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Taking Time To (Re)Treat January 25, 2014

IMG_4834So many things have helped me on my path to health, but one that I have been practicing for over 25 years is the retreat. I love this word. It means to take a step back; it means to take refuge. It also means to re-treat: to treat oneself, again. I first came to Santa Sabina in the mid-eighties, when I was a budding calligrapher (little known fact). I signed up for the Friends of Calligraphy retreat,  not really knowing what I was getting into.

It took my breath away. Silence, and beauty. The scratching of pens on paper in what had been set up as the Scriptorium. Words on paper (or on walls). A great spaciousness. My mind was blown.

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Once I started coming to this place, I felt I craved it like one craves chocolate, or oxygen. Once or twice a year (especially when I had babies and small children), I would slip away for twenty-four hours, to step into the quiet corners. I could climb the steps to the straw-bale Hermitage and “be the hermit” for a brief while.

IMG_1617 IMG_1612 IMG_1611Sometimes I came on my own, or with other writer friends. Sometimes I came with groups- calligraphers or poets. I experienced several amazing poetry weekends – one focusing on the work of Rilke, others with Jane Hirshfield and Naomi Shihab Nye. There is poetry everywhere here, and art. The art basement is a generous space filled with art supplies of all kinds – a calligraphers’ nook, a collage room. It invites gentle creativity.

IMG_1633 IMG_1630Several years ago, I began offering group retreats myself at Santa Sabina. It has been one of my greatest joys. Two years ago, I led a retreat called Stories of the Body. Participants came together to share stories through collage, art, writing, movement, and to be with their own bodies’ stories in silence and reflection and silent, mindful meals. It was so moving and beautiful. I have been trying to book a date for a return visit for years, but the center has been undergoing many renovations and there have not been dates open — until now! I am thrilled to be offering Stories of the Body again at the end of March.

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There’s an early-bird discounting until January 28th, and I’m also offering a discount to YOU, blog readers. (you can take advantage of both!) For readers of this blog, just enter the code FOODFOODBODYBODY and you’ll get an additional reduction in price.  I am also offering a deposit option with extended payments for those who cannot pay all at once.

I am hoping to be able to offer a weekend scholarship for one retreat assistant to this retreat this year. The work involved would be minimal but of great help to me (registration, set-up, logistics). If you feel that you would benefit from this special time away (and into yourself), please email me with the following:

  • Why you feel this retreat would benefit you at this time
  • Your commitment to attend if chosen
  • Experience in dealing with groups (ie your “people skills”)
  • DEADLINE: February 1, 2014

Exercise and eating well have been so elemental in my health journey, but this – THIS- has been an invaluable element that I often forget. Being with myself. Taking time for the quiet. I hope you will join us.

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Six Things Pain is Teaching Me October 8, 2013

Filed under: emotions,injury,lessons learned,meditation,struggle,triathlon — Susan @ 12:47 am

I thought I knew pain. I had had my share of it — from hip arthritis to sprained ankles to gallstones and two bouts of childbirth. But nothing has been like the past two weeks of astonishing, electrifying pain that has nearly disabled my every activity.

It started so innocuously. There was an enticing looking trampoline in the back yard of a house we were renting to celebrate our 25th anniversary. I climbed on to bounce with friends, no more than a few minutes.

But the morning after that two-minute jump, I woke up and found that my neck and upper back felt stiff and tweaky, like I’d slept on my pillow wrong. I figured it would go away as soon as I started moving around and loosening things up.

I was wrong. I entered, for the first time in my life, a growing, debilitating, excruciating pain that just would not go away. By the fourth night,I wasn’t able to sleep in my bed any longer. I was up every two hours, crying, only able to find intermittent relief if I rolled around on the floor with a lacrosse ball wedged underneath my shoulder blades.

I went to an acupuncturist. It got worse. I called my primary care physician. I went to physical therapy, where I was iced, and electrically stimulated, and taped. I got prescriptions over the next week for muscle relaxers, anti-inflammatories, narcotics in stronger and stronger doses, laxatives to ease the constipation of the painkillers, and finally, a Fentanyl patch, which is what they give women in labor. I felt like I was in labor, and that I was going to give birth to a spiny creature through my upper back. This made me vomit violently, causing even more spasming in my back. I had an MRI, which took every ounce of meditation practice I had ever experienced. I took hot, neck-deep baths with Epsom salts.
hot baths up to my neck

hot baths up to my neck

I applied blue ice and microwaved, aromatherapy shoulder wraps. I got a plastic goose hook with a sharp beaky hook, and the only thing that allowed me to tolerate walking around was simultaneously digging that thing into my upper back, poking and clawing at the relentless spasm. A sweet friend came over and gave me a wonderful shiatsu treatment and when she left, I was comfortable lying on blankets on the floor. I dozed off feeling blissed out. But when I got up, the pain returned.

The only thing that gave me pure relief was regular doses of Percocet which allowed me to drift into comfortable sleep. The minute I put myself into a sitting or standing position for more than five minutes, the chewing, clawing sensation resumed.


I have learned many things during this Time of Pain. Things I never really appreciated until now. I learned that:

  1. Pain is expensive. During this period of pain, I had to give up hundreds of dollars for concert tickets I had paid for. Nobody on Craigslist or Facebook wanted to see Jackson Browne as badly as I had. Ditto for a triathlon I had registered for (I went, driven by someone else, to cheer on my friends who had signed up to support me). Ditto for a hotel room I had pre-paid to stay in for a friend’s out of town wedding. It has added up big time, all these things I paid for when I assumed I would be active and well.
  2. Pain is boring.Not only for me, wandering from one horizontal surface to another, but for the kind people who ask me every morning,”How do you feel?” and getting the same tired, dogged answer every time. “Not so great.” I wonder how long these friends will want to stick around when I am not the upbeat, active person I was before that damn trampoline.
  3. Pain is on its own timeline. It seems like maybe it’s getting better. My husband (who has been a saint, and given new meaning to the words “in sickness and in health”) observes that at least now I am “comfortable at rest” instead of “agonizingly uncomfortable no matter what position.” But two weeks into it, I want to be better than able to lie around on my back all day. I need to get up and out and around. I need to be able to drive my car without crazy discomfort or narcotic wooziness. Pain doesn’t give a shit about my schedule, my calendar, my job or my plans.
  4. Pain doesn’t show on the outside. After I employ Lamaze breathing techniques to endure a shower, toweling off, getting dressed and drying my hair, numerous optimistic acquaintances have exclaimed, “You look so much better!” But I am cringing from the stabbing red-hot poker that is assaulting that area between my scapula and my thoracic spine. They don’t notice that it doesn’t take longer than me for ten minute to end up on the floor again, seeking out the ball, the foam roller, the ice bag. I know that I looked “fine” when I was cheering my buddies on at See Jane Tri, but I was feeling terrible. I had to stop several times to roll on a picnic bench.
    Lily rocked the tri. I rocked the cheering on. Sort of.

    Lily rocked the tri. I rocked the cheering on. Sort of.

    I had to lie down on the ball every few minutes.

    I had to lie down on the ball every few minutes.

     

  5. Chronic pain is absolutely debilitating. I am a physical therapist. I used to work primarily with people who had endured years and years of pain. I think about them now. I think about how they used to relay their stories to me and weep. How I didn’t really understand the depth of the mental and emotional exhaustion that pain can exact on a human being. It has only been two weeks for me, but I see that this could be a long road.
  6. Pain is mysterious. Nobody can explain, really, why it hurts the way that it does. Maybe it is a rotated or twisted thoracic vertebrae, out of alignment with a rib. Maybe it is a neuro-electrical loop that won’t close or stop. Maybe it is muscle spasm. Maybe it is the “moderate narrowing” of my cervical spine, pressing on my spinal nerves. Maybe it just IS. Many people can jump and fling themselves around on a trampoline to no ill effects.

As I write this, I don’t know how or when I will feel “normal” again. When I will be able to effortlessly bathe, or eat a meal, let alone drive around in my car all day and practice as a home health physical therapist. When I will be able to swim in open water, ride a bike or run a 5k race. All of these things are like dreams to me now. All I can do is take each moment, each moment of discomfort, to try and learn someting, try and find a shred of compassion for myself and this situation. All I can do is ask for patience and a bit of relief.

heat? ice? whatever.

heat? ice? whatever.

sadly, this is not always possible.

sadly, this is not always possible.

 

MindMindBodyBody July 12, 2013

photo-12

It is amazing how things have a way of coming together, all at once somehow. It is a strange and wonderful story. Back in the beginning of May, I was in a kind of bleak place. My hip was hurting. I had not been able to exercise the way I wanted to. My weight was bumping up and up.

Then I got the dreaded email from the Powers That Be at Weight Watchers. Because you know, they keep an eye on these things. We staff members have to weight in once a month and show that we are either in compliance with the Staff Agreement (that we will be within 2 lbs of our goal weight), or that we have an Active Plan in mind to get back there. It was just a form letter. It wasn’t aimed only at me, but I took it absolutely to heart. I was utterly disappointed with myself and for the first time in four years, I felt hopeless. I went into this whole spiral of: I am a failure. I am a a fraud. How can I be standing up in front of people when I have let myself down so terribly?

I got that email about an hour before my regular WW meeting. I broke down in the parking lot and cried. I texted another leader friend intending to beg her to cover for me. No way could I go in there. But she didn’t answer back, she didn’t answer and finally it was time to go and I had to just suck it up and go in there. I bumped into a member who greeted me so enthusiastically. If only she knew, I thought. We walked over to the center and there was already a long line of people waiting to get in. “Look at all the people!” she said. “They’re all here for YOU.” Which made me feel even worse. My eyes filled up again and I thought about quitting. For good.

I went up to the leader area to prepare for the meeting. I noticed that the new Routine of the Month was: Mindful Eating, aka Eating Without Distraction. I laughed out loud. This is my favorite topic. This is the thing I am the most passionate about. I laughed. I told myself, all right, I will hang in there for this month and THEN if it still feels miserable, I will quit. I started the meeting and it was just awesome. As they mostly are. I love my members so much.

That next week, I took part in a one-day meditation retreat which was part of an eight week series I have been taking in Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction. (MSBR) It included an hourlong mindful lunch. I have had previous experiences of mindful eating practice, but it was before I was involved with Weight Watchers. I have also READ about mindful eating a LOT (love the book Savor) but I had not really practiced it in a formal way. So this was, like perfect timing: to have this experience smack in the middle of Mindful Eating month.

It was an astounding, beautiful, altering experience. First, we did the Raisin Exercise as a warm-up. Then we all went into various corners and spots of our own to eat and experience our own lunches. We were instructed not to make eye contact or try to communicate via hand gestures with anyone else. To see what it was like to eat WITH other people, but not in a social way. Interesting. I had brought a sandwich I’d make that morning, a bag of fruit, two little cookies and a bottle of sparkly water. I took it all out and laid it out on a napkin. I took off my glasses and held each piece of food up to my eyes, up close.

The raspberries blew my mind.

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Seriously. The way they had openings like little mouths. The teeny-tiny hairs. The puffy red bubbles. They were so luscious and somehow tender like tiny baby somethings. I was overwhelmed by affection and appreciation for them. Sweet little raspberries! Then I turned to the blueberries. I had never really given much thought to how blueberries looked up close. But they were like little grandmothers. Kind of drier, and a little more wrinkly (which I didn’t expect). The colors were muted and they didn’t have the same baby-like quality as the raspberries. They also tasted so very much themselves.
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The sandwich was another story altogether. I remembered when I was looking at it, how I really don’t like to eat the crusts of the sandwich. But it felt like a virtuous thing to do, to not “waste” food. I thought about why I don’t like the crust. Because it doesn’t have any of the yummy filling or flavor. It’s just… plain bread. It’s dry. There’s no goodness inside of it. So during my Mindful Lunch I paused and made the choice to leave the crusts behind. I didn’t need to eat them. And that felt just right.

It took me an hour to eat a lunch that would normally be snarfed up in about ten minutes. I made many, many decisions during this hour. What next? How much? More? What does it taste like? How hungry or satisfied or full am I NOW? What else is going on? How’s the weather? What’s that sound? It was really one of the most memorable meals I have ever experienced.

I felt changed.

As soon as I got home I emailed my awesome Territory Manager at WW. I told him I had an idea: to bring Mindful Eating practice to our Weight Watchers members. After all, it’s one of our new core Routines. How awesome would it be to invite members to actually practice something, instead of just talking about it? He was in. He was so supportive and excited. The first Mindful Eating session (which I had limited to 20 members) sold out and was held about a month ago.

I loved sharing this experience in this way. I am so grateful to our local WW administration for allowing me to expand the experiences we offer our members. The feedback was so good.

“A calming, conscious eating practice.” “

A very uplifting experience.” “

A quiet reflection, a safe space.”

“The food tasted better!”

“A chance to stop and savor our food.”

It made me so happy. And guess what? That month of focusing on Mindful Eating brought me easily, painlessly, calmly back to my goal weight.  BOOM. :-)

The first event was such a success, I’m offering it again this month at our Emeryville Center. Bay Area peeps, it’s free and open to the public, NOT JUST Weight Watchers members. But all participants need to register HERE (free of charge) to get in, because spaces ARE limited. I’d love for this one to fill up too. (click on image below for details, click on link in previous sentence to register)

MINDFUL EMERYVILLE  copyI am so grateful and kind of amazed at the course of events that have conspired since that day I sat in my car crying, ready to quit. I had no idea what changes would occur, how serendipitous it all would be, but for all of it, I am so very happy.

 

Visualizing Success November 3, 2011

I’ve been preparing for Sunday’s Olympic-distance triathlon in Marin County since July. It has taken so much blood, sweat and tears (literally) it’s incredible. This week is the time for the mental and emotional preparation. My awesome sports psychologist, Michelle Cleere, gave me the assignment to write about my upcoming triathlon exactly the way I want it to happen. This is it. I would love it if you would read this and then imagine it happening just like this for me on Sunday. It’s my best case scenario, my dream event. Thank you ALL for your incredible support and encouragement in this undertaking! Much love and gratitude — Susan
——–
On my knees. Arranging items in a pile on the floor, some of which I’d never heard of three months ago. A box of silicon earplugs nestled like soft eggs. Swim booties. Purple spandex. My Team in Training wetsuit with its oddly comforting smell of rubber and salt. I’m checking things off on the list our coach sent us, building a little altar to improbability and miracles.  I love the ritual of lining everything up the night before, touching each object, asking each one to do its job, to keep me safe, keep me healthy, warm, dry, hydrated, nourished. Vanilla GU and a lavender towel.
I set my alarm and sleep with dreams of floating effortlessly, rolling over hills up and down and taking sure steps.
4:30am. The alarm goes off and I don’t want to hit Snooze. I’m excited to get up in the dark. Today is the day. Today is the day I become a triathlete.  For me, believing that I can be a triathlete is like believing I will be an astronaut, a tightrope walker, a brain surgeon. A fantasy of the nth degree. But today I’m going to put on the costume and the identity.
First layer: the purple tri shorts (padded for biking, quick-dry for swimming) and top. I’m so proud to be part of this team.  Then thick sweat pants, heavy socks, a sweatshirt. I need to keep warm. Warm warm warm to carry me into the ocean. Is it raining already? Maybe. It’s okay. It’s just water.
Breakfast.  Coffee, water, whole wheat English muffin with peanut butter. Maybe some cut up apple. Boil some eggs to take in the car. Fill the water bottles, one with Gatorade and one with water.
Transfer the gear pile into my gym bag. Check everything twice. John is out in the garage, oiling and cleaning the bike chain, filling the tires. He’s a great bike support. Hard to believe that three months ago I was terrified to get on a bike of any kind, that I couldn’t turn, stop, or start without falling over. I still have scars on my legs from all the falls I took.
my trusty bike tech
5:30. Time to pick up Lily. My buddy, my angel, my constant companion since the day we sat next to each other for the first time at Kick-Off in July. She has pushed me, nudged me, encouraged me and made me believe that I can do this. I will so miss our nighttime swims, with her reading the wet workout sheet from the light of the pool. Nobody in the pool but us crazies, and then rewarding ourselves with a rest in the hot tub after.
We drive through the dark morning, no traffic, over the San Rafael bridge, over the very water we will be swimming in. It’s quiet. We’re contemplating the hugeness of what we’re about to do.
By the time we get to the transition area and our reserved parking spot, our coach Haakon is already there. He helps us find good spots right next to each other and gives us some encouraging tips before saying his mantra, “Let’s do the damn thing!”
I drink hot tea mixed with electrolyte powder to get warm and stay warm. Also to fill up my bladder so I can warm up my wetsuit and my body with some nice warm pee later on. (didn’t know that trick, did you?) I’m wearing my daughter’s Oakland Strokes fake fur parka and thinking of her encouraging “Go Mama!” vibes from Peru.
Then it’s wetsuit time. I put the Bodyglide on my ankles, wrists, neck, armpits, and then stretch the thick skin over my body. I remember the first time we got these – it was an Olympic event just trying to wiggle into it. I thank the wetsuit for keeping me warm and buoyant in the water. I love this thing.
It’s time to go down to the water! There’s a bagpipe player leading us all down. The sound of the music gives me goosebumps. My heart is pounding out of my chest. It’s still pretty dark but the light is breaking over the water. We walk over the rocky beach on a special carpet and WOW it’s cold! But it’s okay. I walk in up to my knees, then calves, then thighs then I just better dive in and get the shock over with. YOW! Yeah! It’s refreshing! It’s super refreshing! All my teammates are around me. We’re laughing and shrieking from the cold, letting the water into our suits from our necks. I know people are peeing around me. It makes me laugh.
There’s about 15 minutes from the time we get in the water until our special TNT wave begins. I use the time to float around, to realllllly get used to the water, to take a few warmup strokes. Breathe. I think about my special breathing mantra: “gentle” on the exhale into the water, “kind” on the inhale. Gentle-kind-gentle-kind. I look out at my first landmark, the pier. No fisherman today, no line to get tangled in. The giant orange buoys are bobbing around gently and easy to see. I’m just going to swim swim swim like I did at Keller Beach.
The horn goes off and it’s a churning of arms and legs as everyone takes off. I stay toward the back and the side, away from all the limbs. I’m not in a hurry. I’m just going to take it one stroke at a time. With every breath, I roll almost all the way onto my back and take a nice full breath. I blow bubbles down into the water. Gen-tle. I remember to look up every few strokes and I see the pier getting closer and closer. Then I’m around it and looking for the first buoy. I see the paddleboarders, the kayaks and other support. They’re cheering us on. I get to the first buoy and I’m feeling good. I see some of my other teammates around me. I’m not alone. Swim swim swim. With every stroke the air gets brighter and brighter, the sun coming up. I get to the 2nd buoy. One more and then land. I just look at one at a time. I sing a little bit into the water.
It’s hard not to get too excited when I see people running out of the water. I give it an extra kick and feel my hands touching ground. I scramble out of the water and feel for my wetsuit leash, unzipping it I wobble to the transition spot. Wow my legs feel funny! And the air is cold. Is it raining?  No matter, I’m gonna get warmed up soon.
I get to my transition spot. I take a big swig of Gatorade, suck down some GU and peel off the wetsuit. It’s like a giant, wiggly sealskin. BRR it’s cold! I trade my swim cap for bike helmet, my goggles for glasses, and try to dry off as quick as I can. I pull on my socks and bike shoes, take one more drink and pull the bike from the rack.
The first hill out of the parking lot is STEEP but I’ve done it a bunch of times before. I’m still pumped up from the swim. First gear, here we go, just pedal, pedal, pedal… Whoo! Got to the top and have a little coasting before the next long hill up the road. I’m glad I’ve done this route before, glad that the hills and turns are familiar to me now. Just… get .. up… this hill, then around the corner and wheeeeee. I let my heart slow down some, let myself enjoy the downhill through the trees around the part with the beautiful view of the water in which I just swam! It’s pretty soon and I get to the turnaround at the campground. Back past the beach entrance (more hills, but they feel fine) and there are so many people here! I love that there are no cars. People are clanging cowbells and yelling out. It’s kind of fun. I see some of my friends. WOW!
Get to the turnaround and head back out for loop number two. I’m feeling strong now. I’m getting warmer after being chilled in the water and the sun is stronger and warmer. All the familiar turns. I see my teammates passing me on the other side and it makes me so happy to call out to them. What we have all gone through together since July – this is amazing.
Okay, final bike loop. My butt is starting to get kind of sore. The course is getting a little bit TOO familiar. But the crowd is getting bigger as we get closer and closer to finishing. Every time I go past the park entrance there are more and more people there. It’s like a big party.
Finally, down the parking lot hill back to the transition. My legs are definitely talking to me (“Are we done yet?”) – not quite.  I hang up the bike, take off my helmet and put on my running hat and running shoes. They feel nice and soft after those bike shoes! Throw back some more Gatorade, a handful of salty pretzels (my power snack) and it’s time for the run part.
Six miles. Okay. I still have this nagging tendonitis in my foot so I’m determined to go as fast as I can without hurting myself. Which at this point means a steady walk. Around the beach area, up the darn hill AGAIN and this time turning left to the trail along the water. It’s beautiful! It’s pretty! Instead of the 1:5 walk/run ratio I was doing during training, it’s now more of a 5:1 walk run but that’s okay. It’s a beautiful day. My clothes are dry, I’m feeling good. I need to use the bathroom and voila! There’s a portOpotty on the corner. Perfect.
Out to the turnaround and back. One final loop! I’ve almost finished an Olympic triathlon! Damn! I’m seeing my teammates fly by. I get so excited to see them. I’m passing my friends and some of them jump up and walk with me. This is so awesome. Final downhill back to the transition area – yeah, Haakon warned us it would be kind of steep. I take my time till I hit the grass and then I can’t help it, I’m running just this last part through the FINISH. FINISH! There’s coach Haakon with my medal.

this weekend it won't be a paper medal!

Where’s the Kleenex? I’m an Olympic triathlete.
 

Retreating October 7, 2011

It’s been a long time since my last post! But today is a self-appointed (nonscheduled) rest day and I’m using it to catch up.

There’s a bunch to say about my tri training but I’ll leave that for another post. Today I want to write about my “Stories of the Body” retreat that was held at Santa Sabina Center last weekend.

Wow. Just wow. It surpassed my wildest expectations and hopes for what it could mean for 20 women to come together to write, share, contemplate, make art and dance, cry and laugh about their bodies. It was just awesome and made my heart break with happiness.

It made me realize that really, all I want to do is interact with the world like this. In an honest, vulnerable, thoughtful and calm way. It was a turning point. It was good.

That’s really all I want to say about it. Here’s some pictures.

inside the Hermitage

contemplative eating
Bodymindfull movement and writing

collage stories

Scrabble party

courtyard fountain

yes

telling stories through collage
peace
new friends
celebrating
 

Calling All Zumba-Phobes!! May 24, 2011

(this is not the Official Fitbloggin’ recap, but a special outtake!)

So it turns out that Zumba had a MAJOR presence at Fitbloggin 2011. There was Zumba booty-shaking class, there were Zumba virtual video machines, there were Zumba instructors and there was Zumba swag.

shakin' it to the virtual Zumba!

I just came home with the Zumba swag.

I’ve been to exactly one Zumba class in my life. It gave my already injured ankle an owie, and i was also intimidated by my extreme klutziness. Even though the music was fun, and watching the extremely hyperkinetic teacher was fun, it was not fun for me to DO.

So I slunk around in the hallway with the anit-Zumba club while everyone else jumped around and shrieked and burned on the average of 750-850 calories during Zumba hour.

the Sitting In the Hall Not Going Into Zumba Club

I’ve been eyeing my little Zumba DVD since getting home though. I have to confess that I snagged a small pile of them from the huge Room of Swag on the final day.

So I have a proposal for y’all out there. If anyone else out there has had a small fascination/big phobia regarding Zumba, this is your chance. To try it out in the privacy and comfort of your own home, knowing that I will be stumbling around and perhaps repeatedly hitting the PAUSE button and going, “Whaa…??”

I’ve got six DVDs to give away!!

And there’s something else going on. Some of you may know that I have this lovely retreat, Stories of the Body, coming up in September. (click here for details) It is my deep desire to fill this space with amazing and wonderful individuals and to build a kind of awesome mini-community like we had at Fitbloggin (only there will be no 5k and no talk of SEO or monetizing).

So, in order to be eligible for the Zumba DVDs, I am asking you to (if you are on Facebook) – RSVP to the event here (yes, no or maybe), and then SHARE it with anybody you think would resonate with such an event.

If you are NOT on Facebook, I am asking you to email people and send them the following link. http://foodfoodbodybody.wordpress.com/events/

Then come back here and leave a comment telling me how many people you’ve shared with. (I mean don’t share with your whole email list, only with people whom it would FIT WITH – this might only mean 3, or 5, or…???) Each “share” is worth a Zumba point.

Top six Zumba-point getters will get a Zumba DVD.

Oh and P.S.! If any of your friends register for the retreat with the code “ZUMBAPHOBIA” they will get $25 off! (same goes for anybody reading this blog post)

Deadline: Wednesday, June 1st! GO!

———————————————————————————————————————————–

And the winners are:

  • Merri!
  • Mandy!
  • Mykhelle!
  • Jaemie!
  • June! (from Facebook)
  • Stan! (from Facebook)
Contact me here with your mailing address, and I’ll send the DVDs out this week!
 

Yoga KICKED MY BUTT. But I might go back… April 2, 2011

from bikram yoga

I haven’t done yoga in many, many years. In fact you might say I have had a yoga phobia. I’m not even sure why.

When I was in college (like a million years ago!) my boyfriend and I took up a home course in Bikram yoga after seeing the extremely sexy and appealing yoga-in-a-Turkish-prison scene in Midnight Express. It looked pretty irresistable. So we bought this book, and I bought a Danskin leotard (LOL) and we commenced to learn the poses along with Bikram and his cast of inflexible movie stars. (he had these hilarious pose photos – you can do it perfectly like Bikram here, but if you are a normal person with hamstrings of concrete, you may do it like … Debbie Reynolds!) But seeing the imperfect movie stars was kind of reassuring.

After that one stint of doing yoga in- what – 1978? I stopped and actually have not been back since. I’ve had a weird chip on my shoulder and I don’t even know why. At some point I came to associate yoga with sanctimonious Cafe Gratitude- type vegans AND with women who put on makeup and $150 Lululemon clothes to exercise. I mean, if you’re going to do yoga, I kind of think you ought to be doing it while wearing rags on a concrete floor. LOL. It’s supposed to be a spiritual practice, not a practice in consumerism and looking stylish.

Also, I can’t sit upright with my legs extended and since you have to do that ALL THE TIME in yoga, it makes me feel cranky and inadequate. Maybe that’s the REAL reason.

BUT… my friend who moved to New York was back in town for just a few days, and she invited me to her favorite yoga class, and said the instructor is AMAZING, and then we were going to go to the Bakesale for Japan together, and it’s really the only opportunity we had to get together, so… what the heck. I went.

First of all. This was a Level 2-3 class. Hahahaha. Second of all, it was PACKED. (popular teacher/ Saturday morning) Thirdly, I thought it was an hour class but it turned out to be 90 minutes more like 100 because he went overtime. YOW.

It started out innocuously enough. Some “getting in touch with your breath/body” stuff which segued into some very gentle neck stretches, and it had been going on forever, and I thought, not so bad.

Then it got bad.

There was a lot of downward dog and plank activity, and warrior pose stuff and even flying on one leg, but the thing that got to me was the Rabbit. (picture above) Except we not only did it like the picture, we also did it while our back quarters were still downward dogging, and one leg up in the air. We were to put all the weight of our bodies on our HAIRLINE. I mean, ow.

This yoga is no joke, people. I have had a few forays into “gentle” yoga or “restorative” yoga and this was a total kickass workout. I was shaking and trembling and sweating and really FEELING IT. It felt like it went on and on forever, but in fact it was around 95 minutes. Give or take.

When it was over, I was trembling like a scared Chihuaha for about an hour. I felt really… shaky. But then after that I felt good. Really good.

That’s my takeaway message. I’m probably going to do more yoga because it’s like good medicine. I think it’s good for me and does things that my other workouts don’t do. I’m going to start investigating different classes and see which ones might be a good fit for me. This one was pretty hardcore. At one point people were actually doing HEADSTANDS and I was like… whaaaaattttt? No way I was even going to go there. But it was good, and I do think another barrier was broken in Foodie McBody-land.

After the class we went over to the main Bakesale for Japan location. In my mind I was thinking this might be a day when I’d break my chip vow and try some sugar. Everything looked freaking AMAZING. But in the end, I decided it wasn’t worth it to me. I took a tiny nibble of something called a “sesame stick” and it was on the sweet side so I didn’t eat any more. But I also got some miso pork (made from Sendai miso, how perfect could that be?) and some farm eggs and little cheddar crisps made from cheese and black rice – wow, right? Yum.

It was a good day. And I definitely stayed on track, both exercise and sugarwise. Yay!

Tell me: what do YOU think of yoga? What kind do you do? What kind do you like?

 

 
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