What the heck even is yerba mate tea?

Yerba Mate, pronounced mah-tay.

Iced Yerba Mate tea, from Peace Café in Honolulu.

Up until approximately one week ago, I was merrily going about my life with the firm understanding that there was a magical drink in existence that had the very Australian name Yerba Mate. I really liked the idea of drinking a tea that has ‘mate’ in its name so I was slightly (read: very) put out to realise it is actually pronounced mah-tay. Luckily for it, and me, its incredible health benefits exist regardless of what it’s called.
So, what’s the deal? It is traditionally a South American beverage that is made from the ground stems and leaves of the yerba mate plant. It is a safe nervous system stimulant (it contains about the same amount of caffeine as black tea) and it is jammed full of antioxidants, amino acids, minerals and vitamins.
I first heard about yerba mate while I was in Bali on a health retreat. My fellow health retreaters were raving about the tea’s benefits, with the common theme being that it increased mental clarity and focus without the jitters and headaches that can come with drinking coffee. Upon arriving home, I promptly forgot about the conversations and the very existence of this magical tea. It wasn’t until I saw it on a menu in Hawaii that I finally gave it a go.
Yerba mate has a fairly neutral flavour and can be drunk hot or iced, flavoured or plain (such a versatile little fella, that tea). Within a few minutes of consuming it, I started to feel more energised and mentally clear. The energy lasted for hours and I didn’t get the shakes, which I quite often do when I have had a coffee.
Some of the other benefits include its ability to help digestive issues. It does this by stimulating increased production of gastric acids. Because it helps reduce the bacteria that is present in the stomach, it freshens your breath. The tea also helps you to feel full by slowing down your digestion, which means you eat less and lose weight (if that’s something you’re wanting to focus on but I think you look great, just sayin’). The final main benefit it offers is that it supports your cardiovascular health by helping fat and cholesterol move through the bloodstream, rather than it sticking to your artery’s walls.
Yerba mate is starting to become available at cafes and restaurants that have a healthy offering and you can also pick it up from any good health shop.
If you’re looking for a replacement to your regular caffeinated heart starter then yerba mate might just be the new mate (ha!) you’ve been waiting for.
Laura

How to travel wellness style

Hawaii 1

Our goodies for the flight.

I’m back! Despite being a bit tired from the long flight, I feel great. The trip was exactly what I needed. It nourished me mentally, spiritually and physically. Not all of my holidays have been like this one though and I often find it hard to stick to my wellness regime when I’m travelling. Unfamiliar food choices, different restaurants and a lack of knowledge of what’s available in the area, can lead to my healthy diet being derailed.

It doesn’t take long for me to start feeling the effects of poor eating (I end up sluggish, moody and bloated) and this is not how I want to feel at any time, let alone when I’m trying to enjoy my holiday.

Here are some of the ways I kept on top of my health game while in Hawaii:

Pack food for the flight

Loving Earth's Luvju bars are the perfect travel snack.

Loving Earth’s Luvju bars are the perfect travel snack.

Plane food generally tastes awful and is loaded with salt, sugar and flavourings to make it more appealing. I packed a tonne of snacks for the flight to Hawaii but completely forgot about including a more substantial meal! Next time, I’ll be more prepared and make something like a quinoa salad. So, what was in my pack?

  • Raw kale chips
  • Brown rice and nori chips
  • Loving Earth Luvju bars
  • Pana raw chocolate
  • Coconut water (to drink while waiting at the airport)
  • Homeopathic jetlag-ease tablets
  • An assortment of herbal teas (just ask the flight attendant for a cup of hot water when they come around to offer tea and coffee)

I also had a huge green juice (cucumber, lemon, celery, kale and green apples) when I first woke up, to fill my body with nutrients and chlorophyll, in preparation for the onslaught of toxins I was about to ingest at the airport and during the flight.

Research your destination

The Beetbox Café breakfast burrito was scrunch-your-face good.

The Beetbox Café breakfast burrito was scrunch-your-face-up good.

A key criteria when choosing where to stay was whether or not there would be organic cafes and restaurants nearby. I jumped on Google and checked out my favourite blogs before to find recommendations of places to eat, and discovered Beetbox Café, which is a tiny café tucked in behind a health-food shop. Beetbox Café offered all-organic, vegetarian meals (including their famous acai bowls) and it was by far some of the tastiest food I have eaten.

Stay somewhere that has a kitchen

Organic salad, made with fresh veggies from the property and farmers' markets.

Organic salad, made with fresh veggies from the property and farmers’ markets.

We booked a house through AirBnB so we had access to a kitchen to prepare some meals in. We picked up fresh produce from local farmers markets and then created delicious and healthy meals with it. I get sick of eating out pretty quickly so it was great having the option to do our own cooking. We were fortunate enough to pick a place with an organic veggie patch. It doesn’t get much fresher than that!

Find ways to move your body

Trail riding along the beach.

Trail riding along the beach.

Sitting on a plane for hours wreaks havoc on your body, not to mention the negative effects of jetlag. The quickest way to start feeling good again is to do some gentle exercise like walking, yoga or swimming (you get extra props if it’s in the ocean). I always feel so much better when I’ve headed outside and got my heart rate up a bit. As you know, exercise helps flush out toxins, which is great for when you’ve been around airports and on planes. Jet fuel only does bad things to you!

Flush out radiation

Airports and planes are cesspits of radiation. I prepared my body by upping my dose of chlorella in the days leading up to travel, drinking green juice before and after the flight and taking zeolite tablets.

All of this might sound like hard work but it took barely any time at all and made such a difference to the quality of the trip. Instead of coming back with a couple of new friends in the form of kilos, I arrived home feeling fit and healthy.

Hawaii, I’ll be back.

Laura

The importance of taking time out

I can't wait to be hurtling through that clear blue sky.

I can’t wait to be hurtling through that clear blue sky.

You guys, GUESS WHAT? I’m going to Hawaii! (Queue internal happy dancing.)

Only three more sleeps before I’m on my way. I can’t wait. This trip is long overdue. I haven’t taken a holiday that is purely for recharging my batteries since, well, ever.

Sure, I take holidays but they’re always packed from start to finish with activities. I have this  compulsion to get the most out of every minute because I know I’ll only be on holiday for such a short time. I stress myself out in my pursuit of planning the perfect holiday. Have you met my friend, Counter Productive? We’re tight. Anyway, this time I’m doing things differently. My holiday will be all about sitting on the beach, reading, catching up on sleep and maybe a bit of shopping and hiking. Oh and eating incredible food, of course.

So much of my day-to-day life is lived at full speed that I really struggle to put on the brakes unless I have physically removed myself from my regular setting. You too? This is not an ideal way to live and I am very aware of that but whenever I start trying to address it, I freak out about the seemingly insurmountable task before me. What do I cut out? Which of my friends should I see less of? Should work, study or my blog suffer? Can I survive on less sleep (clearly, for anyone who knows me, this one is rhetorical. I need my sleep.)? I’ve well and truly thrown it in the too-hard basket for the moment. Instead, I’ve decided to take smaller breaks more often because I know it is so important to rest.

Here are my top three reasons why I think taking time out from your regular schedule is critical for your wellbeing:

  1. You will be more productive. This seems counterintuitive but it’s not. If you’ve ever pushed through the point of exhaustion because you need to finish a task, and then realised the next day that you made a tonne of errors while doing it, you’ll know what I’m talking about. There’s a reason why companies give us an annual leave allowance. Study after study has shown that employees who use their annual leave are more productive, happier and healthier employees than those who don’t. So, leave the guilt behind when you board that plane!
  2. You need some sun. The sun is not something we should fear. Of course, I’m not advocating lying for hours in the sun until your skin blisters but that big ol’ ball of fire plays a hugely overlooked role in our health and wellbeing. We are a nation of vitamin D deficient people and it is causing us myriad issues, including depression (explains a bit about our office-working depressed society, right!). The best way to get vitamin D is from the sun. And you need to get out there without sunscreen covering every inch of your skin to get the benefits. (Sunscreen is incredibly toxic but that’s a topic for another time.) Spending just 20 minutes in the sun will give you your daily dose of vitamin D.
  3. You need to get grounded. We spend most of our lives in high-rise buildings and in shoes, completely detached from the earth. This is a relatively new way of living and it isn’t doing us any good. We need to ditch the shoes, or sit on the ground, and connect with the earth to absorb negative ions. These guys help us counterbalance the toxins in modern life and they help reduce inflammation. Remember: inflammation = illness.

On that note, I’ll be taking a break from blogging for the next week so that I can live my message. I’ll be back next week to share my top tips for staying healthy while travelling.

Aloha!

Laura

I went on David Wolfe’s Bali Adventure and this is what I learnt (part 2)

Zip lining at the Bedugal Botanical Gardens, in Bali.

Zip lining at the Bedugal Botanical Gardens.

There’s a saying that goes something like this: if you think you can or you think you can’t, either way you are right.

That was my mantra for the duration of my time in Bali with David Wolfe and the rest of the crew. I learnt so much about myself in those two weeks (like the fact that a 100% raw vegan diet doesn’t work for my constitution). One of the biggest lessons was that I have control over my fears, not the other way around (oh, that and it’s not a good idea to attempt shoulder stand for the first time when the humidity has made your hands uber slippery – but that’s a story for another time).

One of the biggest lessons was that I have control over my fears, not the other way around.

There were a number of things I thought I couldn’t do prior to the trip, with the main ones being:

  1. I couldn’t book (and therefore actually have to go on) a solo overseas trip
  2. I couldn’t do an hour of yoga per day because I wasn’t strong enough
  3. I couldn’t overcome my fear of falling and participate in the zip lining

In the end, Elsa decided to come on the trip at the last minute but that was kind of irrelevant because the hardest part for me was putting the deposit down and knowing that it meant I would be heading overseas on my own (something I had never done before).

Now that I have overcome the fear, I fully intend on taking a trip by myself. I just have to work out where to go!

My second fear was that I’d make a fool of myself during the yoga sessions. To say that I am no yogi would be the understatement of, well, let’s just say a really long time. It was only in February of this year that I pushed, coaxed and cajoled myself into my first downward dog. In the lead up to the trip, I told myself that I wouldn’t be able to get through daily yoga classes, and I decided I would just do yoga every few days while in Bali.

I walked into the beautiful open-air yoga studio (which overlooked the Tjampuhan Valley) on the first morning and, in that moment, decided I was going to attend every yoga session. I’m not sure how much of that decision had to do with the spectacular views but I’m glad I made it. Over the course of the trip, I mastered so many poses that I had previously thought were out of my reach.

Over the course of the trip, I mastered so many poses that I had previously thought were out of my reach.

The final limiting belief I conquered was that I wouldn’t be able to participate in the zip lining at the Bedugal Botanical Gardens. While I don’t have a fear of heights as such, I have a definite fear of falling that was brought on when I fell off a cliff a few years ago. Needless to say, I was pretty nervous about going zip lining.

I don’t know what I was worried about! After completing one of the easier courses, I quickly decided that I wanted something more challenging and moved on to a longer, higher, and more physically demanding course. There was one moment when I realised the course had taken me away from the main area of the park and I was by myself. A jolt of panic went through me as I realised I didn’t have any option but to get through the rest of the course. I took a couple of deep breaths, pushed the thought away and completed the course without giving my fear a second thought.

I’m so proud that I busted through all of those limiting beliefs – because that’s all they were. Beliefs. They weren’t reality. Not even close. The unsupportive, fearful part of my brain wanted me to fail because then it could say, “See, I told you that you weren’t good enough, that you couldn’t possibly succeed, that you never should have tried!” and keep me firmly in my comfort zone. In the past I have let this part of my brain dominate my decision making, paralysing me with fear but I made a conscious effort to push myself on the trip. I’m so glad that I did.

Thank you to all of my fellow Wolfe pack members for making the trip one that I will remember for the rest of my life.

Laura

The amazing and supportive Wolfe pack, after climbing Mount Batur.

The amazing and supportive Wolfe pack, after climbing Mount Batur.

I went on David Wolfe’s Bali Adventure and this is what I learnt (part 1)

With some of my fellow Wolfe Pack members

With some of my fellow Wolfe Pack members

Nine months ago, while scrolling through my Facebook feed during my lunch break, I saw a link to David Wolfe’s page that said, “We’re headed to Bali, Indonesia for a once-in-a-lifetime journey into the EXOTIC! You can join us! The Balinese are EXTRAORDINARY people.” Intrigued, I clicked on it and, after reading through the itinerary, I knew it was something I had to do.

Seven months later, I was boarding a plane with one of my favourite wellness girls, Elsa, about to embark on our adventure. ‘Excited’ doesn’t even begin to explain how I was feeling.

OK, let me explain. I have been a David Wolfe fan since I saw him speak in 2011. His knowledge about the health world is phenomenal. He helped bring the word ‘superfood’ to the common vernacular. He spread the word that chocolate, in its raw form (otherwise known as cacao), is good for you. For a chocolate-loving girl, this was the best news ever.

I had also never been to Ubud, Bali, so I was looking forward to checking that out too. With its lush green scenery, beautiful people and stunning food, it didn’t disappoint!

I must admit I was nervous about meeting our fellow David Wolfe Adventure buddies (affectionately known as the Wolfe Pack). What if they were all strict raw-vegan, yoga-pro got-this-life-business-sorted people? The kind that never put a (bare) foot wrong and only associate with others who have unlocked the secret to life? What if they thought I wasn’t healthy enough, vegan enough, raw enough to be included?

What if they thought I wasn’t healthy enough, vegan enough, raw enough to be included?

As always, when I worry about this sort of thing, the Universe has a quiet laugh and proves me wrong in more ways than I thought possible. Every member of the group was lovely!

The diversity of beliefs and approaches to health blew me away. Prior to the trip, I had thought I was stepping into an environment where there would be a dogmatic only-raw-vegan food allowed rule. I had images of secretly ordering poached eggs as room service to avoid the judging eyes. I’m very glad to report I was wrong about that too. While we all ate a mostly raw vegan diet (because with such phenomenal food being prepared for us daily why wouldn’t we?), there was absolutely no pressure to eat that way for every meal. And, boy was I glad.

Now, don’t get me wrong – I love my green juices, smoothies and flax crackers as much as the next health nut but an entirely raw diet just doesn’t agree with me. Throw in a slice of bread, some sweet potato or a couple of eggs though and I will thrive. In the Ayurveda system, I am a text-book case of Vata dominance. Amongst other things, this means that I do best when I include heavy grounding foods in my diet, and don’t do so well on too much salad and cold foods. (If you would like to find out more about the three Ayurvedic body types, click here for a simple introduction.)

Sometimes I’m really good at ignoring what my body tells me, in favour of listening to my head (or my fears). The first couple of days of this trip were no exception. For fear of being judged, I ate only raw food meal in meal out and by the end of the second day, I was beginning to feel the effects. I was irritable, lacking energy, and feeling really flighty and anxious.

On the third day of the trip, we woke up at 2am to hike for three hours up Mount Batur (home of the Kintamani Volcano) so that we could watch the sun rise. We got to the first observatory area after about two and a half hours of hiking, which was a massive achievement in itself. I could see that the top of the mountain was tantalisingly close though and, when someone said we had the option of hiking to the very top, I quickly agreed. Heck, I hadn’t come all that way only to stop just short of the peak!

With David Wolfe at the first observatory area of Mount Batur

With David Wolfe at the first observatory area of Mount Batur.

The final climb was certainly intense. The volcanic ash hid sharp rocks and deep holes, making for a treacherous journey but it was worth every tentative, carefully placed step. Even though there was so much cloud cover we didn’t actually see the sun rise, the sense of achievement I felt when I stepped onto the summit was exhilarating. It was so worth it!

After hiking back down the mountain and having a much deserved soak in some hot springs to soothe our abused muscles, we jumped in the bus to make our way back to the hotel. For the entire journey home, my imagination taunted me with images of soft poached eggs, grilled tomatoes and crunchy sour dough. By the time we got to the hotel, I was completely consumed with the idea of a hot protein-rich meal.

As so often happens, Elsa was thinking the same thing as me and when she mentioned, in passing, how much she would love to have some cooked eggs, I grabbed the opportunity (or the kitchen’s phone number, as it were) and called the kitchen to put in a special request for dinner that night.

It was exactly what I needed to replenish my protein levels. Within an hour of eating dinner, I could feel my energy returning and my mood stabilising.

By the time breakfast came around, I was dying to chow down on a raw meal of fruit salad and a green juice. It’s all about balance, baby.

It’s all about balance, baby.

I always knew on a theoretical level that listening to my body was important but the trip really cemented this for me, and this knowledge has definitely changed my approach to food. Before eating anything, I now ask myself whether it will not only nourish me but whether it is what I need in this moment. So far, I have switched from soy lattes to black coffee because I finally listened to my body’s message that soy products are bad for it (that’s a whole other post), and I have started eating more eggs (only from happy chickens, of course).

I am thankful every day that I finally learnt to trust my body’s messages. It makes choosing the right food a much easier process – and, as you will find out, I’m all for anything that makes life easier!

Laura