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Yoga KICKED MY BUTT. But I might go back…

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?

Taking the #100daychipquest on Vacation

Photo credit: Lasse C via Flickr

I’m on day 35 of my 30-minutes-of-exercise chip and day 26 of my no-sugar chip. I’ve got to say. Having gotten to my 30th day of consistent exercise has been… challenging. And it’s not like it’s getting any easier. Every day. Here we go. But I am doing it, I’m super psyched I’m doing it and I know it’s a great thing to do.

My other challenge, the no-sugar challenge (I define this as someone I recently saw posted as “no obvious sugar”) – no candy, cookies, cupcakes (wahhh) or other things that are obviously “sweets” – is going really well. So well in fact that I’ve almost forgotten it. It’s been pretty easy, after the first few days when I kept ‘forgetting’ – to just eliminate that stuff. It’s easier to eliminate than cut back, I think. But I’m also trying to cut back on carbs in general.

The reason I’m eliminating is to get my blood glucose down to the level I want it at. What level do I want? Well, I’ll tell ya. Last week I went to my endocrinologist, and before that I had to get my blood drawn. One of the most important lab values a diabetic person pays attention to is their A1C levels. Which is a measure of their blood glucose over a period of THREE MONTHS. So you can’t really game it and be good the last few days or week. It’s a long period.

My previous A1C level was 5.8 I believe. And the one from last week was 6.0. Which is not DREADFUL but I saw this on my lab slip:

  • <5.7: decreased risk of diabetes
  • 5.7-6.0 Increased risk of diabetes
  • 6.1-6.4 Higher risk of diabetes
  • > or = 6.5 Consistent with diabetes

When I was first diagnosed, my A1C level was 6.8 (ie, “consistent with diabetes). Since I’ve been working on being healthy, I’ve been only in the “increased risk” range. How I would love to be in the “decreased risk” group! I know the daily activity is really going to help with that.

I have a really special vacation coming up next week. For one, Mr. McBody and I are going away alone together for the FIRST TIME IN TWENTY YEARS. Yeah, you read that right. Well, we’ve been away for overnights before, but this is TEN DAYS. Which is completely unprecedented.

I am excited because I know it will be no problem at ALL getting my 30 minutes of exercise in. We’re going to be walking and exploring all over the place and I am hoping to get some nice runs in.

But the tables will be turned in terms of what challenge is going to be “easier.” This place we’re going to is famous for amazing food. I considered deciding to just go to 30 days with the no-sugar thing, then taking a 10 day hiatus, then stepping back in when I return. But I realized a couple of things:

  1. I want to accomplish my #100daychip goal. Which I can’t if I stop next week.
  2. This is my LIFE. And I really want to accomplish my A1C goal as well. So I think I’m going to enjoy all the amazing savory treats and skip the sweet ones.  I hope I can stay strong!

Tell me: do you change or alter your habits when you go on vacation??

Yay. Just YAY. #30daychip

Yesterday was my 30th day of working out for a minimum of 30 minutes. WOW. Part of me just wanted to “rest” after Saturday but you know what? I wasn’t sore and I had the time and it wasn’t like a little time on the treadmill was going to kill me.  Plus, I really really REALLY wanted this chip so there was no way I was going to rest!

What have I learned in these 30 days?

  • I feel overall so much better, less stressed and more “in shape”
  • Contrary to my own limited beliefs, I actually CAN work out in the evening, after dinner, OR right before midnight. And live to tell the tale. It’s just making that decision and doing it.
  • I’d rather work out at half hour till midnight than at 6am.
  • I love YouTube on my phone. Eddie Vedder & Johnny Depp! Ray LaMontagne (of course) Talking Heads (<<our wedding song). Peter Gabriel. Wallflowers. Earth Wind and Fire!
  • I love streaming Netflix on my phone.
  • I can sing really loudly and badly in my garage.
  • It’s soothing to work out with a lot of rain coming down through the open garage door.

I am infinitely grateful to @bradgansberg and the entire #7daychip Family for supporting me in this endeavor. But I can’t relax and enjoy this moment TOO long because I’m on Day 31 and I’m going for… 100.

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Race Recap: The Fight For Air Stairclimb

Today was my first indoor race, and my first vertical race!! I was really worried because I got a major owie when training for this last week, and I was not sure I’d be fit to go. But I just had a hint of calf soreness this morning and felt definitely ready to climb.

It was POURING rain when I left my house. I went and parked at the BART station and then went over to San Francisco to the Bank of America Building where the event was, and to meet my team. I ran into Sabrina right away – Sabrina is a Twitter friend that I just met today! and also a formidable WordsWithFriends player. 😉 It is so cool to meet up with people I’ve “known” on Twitter. Sabrina has lost 100 lbs on Weight Watchers and is quite the inspiration. It was awesome to do this event with her (and also Event 2, later this evening!).

The event registration was a big wet mess! But it was also fun and there was a lot of good energy. Tons of firefighters around from all over California, and a hardy bagpipe crew. (I heart bagpipes) There I met up with our team captain Hazel (also from Twitter, also never met before today! – and she’s the one who talked me into this event) and Christine (fellow Cirque du Soleil fanatic!) and the rest of East Bay Fit Club. Yahoo!

So we got to mill around and wait on the bathroom line (nice thing about doing an event in a BUILDING is that there are actual restrooms instead of portopotties!) and then it was time for our “wave” to go. They sent people up the stairwell in waves of about 50 people, so there would be no traffic jam in the narrow space. I started out wanting to just kind of bound up the stairs. That lasted about…a flight and a half. Then I slowed WAY down and just said, Steady steady steady.

The first ten were the hardest I think. I wasn’t quite warm and in the zone yet. I was very happy to see the first water station around floor 12. There were signs on each floor — ONLY 40 FLIGHTS TO GO! (ha) KEEP BREATHING! and the like.

At around floor 25, I suddenly got this distraught feeling – were we going to #52 (stories) or #104? (flights) I felt like I was fine to be halfway done but now 1/4 way.

I have to say, it went pretty fast. And then we were at the top. I was extremely proud of the fact that I did not touch a handrail once on the way up.

How fast? 19 minutes and 16 seconds! Who knew, right? We were greeted at top by a bunch of balloons, some nice post-climb snacks, towels with which to wipe our sweaty brows (that was new!) and a pretty sweet view, even through the fog.

So? It was fun. It was definitely do-able! My training climb at the cemetery last week was a lot harder.

I want to thank everyone who generously donated to the American Lung Association on my behalf. I raised exactly $400 – wow! Thank you so much to:

  • Anderson, Karen
  • Bilotta, Annemarie
  • Brinckerhoff, Courtenay
  • Cons, Alexandra
  • Debare, Ilana
  • Edelstein, June
  • Honeycutt, Teresa
  • Huerta, Merle
  • jones, tracey
  • Kim, Emily
  • Lerner, Lisa
  • Lloyd, Merredith
  • Lutz, Ericka
  • Martin, Mary
  • Martin, Tara
  • Miller, Melissa
  • Will, Annie

Because I was able to raise almost double my original goal, I’ve decided to give away TWO quilts in thanks. The first one is going to Tara Martin. This is not a random giveaway, but a deliberate one. Tara is just my personal hero on so many levels, and if you want to know why, go read her blog. For the second quilt, I gave each person numbers based on how many $10 donations they gave into Random.org. It came up with

which was the number for… Tracey! Congratulations Tracey, and thank you for your donation! I will be contacting you re your choice of favorite color because there a number to choose from. And thank you so much to EVERYONE else for supporting me and the American Lung Association. You may or may not know I’ve fought for air on numerous occasions from asthma that has plagued me off and on throughout my life (thankfully more off than on but I am familiar with that feeling and it’s no fun).

Now it’s time to nap a bit before the next event, the Oakland Twilight 5k!

Update: Project Consistency

photo credit: nayski via Flickr

Less than a month ago, I made a decision that I was going to try and make exercise a more regular, consistent part of my life rather than just trying to jam it into the weekends. I made the decision that I was going to start working out a minimum of 30 minutes a day, come hell or high water.

The first week I was ON. I felt like I did not want to exercise after dinner and so I often ended up exercising DURING dinner, while everyone else ate. That worked okay, but I realized I did not want to eat separately from my family indefinitely. I was going to have to start something different. Reluctantly, I started working out much later at night – often starting close to 9:00pm or after. A few times, I ended up in bed, cold, tired and really wanting nothing more than to go to sleep. But then I started getting Tweets like this:

Brad Gansberg
BradGansberg @foodiemcbody Just get on the darn ellipitical and get it over with. It only hurts before you get started. After it is all good. GO NOW
BradGansberg @foodiemcbody Go kick some ass.
Brittany
gettinfitbritt @foodiemcbody you got this!!!
tracey
despite myself
MY2Thrive @foodiemcbody you can do it! get up get up get up!!!
Brittany
gettinfitbritt @foodiemcbody get up girl and shake yo booooootay!!!!! ❤#7daychip
Brandon
AHealthyDad @foodiemcbody you’ve got this, we’re all here for you!! #7daychip
healthyem
healthyem @foodiemcbody do it!!!!!! claim day 13!!!!!! come on, lady! #7daychip
Can you SEE? Can you see how motivating and irresistible it is when you have people like this in your ear, 24/7? No matter WHEN I wanted to whine and say “not today,” there was my healthy community, every day, nudging me on to health.
Today, I finished my 18th day of consistent, daily, at-least-30-minutes of exercise. Most often it was the garage elliptical, because it involved no commuting. And it showed me that no matter how little time I think I have, I always have 30 minutes.
One night, I started using streaming Netflix movies on my iPhone to get through the workout. And a few times I went on for 65, 69 and once even 99 minutes. Because I couldn’t tear myself away.
I watched FatHead. Which everyone HAS TO GO WATCH and then come back and discuss with me!
Then I watched DisFIGURED. Which is hands down one of the most emotionally INTENSE movies I have ever seen. Everyone please GO WATCH and then come back and discuss with me!
The last time I started watching a movie, it was so moving and powerful I stopped after 30 minutes then started it up again on the laptop so I could watch “Which Way Home” with Mr. McBody. SO SAD but so… just wow. (yeah, go watch it too!)
It feels like it’s falling into place now. I’m learning – I’m teaching MYSELF – that there is truly no such thing as “not enough time.”
After this post, I decided to start a second #7daychip devoted to improving my blood glucose. One, by testing my blood more often (minimum 2-3x per day) and two, by taking added sugar out of my life. I had been slipping in the candy-drawer arena, and I knew I was just eating “a little something sweet” just a bit too often. It was showing up in much higher BG numbers which I hadn’t really realized since I’d slacked on testing as well.
So now I’m on day 10 of regular blood glucose testing and no sugar. This has not been easy. But it’s been do-able. I am doing it. I can do it. I just put a barrier down between myself and sugar. I say, “This is not for me (for now).” I can’t say Forever, but I say for now. In some ways it’s easier than just eating a “little bit.”
One thing that is helping so much is that in addition to the whole #7daychip “family,” I also have buddies who started their goals on the same day as me. Terri is my 30-minute-exercise buddy (she has her own goal). We greet each other day and encourage each other to add another day to our chip. Often she reminds me what “day” it is. (because it’s easy to lose track!) Jerakah is my blood glucose/no sugar buddy. We are on Day 10 and we are unstoppable.
#30Day Chip, I’m coming for you.

A #7DayChip is Better Than a Chocolate Chip

photo credit: =-.0= from Flickr

I circled around the idea of the #7daychip challenge for a long time, maybe a month, before jumping in. First, there was that association with AA. Personally, I tried OA a long time ago and 12 step programs just do not work for me. (although I acknowledge that they do work for millions of other people!) I was leery of using a tool that has long been utilized by alcoholics and addicts. For one thing, it’s a lot more straightforward for them. They stay away from alcohol or drugs. (I said straightforward, not EASY) For people dealing with food or health or fitness issues, it’s a lot more complicated. We can’t just STAY AWAY from food. Unless we want to, like, die.

Then there’s the issue of staying away from a particular food. This has always been an unsavory idea for me. I am not a vegetarian or vegan. I am not at all a fan of eliminating entire categories of any food from my repertoire. (more on that later)

Anyway, I watched lots of people getting their beautiful 7-and-30 day chips from Mr. Brad Gansberg and I started getting more curious and maybe a little envious. And y’all know I was kind of struggling.

So 13 days ago, I made the decision to chipify (<<<my word!) my goal of getting at least 30 minutes of exercise in per day. I can’t even describe how it has felt to do this.  I had told myself I was “too busy” and “too stressed” to exercise, and was jamming it all in on the weekends. That wasn’t working so well.

The first week, I started by exercising when I got home in the evening, which meant WHILE my family was eating dinner. I felt like, if I waited till after dinner, I was sunk. It was good in that it got me into the groove. It was bad in that I never saw my family. But on Friday I earned this:


How awesome was that!! I am such a sucker for rewards like this, just like I loved getting stickers and doodads from Weight Watchers. It might be “just” a little star sticker but it is an emblem of a real success. This #7day chip acknowledgement was huge!!

After I realized I had gotten kinda slippy with my diabetes, I decided to start myself on a second chip challenge. On Sunday I decided to start testing my blood regularly again and to lay off the sugar. (not including fruit) It’s amazing how I thought, “oh well, my diabetes is just progressing. I’m just getting worse and this is one of those inevitable things.” Um, NOT. Within a couple of days my levels went right back to normal.

This chip has not been so easy. I keep “forgetting.” In fact the other night I had an epic forget. It was after dinner, when I often like to have something sweet. I’d gotten into the habit of having a Skinny Cow ice cream sandwich or a Weight Watchers bar. I noticed an almost-empy bag of chocolate chips on the counter. I scooped a few into my palm and popped them into my mouth, thinking, oh, this is probably only 1-2 points worth. And then I remembered!

I ran right over to the trash and spit out all the chips. It was such a moment. I did not want those chips to be ruining my chip, you know? I felt such a sense of relief when they were out of my mouth.

So now I am on Day 13 of the 30-minute-exercise chip, and on day 6 of the No-Sugar chip. I feel a billion percent better. I can’t even describe

Will I never eat sugar again? Well, I’m thinking about what my endocrinologist told me last year. She said that if my blood levels were in good control most of the time, then a little brownie now and then (ie maybe once ever week or two) would be OK. But that’s the key. So I am going to go for 30 days and then re-assess the whole thing.

For anybody out there who wants to accomplish a goal of any kind, I so strongly recommend trying the #7daychip. The support is unparalleled really, the community is amazing, and just taking it like that – yeah, one day at a time – really works.

Back on Track

photo credit: the Library of Congress, via Flickr

It used to be, not long ago, that I was tracking EVERYthing: my weight, my blood glucose, my activity, and of course my food. But little by little those things fell away and recently I realized I was tracking NOTHING. And that was not working well. At all.

People stop tracking for different reasons, but two of the most common are:

  1. “I got this.” Overconfidence and feeling like, I don’t need to because I’ve internalized this and I’m going to be all intuitive about it. Because I know what I’m doing. Sometimes people truly DO know what they’re doing based on some internal cues, but I think most people challenged with weight and fitness issues – not so much. Which is why they (we) came to have problems in the first place.
  2. “I don’t want to know.” ie, avoidance, denial and the like. The ostrich approach.

I think for me, it started out as #1 and then slid inexorably into #2. And then there I was, trackless and floundering. I started having grumpy thoughts about how TIME consuming it was to track. (photo blogging, yes, it still is, but I’d love to get back to it) But that’s just, you know, a big old excuse.

Today I pulled out my blood glucose meter. Tested. Recorded it in my blood-glucose tracking app on my phone. I think it took a total of 20 seconds. I weighed myself. Recorded it in LoseIt! app. All this week I have been tracking my activity on DailyMile or RunKeeper and Fitocracy. Really, it takes less than a minute for each of those.

It makes such a difference. It really does.  Tonight I ran 4.3 miles in one hour. It was a beautiful run along the Oakland waterfront and it felt so good. It was a great way to cap off my 7th 30+ minute workout of the week. I am now ready to tackle the #14Day chip, one day at a time.

Running Does Not = StairClimbing!

note: this is NOT MY BUTT. No resemblance whatsoever.

Wow did I have  wakeup call today. It was really illuminating, my first unofficial “training” for the Stair Climb event in March.

I work in a building that is 18 stories (ie 36 flights) high. I thought it would be interesting to climb the entire height of it after work, just to get a sense of what it would feel like.

WELL. It was … interesting.

First, it felt like pain. Like after the 2nd story. My thighs were screaming out, like, WTH are you DOING TO ME?!!?!? in chorus. Secondly, I was definitely “fighting for air” and not in the metaphorical sense. In the real sense. Pant! Pant!

But the weirdest thing was how fast it went. I mean, I went up to the 21st story (ie roof) so actually climbed 20 stories (40 flights) in about six minutes, or two songs’ worth on my iPod. That was just… weird. I guess I just expected it to take me at least half an hour. But a flight of steps, although STRAIGHT UP, is not that much actual distance. So. That was just a strange thing to wrap my head around.

So I guess I’m gonna have to roughly do my building times 3. All at once. Hmph. I was really not sprinting, I was pretty much walking steady. It was hard. It hurt. But it went… FAST! Which is I guess the very good thing about this activity.

Speaking of the Stair Climb, have you put in your donation yet? So you can win a pretty quilt? Please please do!

I’m climbing stairs. LOTS of them. You could win a quilt.

I’m doing the Fight for Air Stair Climb on Saturday, March 26th (this is going to be the most aerobic weekend of my life!). Part of the deal is that we raise money for the American Lung Assocation.

I have struggled with asthma on and off during my life. It has affected me when my allergies flare up, when I’m not in overall good condition, and just any old time. When my body is stressed, I get asthma.  Nothing is more frightening or upsetting to me than not being able to take a full breath. Which is why this challenge really hits home for me. I am so glad to be raising funds for this organization.

I would love to get support for this climb and this cause. To sweeten the deal, I am throwing in a quilt handmade by my mother, aka Mama McBody. She has been getting all fancy-ish in her latest quilts and this one is a real beauty, don’t you think?

So — everyone who donates at least $10 will be eligible in a random drawing for this quilt. For every $10, you get another chance at it. So if you donate $50 (!!) you get five chances. But as in any random drawing, it could be just one $10 ticket that wins it.  And if I get lots and lots of donations, I might just give away TWO quilts.

Here is my donation page. It’s looking pretty, um, empty right now. Please let’s fill it up! Let’s OVERfill! If you want a chance at the quilt, you have to include your name. (right?)

I used to get short of breath just taking a walk up a slight incline. So to think that I am taking on this physical challenge is a very, very, big deal. Please support me in this personal undertaking and please support the American Lung Assocation.

Thank you!!!!!!!!!!!! oxoxoxo

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