glow notes

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

giving thanks

My philosophy on holiday eating is as follows.

Enjoy your feast! Try to keep it to one meal, not a whole day/weekend/week, but if you do, don't feel BAD about it or anything, just move on. Don't stuff yourself, it feels gross. If you do stuff yourself, go for a walk or take a nap, then move on. Remember, there's more where that came from. Slow down and enjoy your food. Feast on love. If you are disappointed in family/the day/whatever, that's a normal holiday thing - see if you can count your blessings and focus on where there is love in your life. Try to get a moment or three of alone-ness and silence each day. Try to work out regularly throughout the holidays even if for a short time. Remember that fitness is a marathon, not a sprint - just 'cause you may not be going all-out with food or exercise over the holiday doesn't mean you have to go into couch-potato mode. Feast on art. Call your best friend and tell him/her you love him/her. Eat a vegetable. Eat a fruit. Make something cool for gifts rather than shopping. Enjoy the conversation over meals. If you have a difficult family, challenge yourself to find ways of creating interesting conversations - consider it an art project. Take some pictures. Write something. Read something. Draw something. Go for a bike ride. Wear outfits you love. Be kind to yourself.

Be thankful.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

fit tip

This weeks fit tip is about nuts. Lots of people think nuts are fattening and don't eat them. And they are nutrient dense. And yeah, packing away a whole can of honey-roasted cashews every day will probably make your jeans shrink.

But nuts and nut butters are wonderful for you in small amounts. The most wonderful, in my opinion, are raw almonds and walnuts. They are full of essential fatty acids, help make you less hungry, and are good for your blood lipids (cholesterol).

A couple of studies have shown that subjects adding up to 2 ounces of almonds a day -on top- of normal caloric intake showed no increase in body weight and some significant health benefits. I often eat a few almonds with a meal that is otherwise low in fat in order to increase satiety and absorption of micronutrients.

Here's some info collected by the almond lobby.

Monday, November 14, 2005

just one thing

How often do you, as the saying goes, let the perfect be the enemy of the good?

If you worked on changing just one thing - one habit or activity - each month, how much more quickly would you get to your goals than if you try to transform your whole life at once, then fret over being inadequate?

Let's start with the assumption that you are, in essence, flawless. You don't have to change a thing about your Self-with-a-capital-S.

But maybe you have a few behaviors that don't support some of your goals. So you might try to change these behaviors.

Habit modification is difficult. The human animal likes homeostasis at root level - it feels safe. We know what it feels like, and even if it's not always ideal, it's known. This impulse to avoid change is a primal survival mechanism, for which reason life coach Martha Beck calls it the 'lizard brain.' She suggests naming your lizard and giving it a grape when it gets upset.

So, for instance, you may say to yourself: this New Year's I'm going to go to Bikhram Yoga class 6 times per week and eat only raw food (ok, you might only say that to yourself if you live in Southern California, but you might say something involving exercise and eating).

And so you start out doing these things, but it's hard. Because, really, you'd like to come home after a long day of work and read a good book, not sweat in a hot studio. And if you have to look at another sprout you're gonna scream. So you go back to your old ways of being and say to yourself "I guess I'm just not cut out for this thing I want."

How about taking it one step at a time? And I mean really break it down.

Humans are amazingly capable of complete transformation. And yes, this sometimes happens seemingly all at once (though likely there is more going on under the surface than that and/or you're thrown into an intense situation like boot camp or a life-threatening illness), but more often it's a gradual process.

So, how to break it down? Pick one thing and start out slow. For instance: this month I'm going to go to yoga class twice per week.

It takes about a month to create a habit. So try sticking with your change for one month. And if you want to do more, do it, but don't shift your goal. That is to say, keep the goal of doing yoga twice per week, but feel free to go four times. It's easier on your lizard brain.

Next month you might want to add an extra day of yoga, or you might want to try eating, say, one raw meal per day (I don't recommend a raw diet, by the way, I'm just being silly).

After a month or so, it gets easier because this new way of being becomes the norm that your inner lizard wants to hold onto.

Habits are like brushing your teeth - you just do them. They aren't so hard. You might not always feel like it, but you do it anyhow - because it's what you do.

Eventually, though, some (not all) habits can become part of your essence.

An example. I started lifting weights in 2001. It was soooo hard to get out of bed. I hated it. Within a month or so, it got easier, but it was still a discipline. For years it was this way.

But as some point that shifted. Lifting weights became a part of me. A meditation on movement. A deliberation on resolve. A full-body prayer to the spirit of physical revolution. A time in the day to be 100% me.

If I miss a day of weight lifting now, it's on purpose, because I need a rest or am doing something else (and I must note: by choice - I never say I have to do anything). I feel more at home on the weight room floor than anywhere else in the world.

Or, as I said to the gentleman who said hello to me on memorial day as I strode purposefully into the near-empty gym: welcome to my living room!

Welcome to your living room. Pick your furniture out deliberately and choose quality pieces, you're gonna be here awhile.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

fit tip

The American Council on Exercise has a list of Top Nutrition Mistakes Made by Active People.

This is a really helpful list. I've made several of these mistakes, most notably not eating breakfast, not eating immediately after working out (nb - ACE says within 2 hours, but the research I've read indicates that it's important to eat within 45-minutes of a workout), and not getting enough carbohydrates or calories. Now that I've corrected these problems, I feel and perform much better.

I won't reiterate the list here, but if you post a comment asking about any of them, I'll be glad to tell you about my experiences in another post.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

dedication

This post really touched my heart because I've had this experience as a client, and I'd like to be this for my clients. A good trainer/nutritionist/fitness professional/whatever is somebody who believes in you when you aren't so sure.

There is nothing more wonderful than seeing somebody turn the bend in the road from feeling helpless to empowered, from frustrated to excited, from hopeless to joyful.

Thanks, Jane.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

on fat and love

Sorry I've been gone awhile; vacation, then had a bad cold. Here's the post I promised:

On the subject of fat, I have mixed thoughts, but it's actually just one message in the end.

I have been fat and I have been thin. I have never been, like, Oh My God fat. I looked chubby, but in reality I was 32% body fat and that's edging on clinically obese. So yeah, I was fat. I felt like hell. I was tired all of the time, had terrible PMS, often had really painful and chronic but minor injuries, and caught a lot of colds, flus, etc. Despite that, I was never totally out of shape. I could still walk a long way and exercised on occasion - though often as not I talked myself out of exercise because I was tired. I went to a cardio kickboxing class and nearly puked one day.

As a fit person, I feel great. I want everybody to feel this great. I want everybody to feel this empowered, this strong, this full of life, this energetic, this vibrant. I don't do cardio kickboxing much any more because it doesn't get my heart rate up the way running does. I look forward to exercising. Truly.

As a fitness professional, I know the wages of poor nutrition, lack of movement, and an unhealthy body composition. I know far too much about what saturated fat does to the insides of a human and how being overfat correlates to cancer, heart disease, hormone-related illnesses, and other such bummers. [nb: I do not believe that you must be at an 'ideal' body weight or body fat percentage to be fit. Every person is different.]

I also know that knowing about the dangers of poor fitness and nutrition habits doesn't make people who aren't quote-unquote perfect in their habits love themselves. All too often, it makes them angry and hateful toward themselves. And if you don't love yourself - and your body - how in the world are you going to do all those things that are required in order to be fit?

Effort has to be balanced by love, not hate.
Hate robs us; love feeds us. Hate is draining; love is energizing. Hate is out of balance with the Truth and thus makes every small thing sooo hard; love makes everything easier. Not effortless, but less like dragging a Jeep by your ear.

It breaks my heart to hear people talk about their struggles with weight loss, going hungry, depriving themselves of foods they love, doing exercise they hate, failing yet again, and how helpless and frustrating it feels. From my perspective, that seems like being at war with our own bodies. Ouch!

I'm also affected by this. Like many women I speak to, I can see the beauty in a women who is not at the 'ideal size' but *I* sometimes feel like pushing the panic button when my jeans are too tight at the waistband.

For the record, I was a hottie at 172 pounds, no doubt about it. But feeling fat frankly sucks.

On occasion I still slip into the 'diet mentality,' where I forget that the habits of health are about feeling good and aren't an end in themselves. Inevitably, this kind of thinking leads me to overeat or get depressed or give up nurturing habits, or all of the above.

When this happens, I counter that self-hating behavior with love. I give myself hot baths and walks in the park; I treat myself to yoga classes and the occasional massage; I rub my body with mango scented cream while telling my thighs "thank you, for carrying me here and there, I know it's hard work;" I cook delicious, nutrient-rich meals that I also love to eat. I care for my body like the precious gift it is.

Just as soon as I remember.

And it always works. Because love always works. Love always brings peace and balance.

In between these rememberings, I live in hell. Truly. What else can you call a war zone? Blessedly, that's not very often any more.

Because I know how hell feels, it breaks my heart to see people living in this hell most of the time.

What if?
What if we were told from birth that we are perfect, that our bodies are miracles and worthy of tender love and care; that we as humans can have different shapes of bodies, just like the dogs at the dog park - and nobody expects an English Bulldog to look like a French Poodle, do they?

What if exercise and eating well were taught, not as punishment or chore, but as nurturing and fun. What if we were never told that chocolate is 'bad,' only that too much chocolate slows you down, and that's no fun, is it?

What if we were taught about love instead of fear?

What if we start now?