Archive for July, 2010|Monthly archive page

Shining the Light On the Ghost of Gym Teachers Past

A few weeks ago (or maybe months at this point), I told you that I had started doing High Intensity Interval Training, otherwise known as H.I.I.T.

I was pretty excited about it and I told you that I would keep you posted. Part of the reason I was excited about it is that it gives you little bursts of energy – bursts of energy that may very well have saved the life of Michael J’s super-friendly, but not overly bright feline, Harlequin. But that’s another story and one that I’ve shared before.

Since that fortuitous day, my love of H.I.I.T. has dwindled.

1) It’s hard.
2) It’s not nearly as fun as spinning.
3) Did I mention that it’s hard?

Or at least that’s the story I kept telling myself – all the while ignoring the fact that I loved how I felt once I was done (partly because it is hard and I really felt like I accomplished something) and how I could literally see and feel myself getting stronger by the day.

So, I sat down and really thought about it. Why do I dislike this so much? Why do I have such strong internal resistance to this particular form of exercise? I mean, seriously. I am a woman who did P90X (three times) with more enthusiasm. So what’s the deal?

The clues to the answer to my question came from two places.

One, I was bemoaning my fate to my Aunt Linda and she said, “I think I might actually like this. It sounds like the stuff we used to do in school. And it doesn’t sound like you need a lot of fancy equipment.”

Ding.

Something resonated deep down in the depths of my psyche.

Two, I’ve been working with a personal coach who is awesome. She’s been having me do written exercises that will help me bust through the resistance I have to doing certain things in my real life – things like reviewing articles, starting my book, cleaning the house, doing H.I.I.T. exercises.

During the one of the exercises, one of the steps is to write down all of the negative emotions and thoughts associated with doing H.I.I.T. When I got to that part, I heard that same low tone. And all of a sudden, I was back at the gym at Carver Middle School, during the week of the the Presidential Fitness Test – thank you Ronald Reagan. May you be best remembered for terrorizing poor, clumsy, fat kids across America.

I realized that not only did H.I.I.T. remind me of middle school gym class in general (just like they had reminded my Aunt of hers), but it also reminded me of one particular instance of middle school gym class that was so personally horrifying that I didn’t even tell my sister about it until a few months ago (some 27 years after the fact). And when I told Michael J., sometime after that, I cried.

Methinks herein lies the problem.

I’m putting this out there – shining the light on my demons, if you will – to see if I can exorcise them once and for all and hopefully, get on with the act of exercising!

At my middle school, we had a female coach (Coach Holmes) and a male coach (Coach Rogers). Technically, I was in Coach Rogers’ class, who was a very sensitive and perceptive soul. However, during the week of the Presidential FItness Tests, all of the girls went to Coach Holmes’ office to get weighed and measured and all the boys reported to Coach Rogers’. Unfortunately, Coach Holmes, though nice enough, was not nearly as sensitive or perceptive as her male counterpart.

Imagine, if you will, a group of middle-school aged girls standing in line as the teacher for all intents and purposes shouts out your weight to her student aid, who just happened to be her very attractive, athletic, and if memory serves reigning kick-pin champion/cheerleader daughter, Kendra.

I step onto the scale.

Dead silence.

I look at Coach Holmes.

She looks at me.

We look at the scale: 180.

“It must be broken,” she says.

“It’s not broken,” I say. “Why would it be broken now when it wasn’t broken when anyone else stepped on it?”

“That can’t be right,” she says.

“It’s right,” I assure.

Kendra, bless her heart, looks embarrassed.

“Go down to Coach Roger’s office and use his scale. That can’t be right.”

“It’s right.”

“Just do down to Coach’s office and try it again.”

I remember stepping off the scale and marching, face beet red, down to the other end of the cavernous gym, thinking I had never been so mortified in my life.

I was wrong.

Halfway down the length of the basketball quart, I hear Coach Holmes yell, “Coach Rogers, I’m sending Lively down there to weigh, because I think this scale is broken.”

The entire gym fell silent and 60 pairs of eyes landed on my chubby body simultaneously.

Someone laughed.

(Do you blame them?)

I kept my head up and walked steadily into Coach Roger’s office.

“Lively?”

“It’s not broken,” I said.

And he nodded silently and laid a sympathetic hand on my arm. “I’ll tell her.”

Maybe there is something valuable about airing your dirty laundry, because as I tell it, it doesn’t seem that bad. But as I carried it around with me for years, it was one of my most tightly guarded miseries. I’m hopeful that tomorrow, when it’s time to exercise, I will not feel that lingering sense of dread, reluctance, or resistance.

By putting it out there for the world to see, to share, and perhaps even to think, “What’s she complaining about? That’s nothing,” maybe it will, indeed, become nothing.

As always, I’ll let you know.

And if any of my old middle school friends read this and you ever happen to see Coach Holmes, give her my best. Because I realize, in retrospect, that that’s what she was only trying to do.

Refurbishing Old Favorites: KJ’s Raw “Rice” Salad

One of the things that transitioning to a majority raw diet has taught me is that you need to be able to eat at least some of the things that you used to love when you were eating cooked food.

Sometimes that means just going ahead and eating it, as I did the other night when I had a delicious part-cooked part-raw meal at my friend Meg Maker’s house or as I did last night, when I met some former students for dinner at the Elephant Walk.

Other times, however, it means learning to refashion (or even refurbish) old cooked favorites.

A couple of weeks ago, I started thinking about a salad that a friend of mine used to make in graduate school. It wasn’t a traditional salad, as its base ingredient was cooked sushi rice. I believe the ingredients were rice, vinegar, avocado, crumbled nori sheets, and cucumber. I’m pretty sure that it came from one of the Moosewood Cookbooks and may have been called Sushi Salad or something like that.

Well, I’ve been thinking about that salad a lot, and this is what I came up with:

KJ’s “Rice Salad”

Ingredients:

2 cups cauliflower, “riced” in the high speed blender or food processor
1 small cucumber, peeled and diced
1/2 – 1 small avocados, diced
1 medium carrot, finely grated
6 – 8 stalks of baby asparagus, snapped into pieces (optional)
1 tomato, diced (optional)
2 Tablespoons of raw organic dulse flakes (or crumbled nori sheets)
Sesame oil, to taste
Braggs amino acid, to taste

Directions:

Rice the cauliflower by cutting it small bite size pieces, then hitting the pulse button until you have reached desired consistency.

Add all of your other ingredients in layers, then drizzle on the sesame oil and the Braggs amino acids, to taste.

Gently toss to mix the flavors.

It’s fast, easy, delicious, healthy, and absolutely gorgeous. What more could you want?

Enjoy!

Searching for a new love

It’s important to love what you do – else you won’t do it.

When you find something you love, it’s not a chore. You feel awesome afterwards. You enjoy it in process. You look forward to doing it. And you miss it when you’re not doing it.

When you haven’t found something you love (but you’re making yourself do it anyway) it’s always a chore. You don’t feel awesome afterwards (if you’re lucky, you just feel relieved). You don’t enjoy it in process. You dread doing it and are therefore susceptible to any reason to not do it. And you certainly don’t miss it when you’ve skipped it. You might feel guilty, because all too often it’s something that you should have done, but you don’t actually regret not having done the thing itself.

This is true of almost everything that you know you should be doing.

In this case, it’s exercise.

For those of you who know me, you might be surprised that I am bemoaning exercise. I mean, I am addicted to exercise, right?

Wrong.

I was addicted to the long drawn out intensive cardio workouts that the new weight loss experts actually tell you causes fat storage!

I liked being on the stair mill for an hour.

I loved spinning!

I loved the feeling of working out anaerobically and being drenched in sweat!

Since I gave up spinning (almost two years ago) I have been struggling to find a new love.

I tried straight cardio, which, as noted, has been suggested actually causes fat storage (and based on my own experience and the credentials of the weight loss coaches I have encountered, I believe it). I tried kettle bells, and I have tried High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT).

HIIT works, no doubt about it. Problem is that I don’t love it, so it’s hard for me to be consistent with it. It’s hard and even though it’s only 20 or 30 (or sometimes 40 minutes depending on the workout) there is a big psychological resistance to be overcome every time I think about dusting off the exercise shoes.

Then of course there is my own ongoing love affair (NOT!) with yoga. Oh, if I could just learn to love yoga! I love yoga clothes. I love how good it is for you on any number of fronts. Hell, I love the bodies of the women I know that do it. But there’s just something missing.

Then there’s the newest weapon in my arsenal: Belly Dancing.

I actually tried Belly Dancing today. It was fun. It was harder than it looked. It is definitely going into the rotation – even if only because I want to wear the nifty belt!

Spinning was my one true love – followed quickly by the TreadClimber, then the StairMill.

Everything else has been a far fourth, fifth, and sixth.

I’m not sure how to remedy that. Though maybe I’ll just mix it up. Maybe if I have five or six things I sort of like, I’ll be able to convince myself to do at least one of them (if not more).

Yeah, as my father is so fond of saying, that’s the ticket. I’ll mix things up and see how that goes. And maybe, just maybe, if I try hard enough and squint long enough, I’ll fall in love again when I least expect it!

Wish me luck.

My New Favorite Breakfast Drink: Ginger Lime Blast

Over the last three years, I have given up pretty much every thing I liked – if not loved – to drink! Coffee, diet coke, wine, margaritas…. You name it, it I gave it up.

I was pretty much down to water and herbal tea. I had a minor flirtation with Kombucha – and I will again, when they put it back on the shelf!

Well, I have stumbled on a new concoction and I have been enjoying it daily! Not only is it absolutely delicious (indeed, even my father likes it!) it’s also super healthy. It’s detoxifying, alkalizing, and it even speeds up your metabolism! Seriously, what more could you want?

Recipe:

Juice of two lemons
Juice of one lime
3 slices of ginger root (each one about the thickness of a quarter)
1 slice fresh jalapeno (seeds removed)
2 stalks of celery
Liquid Stevia (15-20 drops)
2 cups water
2 cups ice
4 to 6 strawberries (optional)

Put it all in the blender and hit the button!

This makes about 32 ounces and it’s wonderful! It’s actually great if you exercise in the morning, because there’s just enough energy there to get you through a pretty tough 30 minute work out!

Regardless, enjoy on an empty stomach; preferably before breakfast!

This is so refreshing! I love, love, love it! And everyone I’ve shared it with agrees!

Eat more fat and eat less, period?

For the last couple of years, I’ve been told about the importance of eating high quality fats for weight loss (not to mention overall health more generally). And though it made sense, intellectually, I just couldn’t get myself to do it. I mean, I’ve had a bottle of Udo’s 3-6-9 tablets in the fridge for well over two years and I may have – maybe – taken about a third of them.

A few weeks ago, I went to a nutritionist, who wanted to see a list of everything that had gone into my mouth for a week. SInce I was still counting calories then (more on my experiences not counting calories to come) I had a very detailed account of what I had been eating, not just for a week, but for months (if not years).

After about ten minutes of flipping through print outs she asked, “Where are you getting your fat from?”

I looked at her sort of funny and said, “Well, as you can see, I eat a lot of tahini. It used to be peanut butter, but I can’t control myself around that. I had switched to almond butter, because I didn’t like it as much and then eventually got to be just as much as a trigger food as peanut butter. Now it’s tahini.”

She flipped through another few pages. “Do you eat olive oil? Fish? Flax?”

Uhm, not really. Mainly I had stopped eating all of that stuff because my nut butter compulsions were so out of control.

Her suggestion: Maybe the reason I can’t control myself around peanut butter, almond butter, and (while not quite as bad as the other two) tahini is that I’m fat deficient.

To be honest, I almost laughed.

Until she started giving me the symptoms associated with fat deficiency: constipation, dry hair, brittle nails, dry skin, fatigue, depression, anxiety – you name it, I have been experiencing it.

Prescription: eat more fat.

More to the point: eat a wider spectrum of fats.

Since I met with her I have really upped my fat intake and, importantly, reduced my nut and seed butter intake dramatically. So instead of eating nut butters and or tahini straight out of the jar and feeling like an out of control pig in the process, I am consciously adding fat to every meal.

To my morning smoothie, which is heavy on the rice protein, raw cacao, and dark leafy greens, I am adding 1 tablespoon of Barlean’s Chocolate Raspberry Swirl Essential Oils for Women. (If you haven’t tried this stuff, it is so good that you could eat it – literally – off the spoon or as a topping for ice cream. Seriously, it’s that good!)

To my lunch, I have added an avocado.

For my snack, I am having 1, if not 2, tablespoons of coconut butter. (If you haven’t tried this either, get some, as it is truly divine. I am not kidding, it is absolutely heavenly!) This particular brand comes in regular, which is just straight coconut and in chocolate – aptly named Raw Organic Cacao Bliss, which is coconut and raw cacao. Either way, it’s delicious. It’s a bit hard to deal with in the summer months because it goes liquid at 72 degrees, but where there’s a will, there’s a way! And trust me, its inconsistent consistency hasn’t stopped me yet. Again, delicious straight off the spoon, off my finger, or as a spread.

For dinner? Well, it depends. Sometimes it’s more avocado. Sometimes it’s sesame oil. Sometimes it’s flax seed. Sometimes it’s olive oil.

Bottom line: I am now eating essential fats at every meal.

And guess what? I’m no longer binging on peanut butter, almond butter, or tahini. In fact, it’s been days since I’ve had any of those things and I haven’t even missed them!

As someone who has counted calories (and fat) for years and who has tendencies to binge on high fat foods, the notion of adding fat purposefully and consciously into my diet not only seemed counter-intuitive, but also scary. However, it’s eliminated the binging and, more importantly, all of the subsequent guilt, self-abuse, and self-ridicule.

And how has this affected the scale, you might be wondering?

Well, I couldn’t tell you, because in addition to ditching the calorie counting, I also have stopped weighing myself. But it appears – by sight, by the fit of my clothes, and by the number on the measuring tape – that Barlean’s claim to be an “approved belly fat cure” may not be as overstated as I originally thought.

Got fat?