard! 

Thank you all for sharing your personal stories on why you want to quit sugar. It was truly eye-opening to see how sugar addiction is causing so many health problems, but it was also encouraging to realise that so many people acknowledge the connection between sugar consumption and health problems and want to break free. 

After reading all the comments many times, I finally chose three winners. It seemed to me that these people were all at different stages of life and had very different causes as to why they felt they needed to quit sugar. Jacqueline wants to be a good role-model for her newborn baby and acknowledges that taking care of her own health is just as important as caring for her daughter. Friendly Cook, on the other hand, is going through a menopause and has decided to heal herself by fixing her diet. I love the fact that she also acknowledges the connection between gut, mind, body and soul. That is so important! And finally, Marianne, who has a very similar approach to mine in that she want to eat a clean diet where artificial and processed foods are not masking the flavours of real food. 

Congratulations to all of you and I hope this book will motivate you on your sugar-free journey!

Giving birth to my beautiful baby girl, Sofia, almost 9 months ago, was the catalyst for me to take a good look at ME, to heal and grow stronger after delivery to be the best possible mum to her - to be energised to enjoy every single giggle, cuddle and developmental achievements, and to create a home where she is nourished with good wholesome, home-cooked, REAL food to give her the best start in life I can. Giving up sugar has been the crux of this transformation, and I thank those like Maria and Sarah for their support and inspiration through their website.
- Jacqueline

I have been chronically I'll and nutrition is key to getting back on my feet. When I went into menopause my intolerances became severe. I am making gradual changes to my diet and want to quit sugar as I come to truly appreciate the links between the gut and mind body and soul. I see this now as a journey to health rather than I'll health. Love your blog which inspires me.
- FriendlyCook

Because I'm sweet enough! I want to experience the delicate flavours and sweetness of foods as they are, with nothing added or taken away. Its then when we really appreciate the life cycle of the produce, how its grown, matured, been minimally processed etc to reach our pantries and tables :) I want to get away from cravings and reaching for something like sugar as a pick me up or energy source. 
- Marianne
Can the winners please email me at scandifoodie [at] gmail [dot] com 
and I will organise the e-books for you? Thanks!

Now, on to my next interview! Jessica Ainscough is a truly inspirational young lady who runs a website called The Wellness Warrior. After being diagnosed with cancer in 2008, she decided to turn her life around and start healing herself. Her daily blog is dedicated to wellness tips and advice, healthy recipes and green living. Please continue to read Jess' interview on her vegan diet, yoga routine and her latest e-book!

AND! I am beyond excited to announce that Jessica has kindly offered to give a copy of her new e-book, Make Peace with Your Plate ,to one lucky Scandi Foodie reader!

I will announce the winner at the end of this month, June 30th. To be in the running, all you need to do is to leave a comment below answering this question: 

What does making a peace with your plate mean to you?

I'm looking forward to hearing from you and good luck!!

What inspired you to become a vegan?

I became vegan for health reasons first up. I was diagnosed with cancer in 2008 and became vegetarian. When I was re-diagnosed with the same cancer at the end of 2009 I became vegan. Animal protein is one of the biggest tumour promoters, so I knew that in order to heal I would need to give it up. The cruel way that animals are treated when they are raised for our food is heart-breaking, and knowing what I know now I would be vegan purely for this reason.    

What do you love about being a vegan?

I feel amazing! I have so much more energy, I feel lighter, my mind is clearer, my eyes are brighter, and I feel a sense of calm within my body and mind. I also love knowing that I am being kind to our animal friends and our planet just by choosing not to eat them.

Can you tell us about the concept behind your website, The Wellness Warrior?

My website started out as a cathartic way for me to express myself as I was healing from cancer. I started it a week before going to the Gerson clinic in Mexico and beginning two years of intense Gerson Therapy (juicing, coffee enemas, and a vegan diet). Over time it has evolved into a sanctuary for natural health and wellness information and inspiration.

Your latest e-book is called “Make Peace with Your Plate. How to End Your Tortured Relationship with Food”. Can you tell us a bit about this book and why do you think so many of us struggle with finding a balance?

Sure! I wrote this book because one of the major benefits I have discovered since cleaning up my diet is that I can now eat whatever I feel like eating, and as much as I feel like eating, without guilt creeping into my mind and excess weight creeping onto my thighs. The premise is to eat a whole food, plant-based diet. I think a lot of people struggle to find peace with their diets because we are constantly bombarded by false marketing from the diet and food industry. We are told that eating low fat is good, that we need to eat meat and dairy, and that eating processed food is okay as long as it has the Heart Foundation tick of approval. Not only is this all false, but it keeps us in a cycle of deprivation, binging, and guilt because it makes it impossible for us to reach the vitality and wellbeing that we are seeking,

What role do yoga and meditation play in your life? What advice would you give to someone wanting to incorporate more of these practices into their lives? 
Yoga and meditation are crucial for keeping the drunken monkeys in my mind tame.  I meditate for at least 30 minutes each morning – it is the perfect way for me to set the tone for my day. I go to two yoga classes each week – one Bikram and one Vinyasa, and I also try to practice at home on my own whenever I can.  My advice for those wanting to get into meditation would be to start small with whatever you have and wherever you are. You don’t need a fancy room or cushion. Start with just a minute each day of silence, stillness and deep breathing.  Then work up to five minutes each day. When you have that sorted, go for 10. Then 15, then 20, then 30.  As for yoga, I would recommend going to a class to begin with. The energy in the room and the guidance of the teacher will make all the difference.

Besides following a vegan diet, what are some simple things one can do to promote a compassionate and cruelty-free lifestyle?

My biggest tips are to consume the least amount of chemicals as possible. Aside from refraining from eating meat, this is one of the kindest things you can do for the planet and your body. This means eating whole foods, and using natural and organic beauty and cleaning products.

What tips do you have for people wanting to make the switch to a vegan diet?

When you first make the switch, it’s important to eat plant foods that are filling. Our minds can trick us into thinking that without meat, our meal won’t be complete. Swap meat for plant proteins like legumes and quinoa, and fillings foods like whole grains and potatoes.

Who is your vegan inspiration?

Kris Carr. She is a wellness goddess.

What is your favourite vegan meal to prepare?

At the moment it’s a raw cashew cheesecake that I got from the e-book Eat Awesome by Paul Jarvis. It is the best thing I have ever eaten, and it’s totally healthy.

What are your future plans? Any upcoming projects you’d like to share with us?

At the moment I’m working on an e-program called The Wellness Warrior Lifestyle Transformation Guide. It’s a 12-step program that will guide people through their wellness transition - from wherever they are to wherever they want to be. It will cover the importance of wholefoods, mind stuff, emotional stuff, self care, movement, money stuff, and finding your purpose. I am having so much fun creating it, and can’t wait to show it off when I launch in August.

Thank you Jess!