Driving from Cuenca to Vilcabamba Ecuador + Yoga con Olesya (Episode 119)

ANNNDDDD WE’RE OFF!!! Driving from Cuenca to Vilcabamba Ecuador is extremely beautiful. It took us over 5 hours, but it normally only takes about four. We arrived very late so we didn’t film our first night of bachata dancing. Stay tuned for that in the next video.

After a short night of sleep, we woke up early for yoga con Olesya at Madre Tierra, a beautiful resort hotel here in Vilcabamba Ecuador. We’ll also give you a tour of this resort in our next video.

We had a delicious dinner at Mico’s Oasis Verde, which we’ll also feature in another video.

Vilcabamba Ecuador Retreat Group Micos

We’re hosting our first social event for the Cuenca unconventionals next week in El Centro. Please let us know if you’re coming by RSVPing to our Facebook Event:

Hopefully you enjoyed our video, and if you did, please LIKE, COMMENT and SHARE it, and SUBSCRIBE to our YouTube channel. ¡Muchas Gracias y Hasta Luego!

Cuenca Ecuador Yoga in the Park with Olesya (Episode 78)

Before we share our Cuenca Ecuador Yoga In The Park experience, we just passed 500 subscribers on our Amelia And JP YouTube Channel! Thank you all for subscribing and continuing to watch our videos! They’re quite the labor of love so knowing so many people enjoy them makes it all worthwhile!

We also celebrated our 3-Year Veganversary over the weekend! We went vegan on March 8th, 2016 and haven’t looked back! We did several fun things to celebrate our compassionate, environmentally friendly and healthy lifestyle, and we share a couple of them with you in this video.

Cuenca Ecuador Yoga in the Park with Olesya

You may recognize Olesya from this Food With Friends video or the 2nd Food With Friends video, but she’s also an amazing yoga instructor. In fact, Amelia says she’s the best she’s ever had!

Olesya Amelia

The yoga style in this video was relaxing and restorative, but she also teaches much more difficult Cuenca Ecuador Yoga In The Park class that gets the heart pumping and the sweat rolling. It all depends on which class you attend.

You can visit her facebook page at Yoga con Olesya en Cuenca for her schedule or to contact her about her upcoming classes or private training.

See More: Cuenca Health & Beauty Services, Cuenca Parks

3-Year Veganversary Dinner at Fratello Vegan

After Amelia’s Cuenca Ecuador Yoga In The Park with Olesya, we thought celebrating our 3-Year Veganversary at Fratello with our good vegan friend, Rosy, was apropos.

Fratello Sign

Amelia Rosy

Rosy was our very first vegan friend in Ecuador, and our VERY FIRST subscriber on our Amelia And JP YouTube Channel! She subscribed before we even launched our channel and now we just passed 500 subscribers! It’s really hard to believe!

Our dinner at Fratello Vegan was delicious as usual. We hung out with Rosy and ate her brother’s amazing vegan food for almost 3 hours! I messaged Rene on Facebook the day before to order a small vegan chocolate cake for our Veganversary.

Fratello normally has a cake on-hand, but Amelia really wanted our own oil-free chocolate cake. If you want something special, it’s best to message Rene a day in advance. This cake was moist, decacadent and utterly delicious!

Vegan Chocolate Cake

The Impact of Veganism on Our Lives

We didn’t go vegan on a whim. We spent several months researching the diet aspects because we were raised to believe humans would die without eating meat, dairy and eggs. It took a lot of documentaries and reading to reverse a lifetime of beliefs that were based almost entirely on marketing messages. Sometimes, I’m still shocked that we haven’t died of some nutrient deficiency yet!

Here are the Best Food Documentaries and Other Mind Altering Films that we recommend. And here are the Best Plant-Based Books for a Longer, More Vibrant Life that we recommend.

While veganism isn’t a diet, food is a really big part of being vegan. We don’t buy shoes or coats or cosmetics every day, but we do eat food every day so it’s always on the top of our mind.

We choose to eat a vegan Whole-Foods Plant-Based (WFPB) Diet, a term coined by Dr. T. Colin Campbell back in the early 1980’s. We eat NO animal products of any kind, and we avoid all processed foods, including oil, which is a processed, refined fat just like sugar is a processed refined carb. This way of eating has dramatically improved our health while leading to significant weight loss.

JP’s Weight Loss as a Vegan & WFPB

Before we went vegan, I weighed in at 197 pounds! At 5’10”, that’s borderline obese.

JP Before Vegan

After 3 years of being vegan, I’m down to 164 pounds and a size 30 jeans! I haven’t been this thin since before I graduated college in my early 20’s! Taking all that weight off my spine has also enabled me to be more mobile while reducing the level of pain I feel on a daily basis.

JP 3 Years Vegan

Amelia’s Weight Loss as a Vegan & WFPB

Amelia has seen a similar transformation. She weighed 130 pounds before we went vegan and WFPB. At 5 feet tall, that’s considered overweight.

Amelia Before Vegan

After 3 years of being vegan, Amelia has lost 25 pounds and now weighs only 105 pounds! She hasn’t been this thin since her early twenties, as well!

Amelia 3 Years Vegan

We’ve lost the weight slowly over the last 3 years, and we’ve kept it off because our diet is ideal for both losing weight and keeping it off. Combined with our “big why” to reduce animal suffering and protect our planet from environmental destruction, it has been very easy to stick with this way of eating (WOE).

Like I said before, veganism isn’t a diet (even though food is a big part of it). Rather, veganism is an ethical stance to cause the least amount of harm, as is practicable and possible, to innocent animals and our environment. Therefore, we don’t have “cheat days” because that would mean we would be violating our own ethical and moral standards.

By not having cheat days on our ethics, we also don’t have cheat days on our diet. The worst things we consume are oil (sometimes when we eat out) and beer/wine. Those are the only two things we consume that are unhealthy, and we try to avoid them as much as possible.

Improved Cholesterol Numbers

It’s not just about the weight loss, though. Our total cholesterol levels are under 200 without a statin. I have a genetic predisposition for high cholesterol and have been battling it most of my adult life. The only time it went below 200 before going vegan was thanks to a high dose of Simvastatin, a drug that I NEVER want to take again! The side effects were horrible!

Despite what the dairy, beef and egg industries would have you believe, we’ve known for 80 years that high blood serum cholesterol leads to cardiovascular disease. And since the 1960’s, we’ve known that dietary cholesterol, and especially saturated fat, increases blood serum cholesterol.

The blockages present in the vast majority of Americans is literally made of oxidized cholesterol, which can be cleaned out by eating a WFPB diet that’s free of cholesterol laden animal foods and low in saturated fat.

Heart disease kills over 600,000 Americans each year, but you don’t have to be one of them. We recommend reading Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn’s book, Prevent & Reverse Heart Disease for details about how to prevent, arrest and reverse the number one killer of people eating the Standard American Diet.

The Impact of Our Veganism on Our Planet

During our 3 years of being vegan, we have dramatically reduced our environmental footprint on this tiny blue and green planet. In 3 years, Amelia and I have saved:

3 Year Vegan Stats

These numbers come from The Vegan Calculator, which is based on stats from the documentary, Cowspiracy. If you’re skeptical about these numbers, great! We encourage you to do some independent, unbiased research. These numbers are corroborated by countless scientists and international organizations much to the chagrin of animal ag, which has paid for their own biased research.

When doing your research, please consider the source. Industry funded research is seldom reliable, whether it relates to plants or animals. We recommend reading Unsavory Truth by Marion Nestle to better understand how insidious corporate junk science has become. You simply can’t trust anything until you understand the study methodology and conclusions.

Vegans for Life

After 3 years of being vegan, our only regret is that we didn’t do it sooner. Both Amelia and I considered going vegan many years ago, but never pulled the trigger. We were too afraid of the unknown.

But once we realized how horribly the animals suffer, how destructive animal ag is to our environment, and how unhealthy animal products are for human health, adopting a vegan lifestyle became unavoidable. We just couldn’t continue living as hypocrites once we knew better.

This brings us to a quote by Maya Angelou that I mentioned at the end of the video, “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” We try to live our lives by this guiding principal. We’re far from perfect, but we’re doing the best we can. And each day, we try to do a little better. That’s all any of us can do.

Hopefully you enjoyed our video, and if you did, please LIKE, COMMENT and SHARE it, and SUBSCRIBE to our YouTube channel. ¡Muchas Gracias y Hasta Luego!

Physical Therapy in Cuenca Ecuador + Tomebamba Riverwalk (Episode 13)

Today, I went for my regular physical therapy in Cuenca Ecuador for my continuing spinal issues. My physical therapist (PT), Karina, specializes in neck and back physical therapy and she’s really good at it. She got her degree in Belgium where she had to learn English and Dutch at the same time.

In 3 months, Karina has helped me dramatically improve the numbness in my hands and feet, and I’m also much stronger thanks to the safe exercises she has given me. I showed her the exercises the PT’s gave me back in the states, and some of them she said are dangerous for me.

Every PT I saw back in the states specialized in sports therapy, not spinal injuries like Karina. In retrospect, their style of rehab was designed to get me back on the field or the court rather than to help me walk normally, reduce numbness or improve feeling in my legs. That makes sense considering sports gets more attention and money than anything else in the states. I was paying 5 times more for a lower quality of care and less individualized attention.

My ongoing medical care is one of the main reasons we left the states and moved to Ecuador. We simply couldn’t afford medical care or quality health insurance. My two spinal surgeries cost almost 1 million dollars and it almost bankrupted us even with Obamacare covering most of it. If I ever need another surgery, having it done in the states is financially impossible. Plus, my ongoing care expenses were costing us several hundred dollars per month in Denver. Now they cost less than a hundred.

If you have any questions about our experience with medical care here in Ecuador, please let us know in the comments or drop us a note.

Please LIKE, COMMENT and SHARE this video, and SUBSCRIBE to our YouTube channel.

People & Places

Karina, My Physical Therapist

My PT’s name is Karina. She works out of her home office near Gringolandia on the western side of Cuenca. If you’d like her contact info, please let me know.

See More: Cuenca Health & Beauty Services

Laundry Day in Río Tomebamba

Physical Therapy Cuenca Laundry

The indigenous people can often be seen washing their laundry in the river. This struck us as odd when we first arrived, but we’re used to it now. Looking at this practice objectively, it would be more odd for them not to wash their laundry in the river since they’ve been doing it for thousands of years. Some of the rocks have been worn down from centuries of laundry.

La Universidad de Cuenca

Physical Therapy Cuenca Universidad de Cuenca

La Universidad de Cuenca campus is just like every campus I’ve been on. There are lots of young, beautiful people walking here and there. Lots of flowers and big trees. The university was founded in 1867 so they just celebrated their 150th anniversary.

This is where I go to swim for exercise and physical therapy. They have a nice lap pool and gym facilities that are open to the public. The pool costs $2.50 per visit. I’m not sure what the cost is for the racquetball courts or gym, but I seem to remember $5 gets you access to everything.

The pool area has lockers but you need to bring your own lock. I found a combination lock in a hardware store. We’ve since seen them at lots of places here in Cuenca. There are also changing rooms with showers and toilets.

RumiSol Yoga Studio

Physical Therapy Cuenca RumiSol

Amelia loves going to RumiSol Yoga, and I love her going there, too! In addition to being great strength training exercise, yoga helps her relax and puts a smile on her face. And a happy Amelia makes a happy JP!

Physical Therapy Cuenca Olesya

We bumped into Olesya, one of Amelia’s yoga instructors, on our walk home. She’s also very interested in a plant-based diet.


Physical Therapy Cuenca Computron

Our bluetooth speaker died! We listen to music around the house every day and we also use the speaker for the Anonymous for the Voiceless Cube of Truth events.

So we stopped by this new electronics store, Computron, that’s in our neighborhood to buy a new speaker on our way home from my physical therapy and Amelia’s yoga. The staff was very helpful and they had a good selection of speakers, as well as most other types of electronics. The speakers ranged in price from $14 to $34. I think I paid over $100 a few years ago for the speaker that just died, and our new less expensive speaker has a better sound.

Share the Love

We hope you enjoyed our walking tour of Cuenca, Ecuador today. Please remember to like, comment and share our video, and also subscribe to our YouTube channel. If you’d like us to make a video about something specific or if you have questions, please let us know in the comments.