Adventures In Yoga

I found out definitively yesterday that the data on my flash drive is unrecoverable.  Sigh.  Luckily I found out at the end of the day and I headed off to the yoga studio, to stretch, strengthen and forget.

The hot hatha room was packed wall to wall with people ready to unwind after their work days.  I was fortunate enough to have landed a space with a fair amount of room.  After the first warm-up asanas I was reveling in the ability to completely extend my arms when a latecomer cruised in.  A man of medium build and shirtless (so unfair) rushed in and rolled out his mat beside me.  No biggie, I can share space.  

While I try to focus on my own yoga practice I do tend to let my eyes wander at moments and check out the others in class.  It was on such an eye wander that I spotted Gumby Girl – a young, thin dirty blonde with Gumby like flexibility.  I watched amazed as she moved through dancer’s pose and other standing poses with her leg almost completely vertical.  Now, she wasn’t actually doing all of the poses correctly.  For example in dancer’s pose her hips were no where near square (which, I confirmed with the instructor afterwards are where your hips should be).  So I’m curious as to whether she’s actually getting the benefit of the poses.  Hmmm.

Standing poses over, it was time to move down to the mat.  While lying in corpse pose I discovered the disadvantage of my new next-mat neighbor – he smelled like feet.  As I turned my nose slightly in the other direction I almost laughed as this was one of the things that keeps a friend of mine away from hot yoga.  Mouth breathing quickly became my friend.

After 60 minutes of heat, aromatherapy of the wrong kind, and some good stretching I headed up to the locker rooms for a quick shower.  I showered, pulled out my sweats from my gym bag and discovered that my bra (or breast holder-inners as Jim calls them) was missing.  Indeed, it was back at the office with my work clothes.  Oh no!  Now to give you some idea of the size of the problem, I am a 32 DD.  That’s right.  Small back, big rack.  And yeah, even though I’m from Cali, they’re real.

Getting back into my sweat soaked exercise bra was not an option.  I had a tank top and sweatshirt so I thought maybe I could get away with it.  I got dressed, gathered up my things and started the walk back to the office.  At the first shop window I took a little side-long glance to see just how bad the situation was.  Bounce, Bounce, Bouncy, Bouncy, Bounce.  Yep.  For a 1/2 mile through downtown back to my office.  It made me think of the bra-burners back in the 60s.  And specifically, WHAT WERE THEY THINKING?!  Symbolism be damned, support is the girls’ best friend.

So, what have I learned from today’s adventures:

  • Being a human gumby does not mean you are doing the poses correctly;
  • Choose your mat neighbors wisely and make sure they are aroma free;  and
  • Free-boobing it is no fun.

 

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Gettin Hot – Hatha and Vinyasa Style

Here’s the thing, I know that strength training is HUGELY beneficial and that you’re supposed to get at least 2 sessions in per week, but weight-lifting is very, very, very boring to me and I’m remedial at it at bestSo I’ve been checking off my weekly strength sessions via pilates, which I love.  But since I’ve been doing it for over a year, I need to shake things up.  So when I jumped on-board Amanda’s 3 Changes Challenge one of my challenges was to do one non-pilates strength session per week.

Enter Power Vinyasa – caliente.  My first tangle with hot yoga was in Vancouver during Jim’s and my Olympic adventure.   I engaged in 3 one-hour hot hatha sessions during my week in Vancouver and became addicted to how it stretched me out and took all the aches and pains away.  I had been meaning to check out Urban Yoga Spa in downtown Seattle for a while, so when a tennis buddy said she was interested and with the 3 Changes Challenge in mind, I figured no time like the present. 

Our first two sessions were both hot hatha style, focusing on flexibility and balance.  The first was a Sunday 1 1/2 hour test of endurance.  I felt a bit dizzy twice but made it through the entire session and felt revitalized afterwards.  I did however, pull a rookie maneuver and overstretched my hamstrings – ouch!  Our second session was last night – hot hatha hour – for the after-work crew.  Packed, a bit faster, a bit more challenging, but still a super flexibility workout and no downward-dog in site. 

This morning, it was time to add some power – Power Vinyasa that is.  One hour focusing on strength and balance in a hot, hot, hot room.  I woke up at the unearthly hour of 6am (this is a big deal for me people, my alarm usually goes off around 7:30 and I roll begrudgingly out of bed at 8 – luckily I set my own work hours or I would be in serious trouble).  In 30 minutes, I rushed to get dressed, brush my teeth, make my lunch, grab my 18 bags of stuff for the studio and the office, and drive downtown.  5 minutes before class time, my mat was rolled out, my lululemon mat towel was rolled out and I was stretching and hydrating.  Then the games began. 

Power Vinyasa is fast.  So if it’s your first time, be prepared to fall behind, and you know what?  That’s totally cool.  Everyone really is focused on their individual practice and there’s no judging going on (I don’t think).  We moved from forward folds, to backbends, to downward dogs, to planks, to side planks, to an amazing number of warrior twos, to chatterundas and back again (not necessarily in that order).  Our tree poses went straight into flying something or others and when we headed down to our mats for the calmer portion of the class 1/2 of a pilates stomach series was snuck in.  By the end of the class, I had reaffirmed that yes, yoga can be a serious strength workout.  I also felt energized and relaxed at the same time! 

Extra bonus, I was showered, dressed, make-up on, hair done and out of the locker room in 30 minutes, 1/2 my usual time at home.  I rolled into the office at 8:59 am, a record.  Hmmm . . . I think this could become my new Tues/Thurs ritual.

Lookin for some headbands perfect for hot yoga and other fitness goodies? Check out RunToTheFinish’s Giveaway.

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My First 5K

Pre-Race

Pre-Race

 

I am not a runner.  Never have been – never ever.  However, in the hopes of helping raise some $$$$ for my favorite breast cancer nonprofit, Puget Sound Susan G. Komen for the Cure,  I have committed to run, YES, RUN, every single meter of the Race for the Cure on June 6 (Join Me!).  So, when I heard about the Top Pot Doughnut Dash, a 5K complete with doughnuts and coffee served post-race, I figured it would be an ideal way to get in a practice 5K, run/walk style.  I mean, really, there’s just something kind of awesome about running for doughnuts

My girlfriend, Jules, came up from Portland for the event and Jim and one of my tennis buddies and her husband rounded out our group.  The race was scheduled to start at the respectable hour of 9:30 am – major selling point.  We met up around 9 am, picked up our race packets and hung out.  It was COLD!  Way too cold for April, hence the jacket I’m sporting in the photo (really bad idea BTW, but more on that later).  After a little chit-chat it was time to get in position for the Race.  Jules, Jim and Chris headed off to the 7 and 8 minute mile starting points, Lucia and I went to the 10 minute mile start.  We ran into Jamie, the Race for the Cure Manager, looking sporty in a pink ballcap, Race for the Cure shirt, running pants and pearls (love it!). 

7 minutes after the scheduled start (not bad) the games began.  There were a little over 1500 runners/walkers in the race and it was pretty amazing to see everyone just start moving in a giant wave.  We moved with them and within a minute or so were across the start line and I had officially started my very first 5K. 

My goal was to run the entire first mile without stopping.  The 5K was around Greenlake – a route I know well from many spring and summertime walks around the lake.  It is ideal for goal setting.  Lucia and I started off by setting little goals for ourselves, “we’ll run until that tree”, “we’ll run until the red tree”, and mine, “I’ll run until the aqua arena.”  I pushed myself until I saw the arena come into view and then I pushed myself some more.  When I reached the arena and slowed into a fast walk to recover I saw the 1 mile marker.  I DID IT!  Purely by chance. 

At this point, I decided I was hot and took my jacket off.  Hmmm . . . .  I ended up tying it around my waist and for the next 2.12 miles got to constantly retie it as it slipped off (until I double knotted it around my waist – lame looking but effective) and have my keys bang into my leg with every step I took.  Can you say ROOKIE?

For the rest of the race I alternated between walking and running, playing little games with myself, like you only have to run for 3 minutes, or until the next bend, or whatever.  When I saw the paddle boat place come into view, I knew I was near the finish line and committed to running the rest of the race once I hit the boats.  Of course, I totally misjudged the distance to the finish and it was much longer than I thought.  And that’s where Jules came in.  When I turned off the lake and entered into the final stretch, Jules jumped in beside me and ran with me to the finish line.  She told me I could do it when I was pretty sure I couldn’t, and cheered me on the entire way.  I can’t even begin to tell you how happy I was when my foot (and timing chip) crossed that finish line.  Ecstatic doesn’t even come close. 

Our group met up to devour post race doughnuts and coffee only to find THEY WERE OUT – scandalous – but Lucia managed to grab me one of the last doughnuts.  We headed off to our cars and to rendez-vous for post-race brunch at Coastal Kitchen. 

Later that afternoon, Lucia texted me my race results – 34:37 – not bad for a first and a run/walk at that.  I’ll take it. (My “primary physician” came in second in women and top in my age group – I kind of love and hate her for that). 

Oh, and that doughnut Lucia snagged for me?  It’s still sitting on my kitchen counter.  I’m considering bronzing it.

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Dieting Revelations

 
 

The Dreaded Scale

The Dreaded Scale

 Confession:

  • My entry into dieting was at 13. 
  •  By age 14, I knew how to drop 5 pounds in 3 days by eating nothing but apples, oranges, and 3 eggs per day.
  • At age 15 I tried my first liquid diet – I lasted 5 days before the nuns at my boarding school found out and made all of us on the “diet” eat solid food.
  • I’m 5 ft. 7 1/2 inches tall and yet, even at 115-120 lbs I was rarely 100% happy with my figure.
  • The best I ever looked was my last year in college.  I weighed 127 lbs (my highest weight in college ), worked out 2+ hours a day and when I walked nothing jiggled.  Was I happy with my body?  HELL yeah!  I was totally stoked! 
The Good Ole Days

The Good Ole Days

Eating problem, you ask?  No.  I hate throwing up, so never fell in the bulimia trap, I never had the self-discipline to be anorexic and I’ve always been to lazy to be exercise bulimic.  The formative years of my life were in the body obsessed 80s, a time before people were told that you’re beautiful no matter what your size, etc.  It was the time of Cindy Crawford, Christie Brinkley, Claudia Schiffer, and Kelly LeBrock.  These women weren’t heroine thin – they were HOT!  And for a girl with a fast metabolism and an hourglass figure, their look was almost obtainable. So for the past X no. of years I’ve watched my weight, dieted when necessary and always known the calories of most foods I ate, even when not paying attention.  

In recent years, I’ve battled against metabolism slowdown, read nutrition and health info. nonstop, flirted with different exercise regimes and most recently, consulted with a nutritionist. 

But you know what?  I’m tired of always thinking about food.  I’m exhausted by not eating when I’m hungry.  In other words, I’m OVER IT.  

Here’s what I’ve learned.  I hope it will help fast-track your own learning process if you find yourself stuck in similar patterns: 

  • Staying thin is a life-long endeavor.  You cannot diet down to a weight and stay there if you revert to your old eating habits.  Sad but true.
  • Moderation really is key.
  • Tune in to your body.  If you’re hungry eat.  If you’re not hungry, stop eating.  It doesn’t matter that you still have 4 forkfuls of the best chocolate cake ever on your plate – just STOP.
  • Get rid of the junk food.  It isn’t helping your weight or your overall health.  There really is a difference between good and bad calories.  In other words, read labels and if there is anything on the ingredient list you can’t define – skip it.
  • Ditch the splenda, the equal, the sweet-n-low, the sugar free gum, the aspartame.  Artificial sweeteners can actually make you hungry because they are sweeter than sugar.  Be like the French, sugar in moderation defined by the easily measurable sugar cube.  Ditch the sugar “grains.”
  • Eating should be pleasurable, not stress-inducing.
  • EXERCISE.  Thin, fat or somewhere in between, if we want to live long we need to exercise and that means cardio and strength training.  Find several things you love and mix it up.  For me this means, tennis, pilates, hot yoga and maybe taking up ballet again someday soon.
  • Get out there and live life.  I don’t know about you, but food rarely enters my thoughts when I’m walking on the beach, biking on the boardwalk or checking out the latest festival or play in my neighborhood.  The opposite holds true when I’m hanging out at home. 

Any other suggestions?  Please share so we can all learn from each other. 

So, I have a new focus these days and new goals: 

  • Exercise for heart health, muscle tone and flexibility.  You know, things that will help me live a long and active life.
  • Eat for nourishment and health.  As natural and organic as possible and fine-tuned for the health issues I already have (slight anemia and low Vitamin D).  So yes, I’ll still be working on getting in those veggies.
  • Listen to my body.  Stop eating when I’m not hungry, eat when I am.  Yep, this is the KISS (keep it simple stupid) method.

I’ll keep you posted on how it goes and any discoveries along the away.  And as a parting note, I just have to say THERE ARE THINGS THAT TASTE AS GOOD AS THIN FEELS! 

  

 

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Take Me Out To The Ballgame . . .

 

Cashew Chicken
Yes, You Can Get Thai at the Ballpark.

 I don’t know about you, but baseball season to me means: sunny afternoons, the lazy days of summer, hot roasted peanuts, and . . . Thai food. 

As there is nothing I love more than a mid-week night out, last Wednesday night, Jim and I headed down to Safeco Field for our first Mariners game of the season (the home opener was Monday, April 5). From our offices, the stadium is an easy 1.7 miles away. Walking there and back is a great way to pre-walk off some of that ballpark food, mingle with the crowds, and let baseball fever wash over us. 

Safeco Field, View From My Phone

Safeco Field, View From My Phone

We arrived early so I decided to re-familiarize myself with food options while Jim stood in line for his first Fat Tire of the season. The choices were many: the classic hot dogs of course, brats, BBQ, pizza, Mexican, and some local favs like Kidd Valley hamburgers and Ivar’s clam chowder and infamous garlic fries (you do not want to be downwind from these).  But this is Seattle, so also available was Rice n’ Roll sushi, Terriyaki Bowl, and Thai Ginger.  

With sneaking some veggies in on my agenda, I happily scoped out an old fav, Thai Ginger.  On offer?  Beef and broccoli, Cashew chicken loaded with peppers and onions, and Veg Phad Thai.  I knew where I was heading at the bottom of the third. 

Jim and I headed into our seats with our respective beverages (beer for him, water for me), obtained our traditional roasted peanuts from one of the shrieking vendors and settled in for what turned out to be a really good game.  It was the first time I watched Chone Figgins as a Mariner.  He was a favorite when I lived in the OC and went to Angels games and he did not disappoint.  Speaking of which, they will always be the Anaheim Angels, not the “Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim” – so LAME and insulting to those living in the OC.  When that special change was made, Jim and I used to comment that next we would have the “Los Angeles Mariners of Seattle” and the “Los Angeles Rangers of Texas” and for good measure the “Los Angeles A’s of Oakland.” 

At the bottom of the third it was Thai Ginger time and I snuck in some ballpark exercise by taking the stairs from the 300 level to the 100 level where Thai Ginger and its giant wok resides.  I settled on cashew chicken (pictured above) and managed to sneak in 1 entire cup of veggies with my choice.  At the bottom of the 7th, Jim went in search of and found his favorite ballgame treat now that malteds have disappeared (criminal really) – vanilla soft serve.  I’m a mixed girl personally, so I stole a few bites but wasn’t that tempted. 

Overall, our ballpark outing yielded a 3.4 mile walk, some stair exercise, a cup of veggies for me and an awesome time watching the Mariners beat the As, 4-2.  Can’t wait to do it again – bring on SUMMER!

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Celebrating Little Victories

With no tennis on tap for today and the Top Pot Doughnut 5K a mere 11 days away, it was time to hit the dreadmill.  So, I rolled out of bed, pulled on yoga pants, a smash-your-boobs-into a uniboob sports bra (HATE these), socks and a tee, brushed my teeth, put my hair in a ponytail and with Nike runners and iPod in hand headed to  . . . . the basement.  Yes, it’s a far commute, I know 😉

For those of you who hate the dreadmill as much as I do, here’s a tip: I purchased an iplus last month and it helps make the dreadmill more bearable.  It tracks your distance, time, pace, plays your music and gives you frequent (but not too frequent) “1 K completed” or “10 minutes left” type encouragement.  It recites your stats to you at the end of your workout and you can upload your data online and challenge friends or join challenges.  I have a feeling it’s also more accurate than my home treadmill as far as distance and calorie burn. 

I started my 35 minutes off with walking at a 4.0 then 4.2 then 4.4 mile pace for the first 5 minutes.  Next, it was time to try to run.  I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, I am not a runner.  Never have been, ever, not even when a child.  My childhood days were filled with tap, jazz and ballet classes, not running or team sports.  Nonetheless, you can run 3 miles much faster than you can walk it which means less time on the dreadmill for the same calorie burn – good enough inspiration for me. 

Today I had 3 small victories on the dreadmill:  (1) I ran for 7 whole minutes straight, beating my last personal best of 6 (doesn’t sound like much I know, but it’s a big deal for me); (2) I ran for a total of 15 minutes, which is 1/2 of the workout subtracting out the 5 minute warm-up/cooldown time; and (3) my overall pace for the entire workout running/walking/warm-up and cooldown combined was an 11.42 min. mile, another personal best.

Those little victories got my day off to a great start and tonight I’m doing some more celebrating my going on a date with my husband to our first Mariners game of the season.  Oh, and did I mention that the sun is out?

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Tuesday Treat: Run to the Finish’s 3 Changes Challenge

One of my go-to blogs for inspiration and running tips is Run to the Finish.  Starting today, Run to the Finish is kicking off a 30-day challenge.  Commit to making 3 changes in 30 days, rack up points, get encouragement from other challengers, and be in the running for some seriously sweet prizes

Here are the changes I’m challenging myself with:

1.  Keep a food journal – every day.  I continually struggle with this one, falling down most often on weekends and when traveling.  This time I’m going to get it right!

2.  Eat 3 cups of veggies every day.  This one was imposed by my nutritionist.  Nothing like a competition to make me commit!

3.  Do 1 strength training work out per week that is not pilates.  I love me my pilates, but you need to shake up your routine to get results.  By mixing in the weights, stability ball, and exercise band I’m hoping to jumpstart my results.

Join me in the 3 Changes Challenge then tell me what challenges you’re taking on in the comments below so we can cheer each other on!  Here’s to a life-changing 30 days!

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