What does “plant-based” even mean?

Plant-based living is a way of life that focuses on choosing foods that are as close to their natural state as possible. Vegetables play the leading role in your daily nutrition, rather than making guest appearances from time to time. The Blue Zones swear by a 95/5 rule where fruits, vegetables (especially greens), beans and whole grains make up 95% of our daily nourishment. Ingredients such as extra virgin olive oil and spices are delightfully included with many meals to enhance the flavour and nutrient profile. Thriving on the 95/5 rule, these populations like to keep their bread sour, enjoying 1-2 slices daily made from traditionally leavened sourdough with live cultures (check out our Venerdi Organic Brown Sourdough with no added yeast).

We are hearing a lot about plant-based nutrition as of late, but what about plant-based movement? Just as we nourish our bodies by eating food provided by nature, we can also nourish our bodies by moving in nature. Our longest living populations in the world, found in the Blue Zones, are known to spend much of their time in the great outdoors, often walking for miles a day.

Studies support that forest walks can help to improve our immune functions, boost our mood, relieve stress, lower blood pressure and simply make us feel good. All thanks to the power that exists when we take time to connect with nature.

If you can’t make it to the forest, it’s interesting to note that even a walk in the park can provide health benefits well worth the effort. One study showed evidence that city-dwelling participants who regularly took walks along a tree-lined path in their local park reported significant improvements in mood, a sense of positivity and the experience of a quieter mind.

While our plant-based foods contain health-promoting phytonutrients, certain trees contain health-promoting phytoncides, which have been found to calm our mind and body by reducing levels of the stress hormone, cortisol.

In New Zealand, we are so blessed to have plant-based adventures calling us from our doorstep. No matter where you are, chances are that in less than 30 minutes, you can find a park, a forest, or a place that’s simply magical to play in. New Zealand is famous for such beautiful surroundings! City dwellers especially; we need to make it a priority to escape the hustle and bustle in search of tree-filled playgrounds and time in nature where fresh, forest air is in abundance.

This is your reminder to set a date for your calendar to take your next adventure. Take a hike, swim in the ocean or take our HIIT workout to the park and sweat it out under the grandest, greenest tree you can find.

HIIT Me Up!

You can use your imagination here and choose any exercise that really gets your heart pumping. If you’re looking for some inspiration, here are some of our favourites.

  • FUN jumps (some people call them burpees)
  • Mountain climbers
  • Squat jumps
  • Jumping lunges
  • Sprints

My favourite HIIT format can be done and dusted in four minutes flat and is guaranteed to leave you rosy-cheeked and huffy puffy! Please note, you can get your kids (and/or your partner or friend) to join in on this – the kids will think it’s even more fun than what you will!

HIIT: 4 minutes total

20 seconds: WORK – with as much energy, exertion and speed as you can maintain with good form for the full 20 seconds.
10 seconds: REST – stop completely, catch your breath and prepare to fire it straight back up again.

If your body is in need of something a little more restorative:

Try taking “legs up the wall”(my all time favourite yoga pose) and making it up “legs up the tree” for some quiet time and deep breathing. Or simply enjoy some of your favourite stretches on the grass, breathing the sunshine and clean air into your lungs.

When we nourish our bodies with the foods nature intended for us, we are better able to achieve freedom of movement and functional movement. A combination of natural nutrition and exercise is so powerful. It can not only improve our energy and strength but has the capacity to reduce the risk of injury, self-repair and regenerate body tissue. As we absorb the high-quality nutrients provided by plant-based foods, we hold the potential to enrich every cell in our body to increase our energy levels and strengthen our vital force.

Niki Loe
Personal Trainer – Pilates Teacher – Nutrition Coach