Spirit of yoga
Yoga's becoming more important to me lately. I started with the Firm Power Yoga, which is a mere series of ashtanga/power yoga poses treated as athletic stretches. The yoga names are not even mentioned.
From there I moved on to Budokon Beginning Practice, which is a brief series of sun salutations with a couple of warrior poses, then some punches and kicks and a 'standing meditation' (which he talks through).
Then I got Rodney Yee's Total Body Power Yoga. It, too, is ashtanga but a more soothing and peaceful presentation. Next came Rodney Yee's Yoga Burn. This one started something in me. In this workout, you do vinyasas very slowly, three times each. I found myself more able to concentrate on the breath and become more meditative during this workout.
Seeking to increase my flexibility, I bought Ravi & Ana's Ultimate Stretch Workout. I just bought it because of the name and boy was I surprised when this workout involved chants, mantras and even singing! Kundalini yoga is very unlike power yoga, but I found I enjoyed it, so I bought Kundalini for Beginners and Beyond. DH and I did that workout with our mats side by side on Sunday afternoon. That was lovely.
So, I've been reading a book by Kathy Phillips called The Spirit of Yoga. It a beautiful book. I also checked out BKS Iyengar's classic The Illustrated Light on Yoga and will read it as soon as I've finished the Phillips book. Then I'm going to see if I can find Vanda Scaravelli's Awakening the Spine. There's a photo of Vanda Saravelli in Spirit of Yoga doing a standing back bend at age 83 and she looks absolutely fantastic. Her body looks like a wave of the ocean. Remarkable. (The link I provided is not the photo in the book, but that's an elderly Scaravelli in a backbend pose, so you get the idea. Imagine her standing up, bending back with her shoulder blades about a foot from the backs of her own knees. Lord!)
When I first started, I didn't like it at all. I tend to be fairly inflexible and I have tight hamstrings. All the poses were a strain and my problems with wanting to be a perfectionist/hating to feel like a failure would really kick in during my yoga attempts. I guess that's why I steadily kept buying more workouts and trying them. I'm still stiff as a board and find lots of poses a challenge, but I'm learning to deal with that. One good thing I'm seeing in yoga is that it certainly helps to teach patience and grounding in the moment. I am only beginning to break the surface on this personal revelation about yoga.
I'm still not ready for classes. I know some enthusiasts will say I need a teacher, but I am not ready. I will continue a careful solitary practice at home for now. It's enough, and I'm not going to hurt myself.
I intend to do some research into the best way to fit daily yoga practice into my cross training rotation. Any thoughts?
Toxic co-worker and the love-me syndrome
Is there a name for it when you know someone doesn't like you, when they go out of their way to turn everything into an oblique (or even a direct) insult of you, they talk about you, make fun of you and in general show nothing but disrespect for you...but you find yourself bending over backward to try to be nice to this person? Even though every time you try you just get kicked in the teeth again? And even though you know this person is never going to change, you just can't seem to help trying to be friendly to this person, to give her one more shot at being a decent human being, only to have your feelings hurt again.
Oh yeah, I remember, I discovered the name for it years ago during my divorce. It's called being codependent, isn't it.
I have this toxic co-worker and she seems to take great joy in belittling, mocking and hurting me in front of others, in front of customers and even just one-to-one. I can't tell you how many times I've coached myself, 'You can't control the behaviour of others,' I tell myself, 'you can only control how you respond to their behaviour. Let them own the problem.' Which all sounds good, but turns into the wah-wah sound of the voice of Charlie Brown's teacher when it counts.
It's just all so petty and stupid. I can't even say that she feels threatened or jealous of other people. I think her arrogance is real and all-consuming. I don't think for a minute that she feels insecure and just lashes out to hurt people in self-defense. I have no doubt that she enjoys hurting her co-workers and that she has completely bought in to her own mythology. 'Why man, she doth bestride that narrow library like a colossus', with apologies to Shakespeare. If only we could all be as all-knowing, all-mighty, as chesty and own as many pairs of stillettos as she...
Okay so I'm bitter. I'm fed up. I need techniques to disengage emotionally, and don't need to be told to take it to my line manager. This is petty and personal crap too subtle for line managers, I think. Please help me before one of us gets hurt. And it ain't gonna be me, sistahs!
Can you believe it? It's raining again today. The sun came out briefly yesterday, but fat lot of good that did me since I was at WORK. On a SUNDAY! But never mind.
Weigh-in this morning was 134.8.
DH is away in Nottingham overnight for a training course, so it's me on my own tonight. Maybe I'll get an extra yoga workout in. Ha! By the time I get home tonight at 7.30 I'll probably be too knackered to do anything at all!
Please see my other blog for The Beautiful Life (Part Two).
Somebody hide my credit card!
I am addicted to ordering new workouts!
I just got Kundalini for Beginners and Beyond yesterday (did it this morning, by the way. It is very good!) And today, I ordered two Cathe DVDs for Dad to bring with him when he comes over week after next. I ordered Kick Max and Kick, Punch & Crunch, two of the best kickboxing videos available, so I'm told. I don't have a kickboxing workout and thought it would be fun and useful workout to add to my training regime.
Now seriously, that is enough for a few months! Somebody stop me!
Day off, and I'm livin' in the moment
I just did my favourite Tracie Long Training workout, 'Better Burn Better Buns', or as I like to call it, 'Badda Bing Badda Boom.' (Click the link to see a preview on Tracie Long's website.) I don't know why I avoid these workouts like the plague. When I finally force myself to put one in the DVD and do it, I really enjoy it. Tracie is a nazi cow, but if I didn't feel that way about her she wouldn't be doing her job, now would she?
It's raining again today. June was the rainiest June 'in living memory' in the UK, and it's been raining so far every day of July as well. What the heck! I made it through the gloomy dark winter only to face a gloomy dark summer. It's been in the low 60s for weeks and weeks. I used to wonder why on TV I would see people in the UK going around in jackets in summer time. Well, now I know. Still, better to be cool than too hot.
Today's my day off, as I have to work Saturday and Sunday--then Monday it's my 9.00-7.00 day! Where's the justice, eh! On the other hand, I still work fewer hours than I did when I was teaching. I do 37 hours a week at the library, and when I was teaching it was just never ending, always hanging over my head, and even creeping into my dreams. Ugh! School year spent pining for summer, summer spent dreading school year. Never again.
Ouch, my butt muscles (or should I say 'glutes') are already starting to get sore! Badda bing badda boom, nazi cow strikes again!
Have you ever asked yourself why you keep 'sabatoging' your weightloss or fitness efforts? Listen to this, from The Beautiful Life by Simon Parke:
"Your history has done its work, influencing every decision you make. You hate the hold that history has over you, but strangely, you make no plans to leave. History has made you a prisoner, but you aren't trying to escape. There is a nasty fear inside you, that if you leave the past behind you might actually cease to exist. So you loiter there, whether in subservience or defiance. "
Do you sabatoge yourself at every turn? Do you wake up with good intentions but have a chicken chalupa hanging out of your mouth by half past eleven? Do you 'resign yourself to the fact' that you are just fat and weak? (subservience) Or maybe you get mad at the 'food fascists' and 'fattists' telling you what to eat and how to look? (defiance) Maybe all that is just your ego, that compulsive liar, who supports and applauds the surging energies of feeling that run through you, making you believe that you are your emotions. Your ego is insecure and frightened, and will systematically affirm all your emotions and make you believe that there is nothing else to you. That you should submit to your emotions, because doing so will affirm your individual value. Liar. It's the ego that fears it will cease to exist. You will go on, for the real you is indestructible.
So does this mean that stopping self-sabatoge is a matter of letting go of the past and focusing on the future? No. Simon says:
"The other non-existent refuge is the future. For some of us, the future is more compelling than the past. We are those who like to move on. The future is the land of opportunity. We wish we could break out and make waves in the big blue beyond. And we become those who make plans. 'You have to live the dream!' as they say.
"But this is not so. That is our ego talking again. To live the dream is a romantic notion, and a foolish one. It makes good movies but terrible life.
"Let any dream you harbour take care of itself, without undue encouragement from you. Instead, go about the simple if demanding business of being in the present. The dreams you have may well be given to you. They often are, and perhaps in a manner better than you ever dared imagine. But if it is to happen, and if it is to be good, it will emerge in its own time, while you seek the only good available--the kingdom presently within, for it is there that reality is changed."
Right. So should you just forget all this weight loss business, this target setting, this point counting? Not exactly.
You should live in the moment. When you sit down to that bowl of beautiful brown rice and stir-fried vegetables, you breathe in the smells. You feel grateful to the earth that feeds you, to the people you love who are sitting at the table with you. You focus on the flavours of the food, and consider the way that it is nourishing your body. When you exercise, you feel the joy of motion, you feel grateful for the gift of movement, you consider the miracle of all your body's systems working together in ways you can't imagine.
You don't have to get all Zen about it if that freaks you out. But you get joy from being in the present.
The only reality is me lifting this chicken chalupa to my face. Am I aware of this moment, or am I sleepwalking through it? I bet if I was aware of this moment, I'd have chosen something better for myself and my world than a stupid fast food meal.
The only reality is me sitting completely zoned out in front of my TV. If I knew that this moment was the only reality, that it was all I had, that it was all I would ever get, would I choose to spend it shlubbed out, ignoring the pain in my body caused by lack of motion, and the loved ones around me? If I were awake to the reality of present moment living, I bet I could find something better to do with that moment.
That's not to say you can't be awake to the moment and enjoy a less healthy option, or even a night shlubbed out in the front of the telly. But are you aware of what you're doing? Are you awake?? Are you enjoying it, deep down, beyond ego, in the deepest essence of you? Are you experiencing it in all your senses? Are you reflecting on how deeply content it is making you?
Present moment living seems harder than counting points, resisting a cookie, or making a meal at home when you're tired and it would be easier to buy fast food because you 'deserve it'. Being in the present moment is both difficult and simple at the same time. The more you do it, the easier it gets, and you find that all sorts of things start to fall into place that you wouldn't have thought could have anything to do with paying attention to yourself living your life. What you eat is only a small part of it.
Hey, I'm not perfect and not a guru--I had a half a dark chocolate bar yesterday!--but I tell you what. That sure was one good chocolate bar. I shared half of it with my friend, I enjoyed every moment of eating it and I don't feel one bit guilty about it.
I wish I could live in the moment every moment.
The Beautiful Life
I've been reading a wonderful little book called The Beautiful Life: Ten New Commandments, Because Life Could Be Better by Simon Parke. (Click on the title to be taken to my other blog where you can read more from this book.) If you are attracted to Buddhist thought, this book will resonate with you. If not, you probably will think it is a load of twaddle. Personally, I love it. The author was a priest in the Church of England for 20 years, has written for radio and TV, and now works in a supermarket. How Zen is that!
If you're wrestling with meeting your goals, ponder this:
"There is nothing wrong with instant in itself. Instant can be good. But as a rule of thumb, if it is instant, it probably doesn't matter very much. Rome was not built in a day. The ocean liner cannot turn on a sixpence. And the human being is both bigger and more complex than both.
"There's nothing wrong with results either. Results can be good. But they are never a promise, and never the reason for proceeding. In a society that worships the god of immediate and demonstrable outcomes, results have iconic status. But to seek results above all else is to step on a treadmill of insecure and misplaced striving, in which contortions are more evident than health. You are worth more than that. There are things you can work towards, but nothing you need strive for.
"Nothing truly valuable can ever be made into a target."
Now if that doesn't hit you where it counts you need to go back and read it again!
I'm so glad I ran across this book in my meanderings through the library today. (And to think I was actually looking for sex memoirs to add to a sordid little display I made yesterday--I've already had to top it up three times and will have to change it soon as all the raunchy books are gone now! Pervy folk!)
Strike and a spike
The postal strike seems to be over now, according to the Royal Mail website. Somewhere in limbo of striking postal workers floats my US passport and UK nationality certificate. One can only hope they make it to the Home Office and back to me intact. I am waiting anxiously for acknowledgement of receipt.
My weight spiked this morning after an exciting three day run of weighing 134.2. This morning it was 136.0. Back in the weight loss days, a big spike usually precipitated a drop, but these days it usually just means I ate too much salt.
I've looked back over my rotations for the last three months and realize I have been doing only 3 cardio workouts per week. I wonder if I should design a 'Cardio Bunny' rotation for next month instead of the cardio-yoga piggy back rotation I've worked on. Maybe I could design Cardio Bunny for September.
Oops, gotta go to work! Hope everyone is doing well.
End of June Assessment
Wahoo! For the first time this YEAR, my monthly average is below 135. It is-------drumroll---------134.7.
I did manage to squeeze out two more pushups this month, for a total of 22 in one go. Considering I set a New Years goal to be able to do 20 by December, I'd say I'm doing okay there. Too bad I also said I wanted to weigh below 130!
Measurements are all pretty much the same.
Today I bought a dress in a half-price sale to wear to our friend's wedding in August. I thought it was immodestly low in the neckline, but my friend Gail assured me I was being ridiculous. That's easy for her to say, she's got actual cleavage. For me, it's nothing but chest. Anyway, I'll post a photo and you can see what you think. Have to wait for hubby to get home and take one, though.
I will attempt to describe it. (Please excuse my lack of fashion knowledge...) It's a 100% silk floral print. The material is a golden sandy beige background with a rather traditional looking floral print of cream flowers with pink and darker pink accents on the floral design. It has a fairly plunging V neckline and a dirndl waistline with a point at the top and the bottom of the dirndl part. There are 5 fabric-covered buttons going down the front of the dirndl part. The skirt is A-line with a bit of a flarey kick at the hem. The dress has a thin tie in the back. The sleeves are slightly puffy with a button cuff just above the elbow. It's exactly what you would imagine a 40s retro silk tea dress would look like. I think that's what it is! I got it for £22.50 and plan to wear it with strappy pink heels and a chunky amber necklace. What do you think?
Wisdom from an Ironman Triathlete
...and a vegan one at that!
I've been reading a book called 'Thrive', by vegan triathlete Brendan Brazier. Here are some top tips from good old Bren.
1. All you need for optimal health is light resistance training with weights one day, up to an hour of cardio/aerobic exercise the next, three of each spanning the week. Much beyond that is in the name of something else. Fitness perhaps, or just enjoyment. (Notice that this is still 6 days a week. There's no getting around it, folks. You don't have to do a triathlon, but you gotta move it move it.)
2. Make an effort to get exposure to natural sunlight every day. This is how our bodies synthesize vitamin D, essential for the absorption and utilization of calcium.
3. Starting about an hour before bed, make a concerted effort to limit exposure to light. Dim the lights until just sufficient for navigation. This encourages the release of melatonin, a potent antioxidant that reduces alertness and slightly lowers the body temperature, preparing the body for sleep. The last 20 minutes before bed, Brendan suggests meditation. We could at least turn off the TV and sit quietly!
4. "Raw, alkalising, enzyme-intact, living foods have become the foundation of my diet. Switching my main carbohydrate source from refined starches to whole fruits and vegetables was my starting point. The majority of my energy needs are met by a wide variety of fruits and whole grains. Raw nuts and seeds, with an emphasis on flax and hemp, as well as legumes, supply me with protein and essential fatty acids. The majority of my vitamins and minerals come from fresh, raw vegetables--dark leafy green ones in particular."
5. Overtraining can cause increase in body fat. The optimal amount of training is the amount your body can recover from. That will be depend on many factors. You increase your ability to recover by eating nutrient-dense foods and getting adequate sleep. If you try reducing calories in response to increased body fat during training, you just exacerbate the problem. You will be in the strange position where eating less food is making you gain more fat. This is because of chronically elevated cortisol levels and exhausted adrenal glands.
6. Premium food is the key to regeneration, particularly when stress is high. (Either physical or mental stress). When rebuilding cells, the body can go one of two ways. If it has the resources, the new cells will be strong and healthy. If it 'building blocks' are drawn from only sub-standard sources, the body has no choice but to fabricate weaker cells. The is called degeneration, also known as premature aging. This is why you can't just say, 'I did my exercise today, I'll treat myself to a cheeseburger' or 'A calorie is a calorie, I will have the chocolate cake for 5 WW points' and expect to look and feel younger and stronger.
7. Which foods are best?
Foods rich in chlorophyll, (ie, all green leafy vegetables) which cleanse and oxygenate the blood.
Fiber. It helps control cortisol levels by stabilizing insulin and ensuring quick exit of body wastes.
A complete source of protein with an excellent spectrum of amino acids. A raw plant-based source such as hemp or pea protein is excellent. Protein is an optimal regeneration facilitator.
A balance of omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids for healthy skin, etc.
These foods are alkaline and will minimize acidity in the body. (Lactic acid is built up from physical exertion, general stress and acid-forming foods and can cause muscular stiffness, fatigue and joint pain. Chronic acidity in the body will lead to blood and cellular tissue degeneration, ie, premature aging.) Acid is a natural by-product of metabolism and movement, but continued elevated levels of acid in the body can cause osteoporosis (As the body must maintain neutral blood, it will pull alkaline calcium from the bones as a survival mechanism. This is the true cause of osteoporosis), kidney stones, loss of bone mass, reduction of growth hormone, loss of lean body mass and increase in body fat production.
See how important it is to eat your veggies!!!
Yesterday I posted my UK passport application, accompanied by my US passport and British Certificate of Naturalisation! I walked in the post office with my entire (dual) identity, walked out with nothing and £76 poorer. Argh! And guess what--the Royal Mail is experiencing a strike today. What kind of dumb f*** luck is that, eh? Hopefully my parcel will be unaffected.
I'm supposed to get acknowledgement of receipt within a few days and my passport in 10 to 14 working days. If I don't hear from Identity and Passport Service in 14 days (that's 12th of July--it's marked on my calendar!) I am to call and quote my reference number and 'make enquiries.' Argh, argh argh!! So it's just flat out of my hands for the next two weeks. Literally.
To add fun to the game, I got on the scale this morning and it said 137.6. Curious, as yesterday it was 134.0. Got off, switched it off, turned it back on, got back on. 136.4. Hm. Off, on, on again. 136.0. Did it again. 136.0. Okay then. We'll go with 136.0. Some mornings are just weird. (I did realise yesterday, though, that I actually ate no vegetables. How does a vegan go a day with no vegetables? Easy:
breakfast--toast and coffee
snack--coco loco nakd bar (eaten while queuing in post office)
lunch--chickpea dahl and brown rice
(after work--60 minute workout)
dinner--vegan sloppy joe and 4 oven chips
(then back to work to lead the local reading group at the library)
snack after getting back from reading group--bowl of cereal with soy milk
No fruit, no veg. Up two, perhaps three, pounds overnight. It's like magic! It's like those sea monkeys you used to see advertised in the back of comics! Fun for the whole family!)
DH is away for the weekend, so I'll be home alone. It's supposed to rain all weekend, so I'll be indoors most of the time. I plan to work out and do the laundry. Dream big!