Archive for September, 2009|Monthly archive page

Recipe (Eggplant, tomato and basil)

I was just messing around in the kitchen this afternoon and this is what I came up with:

1 Tablespoon of olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
8 cloves of garlic, finely minced
3 small Italian eggplants, unpeeled, cubed (or one regular sized eggplant)
1 medium to large ripe tomato, diced
1 tsp (more or less) of dried basil
1 tsp (more of less) of dried oregano
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Heat the oil in a heavy saute pan.

Add onions and garlic, sauteing for 5 or so minutes
Add the eggplant
Add the tomato
Add the basil, oregano, salt, and pepper

Saute, then lower heat and cover, stirring frequently until eggplant has softened (maybe 15 or so minutes, maybe more).

Delicious (if you like eggplant that is).

The whole thing is 317 calories (who knew eggplant was so low in calories and so high in fiber?)! So, you can figure it out on the basis of how much you eat.

As is, this dish could easily serve four as a side or two for lunch!

You could also probably get by with less oil, if you added water or more tomato; you’ll just have to play with it.

Anyway: Yum! And super easy!

Amateur Fashion (strutting your stuff and changing your identity)

Tonight I am participating in my third amateur fashion show, sponsored by this super cool dress shop in White River Junction, VT: Revolution. Revolution is one of my favorite places to shop, not only because they showcase the work of local dressmakers, but also because the owner routinely makes runs to New York and consigns.

It’s fun, it’s hip, and it beats the heck out of all the department stores, which, in our neck of the woods, really are the only other option (and are, if you hate fluorescent lights and cheap mass manufactured clothes, not really an option at all). And I say that as a non-clothes snob. I’m also not a glamorous girly girl. In fact, I can honestly say that the last time I had make up on was during the last fashion show!


So why would an almost 40, professor who wouldn’t couldn’t apply her own base if her life depended on it and who has body “issues” voluntarily sign up for an amateur fashion show?

Precisely because I am an almost 40, professor who wouldn’t couldn’t apply her own base if her life depended on it and who has body “issues”

So today, I will get to be a girl. And not just any girl, but a girly girl. I have an appointment to get my hair done at 3:30 and then make up at 4:30. There are a couple of hours to kill (probably drinking cheap wine and pizza [or my green stuff, salad and natural peanut butter sandwich that I plan to pack in]) with the other models – many of whom will be older than me!

The call for models sums it up:

WANTED:  Exhibitionist-type personalities to parade the Revolutionary fall collections! All shapes, sizes, ages & genders are encouraged to participate.

Prerequisite: You must be a little brave and pretty on the inside.

I don’t know that I am exhibitionist or all that brave, but there’s something incredibly liberating about wearing something that you might never normally wear, made up to the hilt, and just putting it out there. Essentially, what you’re doing is saying to the world: This is me! This is my body!

If you’ve ever struggled with body-image, there’s nothing more rewarding than sashaying down a catwalk and having hundreds of people (most of whom you’ve never met) cheering you on. There’s lights, there’s music. It’s fun. It’s invigorating. And, as this is my third in as many years, it’s also addictive.2895934129_f3ec85d1c0

This year, I am wearing two very different outfits. Michael J didn’t go with me this time to pick out clothes, thus he has no idea what the night will bring, so I won’t describe them here. But instead of the slinky dresses that I’d never be caught dead in off the runway that I’ve chosen in years past, this year I selected two outfits (one pants and a top and the other a sweater and skirt) that I could actually see myself in, like, on a daily basis.

As soon as I got home, I thought: why did you do that? Why didn’t you pick something crazy and out there?

Because, I realized, this year, I’m going as me! I don’t need to be in disguise. This year, I am going to tap into my exhibitionist side while wearing clothes that make me look and feel like myself! Scary, huh? I am going to be brave on the outside and pretty on the inside.

I am going to take my time on the catwalk, I’ll be as sexy as possible in my casual clothes, and most importantly, I’ll remember to smile!

Even if you think that this seems silly or out there, if you have a hip clothing store in your area that uses local “models” to highlight their fall and spring collections, sign up! It’s fun! It’s exciting! And it’s the quickest and possibly best opportunity to explore different ways of being in your body and seeing yourself in a new light. Besides, when’s the last time you walked in the room only to find hundreds of friendly faces cheering you on? It’s a total rush!

It’s really not about amateur fashion, it’s about reconstructing your view of yourself. Seriously, if you ever get the opportunity, take it! You won’t be sorry!

Learning to listen (and to trust)

Some days I can live quite easily by the six small meals a day rule – you know the one, eat every two or three hours, something small, between 200-300 calories. In fact, that’s usually my preferred manner of eating.

But other days, it just doesn’t work for me.

Yesterday, in case you’re wondering, was one of the days that it just didn’t work out.

Let’s start at the beginning; why should we learn to listen to our bodies when it comes to food?

To put it simply, the body knows what it wants when it wants it. If you listen to your body (and not your emotions, the clock, your social calendar, or your friends) very rarely will you be led astray in terms of food. The trick is, distinguishing what your body wants from what your mind, your emotions, and the culture say you want.

When your body sends you a clear message – even if it doesn’t jive with the “expert” advice – listen to it. If not, you’ll be more likely to feel deprived, throw in the towel, and decide that the so-called experts don’t know much of anything. In fact, some of the experts know quite a bit, but they don’t necessarily know you. Not like you do. So if your body is telling you that it wants a certain amount of something or a particular something and you’ve done everything else right – drank some water, took a fifteen minute walk, took three deep breaths, ate some carrots or some other super low calorie food – then you should go ahead and have it. Because once it becomes a must in your mind, it’s too late. Have it, get it out of your system, let it go, and then move on.

As I said above: yesterday was one of those days.

Looking at my food diary for the last two (almost three years) it’s clear to see that my preferred intake of calories is between 1,500 and 1,800. When I’m trying to release weight – or if I’m just calibrating before or after a big dinner or a week with my parents – I tend to purposefully drop my calorie intake down to around 1,200. Some days it’s lower than that (closer to a 1,000) though sometimes it’s higher (closer to 1,400).

It’s rare that I have a day over 2,200; but it’s happened.

Yesterday I was starving. I’m not sure why. My calories the day before had been low, but not that low. Maybe it was the fact that I have moved back to my school schedule and have been getting up at 5:00 instead of 6:30 or 7:00. Maybe it’s because I’ve spent a lot of time out in the world lately, whereas I have spent most of the summer at home.

Regardless, I was ravenous. And even trying to do everything “right,” I still had polished off 1,100 calories before noon! (For those of you who aren’t good at math, let me help: that’s 73% of my preferred daily calorie intake – all before lunch.)

As it turned out, I actually had a pretty good food day despite the rough start. And when I went to bed at 10:30, I had actually only consumed 1.442 calories. You might be thinking, 342 calories isn’t all that much for twelve hours! And you might also be thinking about how the body goes into starvation mode when it hasn’t had anything to eat in over three or four hours. And you’d be right.

But in the spirit of listening to my body, I wasn’t hungry again until 4:30, when I had a medium braeburn apple and some carrots. Then, a few hours later, I had a bowl of lentil soup (massive protein and fiber hit) and a glass of petite syrah.

Then, after a couple of more hours during which I consumed a couple of cups of herbal tea, I went to bed and started over today.

Today, I have been back to what the experts recommend. It’s almost 4:00 and I’ve had four small meals.

I had my normal breakfast (255 calories), one of my normal snacks (240 calories), an apple (80 calories), one of my typical lunches (280 calories). And, notably, these have been spaced out every couple of hours or so.

The moral of this story: if you have a “bad” day, go ahead and have it. It’s just a day. Trust your body to know what it wants when it wants it. But also trust yourself to know that tomorrow is a new day and you – more than anyone else – know what you need to do get back on track.

I haven’t lost the fight, but the struggle is gone

For as long as I can remember, I have fought with my body. I have gone to the mat on a daily basis, literally as well as figuratively, in my attempt to lose weight.

A week or so ago, I decided to to try a new thought experiment – I was no longer going to have negative thoughts about my body. Whenever the stray negative thought did come into play, I would immediately let it go and focus, instead, on how amazing my body is. Because the human body, no matter what condition it’s in, it is truly amazing. If you stop and think about it – really think about what it does for you and what it allows you to do – it’s not only amazing, it’s awe-inspiring.

I had originally said that I was going to try this for a month; but after just a couple of weeks, I realize that this is a habit that I will cultivate for a lifetime.

My relationship with my body, with food, and exercise has become so simple. So easy. I no longer feel like I am fighting against myself or trying to force my body to do something that it doesn’t want to or can’t do. For the first time in my life, I feel like I am aligned with my body. My body and I are on the same team.

Yesterday I came home and I thought, “I have to exercise, because I only did yoga and K-bells and no cardio; I only burned 250 calories this morning!” But then I sat down and really got in touch with how I was feeling. I was tired. Truly and utterly exhausted. It wasn’t laziness, it was the natural response to being out on the world after too many weeks of being closeted at home. Instead of forcing myself to get up and do something, I meditated.

For those of you know me, please get up off the floor! I know you must think that the world is coming to an end about now what with the daily yoga (which also is awesome) and meditation, but try to contain your laughter and disbelief!

When I got up from where I had been sitting – quiet, eyes closed – for a little over thirty minutes, I felt truly refreshed. I actually felt better, but I still didn’t exercise, wanting to maintain the sense of renewal and the feeling of being truly at peace with myself and, seriously, my body.

Suffice it to say that I think the experiment is working. I can’t imagine what else it would be. It’s made such a huge difference. The fight-to-the-death-struggle that used to dominate my waking (and sometimes sleeping hours) around food and exercise is gone. Does that mean that I am doing whatever I want in terms of food and exercise? No, it means that for the first time in my life, I’m aligned with my body, I am listening to my body, and I am making more reasoned and loving decisions for us both.

Even if you think that I must have pulled something serious during my last plough to shoulder stand, I invite you to try this; it works: whenever you start to think any negative thoughts about yourself or your body, stop them as soon as they register, let them go, and acknowledge just how amazing you and your body truly are. Not how amazing that it would be if you lost another 15, 20, 30 pounds, but as it is at this moment! I think you’ll be surprised. I was.

The many smells of fat and exercise

This is more of an observation, a question, and, potentially, a request.

Have you ever noticed that fat really has a repulsive smell?

I’m not talking about frying bacon or sauteing onions in olive oil, but fat?

I remember jogging around the loop at Vanderbilt in the summer (well, it was more like the shuffle of a wounded animal to tell you the truth) and coming around Peabody Campus and hitting the wall of grease that surrounded the Kentucky Fried Chicken.

You could literally feel the grease that hung in the air; it coated your skin and the smell and even the taste filled your nose and lungs.

It’s been years, but I can still remember that smell – the cloying nature of it, held in place as it were by the pollution and humidity (shudder).

So, you might be wondering what this has to do with anything related to losing the last ten pounds. Well, here it comes: there’s been a lot of chatter lately about whether working out in one’s “fat burning zone” is just a lot of hooey.

The critics say that it’s better to work out at a higher heart rate because you burn more calories and if you burn more calories (even if a smaller percentage of them is fat) you will eventually burn the same number of fat calories, which seems to make sense. The proponents of the “fat burning zone” argue that your body burns fat more efficiently at this level and that when you work out at the higher level, you burn sugar and eventually muscle (which also makes sense).

Here’s the observation, as well as the question and, if you’re game, the request:

Observation: I’ve noticed that when I work out at the high end of my cardio zone (or above), which I used to do in spinning (HR 147-157), I would sweat a lot, but I didn’t necessarily smell afterward. However, when I work out for the same amount of time at the low end of my cardio zone (HR 130-142), I reek! I mean, seriously, it’s disgusting! My personal (non-scientific) theory is that the disgusting nasty smell (again, I’m being 100% honest here), which is disturbingly similar to the smell of KFC in the summer in the south, is the smell of my body burning fat, whereas the clean, almost sweet smell post spinning is the smell of my body burning sugar.

Question: Has anyone else experienced this?

Request: Would anyone else be willing to try this and let me know if they experience the same? Or, if you have any suggestions on what this might be about, I’d love to hear them!

As is probably evident by this post, I am perplexed yet, to tell you the truth, fascinated in a repulsed sort of way.

Dusting off old friends

As you might imagine, I have a ton of workout DVDs. Heck, I even have some old VHS tapes (including Billy Blanks’ original Tae-Bo program and Susan Powter’s “Lean, Strong, and Healthy“). It’s too bad I don’t have a VHS player anymore, because those were the best!

So, while I didn’t go all the way to 1993, I did go back to my workout routine from a couple of years ago: P90X, which is available from Beachbody.

Since I was just mixing it in, I pulled out KenpoX. KenpoX, which is the sixth of the twelve DVD set, is – for want of a better description – Tony Horton’s version of kickboxing.

Making sure I had my heart rate monitor securely fastened, I strapped on my 2lb weighted gloves and my 5lb ankle weights and, to use a derivative of Horton’s catch phrase, “Brought it!”

One reason why it’s a good idea to go back and do old workouts that you haven’t done in a long time is that it mixes things up. Another is that it provides a nice marker of where you are now in relation to where you were. Not surprisingly, since it’s been over a year since I went through P90X, there were things that were definitely harder than they used to be. My balance, for instance, is not as good as it was when I was in the thick of it. On the other hand, my horse stance was much deeper and much stronger than it ever was; I’m assuming that has to do with all of the curtsy lunges I’ve been doing in K-bells and as part of my own floor program that I designed from some of the my favorite routines (more on that later). During the vertical punching sequence, I could also see that my abs are much more defined than they used to be and I have definition throughout my core (especially in my sides). This was a particularly nice bonus, as I’m vain enough to think that that kind of thing is pretty darned cool!

So, if you’re stuck in a rut with your current exercise routine, whether it’s a DVD or a class or just a favored activity like running outdoors, swimming, or biking, trot out an old routine to mix it up. You can always try something new, but when you try something old – something you haven’t done in months, if not years – you actually get a much better picture of where you’ve been, where you are now (relatively speaking), and, if you’ve lost ground, the direction in which you need to go in order to catch back up and, hopefully, get ahead.

For me, I’ll keep doing what I’m doing in terms of legs and core, but I will definitely start incorporating more balance postures and exercises back into my workout! Revisiting KenpoX thus not only put me through my paces in terms of just being a kick-ass workout, but it also provided me with a reality check on my overall fitness and some insight on where I need to focus my attention in the future.

So if you’ve got an old box of workout DVDs or a bike that hasn’t seen the light of day in six months or more, dust them off and take them for a spin; you might be surprised! I know that I, for one, will be slipping KenpoX back into the routine. Who knows? There may be yet a fourth round of P90X in my future. It could happen.

15 Minute Results: Yoga (Day Three)

In my last post, I mentioned that I was looking for an easy and reliable way into yoga. Well, I may have found it! Rodney Yee & Marial Hemmingway’s 15 Minute Results:Yoga is great!


It’s short. It’s easy to follow. It’s totally invigorating. And it’s not “precious.” Instead, it’s two people doing yoga, who are obviously passionate about their craft and really enjoy each other. Some reviews have suggested it’s too chatty and that they prefer the Yee productions that are more scenic and have been voiced over. Personally, as a non-yoga adherent (at least not yet), it’s perfect. It’s like being at the gym with friends.

Additionally, if you are new to yoga, there is a lot of overlap between the total body, upper body, and lower body. Some reviewers have said there is too much overlap, but, again, as someone who is relatively new to yoga, I find the repetition useful.

It is pretty fast paced, but I don’t feel like I’m struggling all that much to keep up. Whenever I do lose my place, I just figure there’s room for improvement. Why invest in something if you can already do it perfectly right out of the box?

Overall, glad I got it and am looking forward to section four! When’s the last time anyone’s heard me say that about anything related to yoga?

Oh, and the other thing? It’s only 15 minutes! So if I feel my energy start to lag throughout the day or if I get stiff from sitting at the computer, I can always just do it again! I may even buy another copy for the office!

Still looking for an easy and reliable pathway into yoga

I went to Borders today and bought 15 Minute Results: Yoga with Rodney Yee and Mariel Hemingway. It looks pretty good. Fairly straightforward. There are supposedly four different routines, one for total body, upper body, lower body, and abdominal strengthening, but (to tell you the truth) the first three look remarkably similar! Though, given my skill at yoga, similarity is good. At least two of them include a little bit of rebounding, which is great not only for circulating lymph but also for elevating mood.

Regardless, surely I can do anything for fifteen minutes! Besides, I am determined to love it!

I’ll let you know how it works out for me!

UPDATE: I did the total body segment and at 15 minutes it was over, seemingly, before it even started! It’s actually not bad. Very, very doable! Will move onto upper body in the morning! Can’t wait! 😉

New Thought Experiment

For one week, I am not going to engage in any negative self-talk, most of which I am sad to say tends to be centered on my body and or my appearance!

Why? When you focus on the negative (regarding anything) you oftentimes end up manifesting the very thing that you’re trying to avoid! Sounds messed up, doesn’t it? But it’s true! Similarly, when you beat yourself up over your body or a food choice that you’ve made, you are, essentially, inviting feelings of sadness, disgust, or guilt – all of which invite more feelings of sadness, disgust, or guilt, which, in turn, invite eating even more crap and other forms of self-sabotage!

All that aside, I don’t like like it when other people are mean to me or judge me negatively for my choices or my appearance, so then why should I do it to myself? Simple answer: I shouldn’t! In this case it’s the Golden Rule turned inside out: treat yourself as you would treat others! Because, trust me, I’m much nicer and more accepting when it comes to my friends than I am when it comes to myself, which is totally messed up! This is not to say that I should be any less nice or accepting of them mind you, but I should at least give myself the same courtesy and respect!

Further, there has been so much written about the laws of attraction – about how what you focus your energy on comes true (or rather, you draw it to you at an unconscious level) that there must be something to it! Wouldn’t it suck to be creating – even at the subconscious level – the very thing that you want to avoid? So, I am only going to focus on the positive and, in the process, I am going to create the body I want – both consciously and subconsciously, live the healthy life that I want, and love myself unconditionally (always a plus)!

I am going to stop focusing on the negative and reduce the guilt and self-loathing that focusing on the negative brings! I am going to stop beating myself up, because doing so only makes me feel bad about myself, which is also no fun! Instead, I am going to focus on how wonderful my body is – how amazing it is – because no matter what I’ve done to it in the past, it gets me through the day, houses my spirit, allows me to communicate with friends and family, allows me to enjoy the world at a sensory level, etc. I know it sounds silly, but everything I am I owe to my body! Shouldn’t I be a little nicer to it? Shouldn’t I love it a little more than I have been in the past?

So, what does this mean exactly? Quite simply, it just means that whenever I start to have a negative thought about myself (particularly about my body), I am going to stop it and replace it with a positive thought.

It’s pretty simple – at least in theory! I figure it’s going to be a lot like meditation.

I used to think that meditation was about imagining yourself in a white room while being in a total state of transcendence – whatever that means! Once I started meditating, I realized that it’s really about clearing your head of thoughts and focusing on your breath. Whenever a thought comes in, you immediately let it go and go back to your breath. You may find yourself going down some thought road, but the minute you realize what you’re doing, you let it go and follow your breath. As you get better at meditation, your forays down thought roads become shorter and shorter and you periods where you are able to clear your mind and focus on your breathing get longer and longer. I imagine that this is going to be the same thing.

I imagine that some negative thoughts will creep in and when they do, as soon as I am aware of them, I will stop them in their tracks and replace them with something positive. It’s going to take practice, but eventually, it will become a habit, just like following your breath becomes the habit for those who regularly meditate. I think it’s all going to boil down to really tuning into my self-talk, recognizing the negative stuff as the garbage it is, remembering to stop it instead of just internalizing it (which, again, is the last thing you want), and replacing it with something new.

My goal is to try this for a week and then for another week and another week until it comes habit.

And it really shouldn’t be that hard now that I am aware of it, because my body is amazing! It’s amazing now and it was amazing when I weighed 232 pounds at age 16!

I mean think about it. Think about what it does for you every single day, every single minute of every single day! Think about all of the crap that you put into it and all of the things that you do to it – and it’s still there for you!

Think about that for a change and acknowledge what a good friend it’s been to you! Even if there have been times where you’ve felt betrayed by your body or you developed a condition or disease that you wish you hadn’t or that is somehow embarrassing to you. I mean cut your body some slack, because, truth be told, how many times have you betrayed your body? I, personally, can think of at least a couple of times (cough!) that I have treated my body like crap, most of them – but not all – involving a toilet and the expulsion of copious amounts of alcohol. The point being is that my body hasn’t abandoned me over that, so I really don’t feel that I have that much room to complain!

Regardless of the challenges you’ve faced in your relationship with your body in the past or the ones that you’re still facing, your body is an amazing machine…an amazing friend. Try treating it as you would any cherished friend that you’ve had since birth. Try treating it with the respect and admiration that it and that you deserve and see what happens.

Feel free to join me in this and let me know how it works for you! I’d love to hear about it!

The Perfect Workout

I just had the most awesome workout! Everything about it was good. The exercise, the music, the post workout stretch – even the foam rolling (which is always a drag). And even the post-workout lunch!

Why was it so good? Not sure. It may be that I had taken yesterday off and was therefore more rested. Maybe it was because I’d engaged in some pre-workout creativity, so I had something to think about and mull over. I actually have a lot of writing to do after this and all of the extra oxygen flowing to the brain really helped to solidify some of the ideas that I had been grappling with. I remember a friend of mine used to carry a voice recorder with him when he ran, because he got all of best ideas while exercising. I believe it.

Anyway, I did a little stretching warm up and then jumped on the Nordic Track Classic Pro Skier. I may have mentioned this before, but one of the things that I like about the Nordic Track is that it doesn’t give you anything. It’s no help whatsoever. Unlike a spinning bike or a treadmill (or an an elliptical) that pulls you along at least for a couple of seconds, the Nordic Track is all you. The minute – the second – that you stop moving, you literally stop. I used to hate that about it, but now I find it quite motivating. Because like many things in life, if you don’t do it, it’s not going to get done.

On the stereo was Linkin Park. I started with their first album, Hybrid Theory and let it bleed into the first three songs of their Live EP at the Soho Apple Store, which is available exclusively at itunes ending with the acoustic version of My December.

I then did a set of “Ladder Downs,” which are essentially 10 jumping jacks, 10 plank jacks, 9, jumping jacks, 9 plank jacks, 8 jumping jacks, 8 plank jacks, and so on until you get to 1 jumping jack and 1 plank jack – without rest. That’s a lot of jumping and plank-jacks! I got this idea from a video blog post that I ended up on when I clicked on an banner ad with the headline: Bikini Bootcamp! Now, I have never had on a bikini, but I never said that I didn’t believe in miracles. These ladies, whose company is called “Keep it Tight Fitness,” have a number of free exercise videos that you can check out. The chair squats look nasty. If anyone tries them, let me know!

I then finished off the workout (heart rate up) with K-Bells: Total Body Blast. It felt great.

I burned 725 calories and then did about 15 minutes of foam rolling.

Then another 16 ounces of water and lunch: a hummus and veggie pita pocket and a large spinach salad with roasted beets. Love it!

What’s your best workout sequence? And equally important, what do you listen to and how do you refuel afterward?

New Smoothie Recipe: Chocolate and Banana Hemp

Recently I’ve been experimenting with different smoothie recipes and today’s was a winner. It was exceptionally good.

Because of all of the controversy around soy, I’ve started supplementing my smoothie making with almond drink and substituting the protein powder with hemp powder+fiber. Although the almond drink is really just liquid (only 2 grams of protein), the hemp+fiber product has a ton of protein and fiber! It also has the advantage of being a raw food product, with all of the benefits that entails. In fact, other than the almond drink, which is really just a carrier, all of the ingredients are raw!

I actually buy all of the powdered ingredients on, where I can get the hemp product in bulk. They have a re-ordering program for grocery products where they give you a discount if you sign up for automatically recurring shipments! Who knew?

1 cup of unsweetened chocolate Almond Breeze
1 banana
2 trays of mini-ice cubes

(crush ice)


3 Tbs of hemp+fiber powder
throw in some Stevia Plus
2 Tbs of Cacao Powder
1 Tbs of Maca Root
a serving of Chocolate Emerald Balance
1 tsp of spirulina powder, which you can get just about anywhere, including the bulk section of most health food stores.

Use the pulse feature to make sure that all of this powder is well mixed.

I love them, though I admit that the first one I had was not the best. It takes some experimentation, but once you figure it out, it’s worth it! I am much more satisfied during the day when I start my day off with this concoction and I have a ton more energy! I still have my spiru-tein shakes, but to tell you the truth, I have downgraded those to dessert!

P.S. Apparently Nutiva makes a Hemp Shake product, which would be easier to make. I haven’t tried it out yet, but it’s on my list. As soon as I do, I’ll let you know!

Getting my groove back

Usually my summers are the time that I reconnect with my body, the last two years through doing P90X with my favorite workout partner and really getting serious about food.

Not this summer.

This summer has been about travel and disruption. It’s been about illness (my 19 year old cat had a stroke two months ago). It’s been about tubing and fluids and shots. In all fairness, it’s also been about vacations, wine tours and the forsaking of valued identities (that is, spinning instructor) for the sake of overall balance in my body.

In some ways, this summer has felt like more of a struggle than the spring, even though I was overwhelmed with work in the months of March, April, and June in ways that I am simply not at the moment. There’s still a lot of work to do, more than I have time for in fact, but the deadlines aren’t as frenetic. The penalties for not getting it done seem less severe.

I made three trips to California (from the east coast) in the last two months; two with Michael and one alone. On these trips, I learned how to pack food and exercise gear for travel. I learned how to use my new iPhone to broadcast via Twitter (KJLively), though I couldn’t quite manage to blog remotely, hence the long gaps on occasion. I also learned how to use the mapping function to find grocery stores and how to make salads in hotel rooms with cutlery borrowed from in-house restaurants or once, when I was desperate, lifted off of someone’s room service tray that had been left in the hall. I washed the knife with shampoo and dried it with a washcloth. I learned to travel with a blender and, when necessary, how to pack soy milk for shakes in airtight containers in my checked baggage. I made peanut butter sandwiches ahead of time and sealed them in baggies before placing them in hard plastic containers for safe keeping.

I lost track of calories at weddings and conferences, mostly through my consumption of alcohol. However, I also learned the finer points of most cardio machines in most hotel fitness rooms. I can get my heart rate up and keep it there on a treadmill going 3.6 miles an hour (a brisk walk) on an incline of 6. The recumbent bike – somewhat surprisingly – is harder than it looks. And the StairMaster – somewhat ironically – is less so.

Now that I am home, I am attempting to revisit my old routines. The nordic track, followed by K-Bells (either Cardio Balanced or Total Body Blast) or Jillian Michaels (either the 30 or No More Trouble Zones). I am also using my foam roller once or twice a day to smooth out the knots in my abductors and tennis balls to dissolve the rocks in my calves.

Throughout all this, my body is changing and not always in ways that I would chose.

I keep trying to skirt around negative words like “losing ground”, “getting old” and “betrayed” and use more positive words such as “journey”, “process”, “maturing,” and “natural”, instead. I know it’s all in the framing! Luckily I have good friends around to remind me when I slip up and return to old patterns, only to engage in the familiar ritual of self-recrimination.

Needless to say, I am not going for perfection at the moment, but I am trying to take my victories where I can find them.

Tonight, I bent at the waist and – keeping my legs straight – touched the floor. I didn’t scrape the floor with the tips of my fingers, mind you. Instead, I put my whole palms on the floor. I’ve never been able to do that. I went downstairs and immediately showed Michael. His response: It will be worth trying that again in the morning!

You know what? It’s progress and I’ll take it.

Self’s 2009 Healthy Food Awards

Check out the winners here!

Also, check out Self’s list of 30 snacks under 200 calories!

Can you tell I have snacks on the brain?

Product Recommendation – Food

Admittedly, the first time I tried these things, I wasn’t a fan. The second time, however, yum! You may be wondering why I would try something again that I didn’t like the first time? It’s simple. They were on sale. They are way better for you than the replacement product (that is, potato chips), and I am once again traveling and in need of snack options. And, truth be told, there are only 3.5 servings per bag, so if I were to eat the whole bag in a day (not hard to do on a 6 hour plane ride), it’s really not that bad. I mean it’s not great, but it’s not terrible either!

Okay, here it is: Humbles (not as in pie, which – for those of you who know me know – would never be on the menu), but as in baked hummus chips!

There are several flavors, including Roasted Red Pepper; Olive Oil, Lemon & Feta; and Sesame Garlic. I am now a fan of the Sesame Garlic.

60% less fat than potato chips (4 grams per serving)! 120 calories, 1 gram of fiber, 3 grams of protein. And, importantly, there is only one item on the list of ingredients that sounds scary! (See one could literally eat the whole bag for 420 calories and 12 grams of fat, which is way less bad for you than a double scoop of Ben & Jerry’s!)

Just so you know, I found them cheaper than they are listed on-line at the local Coop, but as I already noted they were on sale! Give them a try and let me know what you think!

Alternate markers of health

I went to the doctor today and while the scale was up (I’m sure it was the shoes and the fleece!), my blood pressure was 106/50 and my heart rate was 42! Without a second glance, the nurse said something about how that’s a great resting heart rate, though not uncommon among athletes! I wanted to jump up and down like Rudolph after Clarice tells him he’s cute: She thinks I’m an athlete! She thinks I’m an athlete!timespacetoys_2066_102418502

Pizza fans beware!

As much sodium as 27 small bags of Frito’s?! Trust these guys to put it terms that are easy to understand!