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Life Support

15 Aug

20120815-233718.jpgI want to begin by thanking all of you for reading my last post. It’s nice to know that so many of you are interested in the mental and physical benefits of yoga…oh wait…no…you just popped in to see me get kicked to the curb in the comments. In that case, thank you for not making me an overnight Internet sensation, a trending topic, or suggesting that I might want to go out with your 50 year old son who lives in your basement, collects dolls, and is “such a catch.”

At moments as special as this I like to reflect on how lucky I am to have the friends and family I do. On Friday night my darling friend, the Secret Agent, hauled my sorry ass to the park to “walk it off.” Yes, a bottle of wine was looking far more appealing. Yes, I was second guessing and mood swinging and swearing. Yes, I was a bundle of mixed emotions that just wanted to crawl into bed and pull the sheets over my head…but I went. And it was exactly what I needed to be doing.

Secret Agent knew that I needed to vent and then just rub some dirt on it. She has the distinct advantage of knowing me since the 7th grade, so she knows how difficult I can be when cranky, but she also knew what I needed at that moment…a friend and a distraction.

I know you’ve been waiting to hear about the Sister Wives, and I couldn’t think of a better time to talk about them. What you have to understand is that we knew each other ages ago in a dystopian society known as high school. Some of us were friends, some of us were friendly, but through the miracle of social media and the uniting love of brunches that involve booze, we came together again nearly 20 years later in a community far more successful, moderately more hygienic, and far more fun than Bronson Alcott’s utopian adventures at Fruitlands.

As a unit, we fight crime, right wrongs, and singlehandedly keep vineyards and distilleries worldwide in business. Ok, those first two things are a slight exaggeration. We provide each other a great deal of love and support. This is most apparent in moments of crisis….like my birthday…you know, the baby thing. One Sister Wife was alerted to the crisis and mobilized the other two (we’re working on getting something akin to the Bat Signal going to facilitate this process). All three arrived at my apartment to be with me while I drank and cried and, in the end thanks to them, laughed.

The idea of the Sister Wives began as a perfectly rational discussion about the ideal of living together and sharing the responsibility of caring for the menfolk and children…but has since evolved into a more Edenic vision than ever before dreamed. We talk often of purchasing a compound – we have our hearts set on a recent listing for one with 22 small houses and a casino – and living happily as one extended family. I’m lucky here because, as the only single gal, my sisters bring 3 good lookin’ men with them as well as two awesome children.

We are selectively offering membership to others, ensuring harmonious living. My gusband will be joining us, provided there is a dance club and a stable of hot, young men. We were also lucky enough to stumble upon someone who readily volunteered to be our charismatic cult leader and is uniquely qualified to fill that role. I intend to be First Wife to that one.

The point of all this is (or at least what I’m forcing it to be to fit into the theme of this blog), that sometimes you need your friends to take care of you or remind you to take care of yourself when things look bleak. I know that as I’ve struggled with my weight loss, fitness goals, heartbreaks, and family health crises, whether I’ve succeeded or failed, crumbled or stood firm, I’ve come through all of it because of my incredible support system.

Pro Tip: Build yourself a support system…a soft place to fall (yeah, I think I just quoted Dr. Phil). Help and encouragement can be found in so many different people and places: a yoga class, friends, family, neighbors, a personal trainer, dietitian, or therapist. Your support system doesn’t have to look like anyone else’s – it just has to work for you. Trust me, I’m moving mine to a compound led by a man named Mingo.

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Just Say Om

8 Aug

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When I sit down to write these things I usually know what they’re about and where they’re going before I type the first word. Tonight I’m not as sure. I have a lot of things I want to tell you…about my twisted love life, my yoga classes, my Sister Wives and The Compound, but I’m not getting my usual laser focus going so I’m just going to wing it. My apologies if reading it feels like dropping acid.

I’ve learned a lot of lessons in 37 years, some of which I’m just now starting to implement in my daily life. Some are simple, like eating ice cream on a really hot day makes me sick, and some are more nuanced, like what I want and need in my life and that I have a right to make those things clear and ask for them.

Things with the Irishman have been a bit dicey for the last week. We had a stupid tiff and he’s been a little on the standoffish side since. I brought him to a party on Saturday night at the home of one of the Sister Wives and he really enjoyed himself but I think he also got his first glimpse of Independent Lisa. Independent Lisa doesn’t babysit or cling to you…she drinks, and mingles, and meets other people, and laughs a lot. Independent Lisa had a great time at said party. It could well be that Independent Lisa is not the Irishman’s type.

Here’s the thing about his type…I don’t know what it is. I realized that I have no idea what he’s attracted to as far as I’m concerned. Kids, I’m built like the prow of a ship…if the prow was attached to a short, padded body with a sizable aft, and I’m pretty ok with that. As it turns out, neither my fore nor my aft are of interest to good ol’ James Joyce. I like to think I have a big personality and a good, if bawdy, sense of humor…and yet those characteristics seem as incomprehensible to him as Finnegan’s Wake. So what gives?

So here’s where it gets weird – just as I start to spiral a bit and berate myself about my smooshy midsection and the fact that I haven’t been to the gym in 2 months, The Hebrew Hammer reappears. I cannot say at present time (because I don’t know yet…I’m not holding out on you) what has sparked this renewal of his suit, but he has resurfaced full of praise of my multitudinous virtues. He is aware of my current involvement and has nicknamed the Irishman “Judgy O’Judgerson” for his habit of mild yet repeated critique. I know I need to address the fact that neither of our towns have been miraculously relocated closer to each other…but not just yet…because I’m confused…and cranky…and thinking too much about what everyone else thinks and wants and thinks of me.

So I went to yoga. Twice this week. Yoga is amazing for this sort of confusion and angst. No, it doesn’t solve anything. You don’t shake yourself up like a Magic 8 Ball for an hour and suddenly receive the right answer to the dilemmas of daily life. Here’s what it does do: it forces you to focus on yourself. To practice effectively you have to quiet the mind and focus on your body..its movements, its limitations, its strengths AND NOT JUDGE THEM. It takes all my concentration to breathe and not fall over. It takes all my patience and kindness to laugh and smile when I DO fall over. I can’t think about the Irishman and the Jew or my belly or what comes next. I just have to stay in the moment and contort and lift my body and breathe.

I like my body when I’m in class…it can do cool things and if I keep at it it will become conditioned to do more cool things. Yoga is moving me toward my weight loss and fitness goals and helping me gain the focus to tackle my personal and professional ones. If you haven’t taken a yoga class, I encourage you to give it a try for both the mind and body benefits. For those of you who feel like you’re too hardcore – have you tried lifting your body weight recently? How flexible are your hips and hamstrings? Give it a shot – you’ll find it’s quite the workout. Most studios offer small beginner packages to take it for a test drive. My studio, Verona Yoga has 3 classes for $30 for new students and two Absolute Beginner classes a week.

As always, I invite any and all comments, but I’d love to know what you do to get out of your own head, find your focus, or feel more comfortable in your own skin. Off to bed for me! Namaste.

A Little Perspective

14 Mar

As I sat on my yoga mat tonight, waiting for class to begin, a beautiful, tall, willowy woman – the woman I’d like to be when I grow up – walked in. She was a friend of a class regular and a first-timer. She bent down to roll out her mat in front of mine and immediately turned to me and said, “Please don’t watch me…unless you want a laugh that is.”

I laughed and reassured her that we would all be too busy figuring out what to do to look at anyone else. I remembered my own first time in this class – just 8 short weeks ago. I arrived anxious, self-conscious, and slightly uncomfortable. What was the difference between me and the supermodel? I outweigh her by about a third grader.

When I first came in I got acclimated by checking out the other students and felt better when I saw a woman about the same size as me. I felt better because I felt like the expectations of what my body should look like and how flexible I should be had now become more realistic- if you look like me you must perform like me. Now the real difference between me and Heidi Klum is more clear…and more than poundage.

She was nervous, not only because she had never done yoga before and was afraid of looking stupid, but because having a body like hers…looking the way she does, people expect more of her. There’s something really comforting in the idea that it cuts both ways. It really drives home the point that insecurity lives in bodies of all shapes and sizes.

As I went through my practice I felt good and strong and capable. My head stayed clear. I didn’t think about my body except to notice the increase in my flexibility or which muscles I was tensing so I could release them. I love yoga for the way I feel after practice, but even more so for teaching me to be aware of my body without judging it. I hope our resident top model learns the same…and I’ll stop referring to her as a supermodel or Heidi Klum because I shouldn’t judge her either.

In terms of my own weight loss, I’m back in a good place. I reminded myself that I know, from previous weight loss efforts, that my body drops weight more easily and functions better when I eat more protein – something I’ve been lacking in my mostly meatless meals. I’ve been having morning protein shakes made with skim milk, a banana, chia seeds, and Synthrax Nectar Sweets chocolate truffle protein powder. Today I added PB2 – basically defatted powdered peanut butter – for even more protein and a quasi peanut butter cup flavor. I’m actually looking forward to weighing in this week.

I hope everyone’s having a great week. I’ve got an amazing personal trainer waiting to answer your questions in an upcoming post so ask away in the comments, or, if you’d like more privacy email me at lrgittleman (at) gmail.com.

Making the Right Choice For You

24 Feb

You've got it baby!Losing weight can be a very lonely process. Some of us do it in secrecy, protecting ourselves against embarrassment if we fail, while some of us join a program, like Weight Watchers, where we can be a part of a community with the same goals and struggles. Regardless of how we pursue loss, we still have to continue to exist in the life we’ve built over many years. We’re still members of a family (or two, or three), still have friends, co-workers, and social obligations. The challenge, inevitably, is maintaining focus and resolve while engaging in daily life as well as the battle of the bulge.

I have friends whose tastes run to burgers, fries, and shakes. As much as simply the thought of those foods, especially in combination, makes me drool like Odie at an Alpo convention, seeing it across the table from me is far worse. I envision lunging across the table and inhaling it, leaving behind a crime scene that even CSI would find horrifying. I think that’s a pretty typical difficult situation, but what makes it more challenging is being “out” with the same friend.

Once you’re out of the closet where your weight loss effort is concerned, you often feel like you’re denying your friends or family the things that they want because you want to make healthy choices…this is the beginning of the story of every backslide I’ve had in the past five years. The first time my friend suggests going to one of our favorite haunts, heavy on ice cream, burgers, and fries, but then adds “Oh, but you’re on a diet.” I’m a little embarrassed and uncomfortable. I feel bad.  I think “One meal won’t kill me.” I cave. Then the next meal gets easier, and the next easier still.

We want to say yes. We want to see our friends and family. We want to please people – make it easy for them. We want to sit down for a meal without worrying about the fat, carb, and calorie content of our meals. We feel bad and eat emotionally.  In the end, isn’t that what has gotten to us to this very moment? Didn’t not wanting to inconvenience other people or think about what we’re putting in our bodies get us here?

In the end, it’s a choice; a choice that requires us to put value on ourselves. Isn’t it time that our health, happiness, and self-esteem matter as much, if not more, than our friends getting to eat a burger and fries? I’ve talked about backsliding before, and while weight loss is about choice, backsliding is about not making a choice in your own favor. It’s about grabbing the immediate gratification and letting go of the long-term payoff.

What I’m finding, day by day, is that I can give myself some short-term gratification AND make the right choices daily. What works for me is having one “easy day” – in my case Saturday. I weigh in at Weight Watchers at 9am, go to the meeting and then ask myself “What do I want? What have I been craving?” If it’s pizza, I have pizza for dinner, if it’s a cookie, I get myself a cookie at my favorite bakery. I still count the points, but I don’t worry about it as much as I would every other day. Knowing that there’s a day in my week when I can indulge (though not in excess) makes it easier to make good choices every other day. What’s more, it takes away the taboo on certain foods – there’s nothing I CAN’T have.

The most important thing is that I’m making a choice here – not abdicating responsibility.  In the end, when I sit down with my friend The Hamburglar it’s not as hard to make a healthy choice, because I know, come Saturday, that if I still really want a hamburger or  fries I’ll eat them.  What works for you in these situations?

Have a great, healthy weekend!

Back in the Saddle Yet Again

10 Feb

It’s been a long time since I wrote, mostly due to an epic backslide. I went gung ho in preparation for my brother’s wedding in August with lackluster results, confirmed by picture in which I looked like I was competing in a beauty pageant with the Queen Mary. It was discouraging to say the least. Consequently I proceeded to add an extra twenty pounds, stop exercising, and to feel really, really sorry for myself. It was a very productive couple months.

In November I signed up for Weight Watchers. I really believe in the program – no weird eating or purchased meals – and took off almost 10 pounds but then the holidays proved too much for me. I got busy with parties and friends and stopped going to meetings…then I put the weight back on plus a smidgen more. I kept telling myself that I’d return as soon as I took the weight back off. Pure and simple – I was embarrassed. At the end of January it began to bother me. I knew I should go. I knew I wasn’t happy with myself.

Finally it occurred to me that people don’t go to Weight Watchers because they’re in control of their eating – the staff and other members understand backslides and gains – and that I have nothing to be embarrassed about. I recognized that I needed to get back on the horse and start over because the only person I was disappointing was myself. I mentioned this to a friend in my knitting group and it just so happened she was going through the same thing. So, 2 weeks ago we made a commitment to each other to go to meetings together. The fact that I now have someone I have to call and say “I’m not going today” will help keep me on track as I’m more likely to let myself down than someone else.

Last week’s weigh in, after a full week of being back on program, showed a 3.8 pound loss. It was a nice welcome back present and I’m hoping to post another solid loss tomorrow. Since returning to Weight Watchers I’ve embarked on an exercise program with another friend which involves an hour and 15 minute yoga class at Verona Yoga once a week and regular elliptical workouts at the gym. I have to say I’m feeling really good. I have more energy, feel lighter, and sleep better.

I’ve always wanted to try yoga but was nervous about being the big girl in the room and, quite simply, was afraid I just couldn’t do it. My friend and I found that Verona Yoga not only offers a new student 3 class special so we could try it without making a big commitment, but also has an Absolute Beginner class so we felt that there was no expectation about our ability and no pressure. It turns out we both love yoga! Our instructor, Laura, is amazing – not only shows us modifications and use of props but encourages us to use them and not push our bodies too hard. There’s absolutely no judgement.  The people in our class are so very nice and I don’t feel self-conscious in the slightest.

It’s really interesting to me how aware of your body you become – even after just a few classes – in a non-judgmental way. I’m aware of what muscles are tight and which are more limber. I feel my muscles loosening throughout my practice and feel good about my progress. Better yet, a lifetime “bad relaxer”, this body awareness is really helping me unwind. So, yoga is a big success and we’ve decided to continue taking classes and really look forward to them.

Well, that’s all for now. I’ve got some things to do around the apartment and have a gym workout scheduled for this afternoon. Keep your fingers and toes crossed for my weigh in tomorrow and have a great day!

Guest Blogger Christine Amodio: Couch to 5K

20 Jun

In all my life, I have never been able to run. Let me give you a little background about myself. Growing up as a child I didn’t get much physical activity. I didn’t play sports for school or the town. In high school, I did one year of track and field (really just field) and then fencing. In college the physical activity I did was lifting beer cans and food from the table to my mouth. After college I decided to get my life in order while I was on unemployment from my first job. My weight had become out of control and I needed to fix it. I started going to the gym taking cardio and strength classes. With the combination of exercise and eating right, I lost 80 pounds. At this point in my life, I was in pretty good shape, yet still couldn’t run. Since then I’ve had some injuries that are caused by over working muscles, so I’ve had to cut my gym time in half. I need to make sure the time I spend at the gym counts.

I decided I wanted to be able to run. I’ve heard of people starting the Couch to 5K program, but never heard the results. My thoughts were my friends tried it and either didn’t finish it or decided to never mention it. I looked at the plan and thought, this is going to be tough, but I can do this.. The program doesn’t seem so scary being it says if a week is difficult work on that week’s run until it’s something you can do and feel comfortable moving on. I went into this knowing it would be difficult, but I would push myself and if I HAD to, I’d repeat a week. Well, four weeks in I got sick. I had to take a week and a half off from the gym. I decided to start with the week I was on, and see how it went. I was able to continue with that week, and then move on to the next. Then I had a tough week at work, with a lot of overtime and didn’t get to the gym. Instead of stressing that I didn’t get to run that week, I made it a priority to restart the week of the plan I couldn’t finish. I’ve repeated a few weeks, but for the most part it’s become a competition with myself that I want to move on and I want to do more. I’ve grown to like running instead of groaning about how much it sucks.

When I first started I would make sure I would be at the gym at a time when a lot of people weren’t around. I felt self conscious running. I felt that everyone in that gym were professional runners and would judge me for the way I ran and how I would do a mix of running and walking. After a week or two, and looking around at other people working out, I realized I had nothing to be afraid of. No one was watching me, they were involved in their own workout.

I have my last run of the program to complete. I’ve completed two of the week 9 runs, and have one remaining. Now my decision is if I want to redo the program starting from the first week to increase my speed (substitute the walk with a jog and the jog for a run), or if I want to work on being able to run for a longer amount of time. I’ll make that decision shortly.

My verdict is, if you want to get into running this program is spectacular for it. You just have to get over the mental hang ups that you can’t do it or you’ll look stupid. You can do it, and you won’t look stupid…and if you do no one is looking at you anyway 🙂:).

Me and Snotty McWii

8 Jun

Last week I was benched from working out and some hygienic practices that I consider integral parts of my toilette and being in polite company. It sucked. Julia Roberts may like to rock the natural look but it’s not my bag. A week later Mulder and Scully (yes, the lumps – they were something out of the X-Files) are nearly gone and I broke protocol.  I didn’t wait for an alien abduction, but a couple things led me to “get back on the horse.” First was the fact that through eating carefully and keeping my water intake high I was able to lose 2 pounds without exercise. Yes, two pounds would put me below the yellow line on The Biggest Loser, but it brought me to my legitimating ideology – if I WAS exercising imagine what I would be losing….I HAVE TO exercise! The other deciding factors were that they didn’t really hurt anymore and that I had a friggin date coming up. There was NO WAY IN HELL I was going to be puffy and hairy.

So I shaved, deodorized, and exercised.

And nothing bad happened.

I grabbed my Wii balance board and the platform I bought to raise it to Jane Fonda sadism level and I went to town….and the weight has kept coming off so far and The Captain and Tennille haven’t really noticed. Jacking up the balance board made me want to drop dead. I had been doing Advanced Step for a while and all I can say is that a couple of extra inches really do make a world of difference (yes boys, we’ve been lying – size does matter).  I was determined to get in at least 40 minutes even if I arrested and I won’t tell you that I didn’t whine like a little bitch. I REALLY wanted to stop but I thought of all those amazing people on The Biggest Loser who were getting the tar beaten out of them every day, working out for more hours than I care to be conscious – they toughed it out.  I thought of all of you who are reading this, to whom I feel accountable. I promise you that if I peter out halfway through and give up or don’t work out because I’m sick, hurt, or busy I WILL ADMIT IT.

This is reality – we get hurt, we get sick, we get busy and some days we just don’t feel like we have it in us. It’s okay. No need to beat ourselves up…there are plenty of people willing to do it for us.  I will tell you my little rule of thumb that helps me get through the moments I just want to give up or skip a workout and it’s incredibly simple – give it 10 minutes.  No matter what kind of workout I’m doing, the first ten minutes (post warm-up) I think I can’t do it, that I’m a moron for even attempting it, and that I would really be better served by going back to bed, but at the 10 minute mark something awesome happens. I’m over the hump, pumping adrenaline, feeling totally badass – I could do this shit all day! I could beat up those menacing teenage hoodlums that hang out in the Krauszer’s parking lot. Frankly, I become dangerous, but I can get through the damn workout.

Long story even longer, I did 45 minutes of Advanced Step then moved on to 2 other aerobic “games”, did a bit of strength training, and finished off with a little yoga. I was so sweaty by the time I went to do the plank that I slid off the balance board and the snotty, smug trainer couldn’t resist telling me that she “noticed I stopped halfway through.” There’s no option to tell her your balance board had become a slip-n-slide.  Enough about that bitch. I worked out for well over an hour…she can suck it.

Sometimes you really can’t do it. Sometimes your body really needs a rest. I will never tell you that you should ignore your doctor completely – it’s about knowing your body well enough to know when to push through and when to stand down.  So as you’re working out this week give it ten minutes and ask yourself if you really can’t or if the waaaaambulance is coming for you.  You’ll surprise yourself.

 

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