Saturday, June 12, 2010

Failed Body Failed Mind

For the past week I have been simultaneously complaining about and ignoring a sore wrist. It has been sore and tender since last Tuesday (and, to be honest, the week before but that has not stopped me from lifting heavy with it, fitting in 3 or so hours of yoga propped up on it and typing with it. But Thursday night, as I moved through a gentle lunar flow practice, I knew I was out of luck for Friday’s class with Victoria. There was no way I was getting from half-way lift to low plank on this baby.

I went to class anyway intending to get through the whole practice. Because I’m like that.

But I am also honest and for some reason I told Victoria about the wrist. Regardless of my telling her, it would have been pretty obvious as I was the only yoga-jerk grimacing through my first chaturanga. After briefly questioning me about my pain, Victoria noted to the class that “Anyone” ( too ego-driven to do what’s good for them) with a wrist injury should skip High-to-Low plank and go right to downward dog. I really like downward dog. And I actually really struggle with High-to-Low plank. And normally I would have loved this excuse, but because I had to take the dog instead of the plank, I was mad at myself. Really angry. The whole practice. Which completely destroys the point.

I have been working diligently at not letting my mind dictate my thoughts and this week I failed.  I failed at  Tuesdays class - though I didn't post about it - because I was angry with a co-worker and could not let it go.  I failed at Fridays class because I could not accept my injury and I could not accept a modified flow.  I failed because when I was unable to control my body, I was equally unable to control my mind.  This week has shown me how far I have to go.  It has also shown me that anger is by far my most powerful emotion and the one I need most to understand and master.  This week has also shown me that I need to understand that a bad practice is not a failure, but a lesson.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Body Weight

Thanks for all of the feedback yesterday!  I'll respond in the comments section to that post later today.

So I am not brave enough to post my weight for world to see - at least not yet.  I will say that according to the BMI scale I am overweight bordering on obese.  I can assure you that I am not overweight bordering on obese.  I am average (with a more than average butt).  I am also able to mentally step away from the scale enough to realize that it is not the number that defines me.  The size clothes I am comfortable in, that defines me.  The amount of weight I lift, that defines me.  The amount of miles I run, that defines me.  The time I post in a race, that defines me.  The small, almost imperceivable adjustments I makes in asanas, that defines me.  My weight, however, has nothing to do with who I am.

Why then, am I afraid to post it?  What is it about that random number on the scale that is so scary?  How are you supposed to get passed it?  I will tell you this - weigh yourself first thing in the morning - naked, before water, before you brush your teeth.  Then weigh yourself after breakfast ... maybe mid-day.  BAM you gained 3-5 pounds.  What the hell happened?  Did you get fat in the last few hours?  No, of course not.  But man, will that number mess with your head.  This is especially difficult, and an important concept,  if you are lifting weights or following The New Rules of Lifting for Women: Lift Like a Man, Look Like a Goddess.  Since starting New Rules, I have lost maybe 5 pounds?  But I have lost almost two complete sizes.  If I were just watching the scale, I would think no progress was being made, when in fact I am leaps and bounds closer to healthy.  The scale?  It doesn't lie - its tells you the truth.  But that truth includes water weight from too much salt.  Water weight from swollen, repairing muscles.  That truth includes the weight of your bones.  And your hair.  And it includes the weight of the food (even the yucky-but-weighty-foods like baby carrots) that you ingested.  Weight is funny like that.

So what are you to do?  Not weigh yourself?  No ... well ... maybe.  Here is the deal - and I cannot stress strongly enough that this post DOES NOT apply to anyone with an eating disorder or other self image distortion - if you need to lose weight, you know it.  Really, you do.  Your clothes don't fit the way you want.  You are not comfortable.  You cannot move the way you want.  Seat belts are your actual enemy.  But you are probably lying to yourself ... "Its not that bad"... "I'm just big boned" ... "I carry the weight well"... ... ... Okay.  You - if thats you - do yourself a favor and step on a scale.  Being confronted with that number is a serious shocker.  And it will make you take action.  Sometimes we need to force ourselves to do the uncomfortable, to face the truth.  Then we do something about it.

So what about average people?  What does the scale mean to us?  For me, I weigh myself out of curiosity.  If I gain a pound, I try to look at it logically - is that a pound of cake or a pound of water?  If I lose a pound, I know it is probably meaningless, but I still get excited.  If I lose three pounds...okay, that might be something to celebrate.  If I drop a clothing size - BUST OUT THE CHAMPAGNE!!! If I PR in a race, watch out world!  But the scale and body weight itself...its just to keep tabs on the everyday ins and outs.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Inquiring Mind(s)

Hi Everyone!  Just a quick post to see if I can get some ideas from you all.  I am looking for a few new products/items/recipes and would love to hear your ideas.  Feel free to comment and thanks! 

Granola Bars:  I am not thrilled with the amount of ingredients in the Kashi bars I buy.  I really like them, but the list is awfully long.  Does anyone have a bar they would like to share or a good bar recipe?

Radishes:  Mine are coming in like crazy.  The only thing I know to do with them is put them on bread with butter and salt (delish by the way).  Recipes? Ideas?

Gym bags:  I hate mine.  It was a free gift with a magazine subscription and it is way too small.  Anyone love their bag?  And why?  I am thinking of buying this one.  Oh wait - I like this one too!

Soy (or dairy alternative) yogurts:  I like Whole Soy but its pretty expensive and I am not thrilled with O'Soy.

Magazines:  I'm looking for some new food and health/fitness magazines.  Any that you love?

....If you see 'zero' comments, please make something up or I'll feel pretty lonely...

Wednesday, June 9, 2010


When I started this blog, I was on a rest week: semi-rest from running (only 6 miles total I think) and a rest from lifting. I seriously needed the rest from lifting. If you have ever lifted heavy (as I am SUPER EXCITED a bunch of you are trying out!) it leaves you really tired (and hungry). Not so much sore as “when can I go to bed…and can I eat a pizza and a chicken first?” kind of tired (and hungry).  The rest week had become pretty much non-negotiable – my muscles were useless, my wrists were achy and my ankles felt like they were going to crack down the middle. Still, I was extremely nervous about rest week. Would I come back weak? Would I have to start at the beginning? I always do better with a schedule, with a steady rhythm. It is easier for me to stay busy all the time than some of the time, otherwise I get lazy. So I was worried rest week would throw off my rhythm and I would stop lifting all together. Bizarre, I know, but inner thoughts and fears are usually totally bizarre and illogical.

I am excited to report that I got back into The New Rules of Lifting for Women: Lift Like a Man, Look Like a Goddess  this week and completed Stage 2, Week 2. And I assure you that I am Hungry. And Tired. But I am also stronger! That’s right blogfans, I took a week off and came back stronger than before. I went up in almost every weight across the board! Yahoooo Rest Week! Who can deadlift 85 pounds from a step-box? This girl!

Celebrating aside, I saw something in the gym today that made me sad (and a little angry). My gym has a regular weight room and a “man” weight room. You know the one I am talking about, right? With the men and the big men weights? Okay, so (for me at least) it takes a fair amount of nerve to head up to the man room the first time…but that’s where the good weight are, so up you go.  So today, I am up in the man room doing Bulgarian Split Squats while balancing a 35 pound bar on my shoulders when this very much overweight woman and her friend come in and take up the spots next to me. This made me happy the way new runners make me happy. I want to shout “Go you!!! You rock!!” Except that this woman proceeded to give me dirty looks while she did bicep curls with a 5 pound weight. Now, dirty looks aside, I would not have judged the woman at all (oh the lack of yoga in this post) if she had been struggling with that weight, but she was tossing it around like a feather. And boy did that make me sad/angry/annoyed. If you are brave enough to walk up into the man’s room (in a flowered moo-moo like shirt no less) and actually lift weights, why not pick a weight you have to try to lift? All of that bravery and this woman will see zero results. And maybe I would have overstepped my bounds and looked like a complete jerk and offered her advice if, at the very moment I am thinking all these thoughts, she didn’t meet my eye in the mirror and say to her friend “here, use this weight – there’s no need to show off with heavy ones.”

Excuse me?

And then I started to question myself.  Am I showing off?  Who am I to judge another's workout?  Then a ray of light as I was leaving the gym - some big lifter dude walked out with me and said “You know, you do some serious workouts in there…some people waste their time with little weights, but not you. You get right to it.”

Again I say, Yahoooo!!!!!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Meditative Running (or lack thereof)

Meditative running is running with a focus on breath instead of thoughts - think meditating and running, yoga and running.  I was first introduced to this idea by my sister, followed up a day later by Runner's World Magazine.  You would think that this would be a natural fit for me.  I (kind of) like running and I like yoga, and I have been toying with the idea of meditation.  So today, months after I heard about meditative running, I decided to give it a go (I forgot my ipod at home).  My four lunchtime miles progressed as follows:

First .5:  Wow - Meditative running.  This is going to be great.  Breathe in, breathe out, breathe in, breathe out.  Hill.  I hate this hill.  I should write a blog post about how walking up hills is like child pose.  I fact, I like child pose.  I'll walk.

Second .5: Meditate.  Focus on the breath.  In one, two, three, four. Out, one, two...boy, my breath sure is shaky.  I wonder if its always this shaky.  Car.

Second Mile:  Okay, screw the breath.  Let the thoughts wash in and out...thats meditating too, right?  (I then proceeded to draft about 8 blog posts in my head).

Third Mile:  I hope Bill wants chicken sausage for dinner on Friday...I hope I get to go to that yoga class Thursday...That means I'll have to go wine tasting on Friday instead...I could get wine to go with the chicken sausage!

Last Mile:  Downhill!  Thank God.  Oh, meditating.  Right.  Maybe if I work on finding mountain pose in my stride.  Breathe innnnnnn, breathe ooouuuuttttt, breathe innnnnnn, breathe ouuuuuuuttttttt.  Lift up, mountain pose.  Why are my arms so tired? Shade!

Home stretch: I cannot wait to write about how peaceful and meditative that run was!!

In truth, that is a pretty accurate description of my attempt at meditative running.  And in fact, besides the hills and cars, it is also similar to what my mind does in yoga practice.  Finding stillness in your mind is no easy task.  But it is the coming back to it, the constant practice at quiet, at silence, that is so fulfilling, so peaceful.

Also, if you do run and you do  practice yoga, try applying mountain pose to your stride.  I felt like it gave me a lighter step.  Or it could have been the downhill.

Monday, June 7, 2010


As promised, the food post.  I originally thought this was going to be entitled the "Diet" post, but in the end I have decided that it is about food, what my thinking is about it, and how much I like it.  If you prefer to refer to that as a diet, that's cool with me.

After undergrad, when I first got serious about re-losing all the weight I had regained, I turned to Weight Watchers.  This worked really well for me - I think I lost something around 60 pounds.  I was also running a lot.  And I was fueling those runs with 100 calorie snack packs, fat free bologna and cheese with fat free American cheese singles on light wonder bread.  And baby carrots.  Oh how I loathed those stupid carrots.  That was pretty much my diet.  It took the weight off, but was it healthy?  It really is no wonder that when I tried to switch back to normal food and upped the stress level in my life, I started to gain the weight back. No one should try and live off of fat free whatever with a side of flavored air with preservatives.  But if you had told me that at the time, I would have shoved my weight loss in your face and laughed. 

When I decided to get in shape again, I decided to do it differently.   I had started really getting into my yoga practice and began thinking about what I was putting into my body.  This wasn't an overnight thing - I did not get up one morning and throw out the hostess cupcakes and fiber one bars.  But slowly, over time, I found myself wanting to revamp my eating habits to include foods that would give me sustained energy and fit the lifestyle I was trying to cultivate.  Mind you, I hate the word 'lifestyle' almost as much as I hate the word 'journey" and am trying to use them as little as this case though, lifestyle is probably the correct word to use.  I will NOT use the word 'journey'.  I started eating Chia Seeds 5 Pounds (Chemical Free), which are a great source on Omega- Threes and steady blood sugar.  I started buying whole foods instead of processed.  I made it a goal when shopping to buy the product with the least amount of ingredients, despite the brand.  I also switched to sardines as my favorite choice of lunch time protein, due to how economical they are, how calcium rich they are, and again the content of Omega-Threes.  Finding calcium rich foods also became important because, around the same time all of this was happening, I decided to start limiting dairy.  It started as an experiment, but now I feel so much better without it that I am on soy and almond milk only.  This is not a hard and fast rule - I am still eating ice cream occasionally, cheese is good...though I have switched to soy yogurt.  I just feel better without it.  The all- natural thing is not hard and fast either.  Preservatives happen....just not as much as they used to.

I would also like to talk about fat.  Fat along with veggies and protein are the bases of my diet now.  When (if) you decide to read   The New Rules of Lifting for Women: Lift Like a Man, Look Like a Goddess, please pay attention to the section on fats.  Also, I have been reading The Fat Fallacy: The French Diet Secrets to Permanent Weight Loss and though it sounds gimmicky and almost embarrassing, I like the ideas on fat and portions.  Basically, I am not avoiding fats in my diet.  Or, at least, I am not avoiding non-animal fats.  Bring on the olive oil, avocado and nut butters, I say.  Coconut? Yes please.

Veggies and protein.  My basic idea about these two is, get as much as you can.  I include fruit in the veggie category be default...I just prefer veggies, but I am trying to increase my fruit intake.  I have a hard time fitting in as much protein as I would like, but I make a mindful effort to include it in every snack and meal.  I fail frequently.  Veggies however - no problem.  Yesterday, for instance, I managed to consume spinach, berries, an entire bunch of kale, grated carrots, corn and papaya.  Love veggies. 

I guess next you are asking "where are the carbs?"  Rest assured, there are plenty of carbs, I just do not really focus on whether or not I am getting them.  I don't care.  By default, I get plenty in my diet.  I eat crackers.  And oatmeal.  And sweet potatoes.  And corn. And so forth and so on.  I love pizza.  I like bread.  I do not have these things every day, but when I do I am not concerned.  Carbs are not evil but they are certainly not the focal point of my diet either.  They are just there.

And I still loathe baby carrots.