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From Beads to Rivulets: Second (and Third) Bikram Class

So, I’ve been three for three. And since I’m now properly hydrated, the sweat is even more intense.

Something tells me that this is not going to get any easier – just deeper.

I didn’t think my heart could pound that much (says she who taught spinning for years).

And the monkey mind: Why are we here again? Why are we laying in 105 degree heat? Why are we moving in 105 degree heat? Why are we trying to tuck our fingers under our heels and pull our forehead to our shins? Why are we trying to grab our elbows when our arms are slick with sweat and we’re still in a room that’s, oh, 105 degrees?

So, like anything, getting there is the hardest part.

However, unlike most everything else I’ve ever done, staying (in the room) is a close second. (Did I mention that they call it hot yoga for a reason?)

On day two, I went at the same time, but there was a different teacher. She was heavily tattooed and no nonsense. Very technical. I liked her and I probably got more out of it because of her astounding attention to detail.

One day three (today), I went at 7:00 a.m., which means I got up at 5:00 to have half of a smoothie (and about a quart of water, more or less) before I left. Same teacher. The room was more crowded.

The 7:00 a.m. class, as I feared, was more hard core than the 9:00 a.m. class. Much more partial nudity. Many more men. And a lot of people who could actually do the poses in their “full expression.”

Me, I continue to struggle (and am happy about it).

I made the mistake of wearing a super light cotton top today; never again. I literally considered it whipping it off like everyone else, but I’m not quite ready to go there (at least not yet).

The one interesting thing that I didn’t really think would happen (based on the marketing) has. That you come to love your body (or at least appreciate it).

When I am sitting in the room looking in the mirror – sweating and cheeks flushed, I am actually quite attractive. And when I sit with my back straight and my shoulders back, I look quite regal. And I have lovely shoulders.

Yes, it’s also true that I have a knee (the left one) that won’t lock during standing half moon (or whatever it’s called), or standing bow for that matter, but I do have a left knee is that is getting stronger and will eventually lock during these things. So, that’s a start.

Ironically, I ran into my nutritionist – the one who recommended Bikram to me in the first place.

She’s 10 years older than me, was dressed in the tiniest pair of exercise shorts I’ve ever seen, and she’s as flexible as I don’t know what. She’s been practicing for three years. And she was, for lack of a better word, inspiring. Not because of her perfect body (which wasn’t), but by her absolute acceptance of what is.

Namaste.

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First Bikram Class

Well, I attended my first Bikram class today.

It wasn’t as bad as I feared, which I suppose isn’t that ringing of an endorsement now that I actually see it on screen.

First things first: I was not the oldest person in the room, nor was I the biggest. I was also not the most overdressed person in the room, nor was I the most underdressed.

In fact, the only -est that could be used to describe me was the least flexible, which is promising.

There are definitely things that I couldn’t do and there were things that I didn’t even try to do (mainly those dealing with knees).

And there was something surprisingly interesting about watching the sweat bead on your skin (still trying to decide if “interesting” is code for fascinating or disgusting, but that’s neither here nor there).

It was hot. It was simultaneously hotter and not as hot as I imagined it would be. It was also easier and harder than I’d ever dreamed.

It’s probably fair to say that I had set my expectations low:

1) don’t throw up

2) don’t pass out

3) don’t fall over

1 & 3, no problem. There was one scary moment though, when I thought 2 was in the bag. I stayed in corpse while everyone else got up and did something knee related until the feeling passed (about 2 minutes).

When I finally got out of the room and peeled off my very technical top (no cotton, ever!), it literally slid out from between my fingers. And it landed with an honest to god “SPLAT”! I’d tell you about the sweat splatter that hit my ankle, but that seems like TMI – even for me.

I felt like a towel that had been wrung out (and potentially run over). And I had to stop on the way home for water.

Ever since I’ve turned 40, I’ve had a take it or leave it relationship with water. It’s pretty fair to say that I am probably chronically dehydrated on most days, weeks, months. Since I left the studio this morning at 10:30, I have had at least 4 quarts of water. Not to mention the 2 quarts I had before walking into the studio and the one that I had while I was there.

I’ve decided that even if the yoga does nothing, the greatest health benefit may come from the unintended consequences of drinking more water.

I’ll let you know how it goes tomorrow.

 

Mind Over Matter

I realized this morning when I stepped on the scale and saw that I was down another pound that what I was feeling wasn’t happiness or joy, but rather surprise and shock.

I took a step back and asked myself: why would it be surprising? You’re eating a lot less calories than you’re burning and you’ve cut out just about everything that makes you retain water (that is, sugar, milk, gluten, etc). So why are you surprised?

Well, I realized that I have been so focused on “How it’s impossible for me to lose weight,” that I had begun to believe it. I had been so sure that “My body doesn’t respond like it’s supposed to when it comes to weight loss,” the idea that I could potentially lose weight seemed about as likely as winning the lottery without buying a ticket (let alone when you’ve actually bought one).

I am a sociologist by trade – a social psychologist, in fact, with a deep abiding love for symbolic interaction.

According to this particular theoretical tradition, our reality is shaped by our thoughts and within interaction with other people. Language, in particular, is powerful, because it shapes our reality. If we don’t have words for something, we can’t do it, see it, feel it, or even conceive it.

When you tell yourself something over and over, it becomes part of your identity, your plan for action. It becomes part of your reality.

So, back to this morning, I realized that I didn’t believe that I could lose weight.

And I also realized that if didn’t believe that I could, then I wouldn’t.

So, this morning, while I was meditating, I focused on the following thought: With ease and grace, I allow my body to return to its natural state easily and effortlessly.

And as the morning progressed, and the old thoughts began to crowd their way into my consciousness (particularly those about how long it was going to take, it’s just water weight, it’s not going to last, etc.), I took a deep breath and repeated, as a mantra, as a prayer, as a wish, as a plan….

With Grace and Ease, I Allow My Body to Return to its Natural State Easily and Effortlessly.

Because, why not? Even though I’ve never been one to allow things to be easy (or to appreciate them if they were) what would it cost for me to let this happen with ease and grace? What would I have to lose – other than that which I would desperately love to let go of, forever?

 

Week One (of starting over)

So, last Saturday, I started over. (I also got my butt chewed by my long time diet and exercise partner, who read my last post and thought I was 1) being too hard on myself and 2) trying too many things at once.)

After assuring her that it really wasn’t seven distinct changes and that I hadn’t been planning on implementing them all at once, I proceeded to engage in one week of counting calories and limiting my calories to whatever my LoseIt.App says will result in a 1.5 weight loss per week.

My goal: to hit that number, regardless of exercise.

So no more kidding myself about “net calories.” (Notably when my endocrinologist told me that the idea of “net” calories was bogus, I was really pissed off, but I am beginning to see his point.)

So, how was it, you ask?

It was surprisingly not bad, though today I was starving.

I exercised 5 of the 6 days (and I will again tomorrow). And I hit the calorie mark that I was shooting for: 1,378.

And last time I checked, I was indeed down a pound and a half.

It really wasn’t bad. And, in fact, it felt pretty good. Because in addition to cutting calories, I also got really clear on why stopping by the office candy bowl is always a bad idea. I also started counting my almonds again. And I cut some meat out of my diet.

The upside: I feel better in my body. I have more energy. And it just feels like there’s more room in my system to process stuff – be it food, events, situations, challenges, or even emotions.

Now, as my exercise buddy/guru has pointed out, my desire to change just about everything to do with my routine coincides with a big change in my job – classes end next week.

This means that I can finally breathe again. And, as she so astutely pointed out, when I am breathing, I am actually pretty healthy. It’s just that over the last (well, year really) 20+ weeks, I really wasn’t breathing all that much. I had certainly stopped paying to attention to what I was eating and how I was feeling.

Now that the first week has been pretty much put to bed, the next thing on the list was the yoga.

I’ve got the clothes (which is what started all this to begin with), the microfiber super absorbent towel is on the way, and I am free in the evenings as of Thursday. So, trepidation aside, Bikram Yoga, here I come.

I figure three or so days of cardio in the morning and yoga almost every evening should do it.

Eventually the weights (free weights, that is) need to come back in, for the twin purposes of toning and refurbishing my deleted testosterone. But that can wait.

And, until then….

So far so good.

And She’s Back

It’s been a hellish year.

Bouts of insomnia. Unhelpful doctors, nutritionists, and dietitians. Just relax, you say? Right.

So here I am again. I hate to see how many times I’ve “started over” since I began this blog.

But I am back at the number that makes me cringe: 175.

Standing in front of the mirrors in Sam’s Outfitters trying on short yoga pants, and watching – with disgust – as my fat stomach rolled over the tops. Did I mention that these are X-Large yoga pants. Not surprising, since my new – relatively stable size – is 12.

How did this happen? And how did it happen so quickly?

Did I just stop paying attention? Apparently.

Did I just get lazy? Obviously.

So, yesterday, sitting in a trendy raw food restaurant in Brattleboro, VT, as I was waiting for my smoothie to arrive, I looked at my husband who was doing nothing but beaming love and support and I thought: I don’t want to be in this body anymore if I’m this fat.

Wow.

It’s not the first time that I’ve had that thought, but I had hoped that the time before last was the last time. Apparently I was overly optimistic.

Because despite what the tag line of this blog is, I have not learned shit about loving myself.

So, let’s begin again, shall we?

I looked back through my blog and I tracked down a number of things that had worked for me in the past, as regarding weight loss, not about loving.

Calorie counting (not in vogue, I realize)

Cardio, and lots of it (also not in vogue)

Less meat (also not in vogue, depending on with whom you talk)

And more raw (which may or may not still be “cool”, but is contraindicated for thyroid).

After looking at my diet, exercise, blood pressure (105:56), cholesterol panel (as perfect as you can get), and resting heart rate (56), my dietician only had two pieces of advice: 1) lower my calories to 1,200, which, she realizes, is not sustainable, and 2) try Bikram Yoga.

What?

The idea of counting calories is repulsive to me. I hate it already, which probably means that I should do it.

I hate the idea of taking a yoga class even more – especially one in a room heated to 105 degrees with a bunch of scantily class yogis.

To tell you the truth, I really can’t even believe that I am even considering, let alone buying new yoga pants (the last ones I had were size small), a sweat absorbing towel, mat cleaner, and a gym bag.

Despite that I live in the middle of nowhere, there is – believe it or not – a Bikram yoga studio not that far from my house. I logged on to check it out. Two things surprised me. 1) They want/expect you to practice 6 to 7 times a week during the first month, and 2) the letter to “New Students.”

i would like to believe that something as simple – or as difficult – as a yoga practice could change my life. I need a change. I cannot stand this place where I find myself when my thoughts run dark and dangerous. Importantly I know – at a deep level – that the negative stories, the recriminating talk, and the vicious narratives are just that.

I know it’s not true. I know that I really don’t hate my body. But it’s hard to remember, sometimes, in the day to day. In the crush of moments and deadlines and commitments….

Yet, when I went for a walk this morning, I watched the birds play in the field: red winged black birds bullying the robins and wood peckers pecking on anything from trees, to barns, and even painted metal mail boxes. I felt the cool morning breeze on my skin and I squinted against the golden sun. I smelled the lingering scent of fresh new grass, still damp from the morning dew.

All of that beauty – only available through my body.

I love my body and everything that it (she) allows me to experience when I take the time to appreciate it.

I don’t like the way she looks, however; nor do I appreciate how she feels as we trudge up and down the hills, out of breath for the first time in a long time.

So, today, I am starting over.

Again.

Fall CSA: What to Do?

My husband and I have been traveling quite a bit this season and as a result we had fallen quite behind on eating the content of our weekly farm share.

As a result, our fridge was literally bursting with cauliflower, eggplant, brussels sprouts, butternut squash, beets, and the like.

Last week, I went on a broiling frenzy. I made containers and containers full of broiled veggies that were excellent, easy, and super fulfilling snacks, sides, etc. In the case of the cauliflower, which actually got a little crispy and developed this lovely smoky flavor, I would just eat it cold, straight out of the container. They also filled out the edges of packed lunches and late dinners after a long day at the office.

My broiling technique is pretty low key.

Preheat the oven to 500 (on baking)

Chop the veggies up (in the case of the butternut squash, I also peel it and seed it).

Toss them in olive oil.

Put them on the pan.

Switch the oven over to broil and let it go for anywhere between 15 and 20 minutes, depending on the veggies and the desired crispiness.

I also took several baby beets, washed them, wrapped them in foil, and cooked them until they were tender. Here, I waited until they were cooked and quasi-cool to remove the skin with my fingers.

I think today I am going to tackle the delicata (truly one of life’s pleasures), the celeriac.

Celeriac

What’s in your fridge? And more importantly, what do you plan to do with it?

Another Full Body Experiment

The one thing about learning to really love your body is that there is not a lot to talk about. It’s just like when you’re in a relationship with another person. When it’s shitty, you can’t shut up and there’s usually an audience for that. When it’s going great, you forget about it – not that any one wants to hear about it anyway.

But a few weeks (cough, months) ago, my sister sent me another email about the importance for weightlifting for women over 40. Since I’m 43 (and I read the same stuff that my sister does) this came as no surprise. Then, the very next day, just minutes after I said to my husband, ‘I really need to start doing something with weights…..” I opened my email and in my inbox was an info product ad.

It came through someone who I know (who is an online entrepreneur). And I trust this guy, so I thought, surely he wouldn’t be hocking junk. And then I clicked on the 30 minute marketing video while I was drinking my green smoothie. And within 5 minutes, I was hooked. (I know a little about marketing and let me just say that this guy did his homework). I had my credit card out before the water for my tea had boiled.

I won’t bore you with the details of the program. However, it was a 12 week weight workout (similar to, but not nearly as crazy as P90X, which I had done several times in my 30s), and an eating schedule. I say schedule, because you can eat whatever you want, but they want you to rotate your calories so that you confuse your metabolism. It goes like this: for the first two weeks, you eat “down” 5 days and then eat “up” on the sixth day and then you repeat the process.

My down days are 1,250 net calories and my up days are 1,885 calories.

The one thing I realized is that I have not been eating very much. My net calories are usually closer to 700 (or less). Because I love cardio (still!) hitting the down day numbers are hard for me. Which makes me think that I had probably crashed my metabolism without realizing it.

So, I’m on week three of this program. The exercises are getting harder (the reverse lunge with press is my current “favorite”). I haven’t really gained any weight, I’ve lost inches, and I’m eating like a PIG. It’s quite interesting. It’s also funny to be in the position of worrying about eating enough calories, as opposed to eating too much.

Additionally, I sort of went Paleo about the time that I started this program. I say sort of because I’m not doing the whole bacon as an appetizer, main course, and dessert thing that you see on line. But I have upped my egg intake and cut my carbs dramatically, though I’m still eating over 100 carbs a day in veggies and stuff. Insight: you don’t get hungry when you’re not eating carbs.

I’ve decided that the day before my next “up” day, I am going to eat a bunch of carbs before I go to bed so that I’ll be ravenous the next day. Actually, as I look at my calendar, that would be today!

The other thing that I really like about this program (which is really just counting calories and resistance training) is that the producers are really working hard at breaking the associations with “good” or “bad” foods. Here you can have anything – you just have to count (and account for) the calories.

I’ll keep you posted. So far, so good. Because in addition to the loss of inches, the pushups, planks, and the variety of lunges are getting easier. And, even though it feels totally counter intuitive, eating a lot of actually sort of fun.

Surprise Recipe of 2012: Garbanzo Bean Chocolate Cake

Last year I started trying a variety of new recipes and, in some cases, creating my own.

The one that was the weirdest on paper ended up being the biggest success. I served it at Thanksgiving and again at my parents’ 50th anniversary pre-party at their house for out-of-town friends and family, and once again at a holiday gathering for my office.

Each time people oohed and ahed over the texture and the taste. They inevitably asked for the recipe. I always deferred until everyone who was going to try it, had. Especially children (for whom it was – hands down – a major hit!)

Chocolate Cake with Garbanzo Beans

2 cans of garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed

1 1/2 cups of semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted

3/4 cup of sugar (I used coconut palm sugar, because it feels less refined and supposedly has a lower glycemic hit index)

4 eggs

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 to 1 tsp cinnamon (optional)

1 tbs confectioners sugar

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F (175 degrees C)
  2. Grease (I used coconut oil) a 9 inch round cake pan)
  3. Place all of the ingredients (except the confectioners sugar) into a high speed blender and blend until smooth and batter-like.
  4. Pour batter into cake pan and bake for 40 minutes.
  5. Remove cake (check for doneness with a toothpick) and place the pan on a wire cooling rack. The original recipe says let cool for 10 minutes, but I have found that it needs to cool for a lot longer than that to come out unscathed).
  6. When the bottom of the pan is cool to touch, flip cake out on a cake plate.
  7. Dust with confectioner’s sugar (and a little cinnamon, assuming you didn’t put it all in the cake – or even if you did, if you like cinnamon).
  8. Enjoy.

What I really like about this cake is as follows: there is quite a bit of protein in it, as well as fiber. Additionally, it stays moist for a a really long time. It’s also simple and delicious. Oh yeah, it’s also gluten-free!

So far, I have only served this alone, though I am sure that it would go equally well with ice cream, be it dairy or coconut based.

Whenever I decide to add a little sugar back into my life, this may be the carrier. Something tells me it’s going to make a fine birthday cake.

Servings: 12

Nutrition: 229 calories, 8.5 g fat; 36.8 g carbohydrates; 3.2 g fiber; 5.2 g protein.

Putting a Bow on 2012

This year wasn’t great for blogging, but it has been amazing for the tag-line (“Learning to Love and Cherish My Body From the Inside Out”).

And it’s probably fair to say that it wasn’t a great year for the waistline, either; but that’s beside the point. Because I’m not caring about that as much as I did in, well, every year in my entire life up until now.

Last June, I was a wreck. I hated my job. I hated my body. I was tired and grumpy. I was not in a good place.

I started reading all kinds of books about people who had finally kicked their bad relationships with food – people who were in way worse shape than I was (or ever had been) who had learned to trust their bodies, to really tune in, and, eventually, with seemingly little effort, get down to their ideal weight by eating not whatever they wanted, but whatever their bodies wanted.

I had tried this before and I had never quite gotten out of my head.

This year has been more about inner game than counting calories.

I’ve spent way more time learning how to be present, how to actually listen to the inner wisdom of my body, to trust myself, to forgive myself…. To love myself.

It’s getting better, but it’s not perfect. I still have shitty days and, notably, those days are all more poignant because now I have something – something good, something calm, and something serene – with which to compare them. The discrepancies are more real, but the downward spirals are shorter. I still fall off the wagon, but the damage that I inflict on myself (my body) – what one of my coaches refers to as “self-torture” (she doesn’t pull any punches, does she?) – doesn’t last nearly as long. It’s progress.

Do I still look in the mirror and cringe?

Maybe.

Sometimes.

Not all that often. Well, at least not anymore…..

However, when it does  happens, I look deep into my eyes and realize that there really is something more to me than the numbers on the scale (that I no longer look at), the size of my jeans (which still have the ability – at least for a few moments – to cause tears), or the shape of my now middle aged body.

I’ve also realized that age is just as insidious an opponent as weight. In fact, it’s the age I’m feeling more than the weight these days, even though I appreciate that they are close sisters (and twin topics for another post at a later date).

For the most part, I am grateful that I am alive. I am grateful that I live in this body that – with the exception of a faulty thyroid and an exhausted set of adrenals (but then again, whose fault is that?) – functions pretty darn well given the circumstances.

I’ve surrendered, finally. Mainly because I realized that surrendering is not the same as giving up. It’s not the same as giving in.

It’s about letting go.

It’s about learning to fall in love with the process of being skinny (or at my ideal healthy weight) without getting attached to the outcome.

It’s about putting a ham hock in the split pea soup if my body feels like it. It’s about finally appreciating the fact that my body really doesn’t like sugar. I thought she did, but that was my brain. Because after three weeks on sugar, followed by three days off, it is clear to me what people have always said, but that I didn’t want to believe: Sugar is a drug.

Perhaps my biggest insight of 2012: Sugar makes me crazy; it makes me paranoid; it makes me compulsive; it interferes with my ability to think, to write, and to function. Sugar, now, is in the same category as gluten (which gives me migraines) and alcohol (which can, in amounts of more than a glass or two [and I’m talking wine, not liquor]) leave me down for the count for a matter of days. Sugar won’t kill me – not like the gluten – but it is something not to be toyed with or taken lightly. It’s a drug; period.

It’s about dancing with my body instead of trying to beat her into submission. It’s about drawing her outline on a piece of butcher paper and seeing her, for the first time ever, as a work of art as opposed to a work in progress.

So here are the things that I’ve been working with and that will be kept moving forward in 2013:

  1. Get up every morning and have a cup of lemon water.
  2. Write a morning journal entry setting my intention for the day (and bookending that with a similar entry every night).
  3. Do some form of physical activity (including going for a walk outside for at least  15 minutes) everyday.
  4. Eat what my body wants to eat and feed my mind what it really wants – which are ideas and other forms of stimulation than food.
  5. Listen to my cravings; greet them, if you will, and understand that they (like my emotions) are trying to tell my something about myself.
  6. Experience my emotions; witness them and then let them go.
  7. Only eat things that I absolutely love.
  8. Slow down (this is still one that I struggle with, but there are signs of improvement).
  9. Be in touch with my body; when something’s no longer working (whether it’s food or exercise or pleasure), do something else.
  10. Quiet my mind at least once a day.
  11. Do yoga.
  12. Drink more water.
  13. Breathe – consciously and with intention.
  14. Acknowledge the things around me that can’t be seen.
  15. Pray.
  16. Learn to connect without food; even if that means reaching out to someone who I think may have better things to do than to keep me from feeling lonely.
  17. Mix things up – on all levels, as often as possible; experience the unexpected.
  18. Embody my own vision of love, which means being both expansive and forgiving.
  19. Practice gratitude.
  20. And, the most difficult and important obligation of all: to love myself, regardless.

These are not New Year’s resolutions – destined to be forgotten before Valentine’s Day. These are the steps that I’ve been incorporating into my life on a daily basis already. (So, you can see why I haven’t had all that much time for the blog.) These twenty – plus a few others that I have probably forgotten about – are the things that I’ve tried that are currently working for me. They may stop working at any moment – and if they do, it’s up to me to change that. But they also may not stop working – and if they don’t (stop, that is) it’s also up to me to keep doing them, for better or worse, in sickness and in health…. Even if I’m teaching and exhausted.

Next year, I come first. I am my number one priority. Come hell or high water I am putting my own mask on first. Selfish?

Maybe, but not really.

Because if I can take care of myself, I can take care of others. And spare those around me from the nightmare that was my emotional life last March and, let’s face it, every month between then and June. If I love myself first and foremost, I will be able to love others fully and without reservation.

A friend recently reminded me that Westerners like to cite the Golden Rule – do unto others as you would have them do unto you. However, they/we/I rarely appreciate the flip side of that: Do unto yourself as you would do unto others.

As I let those words sink in, I realized (not for the first time) that I would never abuse or neglect someone else the way I have abused and neglected myself over the years. That – more than anything else – has been the hardest lesson to learn and the one, if truly embodied, will undoubtedly make the biggest difference not only to my body, but to my entire being.

So, that said, what are my New Year’s Resolutions (ones that hopefully will not be forgotten by Valentine’s Day)?

  1. Take better care of myself (and all that entails).
  2. Blog more.
  3. Write a book (I’m thinking a cookbook for starters).
  4. Be happier more of the time.
  5. Love.

Happy New Year.

Melt in Your Mouth Shin Stew

In keeping with the recent chronicling of the contents of our Winter CSA, Michael and I were faced with a dilemma: Shin steak?

Unlike previous years, where we just did veggies (and on occasion wild flowers), this year we did the omnivore option, which means that every week we also get some combination of organic grass fed beef or chicken, locally made sausage, cage free eggs, honey, or, on the weeks Michael’s out of town, Shitaki mushrooms.

Not realizing that shin steak is one of the toughest cuts of beef there is, I assumed that we could just grill it. Wrong!

Luckily, I did a little investigation before hand and we ended with with this recipe from British Chef, Jamie Oliver.

It was very British, very hearty, and super filling. And it really did melt in your mouth. But it was also very un-British in the sense that it was tasty, flavorful, and a little on the spicy side.

I followed the recipe pretty much word for word, though I added a couple extra cloves of garlic (which is per normal for me) and omitted the mushrooms (which is per normal for Michael). I used garbanzo/fava bean flour in order to keep it gluten free.

We also didn’t have a bottle of Chianti on hand, so we went for the cheapest ($8.00) bottle of red we could find.

Michael pointed out the recipe calls for 2/3 a bottle, probably with the assumption that you’ll still have two glasses left over for dinner. Well, maybe with a different bottle of wine that might work, but with this one not so much.

So if you find yourself with a pound or more of shin steak, knock yourself out. Though I’m sure it would work just as well with regular old stew meat.

Beet and Carrot Slaw: Recipe

A friend of mine just sent an email requesting my Beet and Carrot Slaw recipe. I immediately went to the blog to send her a link. After searching for about ten minutes, I realized that I talk about this all the time, but I had yet to choke up the recipe.

This recipe is so easy and so delicious. And even my husband, who has never been much of a beet eater, goes through periods where he eats this everyday. It’s also gorgeous and would be a welcome, uh, cleansing addition to any Thanksgiving meal. Next time I make it – which will probably be in a couple of days since I just added it to my own Thanksgiving menu – I’ll be sure to take a picture!

Beet and Carrot Slaw

Ingredients

Equal numbers of beets and carrots, peeled and grated finely (or run through a processor); I usually do about 4 medium to large or 6 small. It depends on how much you want to make.

1/2 bunch of parsley, cleaned and minced.

2 tablespoons (more or less) of extra virgin olive oil

juice of 1 lemon AND 1 lime

1 tablespoon cinnamon

1 tablespoon turmeric

1 tablespoon of cumin

Directions

1) Add all of the ingredients except the spice in a large metal bowl and toss well.

2) Then sprinkle the spices while continuing to toss (to avoid clumping).

3) Adjust seasoning and oil to taste.

4) Enjoy!

A picture’s worth a thousand words

Now, my winter farm share is not all about the squash, the rutabaga and the celeriac. It’s also about the kale. Kale, without a doubt, is one of my favorite foods. And also buried in there are leeks (as well as brussels, carrots, garlic, lettuce, and beets). My favorite kale recipe – at least for this year – is also quite simple and is excellent any time of day (including breakfast).

KJ’s Easy Kale Recipe (2012)

1 tablespoon Coconut Oil (or Olive)
1 (or 2) leeks, cleaned and sliced
6 cloves of garlic, peeled and diced
cumin, to taste
1 stalk of kale (ours comes on a stalk, but basically a bunch), washed, chopped, stems removed
Sea salt
The juice of a half a lemon

  1. In a wok or frying pan, saute the leeks and the garlic in the oil.
  2. Add cumin and stir for about a minute
  3. Toss in the kale, continue to stir
  4. Add the salt and top it off with the lemon juice

I like my kale to still have some shape to it, but it’s a matter of taste. Once you start cooking, it really should only take a few minutes from start to finish. I always cut everything up first to make sure that nothing gets overcooked.

Winterizing My Favorite Summer Soup: Recipe

All summer long, I have been eating this deliciously simple cauliflower and carrot soup. It’s pretty (a beautiful warm yellow), it’s tasty, it’s light, and it works as lunch with a couple slices of gluten free toast, it works with dinner, and it works as a snack.

The only problem is that it’s not that substantial – and where I live, it’s getting dark early and it’s getting cold. And when it’s dark and cold, I want something that’s really going to stick.

The original recipe is courtesy of Body Ecology. Or at least that’s where the idea came from, it’s been so long that I can’t remember what the actual recipe called for (a trait that I fear I picked up from my Grandmother Lively). Regardless, here’s how I make it:

Carrot Cauliflower Soup

2 cups of onion, chopped
2 tablespoons of coconut oil
2 tablespoons (or more) of dried Tarragon
1 head of cauliflower, chopped
2 or 3 cups of carrots (depending on how big the cauliflower is)
Water
Sea salt
A.Vogle Trocomare Organic Spicy Seasoning

In a large soup pan, saute the onions and the tarragon until onions are translucent. Add the cauliflower and the carrots. Add enough water to cover the veggies, bring to a boil and then simmer until veggies are tender (which tends to be about 20-30 minutes).

Blend up the entire mixture in a high speed blender (you’ll have to do that in batches).

Return entire mixture to pot, then season to taste.

I like the Vogle seasoning salt, but I’ve also used curry or cumin when I didn’t have enough. It might take more than you think, but start small and just keep tasting it. You can always add more later, at the table.

Because I was trying to make the soup more substantial (and I had a ton of stuff from the CSA that was just going to go to waste if I didn’t do something quick), I decided to start adding stuff, namely 1 rutabaga, peeled and cubed and 1/2 celeriac bulb, peeled and cubed.

It was delicious – really stellar and super filling. This is definitely going to be my new normal, at least until spring rolls around!

Indeed, it was so filling that I was able to drop the gluten-free toast at lunch and still be completely satisfied.

Either way, it’s just a number

I continue my new found relationship with my calorie counter and my scale.

Yesterday: another 45 minutes of cardio before breakfast and coming in about 800 calories below my allotted daily budget.

This morning, I got up, peed and then stepped on the scale: down .4 pounds.

A traitorous feeling of joy leapt through me.

And then I thought: Wait a minute. If the 1.8 pound weigh gain was not you, then this is not you either. You don’t get to discount the bad and claim the good (though, as a social psychologist, I know that’s how most people hang).

So, I looked down at the number, stepped off the scale and put it into my calorie tracker, to the following notification: You’ll reach your goal of losing 28.2 lbs. on Dec 11, 2012.

One can only hope.

So Ends the Experiment

For years I have been listening to people talk about intuitive eating and the dangers of calorie counting.

I’ve tried it before and I’ve just finished trying it, again. Both times were an abysmal failure.

I just had to step on a scale for the first time in a year (because of some not routine medical tests) and for the first time in nearly five [years] I am once again, overweight. I am now bigger than I was before all of this started. I am now bigger than the first time when I met my husband – the time that I told him that I was really going to transform my body before I hit 40.

I was 36. I am now 42.

The experiment failed.

I’m not saying that intuitive eating doesn’t work – but it doesn’t work for me.

Maybe it’s the stress. Maybe it’s the whacked out thyroid. Maybe it’s the overactive immune system. Maybe I was just fooling myself when I thought that I knew what my body wanted, when it was hungry, etc. Who knows?

Regardless, I do know one thing – I’m allowing it to affect every aspect of my life, from my work to my relationships. All of the cognitive therapy that I’ve been doing so that I can love my body from the inside out? Well, despite the immense talent of my coach, it folds in the face of the illuminated number on a silver scale. It folds in the face of the double digit clothing that I can barely fit into. It folds every time that someone touches any part of my body that roils underneath the slightest bit of pressure.

So, intuitive or not, it’s time for a little accountability.

If I can’t be truly in touch with my body then I at least need to know what’s going on so that I am not just sitting around weighting (every pun, intended. Do you believe that that was actually a Freudian slip? It was – really) to find the right combination of seaweed, protein, whole grains that just so happen to be gluten-free, etc., that is going to unlock all of the nutritional and weight loss secrets of the universe.

In other words, I am going to revert back to calories in/calories out.

Now, I can hear the groan from my friends – at least a thousand of whom are graduates from one of the best schools of integrative nutrition in the country. But I know that all calories are not equal, so you don’t have to worry that I think that a 800+ calorie bomb from McDonald’s will have the same nutritional value as 2 of my green smoothies (even without all of the cruciferous vegetables that contain goitrogens that suppress thyroid function). But at least this way I will know – that I’ll know that it’s not something that I’m just fooling myself about. I remember the autumn that I gained 10 pounds eating “healthy cookies….” Could it be?

Because if it really is me – then maybe I can learn to do something else. But if it isn’t me (and it really is her, my body who is suffering under the unmitigated stress of my life) then, maybe, I can learn to forgive myself and my body and allow myself to connect not only with her – but also emotionally, mentally, and physically with those other people in my life who really don’t seem to mind if I weigh 140 or 170 pounds.

Seriously, as I even write the number, tears come to my eyes and the thought, unbidden, how could this have happened to me? How did I let it happen?

It’s that time of year again…or is it?

(…well, actually it’s about three months too soon, given where I live, but it is what it is.)

It’s been 80 degrees the last three days and that really means no more living in layers. It’s time to set the sweaters, the fleece, the long sleeved shirts, the tights, the wool socks, and, yes, even the jeans aaide and to move on to lighter and brighter options.

With some trepidation, I pulled out my spring/summer clothes (summer in my neck of the woods rarely surpasses 70, mind you) and started trying things on. Unfortunately, and was as suspected, there were more things in the “discard” pile (or the “maybe in a few weeks” pile) than there were in the “eligible candidates for office wear” pile.

Even the casual pants and shorts were too tight here or pulled funny there. (Though, in the moment, there was nothing funny about it.)

I pulled out my Prana shorts that I bought two years ago in Santa Monica (the ones that, at the time, were too big and my then partner, now husband, would tease me for walking around about to drop my britches).

They barely fit.

Skirts that were loose fit, but only with a bulge that seemed to only be highlighted in t-shirts or tops that looked like (but probably hadn’t) been shrunk in the wash.

Well, fuck.

I knew that my body wasn’t the same as she had been the year that I bought most of those clothes – you know, the one where I went on fasts and cleanses like they were going out of style. 10 days of limeade here, followed by a liver detox cleanse, followed by no sugar (no matter what the form).

I knew that my body wasn’t the same even as she was right before my thyroid crashed the year before last or even as was five months ago before said thyroid had crashed yet again. And I can honestly say that I would be okay with that, if only I had clothes that fit instead of clothes that made me look a walking kielbasa.

As I stood in the mirror, I could literally feel my state starting to crumble – to take that first and all too familiar step down the slippery slope of hell (that would be self-judgment, self-hatred, self-disgust, self-pity…you get the picture). But then I just decided: enough is enough.

This is where you are, right now.

If you don’t have clothes that fit, go get some.

If you happen to see a bag of chocolate somewhere today, just keep walking. It has nothing to do with you and it will not make you feel better nor will it make your clothes fit better.

I reminded myself that just last night I had looked in that same mirror, naked, and was struck by how sexy I looked with my curves and womanly proportions.

I remember joking, in a loving way (as opposed to the self-deprecating way that I had done in the past), that if I had been born a hundred years earlier, I would have been a goddess and that all of those women whose bodies that I covet would have been looking at me with awe and admiration.

What’s a little time travel between a woman and her body? What’s a little social construction of reality among friends.

My clothes don’t fit. Period.

Yes, part of me is saddened by that.

Yes, part of me is annoyed.

Yes, part of me wished that I had faced this sooner so that I wouldn’t feel so up against the wall right before I have to go stand in a room in front of 40 20-somethings twice a day, three times a week.

But for the most part, I’m actually okay with it. I’m not thrilled, but I am okay.

Because regardless of the size, I’m still the same woman I was 24 hours ago.

Heck, I’m the same woman I was 2 years ago who walked down the streets of Santa Monica in a pair of size 2 jeans.

Just as I am the same woman I was when I was 16 and weighed 232.5 pounds.

I may have learned a lot more, I may have grown as a person, but the essence, the beauty, and the creativity is the same.

And all of me would do well to remember that.

Be Careful What You Wish For

A few weeks ago, I realized that whatever changes I had made in my diet (namely the introduction of yams, peanut butter, caffeinated black tea, and rice protein powder). Unfortunately I have found the culprit.

I think I knew it already, but I just wasn’t ready to admit it.

It was the peanut butter.

Each time I added it back in (even at a tablespoon a day), the symptoms would come back: gassy, bloated, uncomfortable, with cravings (for more than a tablespoon of the same) out the wazoo.

Heart breaking.

As I railed, “How could this be happening?! Other people eat peanut butter and they’re find, etc.”

And then I remember saying, “I wish I could just develop an allergy to peanut butter – then it would be just like it is with gluten. Nothing could tempt me to eat gluten…..”

Well, it’s not as bad as it is with gluten, but I haven’t been tempted either so I guess I got what I asked for. Maybe I’ve finally gotten a hold of that manifestation thing after all.

I think maybe next time I’ll ask for money! 😉

The mind versus the body…..

All this time, I thought that it was my body that liked the hula hooping….

That may have been the case initially, but this morning it was definitely the other way around.

Whenever I wake up these days, I ask myself: What would you like to do today? Or, to be more verbatim about it, “What do we want to do today?”

Today, the first answer that surfaced was, “Cardio!”

Really?

I mean, I remember not too long ago telling Michael J that my goal for the year was to avoid traditional cardio at all costs – just to see what happens. But then I took a deep breath and thought, “Why not?” And, believe it or not, my body actually perked up! I instantly felt more awake, more excited, more up! (Or to quote an earlier post: turned in, tapped in, turned on).

So I head downstairs, hit the bathroom, get a drink and start to clear off the Nordic Track (aka the hula hoop rack) and I realize that something doesn’t feel right.

Oh yeah, doing cardio requires changing clothes.

It also means putting on shoes.

All of a sudden a little voice pops up, “What a hassle. Are we really going to do this?” And the whining continues as I look for said shoes, first on the main floor, then on the first floor, and then on the third floor. The litany of complaints continue as I remember that I forgot to grab my actual work out clothes while I was there (“What a waste of time. I thought we weren’t going to do this anymore? What if this makes your leg all sticky again? Cardio means sweating; you realize that don’t you? Do you even remember the last time you’ve sweated while exercising, which means there goes yet another 30 minutes gone while you have to get undressed, shower, get dressed again. Oh yeah, and when do we have time to do laundry? We need to be working on the book.”)

Seriously, it was like a broken record. And I realized, with a bit of a laugh, that was the mind – in action. Because the body likes to sweat and could care less about things like laundry, the book, or whatever else that the mind brought up. Well, with the exception of the non-sticky leg, so we (the three of us) compromised and did about an hour of cardio and 20 minutes of yoga. And you know what, it felt awesome.

So, what does this mean going forward? It may mean a little more cardio or it may not (but it probably will). It means being more in touch with what I really want to do – about what will serve me – without getting into the rut of what I think I want or, even worse, what I think I need. It does not mean, however, that I am going to return to my crazy cardio/punishing ways. But it may get added back in, with balance.

So instead of rotating between hooping and yoga and (recently) samba, it looks like there is another contender. And it makes sense, if you think about it. Because even though I’m having a great time sculpting the core and lengthening the muscles, that’s no reason – none whatsoever – to not love on the heart, the lungs, and all of the other systems that keep me alive without any thought or effort on my part whatsoever.

Of course, my mind immediately flew into scarcity – but if you start doing cardio, when are you going to hula hoop? What’s going to happen to your yoga practice?

Relax, Grasshopper.

There’s more than an hour in a day and more than one day in a week…. I’m sure we’ll find the time, and be better off for it.

Gratitude

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I am exploring the concept of gratitude.

On the one hand, that makes a lot of sense, because that’s how I make my living – studying emotions. But to tell you the truth, I hadn’t ever really thought too much about gratitude. That’s not to say that I was never grateful or, heavens forbid, ungrateful, but gratitude – in and of itself – just wasn’t something that I ever thought a lot about.

Recently, however, gratitude has been popping out all over the place. I get emails about gratitude. I have coaches who talk endlessly about gratitude. And just the other day, I turned my iPod on shuffle and up popped a segment of some random Eben Pagan program that was talking about, you guessed it, gratitude. Heck, for the last six or so weeks, even before all of this prodding started, I had set up a mastermind with my friend, where we start of by saying something that we’re grateful for! And just lately, on the advice of all those coaches, I have started keeping a daily list of 10 things for which I am grateful.

So what is gratitude?

According to Dictionary.com, gratitude (pronouned grat-i-tood), “is the quality or feeling of being grateful or thankful.”

Unfortunately, thankful refers to the feeling or expressing of gratitude, so things are beginning to get a bit circular, but I would imagine that you get the idea.

As is the same for most North Americans of European descent (or those that celebrate Thanksgiving in any meaningful way), I am more familiar with the term thankful – as in what are you most thankful for, as recited annually around the dinner table in front of friends and family. It is on those moments that we learn that we should be thankful for the good things in our lives. Very rarely do you hear anyone express their thanks for their problems, their miseries, their trials, their tribulations, or, last but certainly not least, their seeming failures.

Seriously, how many times (either as a child or as an adult) have you ever seen or heard someone actually give thanks for a divorce, a job loss, a tumor, or a death of a loved one? Especially in the moment in which it is happening? Despite all of the platitudes that we have also grown up with: “Every cloud has a silver lining…”, “whenever a door closes, a window opens…”, etc. And when we do hear it – usually decades after the fact – when someone actually says, “losing my job/getting cancer/losing my leg was the best thing that ever happened to me…” we generally have a hard time believing it. No matter how sincere they seem.

Wouldn’t it be great to be able to have that kind of acceptance, that kind of gratitude in the moment?

Is that even possible?

I think it is possible, for some people. Indeed, there seems to be a upsurge of what some people are calling, “Radical Gratitude.”

I first saw this phrase in an email; it was one of those daily motivational things that seem to explode out of my inbox.

I’m paraphrasing here, but it said something like, “It’s easy to be grateful for the good things in your life, but not so easy to be grateful for the things that you don’t like. Pick one thing about your life (or your body) that you don’t like and find the gratitude. Find one thing about this that you absolutely love.”

That was it. No instruction. Just pick the one thing about yourself that you hate, and express gratitude for it.

You know, I tried standing in from the mirror and expressing gratitude for something – anything – that I didn’t like. I’m sure I came up with something, but I didn’t feel it. I would have laughed it off as some silly self-help thing, but the idea kept niggling. Eventually, I realized that I was grateful – really and truly – that I had a bad knee, because it reminds me (by locking up when I don’t) to tap into and take care of my physical body.

It was amazing how good it felt to stop hating my knee.

The very next day, I heard the Eben segment on gratitude. Being Eben, he put his discussion of gratitude in a much more elaborated framework:

1. Why – Why is gratitude important?
2. What – What is gratitude?
3. How – How do you experience gratitude?
4. What if? – What three steps can you do right now to start experiencing more gratitude in your life on a daily basis?

Simply put, gratitude is important because it has the ability to pull us out of almost any negative emotion state. If you can learn to find the gratitude in an authentic way, you can manage your emotional state, no matter now negative or overwhelming that state may me. In this regard, Eben (and other within the self-development genre, industry – whatever one chooses to call it) refers to gratitude as being the “crown jewel” of all other emotions.

What is gratitude? Well, as stated above, gratitude is the experience or expression of thankfulness; it is also a powerful emotion management/emotional regulation strategy. According to Eben, as well as many sociological accounts, gratitude is a tertiary or higher order emotion. In other words, it’s not one that is hard-wired into us via biology; it’s not something that simply occurs, such as fear, anger, disgust, happiness, and joy or is somehow linked to our evolutionary survival. Instead, gratitude is something that we learn – we learn to be grateful for certain things. Gratitude is constructed via the stories that we tell ourselves about the events that are happening to us, especially those events that result in basic emotions (fear, anger, disgust, happiness, or joy) or the secondary emotions (such as jealousy, anxiety, excitement, depression, envy, guilt, or shame).

So, how do you do it? First, you acknowledge that whatever is happening is happening or, if the event happened in the past, that whatever happened has happened. There’s absolutely no point trying to change reality. It is possible to change what happens in the future, but it’s pointless to try to change what’s happening right now or what’s happened in the past. It happened or it is happening. Accept it. Second, ask yourself: “What can I learn from what is happening right now or what has happened in the past? Third, taking that information into account, what can I do moving forward to improve my situation?

Now, Eben, being Eben, takes this to the logical extreme (that is, the death of a loved one) to illustrate that you don’t need to be happy that it happened in order to find gratitude. A loved one died. You realize that life is short and there are no guarantees other than your own death, whenever that may be. You start living your life on purpose so that you can accomplish as much as you can in the time that you are allowed. You’re not happy that your loved one died, but you are grateful that you had the insight regarding your own situation early enough to do something about it moving forward.

Finally, look for challenging things in your life which you had been wishing hadn’t happened (or wasn’t currently happening) and find the gratitude.

I must admit that I wasn’t actively following through on this. However, I was thinking about it a lot and I was keeping my gratitude list. You know, the one I mentioned before that had to include 5 body-centric things? Well, things were slipping on there that I have been railing against lately – my core, which might be bigger than I’d like but nonetheless keeps me upright; my bum knee, which keeps me mindful; my autoimmune system that is working really hard (one could say too hard) to keep all of the things that are not me from becoming me….. I’m sure you’re getting the idea. And I was feeling the gratitude, but I was having to reach for it. It felt authentic, but it didn’t feel easy.

This morning, however, after I finished a 45 minute yoga session (which was much easier than it had been the last three times I’d done it) and I just sat there on the floor in awe of how much more balance I have in my life, how much more I enjoy the exercise I do, how much more balance I have in my body, and (yes, I am shallow) how nice my shoulders looked in the reflection of the window pane against the dark New England morning. And then I asked myself, How did I get here? What happened to that stressed out woman who was always in the office by 8:00, usually after having completed a grueling 1 to 2 hour cardio workout, who was stiff, and tended to have difficulty walking in the morning because of her super tight hamstrings? What happened to that woman who used to breathe shallowly, if at all? What happened to that woman who gulped her food down in a hurry without ever tasting it? What happened to that woman who would have thought you had lost your mind if you’d told her she wouldn’t set foot in a gym in over a year, never miss it, and spend hours on end dancing in her living room or on a yoga mat? What happened to her? Not that I miss her or anything, because, you know what, she was pretty uptight and really not that much fun to be around. More to the point, she didn’t love herself, which made it pretty hard for anyone else to love her either.

What happened? Because whatever it was, in that moment, I was truly grateful.

And then I remembered.

My thyroid happened. Or, rather, my thyroid stopped happening.

Did that mean that I was grateful for my hypothyroidism? That there was something that had happened as a result of that malfunction that had actually changed my life for the better? I certainly wasn’t happy that it had happened, but was I grateful for the changes that occurred as a result? And even more important, would I have changed myself if the hypothyroidism hadn’t occurred?

I took out a pen and paper and wrote the following sentence: I am grateful for my hypothyroidism, because it’s changed the way that I relate to my mind, my body, and the world.

I sat with that. It felt true. I breathed into it. It still felt true. I sit here at my desk and read it again and I know in my heart of hearts, it is true.

I’ve found the gratitude (or perhaps I should say, the gratitude found me). Regardless, I am grateful and with that, I am at peace, perhaps for the first time since I realized that sleeping on the couch for five days in a row, crying jags, delusions, and depression weren’t my typical summertime MO.

I am grateful for the life I have now; therefore, I am grateful for the things that got me here.

Perhaps Eben is right; gratitude is the crown jewel of emotions (and one hell of a strategy). Now if I could only move my lag time to real-time.

My ten things:
1. My hypothyroidism
2. My job
3. My ability to communicate with others
4. Waking up in a warm bed next to a man who loves me and who is loved by me.
5. My thumb
6. My liver
7. My pancreas
8. My tongue
9. That I grew up as an overweight child
10. My ample behind (which cushioned me this morning when I fell on the ice).

What are you grateful for?

Tuned out, tapped out, turned off

At some point last year, a friend of mine loaned me a copy of one of the Esther and Jerry Hick’s recordings regarding the law of attraction.

I’ve never been able to get my head fully around that to tell you the truth, despite the fact that I know quite a few people who not only swear by it, but who are also living their dreams.

Even though I haven’t quite “got” it, there is one thing that stuck with me.

At one point, Esther made some comment about being, “Tuned in, tapped in, and turned on.” She was essentially encouraging people to tune in, tap into, and get turned on by the universal energy, etc, etc.

When I returned from New York recently, that phrase really resonated with me, particularly as it related to my body. I felt totally tuned in, tapped in, and turned on. I was really present with my body and totally with it. I was loving my life, loving my body, and especially my tummy that was getting – like magic – thinner and thinner.

Essentially, I was living in pleasure. I ate with pleasure. I moved my body with pleasure. It was awesome and beautiful and, or so I had assumed, easy.

However, something changed once I returned from the holidays.

I started leading with my mind, instead of my body or even my spirit. I started doing what I thought I should be doing, what I “knew” (intellectually) would work. I wasn’t listening to my body – not at all. And I certainly wasn’t enjoying myself and allowing myself to experience a range of pleasurable experiences. In fact, even the things that had been pleasurable before, all of a sudden seemed rote.

And here it is (January 12) and just two days ago, I was in such a place of self-hatred that I barely recognized myself. I also had a ton of new digestive issues (that in the name of delicacy should remain unnamed) that hadn’t been there before. I had dislocated my knee while doing yoga. And I was spilling out of jeans that were a size bigger than the one’s I’d worn home from the holidays. To quote one of Michael J’s favorite modern composers: “WTF?!”

What the heck had happened?

It’s simple: I was no longer tuned in, tapped in, or turned on.

I was no longer listening to my body; instead, I was once again waging war. How quickly we revert to old patterns.

So in an effort to get back to tuned in, tapped in, and turned on (as opposed to tuned out, tapped out, and turned off), I am embarking on a number of experiments or, given that my body and I are one being, we are embarking on a series of experiments.

Although I (have you ever noticed how the the “I” almost always refers to the brain?) will be setting them up, she (as opposed to it) will be the one to decide if it’s a success. It will be up to me (aka “I”) to listen and to make adjustments accordingly.

Experiment One: Elimination

Well, as it turns out, I had added 4 new things into my diet since November:

1) black tea (on a more than daily basis),
2) yams (on a daily basis),
3) peanut butter (also on a daily basis, even though I have a sneaking suspicion that I have an allergy), and
4) a rice protein based shake mix (also on more than a daily basis, despite that one of my health coach friends told me months ago that people with Celiac’s or other forms of wheat/gluten intolerance should stay away from rice [go figure]).

Over the last three days I have removed all of these things from my diet and, lo and behold, I feel ridiculously better. Of course, I had to go through the “Woe is me, etc., etc.” phase, because, seriously? Yams? But bottom line, my body doesn’t like something on that list. I’m going to give a couple of weeks, then I’ll start adding things in one by one (though I’ll probably skip the rice protein, because I know for a fact that my body loves hemp powder and if the other things don’t automatically kick start indigestion, bloating, and general discomfort – isn’t it amazing how you don’t even realize quite how bad you feel until you begin to feel better – it’s really not worth the risk).

Experiment Number Two: Radical Self Love

To this end, I have dusted off some of my old handy dandy coaching tools that I have collected over the years. Just after 10 morning rituals, I’m already feeling a shift. But just to knock it up a notch – especially to repair the damage done to my relationship with my tummy (my tummy that I love because it allows me to hula hoop, process food for energy, walk upright, etc), I bought an info-product to learn Samba. The main lesson is literally called, “Thirty Days to Shake Your Booty.” Well, I’ve done it once, at least the first 15 minute section on macro movements.

Who knew Samba was really a combination of belly dancing and hoop dance?

According to the instructor (who I came across on the recommendation of Jenna LaFlamme, my pleasure guru), dancing is one way to get from stress to pleasure. It’s a way to love your body as it is, to appreciate your body despite its limitations, and to turn your body into a fat burning machine that will not only help you look better, but also younger, and more energized. Sounds pretty good, right? Sort of.

Normally I find dancing stressful, but I am going into this with an open mind. So far so good, because even though I didn’t “get it” right out of the gate, I still had fun. And I can tell after just 15 minutes, I’ll be feeling this in the morning. The class also came with a beautifully laid out 27ish page ebook with daily rituals to practice self love that will catapult us into “body joy.” I haven’t digested all of the material yet, but once I do….

So here I am, starting over yet again – but with a shorter turn around time than ever, for which I am grateful. Speaking of, one of the samba instructor’s recommendations is to start a daily gratitude list stating ten things for which you are grateful, five of which must involve your body. This is one of those things that I have read about over and over and never done (that and creating a vision board!) But, for the sake of experimentation and of getting tuned, in tapped in, and turned on as quickly as possible, here it goes:

Day 1:

1. I am grateful for Michael J, because he is
2. I am grateful for my hands, which allow me to communicate my thoughts to the world
3. I am grateful for my feet, which allow me to move easily from one location to another
4. I am grateful for my lungs, which allow me to breathe and to connect viscerally with my environment
5. I am grateful for my bad knee, because it reminds me to be mindful with my body
6. I am grateful for my hair, because I’m vain and it keeps me warm
7. I am grateful for my family, for raising me
8. I am grateful that I have access to clean water, good food, and clean air
9. I am grateful that I am resilient
10. I am grateful for the time that I have to work on things that I love, including myself.

I won’t post these everyday, but it’s worth thinking about.

And, just out of curiosity, what are some of the things for which you are most grateful?