05 3 / 2013
Sarah, she said, I have to tell you, you look radiant today. It’s stunning, really, and around your eyes.
It’s a happiness, I think, she added, assessing me.
This, the observation of a woman in a Thursday-morning Pilates class.
What is it, she asked. Are you in love?
Well, I confessed, I am falling in love with my life. I love the work I do. I love who I work with. I love my body, as it is now, and as it changes, as I do Pilates, yoga, run…
It’s true. And, it’s thrilling to be falling in love with a person so right for me. It’s oh so new, a love so healthy, that I know will only get better and better, ‘cause it really is endless.
29 1 / 2013
Sarah started taking yoga and Pilates, three classes weekly, oh so recently. “I don’t really feel anything yet,” Sarah admitted of Pilates, a subtle form of exertion that requires attunement to the bones, the muscles, the fascia. But, now, several times a day Sarah notices she’s slouching, slumping, or shoving her shoulders into her ears — and she lengthens her spine (visualizing the vertabrae opening at the front and closing in the back, lifting her chest like a centaur), tucks in her tailbone (which makes her feel positively primordial), or relaxes her shoulder blades (lowering these like mythological wings). Sarah is starting to see Pilates, as well as yoga, as a form of exercise that really might make her a better runner in the spring, changing her biomechanics, her form, and prompting neural re-patterning, as the studio director promises will happen if Sarah devotes three-and-a-half hours a week for the twelve between January and March to Pilates and yoga-based cross-training. (Of course, it would probably also help if Sarah went for a run, as she hasn’t done in one week and one day, but anyway…)
21 1 / 2013
A caveat: this entry will, unfortunately, document a neophyte yogi’s entirely predictable epiphanies about the integration of the physical, and the emotional. Perhaps spare your optical nerve the violence of rolling your eyes (which is not at all mindful), and stop reading now.
So, I’ve been doing yoga for three weeks. I mean, in a class — 90-minute sessions on Sunday mornings to which I run the 4K between the studio door, and that accessing my own address. I’ve done yoga before, of course, because who hasn’t, really? I’ve done yoga DVDs sprawled awkwardly on my living room floor. I’ve joined a class for those whose practice was designed to address eating disorders, but I quit after, oh, two sessions because even though I, then, exhibited the hallmarks of binge-eating disorder, or, at least, emotional eating, I didn’t identify with the focus of the class, which was talking about feelings. (Yes, that is ironic. I know it.) I went for the asanas, not the emotional revelations. I was, then, already in therapy. My therapist was, then, urging me to become a therapist myself. I was, then, doing group work with other women brave in their prose, narrating their life experiences, who recited dream images like poems. Listening deeply in those dream-analysis sessions, I learned I could urge others’ breakthroughs. And, after I did, after the three-hour weekly meeting finished, I would rush home to binge. I feared, then, that my ability to perceive what others, perhaps, weren’t ready to see was hurtful to them — so I punished myself with food, my penitence and my salvation, if you want to go with religious allusions, because stuffing myself with chips blunted my intuitions, and lessened my ability to know what I needed, nevermind what another might. This, what I was, then, looking at in private sessions. And, what I learned not to do (with kudos and candor from the women in my dream group), so I could begin the process of changing my life, my lifestyle, and losing the weight that I’d, probably, gained to protect myself, though that claim is cliche, I know. Then, I weighed 300 pounds (less one). Today, I weigh 237, and I don’t binge, or go to therapy.
But, I do go to yoga, a hatha class at a studio in the Junction. Yesterday, right leg shaking in tree pose, I thought about how genius this asana is as a physical metaphor for emotional balance: you can’t reach out if you aren’t rooted — and, even then, it’s challenging (for beginners). I might have learned that years ago in the yoga class for women with eating disorders, if we’d devoted more time to poses, rather than to platitudes. But, I’ve learned it now, somehow, and I’ve become someone who grounds herself in healthful practices. When I fall off the wagon, as I do out of tree pose, I find a still point, my goal, focus, and extend myself again. And, now, I can extend myself to others without losing my own equilibrium, encouraging dietary changes, or an interest in learning to run.
14 12 / 2012
Highest Adult Weight (Winter 2008-2009): 299
Lowest Adult Weight (Winter 1998-1999): 233
Current Weight (December 8, 2012): 240
Current Weight-loss Goal (May 2013): 200
Fastest 5K To Date: 44:04
Current 5K Goal (May 2013): 40:00
Tonight, encouraged by Facebook friends, I wrote at length about how I’m less and greater than since I started losing weight and running. In that exposition, I included every of these statistics in context. (Like, admitting that I stopped running and gained 35 pounds after my first 5K, that I had to lose the same when I started training again.) Posting the quantitative, I inadvertently and irretrievably deleted every sentence, every paragraph in which I listed the indisputable, my weights and my race times, and the still ephemeral, my next goals. Oh, well. This is perhaps how best to present the info — straight up, chart-style.
14 12 / 2012
I read about Ben Davis’ transformational YouTube video, My 120 pound Journey, in the November/December issue of Canadian Running. Twice.
I’ll have to check it out, I thought the first time I read the mention. The second time I thought, I better do it now, before I forget yet again.
I’m oh so glad I did.
This sweet fellow is not only a marvel (just watch the video, okay), he also has a LOL-funny (yep, I wrote a temporary hyphenate with textese in it) blog, Ben Does Life, and a book, Do Life, that will be on sale December 31, 2012. That I’ll need to nab ‘cause while I’m becoming more committed to my own running exertions and my own weight-loss efforts Ben inspires me to do ever better. Now. Not in January. But, then too, likely. I mean, he did boot camp and ran sprints when he weighed almost 350 pounds. I mean, really. He inspires me to stop being so sissy, to brave harder exercises and honest confessions. Like, what I weigh, really.
13 11 / 2012
It has ever peeved me just how rarely any any who blogs about exercise and nutrition, weight loss and lifestyle change confesses the messiness of the process, admits that, yeah, sometimes they eat too much and move too little. It happens. C’est la vie.
Instead, rather than be candid, they list tactics, suggesting that once, perhaps long ago, they too used these methods to overcome obstacles to their own success, nourished bodies lithe from aerobic and anabolic exercise.
To appease those like me, those put off by incessant sunniness, who want to admit that occasional darkness is as natural as rain, sleet and snow: today, I slept too little, ate too much and moved almost not at all.
These three admissions are dominoes to topple in succession: not enough sleep means the hormones that regulate appetite aren’t released; not enough sleep means cravings for what I don’t relish as once I did, chocolate and chips; not enough sleep and too much to eat, too many quick ‘n’ crappy carbohydrates, means I’m sluggish and not inclined to do much but surf the internet until I go to bed — finally. Really, I should just go to sleep now so tomorrow isn’t a repeat. I vow: I’ll tuck in as soon as I post this message to you.
This message: I screwed up. I do. But, tomorrow I’ll start all over again — eat clean, run, perhaps add some squats and lunges and hand-weight-related exertions. And, you can too. At the risk of sounding as twee as those I tonight detest: tomorrow really is a new day. The sun’ll come up. Bet your bottom dollar. Tomorrow is just a day away. Etc. Etc.
You can start over anytime, though. You can start over in the midst. After a gluttinous meal, for instance. You don’t have to wait for breakfast.
Or, you ate a bag of chips? Okay. Brush your teeth. Drink water — as much as you can stomach. Go for a short, brisk walk. And, get some rest. Revert to your healthful habits.
Hit the red reset button ‘til you feel electric, ‘til energy again courses through you because you’ve been eating healthfully and moving your body. Hit reset until the current is consistent.
If you’re consistent at starting over, eventually you realise you aren’t starting over again, not really. Today, I’m at my lowest weight in a decade. A decade! I didn’t gain almost sixty pounds since two this afternoon, despite that I totally effed up my exercise, my diet. Starting over again consistently results in real gains, like long-term weight loss and, you know, long-term perspective.
06 11 / 2012
Today, a day for banalities, for groceries: shallots and leeks, smoked salmon and Greek yogourt, baby arugula and bok choy, frozen mango and a bag of apples… The only item on my list not set in the cart with a front wheel doing pirouettes: coffee. Nah, I’m not buying that here, I thought. I’ll splurge, nab half a pound from the Starbucks nearest my address. You see, I ascribe to the philosophy that is not spending money on what’s less than, what doesn’t offer satisfaction. Don’t misunderstand: I keen to save when I can, and I can often, but I also won’t grab whatever’s sold wherever I am if I don’t think I’ll revel in the store’s offerings. I’ve high standards, I guess. I expect a lot for what I invest, whether it’s love or money or, apparently, exertions. So, when I was exhausted this evening after work and shopping, I thought to loll on the couch rather than do less than my very best on day three of The 30 Day Shred (Level 1). It’s one day, I assured myself, and flipped through the magazine I’d tossed on the conveyor belt at the check out, an Oxygen magazine special issue, Off The Couch. (Ironic, yes?) I didn’t get very far into it. Offset in the list of contributors was a comment about a featured 20-minute workout: “Strive for consistency over perfection. Consistency always wins in the long run.” I sighed. And, tied my hair up, my sneaks on and did the circuit — modifying it for my lower energy level, the agony in my knees that’s probably just a consequence of my early efforts at jumping jacks and butt kicks. Rather than focus on the perfection that is doing everything Jillian Michaels insists of her adherents (My knees don’t hurt when I run, Jillian!), mine was the discipline to pay attention to form and how I was feeling as I did chest flies and side lunges with anterior lifts. The shocking discovery made in the midst: doing less, I realized how much more I could accomplish! On day three, I can hold myself in a lady push up without collapsing on my mat (as I did on days one and two) and I can start lowering myself to the floor without my muscles seizing up. And, I can repeat that slight range of movement, conscious of my posture, trying to keep a straight line, my body in a plank position. I can do a modified, modified, almost-push up! I may not have the strength, the grace doing a push up as does she who is still First Lady, Michelle Obama — but one day I might. I live in hope, as do so many of the American people. (And, that, friends, is an political as I’ll get about the 2012 American election.)
Please note: This blog post, too, is a modification. It’s an entry quickly written, as though an email sent to a friend. It’s not so much, just thoughts on food and fitness put up off the cuff.
05 11 / 2012
Start over I did. If there’s one act definitive of 2012, it’s starting over, in ways infinitesimal (recommitting to clean eating at a next meal) and epic (leaving a three-and-a-half-year common-law relationship).
Since last I posted, I started running again, trained from 1:1 intervals to 1:10s, ran my second 5K, The Toronto Women’s Run in Sunnybrook Park, last weekend and lost the weight I’d gained. And then some. I’m at my lowest weight since I was in university, sixty pounds less than when I started focusing on my nutrition and exertion, and I’m intent to lose forty more over the winter. My goal isn’t to be gorgeous, as so many suggest ought be my motivation (“If you lost just a little more weight you’d be so much more pretty!”), but to run a faster 5K. And then an 8, a 10, maybe even a half one day.
While I do ascribe to the runner’s conceit that you can only run your own race, that you are your only competition, I noticed last weekend that those at my pace were uniformly carrying extra weight. At least, eighty pounds each. The epiphany: If I want to run stronger, faster next summer I’ll need to become leaner, lither over the winter.
The night I finished my 5K, that I reached my goal and needed to set another, I texted an old friend, he who became impressively athletic in adulthood. How do I do it, I dispatched with an index finger. (I’m not one to thumb messages on my gadget.) In a series of missives I could hardly keep up with he offered detailed counsel on how to start lifting weights, how to keep eating clean and how to persist with training runs through the iciest, snowiest months. These, my new goals, those I’ll detail, hopefully, with more regular blog entries.
28 4 / 2012
The epiphany was the sum of an equation, the adding up of two realisations.
No. 1: I don’t feel the same in my body — it’s just not as easy, as joyous to run or to pedal my bicycle, exercises I reveled in short months ago. So I opt to run, to bike less often.
No 2.: My face has changed — it’s a full moon again, round rather than waning into a shape more angular, chin and cheekbones a sliver of the shape they were.
The epiphany: something needs to change; something isn’t working. I’m not losing weight even as I’m ostensibly exercising and dieting. Stunningly, I’ve gained 25 pounds over the last 365 days, since early last May. I don’t know when. Probably the gain wasn’t in 2011, when I was training for my first 5K. It’s really been in 2012 that I’ve struggled to keep to healthful rituals. Late last year, I braved to start a business and in the absence of structure and in the presence of oh so much stress (the good kind I confess, the kind that comes with risking to strive for excellence, success, happiness on independent terms), I ate more and I moved less.
Not all is lost. Not all I lost is gained, that is. I’m still thirty pounds less than I weighed when I first started a healthful regimen, Weight Watchers and gentle exertions.
Tonight, less and greater than (< & >) has a new interpretation: I’m less healthful that I’ve been but I’m greater than the weight I’ve gained, the mistakes I’ve made. I can — I will! — start all over again — first thing tomorrow morning.
02 10 / 2011
White Swan squash is the sweet, delicate partner of the dark acorn, that strong, sturdy gourd so associated with fall. The White Swan, though, is still a marvel, an unusual varietal. That White Swan I first awed at (I’ve never seen a white acorn before, I said to my own partner), then selected from the bin in a Port Perry grocery was almost lissom, pure of form as well as of colour.
A balletic vegetable, an understudy rarely to grace tables (this, based on a quick search of the internet), the White Swan is a princess I crowned with a tablespoon of maple syrup, Canadian gold, studded with Autumn Spice, a blend (chiles, onion, garlic, spices, maple sugar & extract, sugar, sea salt) mister nabbed at Spice Merchants when last we were in Ann Arbor.
The beauty of the White Swan was then tested in an oven pre-heated to 375 degrees; her tribulation was, perhaps, forty-five minutes in duration.
An enchantment: baked White Swan squash served with pork tenderloin that was, too, marinated in maple syrup and Autumn Spice (as well as a half-teaspoon of olive oil).
(The pork tenderloin was cooked, the glaze carmelised, on our George Foreman grill, a staple method of meat preparation at this address.)
Mister, averse to squash, tasted the White Swan and noted her flesh was, as you might expect, sweeter, more mild than the rest. Almost potato-y, he said.
Too, a fairy-tale ending termed as nutritional information:
A cup and a half of White Swan squash so readied is just
224 calories, 58 grams of carbohydrate, 0 grams of fat, 3 grams of protein
1 Weight Watchers PointsPlus.
(This, the constant caveat: nutritional information based on the specific brands and exact quantities that I used, that I tracked.)