Saturday, March 23, 2013

"My personal trainer used to call me the Tasmanian devil."

Unlike those times when one was happy just to have ENOUGH on the plate, today it’s not about
SURVIVING as much as it is about LONGEVITY. Not the quantity, but the quality. Based on the
belief of “singularity” and its scientific context, several years ago Riva-Melissa Tez decided to pursue the
CRON diet.

At the age of 23 Riva had already founded two companies, today, amongst other enterprises, she currently
teaches at the Design Akademie Berlin as an artificial intelligence specialist. 

An interview
about immortality, the balancing result of apple cider vinegar shots, and the placebo effect.


Read the interview after the jump. 


You are 23, but have already started two
businesses. You are currently working on a new
start-up. Tell me a little more about this.
During my years at school
 I was always very interested in philosophy. 
When I was 14 I began to seriously
debate religious pressures at school and would skip days to attend humanist lectures in London. Luckily my parents were quite chilled out, although at one point I was hosting a secret online atheist radio show from bedroom. I was always interested in classical thinkers- I will always love Plato, and also now in science-tech writers like Ray Kurzweil and Seth Lloyd.
After school I studied Philosophy at UCL.
 I always loved kids, even when I was quite young
 I was sure I wanted to work with them. During my studies I co-founded this wonderful little toy store called R.S. Currie and Co in Notting Hill.
 It was originally just a pop-up store but my ex-boyfriend and I turned it into a full business. 
We started hosting themed parties
 for children there in a secret area accessed by a hidden door at the back of the shop.  From cupcakes to massive decorations – we fulfilled every child’s dream. About a year and a half ago I moved to Berlin. Together with a friend we founded the forthcoming kids’ app “scrappd” last year.
What is scrappd about? What was the idea behind it?
Back when I was running the toyshop, 
kids would always come to me showing me stuff they had
 made. Because I was always interested in digital technologies (my dad is an electrical engineering professor) I was wondering if there was a way that kids could do this safely online. 
When I came to Berlin I taught myself to computer program and started building the website just for fun. It’s grown a lot now and obviously I am no longer the developer! It’s a sticker themed social network for kids.
We give them stickers and they can create stories 
with them and share their creations with their friends. 
A lot of kid’s websites actively shove brands at kids. 
We tried to find a middle ground. I learnt early on that as soon as you try to push children into educational things, they just won’t do it. 
So that was never my purpose. In this case, children are doing something really cool and learning whilst just playing and having fun. 
I’m also a lecturer at the Design Akademie Berlin and the UK representative of “eobiont” digital creative agency.
Which diet are you following?
I try and mix up the Paleolithic diet, which doesn‘t allow grains, sugar, dairy, and soy, with the CRON diet – calorie restriction optimum
nutrition.




What was your main motivation?
I started reading medical journals 
when I was about 14, because I was convinced 
there was something wrong with the food industry.
 I would read medical journals because I thought
 if I could equip myself with the right knowledge
 I could make my own decisions regarding my nutrition 
and health. I got so into it that I wrote my own
 medical paper because I was actually quite disturbed watching the majority of the world eat so much glucose and missing out on good fats.
The main thing is I really think people eat
 too many complex carbohydrates. Deliberately I haven’t eaten wheat or simple sugars for a long time. 
At R.S. Currie & Co. there was a sweets counter
 and the kids were always shocked 
that I never ate any. Then I went to San Francisco
 and met a lot of super smart people 
who had read about nutrition as well, 
and these were figures I really admired.
 Reassuringly, pretty much all of them 
ate like I did but they also taught me 
about CRON, because CRON is the added “tweak”
 to optimize the Paleo lifestyle. 
CRON means you have to
watch that you a) don’t eat too much and
 b) still get 100 percent or more of every single nutrient. 
It’s tough, especially at the beginning, but these people in San Francisco have been doing it for years and
 are now at optimum health.
I always laugh at the memory 
from university in London when someone told me
 that they  thought I was peculiar 
because I sat at the back of lectures 
drinking huge bottles of Alkaline water and eating almonds while everyone munched on sweets. 
My best friend Chester always sat next to me
 because he knew that those Marcona almonds
 were super delicious.
Why is Cron diet also called the longevity diet?
There is this intellectual movement, that unfortunately mainly focuses in the US,
 pushed by the American author, inventor, 
and director of engineering at Google: Ray Kurzweil. He is probably the most famous face behind
 the Singularity movement. It’s mainly about the progress of technology, but there is also a discussion that the advances in computational power and medicine will
 allow us to be become immortal – if we just live 
long enough to get there. I’m not sure about the whole immortality thing, but I like the idea of being healthy for as long as possible.
A lot of people I met doing the CRON diet
 in San Francisco base their studies on
 medical research in longevity in animals and humans.
 A lot of the guys are in their 50s 
and want to optimize their life span and avoid grave
 diseases so they can see as much of
 forthcoming technological developments 
as possible. I don’t know many diets that try to ensure that you have 100 percent of every nutrient. They call this the Longevity diet- the aim is very good health, whereas the goal of most diets is just to lose weight.




Are there any supplements you
take on a daily base?
Yes. I take multivitamins, magnesium, zinc and Omega 3-6-9 supplements. Omegas are really good for your bones and your brain. I also need extra vitamin
B daily to keep my energy up so
I can still run after work. I
wasn‘t able to do this earlier, I’d get sluggish in the afternoons.
Which foods are your personal
“deadly sins”?
With CRON you’re not supposed to have
much alcohol because of its lack of nutritional
value. Though the odd glass of Pinot Noir
is recommended because of the Resveratrol,
an antioxidant in that particular grape. I saw a lot of Pinot Noir in Silicon Valley.
But if and when I drink alcohol, I’ll always
wake up and need a coffee in the morning. I have mine
with unsweetened almond milk and sweeten
it with cinnamon. If I have two in one day,
I know I’m not doing very well. Caffeine is very acidic
for your system.
What is your favorite meal?
I am absolutely obsessed with aubergines
and eggs. My boyfriend cooks me eggs every
morning, which is always my favorite meal
of the day. Never underestimate an egg. He
pays attention to ingredients too, so it’s always
amazing. He’s quite famous for his eggs
amongst our friends. Sometimes for me it’s
even eggs and aubergines. If I have a choice
in the evening I’d like a nice steak and some
salad.
Honestly - Is there something you
secretly miss?
A lot of friends ask me if I miss bread. I really
don’t. Sometimes I eat nut bread that I get
from the Paleo restaurant in Neukölln, Berlin
called Sauvage. I am envious of some people’s
cocktails though. I drink “zero-dosage”
champagne or a vodka-soda and the person
next to me has this big green thing with a
sparkler and it just looks so ridiculous that I
am sad it is not in my hand.
I’ve never really experienced cocktails.
And although I really don’t mind being the freaky
eater, I don’t want to be the party pooper taking
vinegar shots. That’s more a social thing. I probably drink more than those super strict people.
What do you do when you travel or
you’re invited to a dinner event?
I travel a lot and I always carry my supplements with me.
When I know there is a
planned dinner I just check the restaurant or the menu out beforehand. It’s not that hard.
I can always eat vegetables and meat. For example
a burger without the bread and some
extra salad, that works everywhere. If they’re
serving pizza or pasta I’ll just have a snack
beforehand.







What did the diet change for you
personally in regards to physical
and psychological perspectives?
Studying CRON and learning about nutrition
was attractive for me scientifically.
 I can see why it’s the techie lifestyle
 of choice.  Perhaps it is also why I have so much
 energy  and am able to wake up very early in the morning and bounce out of bed.
I’d rather read the newspaper in bed early morning then go to a nightclub. On a good day I can run 20km then cycle to the office 
and work for 6 hours before cycling back. 
Therefore I have to eat more
than the “average CRON intake” would be.
My personal trainer at the gym
 used to call me the Tezmanian devil. I like to listen to death metal and lift weights. I’m currently training for a marathon. It relaxes me to push my limits.
I enjoy being extremely tired at night.
Sometimes I push myself so hard that I get sick- so sometimes in wanting too much good, 
you cause the exact
opposite of your desired effect.

When it comes to diets and health
people often discuss the placebo
effect. Do you really think it’s
just what you consume or also the
psychological aspect that explains
why you feel so good since
starting the diet?
If you have a positive outlook on your diet
you will naturally think better of yourself.
Maybe someone should replace all my pills with placebos
and see if I notice. But honestly
I don’t really care if it’s my body or my
brain. If I feel good with what I do and if I’m
able to do all the things I want to do, then I’m happy.

Photography: Marcus GaabText & Interview: Zsuzsanna Toth 










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