Diet: The Russian who made me realise I’ve been lied to.

Posted: November 14, 2012 in Diet and exercise, Travel
Tags: , , , ,

I’m three hours into my second 24 hour fast of the week and I’m desperately trying to create distractions from the fact that it is clearly dinner time; it is all too mind-preoccupyingly (nope, not a word but I’m having it) evident that what I should be doing is preparing something scrumptious and looking forward to my stable pudding of raspberry yoghurt, peppered with crunched up cereal and chocolate drops.

So I’ve taken to doing a bit of writing: I leave my town in five weeks and I’m keen to finish a little ‘livealogue’ (can’t be a travelogue as I’m not travelling anywhere so figured…) about this town as I think it’s pretty interesting – in as much as it’s filled to the brim with eccentrics.  In doing so, I’ve stumbled across an old diary of the time I first arrived here and a second diary of my travels last summer to Kyrgyzstan.

It was in Kyrgyzstan, trekking up glacial mountains with a translator/trek guide named Vlad (actually Vadim but that only transpired two weeks after everyone had been calling him so Vlad so Vlad it was) that I began to question the ‘wisdom’ I’d be consuming from dietary and exercise books back in the West since an early age.

It was one blue-skied, dewy morning camping at a hot springs in the foothills of the Ala Archa National Park that I managed to grab an hour – and crucially a coffee (albeit packet) – with Vlad as he lay in his one-man tent, boiling water on his camping stove.  I spotted an old Fanta bottle filled with what looked like little stones and questioned Vlad as to what it was.  I was particularly intrigued as people had started to notice how little Vlad appeared to eat…and yet how impressively strong he appeared to be.

As an example, one day when crossing a shallow but reasonably fast-moving river, I was the first in the line and, looking what I imagine to be somewhat dubious, Vlad had reached out his hand.  Not wanting to fall too heavily into the bracket of ‘pathetic female’ but having a similar distaste for becoming a drowned rat, I reached out my hand to gain the balance-support I assumed Vlad was offering.  Only he wasn’t offering merely support. No.  Instead, he whisked me (all 167k of me) and my bag (pushing 17k) onto his shoulder, balancing this entire load with just one hand and trotted across the river, depositing me effortlessly on the other bank before returning to do the same with those behind me.  It’d be fair to say, there was somewhat of an aura of mystical wonder about this character.

So I’d asked Vlad what was in the bottle and he’d told me it was buckwheat – the only food he consumed on his average hiking day, bar a couple of bush/tree picked fruits and flowers and an orange drink at lunchtime.  I was frankly horrified.  How on earth could this embodiment of strength and fitness be the way he was without following the precise protein-carbohydrate-fat-fitness regime I’d come to measure out my daily log by? Unbelievable.

And so slowly (probably a little late at aged 27), I started to realise not everything I’ve been told and read to date is necessarily the best advice.  Not to say it’s all to be dismissed but there are clearly other ways of achieving similar (or even better) effects.  This tiny seed continued to blossom throughout the summer and ever since and has lead to all sorts of new discoveries.  But for now, I’m fasting and thinking of Vlad – if he could essentially fast whilst rocketing up 5000 metre mountains in flip-flops, surely I can battle through another hour or two of lolling on my bed reading plus a couple of lessons teaching before 4pm tomorrow arrives… and I EAT.

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