Friday 3 August 2018

My Ikaria by Spiri Tsintziras @SpiriTsintziras @BlackIncBooks @DKateNash #MyIkaria #BlueZone

Three years ago, Spiri Tsintziras found herself mentally, physically and spiritually depleted. She was stretched thin - raising kids, running a household and managing a business. She ate too much in order to keep going and then slumped in front of the telly at night, exhausted, asking herself 'What is it all for?' Spiri's quest for a healthier, more nourishing life took her from her suburban home in Melbourne to her family's homeland of Greece, and to the small Greek island of Ikaria. The people of Ikaria - part of the famous 'Blue Zones' - live happy, healthy and long lives. Inspired by their example, Spiri made some simple lifestyle changes and as a result lost weight, gained energy and deepened the connection to those closest to her. Best of all, she didn't have to give up bread or wine! Spiri's heartwarming memoir, which includes delicious family recipes, will console and entertain anyone bogged down in the daily grind - encouraging you to put your health and happiness first.

My Ikaria by Spiri Tsinktziras was published by Nero in paperback on 2 April 2018. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review.

Back in April 2015 I read and reviewed Spiri Tsinktziras' book Afternoons in Ithaka here on Random Things, I really enjoyed her writing and was delighted to receive a copy of her latest book.

The beginning of the book finds Spiri feeling constantly tired. Her increasingly busy lifestyle was wearing her out. Balancing the pressure of being Mum to two children, a wife, a business owner and running the home is a battle and Spiri was eating the wrong things, not doing enough exercise and generally not taking care of herself.

When Spiri finds out that her Iron and Vitamin D levels are low and her blood sugar is just borderline she realises that unless she wants to become diabetic she needs to do something about her lifestyle. She begins to make changes, inspired by what she's read about the Blue Zone island of Ikaria, but it's not until she actually visits the island that she realises just how important their healthy lifestyle is.

Blue Zones are areas of the world where people live much longer than average, there are five Blue Zone areas in the world: Okinawa in Japan, Sardinia in Italy, Nicoya in Costa Rica, Loma Lida in California and Ikaria in Greece. The six shared characteristics of people living in the Blue Zone areas are:
  • Put Family first
  • Don't smoke
  • Semi-vegetarian - the majority of food eaten is plant based
  • Constant moderate physical activity
  • Social engagement - integrating with the community
  • Moderate alcohol intake
Spiri was able to visit Ikaria, it was a huge step for her to travel to Greece alone, leaving her family behind, but it become something that she was obsessed with.

My Ikaria is her story of that journey and the time that spent on the island. Her writing is sublime and for someone like me, who is passionate about Greece and all things Greek, this book was such a joy to read. Her descriptions of the island and the people who live there are superb. This was more than a journey across the globe for Spiri though, it became a life journey too. Listening to the islands, spending time with them, living like they do all became so familiar to her and she was determined that she would continue this lifestyle when she returned to Australia.

I really enjoyed Spiri's story. Her writing is warm and friendly, such a joy to read. It's a book that will make the reader think about their own lifestyle and how we can all change things for the better. 

Spiri Tsintziras is the author of Afternoons in Ithaka (ABC Books, 2014) and co-author of the best-selling title Parlour Games for Modern Families (Scribe, 2009), which won ABIA Book of the Year in 2010 and has been translated into Italian and Chinese, and converted into an app called 50 Fun Games for the Whole Family. Spiri's Tribal Tomato blog on food, family and connection, which explores similar themes to those explored in Ikaria has attracted more than 5000 followers.

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