Sunday, January 10, 2010

Can't believe I succombed!

At first I thought that they were Fugly. Then, they grew on me, but I thought that they were "over". And then I moved to Texas and thought that they were unnecessary (and "over"). And then we had a cold snap down here in tropical Houston.

Really, with all of the yoga and pilates I have been doing as well as the fact that all of my gym workouts are in my five fingers, well, I just didn't have the right foot attire to wear to and from the gym and studio. And it has been cold! (Plus, I am trying to be good and go barefoot or be as close to it as possible so as not to overly strain my hamstring.)

Okay, I love them. I don't want to take them off. I just realized why they are not "over" yet. People just don't want to give them up. I get it. Finally.

Monday, January 4, 2010


On Saturday, I had the opportunity to go to Lululemon here in The Woodlands to participate in a yogaFLIGHT workshop. Sky and Slade are a married couple from Ottawa, Ontario who are currently traveling in their Airstream trailer to Lululemon stores across the US and Canada to share their unique approach to yoga. They are endeavoring to "teach you how to stay grounded amidst the hustle and bustle and the stressors of modern life whilst enjoying the bliss of having your world turned upside down." Yoga Flight is based on the feeling of pure joy you got as a kid when your dad would fly you on his feet while he was lying on his back. It is about being playful and adventurous while building confidence and strength.

This was one of the coolest experiences of my life! The class was held in the middle of our local Lululemon store (a.k.a. my favorite store) in the middle of a busy Saturday. The group of us spread out our yoga mats while others were shopping and began with a series of sun salutations to warm up our bodies. Then Sky and Slade demonstrated some of the moves and poses we would be doing. Well, Slade is 6 feet tall and made of muscle and Sky is a small (albeit strong) woman not much over 5 feet. So, he "played base" while she was the flyer. They did all kinds of crazy moves and asanas, flowing from one to the other, Sky suspended on Slade's feet. Then it was our turn to play. I partnered with Tiffany, my yoga instructor and another small, strong woman. We surprised ourselves and were able to hold each other up and do some of the moves without much difficulty. However, we were not strong or brave enough to try the more advanced stuff.

Later I got a chance to work with one of the guys who works at Lulu and he was able to "fly" me pretty well. It was really cool to be able to get into the "hanging bat" pose where my legs were butterflied and I was holding my ankles suspended from his feet. But then I had a chance to "fly" with Slade and it was a whole new world! I had so much fun and felt so powerful and so graceful. He was so supportive both physically and mentally, that I felt like I could do anything! Moving me around was like nothing for him and this made me feel secure enough to try lots of different moves. Slade was even able to fly the guy who had "played base" for me and was pretty much the same size as Slade!

I wish that there was a place to practice Yoga Flight nearby because I would love to repeat this experience. I might have to get Tiffany to try some of the moves in her Thursday class!

New Year's Resolutions

I don't usually make New Year's Resolutions; they just kind of occur to me some time in the new year and I am off and running. (Oftentimes literally.) Last year, on a whim early in January I decided to start doing Weight Watchers. Little Ladybug was just four months old and I had started Pilates and begun to get back in shape but knew that for me, the accountability in recording my points worked. With Weight Watchers, Pilates, and a dedication to healthy living and eating, I far surpassed the "goal" that I set for myself. In a year, I have lost 35 pounds, gone from a size 12 to a size 2, and am in by far the best shape of my life. I have been on the maintenance plan for 6 months and still use WW as a tool for holding myself accountable. I run faster than I ever thought that I could and feel great doing so. My heart and my body are strong, and I am so much more flexible and than I ever imagined that I could be. I am even more coordinated and graceful than before (but that isn't saying much!) In 2009, I dedicated myself to this goal of total fitness and I have accomplished it.

However, somewhere along the line, I became so focused on myself and what I needed to do to attain my goals that I stopped focusing on those two little people who are my heart's joy. I have always subscribed to the "put your own mask on first" theory of mothering, but lately I haven't been ensuring that theirs are on right at all. Over the past few months I have found myself being increasingly short tempered and exasperated with the two of them, and they do not deserve that. They are great kids, magical even, and it is my job to nurture them at every stage and help them to grow into incredible people. Christmas week really made it clear that my patience for my two amazing children has been in short supply and that it was making us all miserable. Yet, I didn't know that I was going to make a change until I just up and did it.

At some point on January 1, I had a lightbulb moment! I realized that if I could transform my body, my eating habits, my health and my fitness just by focusing really hard, I could certainly put that much effort into having patience for my kids. So, all of a sudden, I slowed down. I have been feeling for months like I am a bouncy ball going in every direction and not able to control my energy or focus my attention. Well, I am now making a conscious effort to be more still, more present in everything, but especially in my parenting. I keep taking a deep breath before reacting instead of flying off the handle. I am trying to not sweat the small stuff. When my kids need my attention, I am giving it to them instead of saying, "one minute." When they spill something, I am saying, "no big deal, let's get a towel" instead of flying off the handle. I am trying to put the computer down when they are up. More than anything, I am trying to be more present.

Some of this, I believe, comes from expanding my yoga practice lately and concentrating on meditating and breathing. And, some of this, I truly think, comes from the chia. I have always gotten bitchy when my blood sugar got low, and the chia is helping me to avoid those blood sugar dips. Mean Mommy does not come out as often when her tank is not on empty.

Another resolution actually came to me a few months ago when I went to an amazing U2 concert. For that concert, I ate some "special brownies" and had a fantastic night. During the concert, I sent myself an email that said, "I don't need Lexapro; I just need music". With little kids around, I am so used to having the TV tuned to Noggin in the background or to talking on the phone in the car. However, rock and roll has always been a huge part of my life and makes me truly happy! So, I am trying to play music, introduce my kids to the songs that I love, and feel the joy that it brings.

Now I am trying to figure out my BHAG. I have been toying with the idea of doing Pilates teacher certification. Lately, I have considered doing yoga teacher certification as well. Also, I am in the lottery for the 2010 NYC marathon and there is a part of me that wants to do some great runs and has the dream of qualifying for Boston. Some friends have suggested that I do some tris, but they scare the shit out of me. . . which makes me think that I should do them.

And then, and then . . . I was thinking the other day that I should find a way to combine my passion for cooking and eating with my dedication to health and fitness. I have learned to cook healthy, fresh and truly delicious food with ingredients that I had never used before this year. Things like beets, fennel, quinoa, chia are brand new to me and so exciting. I want to share my enthusiasm with others. I have done so much baking in the past few months, but then I have given it away. Great, so I didn't eat it, but I was contributing to making others unhealthy, (especially my husband who eats at least two portions of everything I make.) I want people to be more healthy and help them feel good; baked goods will have to be for special occasions, not a weekly occurance. So, I am trying to figure out a way to bring my passion for healthy living to others. Stay tuned for that.

In the meantime, I will be putting more healthy recipes and fewer baked goods on my blog. Everyone needs a treat sometime, so while I am not swearing off baking by any means, sweets will no longer be the be all and end all of this blog.

Breathe . . .

Where I've Been (or "What I did Over Christmas Vacation")

The answer to is a long winded one, but one of my New Year's Resolutions is to make this blog more succinct and more pertinent to what is really important to me. It has lately become all about baking, and it is even beginning to bore me.

I actually haven't been anywhere physically but have been all over the place mentally. Though we travel more than any other young family that I know, we do not travel over Christmas week because DrRuckus always tries to be the good Jewish doctor and let everyone else get some time off to be with their families. Great for them, just sucks for us. I am always miserable during Christmas week because everyone is busy with their families and my husband is busy working and I feel housebound and lonely, like the only Jew in Texas. This year was worse than ever because we were all sick at various times, and were even more confined to the house. To exacerbate the torture, I was nursing a hamstring injury and so was not able to get the release and endorphin rush that I am so addicted to. I don't really know what we did except count the hours until Daddy got home, but we made it, one hour at a time!

On the positive side, we caught up on some of our recorded TV shows, watched and returned some of our Netflix movies and I read some great books. One of these, "A Homemade Life" by superstar food blogger, Molly Wizenberg of Orangette fame was really well written and contains some fantastic recipes (yes, I tried a bunch of them and just took some of her bread out of the oven). If you want to read a baking blog, go to her site because she is the real deal. And if you live in, or travel to Seattle, go to her new restaurant and report back to me!

One of the other books, "Born to Run" by Christopher McDougall, has truly inspired me and helped me ring in 2010 with a whole new brighter outlook. I have been meaning to do a post about all of the books I have read on my Kindle and hopefully will get to that soon. But this one just came at the right time and is making my life so much better!

This book is part adventure story, part anthropology lesson, part history text, part manual and ALL inspiration! McDougall discusses an epic ultramarathon in the savage Copper Canyon in Mexico with the hidden tribe of Tarahumara Indians. He teaches us why we as an animal have evolved to run long distances and makes doing so seem like it can be pure joy. As someone who has slogged through countless long runs, the idea of doing so with much less work and much more joy is very appealing.

He also posits that the reason why there are so many injuries from running is that our modern, high tech shoes are forcing our feet and legs to move in a way that is unnatural to them and not allowing our bodies to do the work for which they were designed. The trend towards barefoot or minimal running is taking off and there is a great deal of evidence as to why this is ultimately better for us and will keep us running injury free. Since I was nursing an injury at the time that I read it, I was willing to jump on board. I cannot fathom going all the way to barefoot because I like having pretty feet way too much. However, I did buy a pair of Vibram Five Finger shoes and have been learning how to run in them with a natural, short, easy stride. Crazy thing is, all of my leg pain is gone and my legs feel better each day that I walk around barefoot and workout in these. They look like gorilla feet, but they are fantastic!

One of the other secrets to the Tarahumara runners that McDougall discusses in his book is Chia. This ancient grain, consumed by the Tarahumara and other natives of the Southwest including the Aztecs, has incredible properties for overall health as well as for endurance. It contains tons of antioxidants, fiber, Omega-3 and Omega-6, Iron, Calcium, Magnesium AND is a complete protein. As if all of that is not enough, eating it also slows the conversion of carbohydrates into sugar, prolonging their fueling effects. It also has hydrophilic properties that help the body to retain moisture and thus prevent dehydration and electrolyte imbalance.

I've been eating it for a few days now and the difference is incredible! Besides going from injury to recovery, which can be attributed to many factors, the biggest difference that I have found is in my energy level. I mix the chia with my oatmeal in the morning and have plenty of energy to get my kids going, get to the gym, do an intense workout, do something afterwards and not eat until about 1 p.m. I usually need some type of snack in the morning and then have to feed myself before I feed my kids in order to bite their heads off! Over the past few days, we have had some late dinners and I have not had the need to have a pre dinner snack (which I would normally have to do because I am used to eating dinner at toddler time) because I had a chia drink in the afternoon. Amazing stuff!

So much for succinct!