Saturday, June 5, 2010

Kayaking (and yoga)

I interrupt the promised food/diet post for this post on kayaking.  My boyfriend Bill and I decided to go kayaking today, despite the storm-threatening weather.  We just got kayaks (mine on loan) this past spring and it has turned into one of my favorite activities, mostly because of the absolute peace I feel on the water, but also because it is one of the few activities that he and I can do together.  For the most part, Bill is much more physically able than I am - he lifts heavier, runs faster, hikes longer, golfs (MUCH) better.

I am, however, pretty sure I could yoga-kick his butt.

This discrepancy in our physical abilities makes outdoor activities together somewhat difficult.  In our kayaks though, we are even.  This is due in large part to the fact  that my kayak is simply better, which allows me to paddle less and keep up with him...its like a built in handicap.  There is something really fulfilling about kayaking together across our local reservoir, stopping whenever we feel like it, taking whatever route sounds good, visiting whichever island looks inviting.  Today as we raced across the water trying to beat what we thought was a forming storm, the water splashing into my kayak and the wind blowing strong, I could not have been happier.

Then there is the peace of being on the water.  The absolute stillness that comes over me as I am gliding across the water.  Being out there is truly soothing and it allows my mind to wander and be calm in the same way yoga does - thoughts come and go, but nothing lingers long enough for me to dwell on it or try and solve it.  I love when the kayak is in a calm area and going strong - I particularly like paddling into the wind because it makes me feel like I am going faster, flying across the water.  But I also love when we stop and just float, chat a little.  These breaks are stolen moments that I rarely observe in every day life.  Each day we go and go and go and rarely stop to just be quiet together.  It is a fantastic peace.

* * *

On a somewhat unrelated note, as I prepare for a brief practice this afternoon, I am excited to share with you my new yoga journal!!Namaste Journal (Notebook, Diary) (Foldover Journals)

Whenever I start a new practice I set an intention.  Just one - peace, forgiveness, calm, focus, or whatever else I feel my soul is lacking at the moment.  I am interested in using this journal to write down what my intention is each day, to see if there is a pattern, to see what the result is.  I also plan on using this journal for my Sanskrit class - we actually have homework!  Since I am learning to not only say but write the Sanskrit alphabet, a fancy journal seems necessary... or at least better than the scraps of paper I used last class.

Friday, June 4, 2010


I think that this post - or at least the ideas contained in it - are the whole reason I started this blog.  Basically I have become obsessed with my yoga practice and I am not really sure what to do about it other than practice my postures more, learn more, and try to practice yoga in my everyday life. 

I started taking yoga classes in March 2009.  I'm using the word 'taking' because at the time I did not think of it as a practice, but as a class at my gym.  I had a great yogini Victoria who was really asking my body to hold postures and use arm strength that was completely foreign to me.  I liked the physical workout, so I kept going back.  After awhile I became aware that she was teaching my mind and my soul as much as, if not more than, my body.  

Yoga, for me, is about presence.  Being present in everyday life, in each individual moment.  Back when I was 'taking' yoga, Victoria started speaking to us about being present on our mats.  About how we needed to quiet our minds and focus on what was happening right there, right then, on our mats.  On  my mat.  She talked about how all of those conversations we were rehashing in our heads were in the past.  All the tasks ahead that we were dreading were in the future, and in the present - the right now - we could not do anything about them.  Dwelling on the past and the future was wasted energy.  This whole thought process was entirely new to me and, really, rather life changing.  I mentioned before that I listen to books on tape when I run.  Its true, I like the stories, but the main reason I listen to them is to drown out my thoughts.  Listening to music doesn't help - my mind just shouts over the songs.  Quieting my mind has proven to be a difficult task - a task that I didn't know existed until I began to practice yoga.  Now, when I get on my mat, I focus on my breathing.  When a thought comes in about something other than what is happening on my mat, I observe it and tell it goodbye.  I have started applying this practice  to work as well.  Tell me, how can you possibly accomplish one task effectively when your mind is trying to focus on five different thoughts?  Learning to be present is difficult but worth it.

Along with my super deep yoga thoughts above, I have been trying to expand my yoga practice through knowledge.  I read Light on Yoga: The Bible of Modern Yoga... It was so over my head it is laughable. I am taking a Sanskrit class with this lovely yogini.  Mind you, when I first signed on for it, I told people I was taking "sandskirt" class.  I am as ignorant as one could be.  I had to google it.  I still am not sure exactly what I am learning, or why.   I am also learning to chant and I feel silly.  But it feels right.   Which is a good thing - I am certainly not in a rush to learn all there is to yoga - I am being present in my current practice, wherever that may lead.

Thursday, June 3, 2010


As promised, my lifting post. When I was in undergrad, I was in the gym lifting all the time. I mean hours a day. I would run a little and then lift, lift, lift. But never more than a 10 pound dumbbell. At the same time the running went away, the lifting went away. End of fit cycle one. Fit cycle two was a completely different animal. There was no lifting - I joined Weight Watchers, ate within my allotted points, and ran, and ran, and ran. This worked out just fine. Until I stopped running insane amounts of miles (for me) and started eating more than 1,200 calories a day...I also pretty much doubled my stress level at the same time. Crash - end of fit cycle two. So this time around, I had to figure out a way to eat more than air with peanut butter on it and still stay fit and sane. Enter The New Rules of Lifting for Women: Lift Like a Man, Look Like a Goddess. This little book has made all the difference. The idea is this - lift heavy weights, build lots of muscle that doesn't actually make you look like a man, bump up your metabolism, get to drink more wine and eat cheese. Hooray!

Okay, so there is a bit more to it than that. Like the hours I have to take away from running and give to lifting. But my shoulders are really looking good. And there is how much I have had to increase my protein. I drink the Jillian Michaels Protein Powder and I buy it from Walmart. Its cheap and sweetened with Stevia...It is one of the few non-natural things I eat now. More on that later. Overall I am aiming for 80 grams of protein on non-lifting days and 120 grams on lifting days. This is a serious challenge for me. But I will hold off - I think I said diet on post four, right?

Here is the other thing about lifting heavy. It makes you hungry. Like really, really hungry. I have upped my calories to 1,500-1,800 a day (not including weekends) and I am still hungry. Hungry, Hungry, Hungry. That's all there is to that.

But I am much stronger. And I have obliques!!!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010


So I could not fall asleep last night I had so many ideas swirling in my head for the first - well second – post. Though I realize that I am basically talking (er…typing?) to myself, there is still a lot I want to say. To save the painfulness that would be this post if I tried to get it all out at once, I decided on a game plan. I am a girl that likes a plan!! So here it is: Today I will write about running; Tomorrow I will write about lifting; The post after, I will write about yoga; And the post after that, I will write about food. Then I suppose a whiny post about work – by far my least favorite aspect of my life. I warn you (if you didn’t pick up on it from the first post) that there may be a yoga thread through all of this. Maybe – that is my hope anyway. But I will get to that in a few posts.

I also want to take this time to say that I am not concerned here with proper grammar. I write properly for a living and have no interest in expressing my thoughts through conventional punctuation and capitalization. That’s the deal.

So running. I run. I am not a good runner. I never ran in high school – I walked the mile. In college I started to run, because I wanted people to think I was a runner. So I was 225 pounds pretending to be a runner. This was painful and comical…and you know what happened? Many miles and many walk breaks later, I became a runner. Go figure. Then I stopped running my senior year of college – many excuses could be made here, but lets just say that I was not strong enough to do what was right for me. Three years ago, I started running again. I started with the Couch to 5K program (want to learn to run? Do this program!). I ran a few 5Ks. I ran a few 10Ks (give or take). I ran the worst 10 miler in history. I ran a few half marathons. And now here I am, finally finding who I really am as a runner.

I have recently gotten over distance guilt. I have plodded through mile after mile thinking that, to be a real runner, I had to run long distances. I like longer runs with friends – I do. I do not like running more than 8 miles at a time. After a big inner battle, I made the decision that I was going to stick to 5Ks and 10Ks and damn the distance running. This has been HUGE – I am a much happier runner. I only run 10-15 miles a week now and I feel less pressured to be fitting in a run all the time. And I still get to do long runs with friend and catch up! Yay!

I should say here that I am not a fast runner. I race, but I rarely place…and when I do, it is by some freak accident that only a few people showed up. If I come in third, be sure that only 4 people in my age group showed up. I am dead serious here. It has happened twice. I like to race though. In general, I am a lazy runner. I listen to books on tape and plod along trying not to get hit by cars. Racing forces me to speed up – that’s it. That is why I race. I am not sure why I run. Maybe we will figure that out together.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The Start

Way back when - you know, in the beginning, I was not fit. I had fantasies as an out of shape high schooler of going off to college and becoming fit - and of course, therefore, cool. And in the end, I did it...well, the get fit part, not the 'cool' part necessarily. Then I became unfit - I think in the end the 'unfit' was a cause of many things - but I don't like excuses - so lets just say that the cause of becoming unfit was me. I've recently learned about the Om Cycle - everything has a beginning, a middle and an end. A start, a preservation, and a ceasing. Plain and simple. I can look back and see two distinct fit cycles in my life. Both times I started out really determined, then I got too comfortable and reverted back to old ways, and then the fit cycle was over. Now here I am again, on the road to fit for the third time. To be fair, I am actually now, after some work, fit again. However, this time, this cycle, I am trying to be fit mind, body and soul. This is taking a bit more work than being just physically fit...and I thought I'd share it. And so I start.