Friday, April 29, 2011

A three yoga week!

After another (long) hiatus, I decided I was going to yoga class. (Imagine that same phrase said resolutely, "I AM going to yoga").

At the end of a rather intense session, my therapist wrapped up by saying, "what can you do to take care of yourself this weekend?" It was such a good question. I wondered when I'd last paused long enough to ask. (Yup, I go to therapy. And I'm so very grateful I do. It's so helpful to have that space to process and help make sense of tough stuff-- a space other than this blog that is. Sometimes I do feel as if this blog is a form of therapy in the best sense of the word. It's certainly been a space I'm thankful for).
When she asked me, I said "I'm going to take a yoga class." The statement came out so easily, I actually believed myself.

Friday night is Candlelit mellow flow, one of my favorite classes, led by the amazing Jennifer Jarrett.

Friday night yoga with candles all aglow

Of course, since it was still light outside, this pic of the candles didn't totally capture the coziness of it all, but it was a really lovely class. Long overdo. Clearly, because on Sunday I was at home being lazy, when all of a sudden I had a surge of energy and I was up and in yoga, again!!

Sunday's class was an all levels flow with Eric. Not sure if it was because of Friday's class and my resulting soreness, but yowsa, the class was challenging. I kept reminding myself to breathe and just go moment to moment.

Sunday sunshine

But wait? I said a three yoga week!? That's right. I did indeed go to yoga again last night. My lovely friend, Kate, decided to celebrate her birthday with a yoga class and dinner. Unfortunately, a last minute work meeting meant she was going to miss the class. When I got her email with that announcement, I saw it as an out for me. The class she had chosen was a 2/3 class (meaning more advanced than any class I had ever been to). I was nervous about taking the class, but felt comforted knowing one of my favorite people would be there taking the class right next to me. Once I knew she wasn't going to make it to the class though, I sat right down on my couch and prepared to watch the latest episode of "Hoarders: Buried Alive" (Scary, I know!). I figured I'd just relax and then meet them at the restaurant for the post yoga dinner. But then, just as I was getting comfy I had that little nudging feeling that I knew meant the class would be good for me. I'm happy to announce that I came to my senses just in time to sprint out the door and across town to class.

It was my very FIRST 2-3 class! These classes are faster and more advanced. And I was SO nervous (did I mention that already?). I told the class assistant, the incredible Rachel Meyer, it was my first 2-3 class and she was super sweet and kept checking on me. I so appreciated her kind energy and encouragement! After class I emerged feeling shaky from the pace of the class, but so very glad I'd joined in. And dinner seemed extra sweet surrounded by the other fellow yoga class attendees, all celebrating the fabulous birthday gal.

Ah yoga. It is so challenging and can be so overwhelming in the moment; but then it's all worth it as you lie there in savasana, soaking it all in and feeling grateful you went to class after all.

P.S. More updates soon. For now though, I am pooped! Not because of the yoga, but because for some reason I found myself up at 3am intently watching the Royal Wedding. Who woulda thunk it?
I went to London a couple of years ago and so I think I was particularly jazzed to see the city bursting and all abuzz with excitement on this official holiday.

Look! It's me in London!

Having tea in London. How very proper!

What about you? Were you up watching the wedding? I didn't think I cared... but then, I couldn't resist.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Does this Clutter Make my Butt Look Fat? (Part II) the review!

I shared my enthusiasm for the book, Does this Clutter Make my Butt Look Fat? in my Part I review. And now that I've finished the book, I get to tell you my initial excitement was not exaggerated. I should also say I was going in to my reading a bit biased since I'm definitely a fan of author Peter Walsh's approach.

I first starting watching Peter Walsh on the show Clean Sweep. His no-nonsense approach was captivating. I have often found myself knee-deep in sentimental clutter. I remember taking note as organizer Walsh walked homeowners through their keepsakes. I distinctly remember as he held up an antique clock found buried deep beneath clutter. The owner of the clock insisted that it was one of her most prized possessions. But Peter challenged her on the point. "If it's so important to you, then why is it so dusty and hidden beneath all of this clutter? Look at this? There is a rat's nest in the back of this clock." He held up the dirty, dusty clock and sure enough, there was evidence a little rat had made the clock its home. "If this clock is so important to you, then you need to honor it and treat it with the respect you say it deserves." After the team had cleaned up the house, the now clean and functioning clock had a place of honor on the mantel. I still remember this moment years later and so when I first got a copy of Peter Walsh's book, It's All Too Much, I knew there would be some gems of wisdom to be found.

I decided to read It's All Too Much first since Does this Clutter Make my Butt Look Fat references it, and the organizing strategies it employs. Then, last Spring I had the opportunity to attend Oprah's Live your Best Life weekend, featuring... Peter Walsh!

Look it's me and Peter!

I brought my copy of the book and had it signed!

Thanks Peter! You rock too!

Even with my bias, as a Peter Walsh fan, I still started the book with fresh eyes. In particular, I was curious what the connection between clutter and weight could be. I got the connection on a surface level, but didn't quite anticipate just how deep it goes.

The book is NOT a diet book. There are no recipes or exercise plans to follow. Instead, the focus is on what is getting in the way of the life you want to live. The same way that a packed and overflowing closet makes it nearly impossible to find the clothes you fit in to; a messy kitchen counter makes food preparation a chore instead of a natural part of your day. Seriously, his quote "No one makes good choices in a messy kitchen" totally changed the way I think about kitchen clutter. No wonder I wasn't cooking meals. My pantry was a mess, my fridge was a mess, and the counter was packed full with.... all sorts of things that didn't belong there.

I appreciate the connections Peter Walsh makes in this book. From looking at the meals you eat out rather than prepare at home, the excuses you make, the clutter that surrounds you, the kitchen you come home to and the vision you have for the life you want; the book is a comprehensive look at the way that clutter does indeed... make your butt fat.

It's full of fresh perspectives and questions to ask yourself as you create the vision for the life you want. As Peter says, you can't start with the clutter if you actually want to make a difference; you have to create the vision for the life you want first. By focusing on the vision you want for your rooms, your home, and your body, you will be able to look at the choices you make to see if they line up with that vision.

Even looking at the notion of "your ideal weight." Where did this number come from? Instead of holding this potentially arbitrary number over your head and seeing your current weight as a failure; create the vision for what your life will be like in a healthy and fit body. "How do you imagine your life would be different at this ideal weight you're seeking?"

So often I think about what my life will be like when I have lost the weight I am trying to lose. I will have stylish clothes that I fit and feel fabulous in. I will be comfortable and confident in social situations. I will be able to run and move and be strong. Yes, these things will be easier and more possible when I weigh less-- but what about NOW. I don't have to put those things off now. I cleaned my pantry so I can find the food I purchase and have choices on hand. I streamlined my overflowing closet with Autumn so that the clothes I see each day fit me right now at the size I am today. I spend time with friends who love me at every size and though I still get nervous out at the bar, I am working on feeling more comfortable. And I am running! And I am getting stronger every day.

Throughout the book, Peter infuses stories and letters from people going through the journey of decluttering and losing weight.
Dear Peter:
I've noticed that when clutter creeps in, it creates a low level of stress. It's almost like the hum of street noise: above my sensory threshold, but below my conscious awareness. I'll attend to all of life's loud noises, like work deadlines and car troubles, but not notice the constant background hiss of all the extra stuff. And since I definitely misuse food- that is, I eat not just for sustenance or nourishment, but as a way to unwind, tuneout, get a pleasant little buzz at the end of the day- I find myself eating more just to help block that hiss. Once I start overeating, it kicks off a cycle of guilt that only adds even more stress.
If I actually listened to that hiss, by the way, it would be saying, "You are not quite in control."
But when I can break that cycle and clear my space, the noise goes away. I feel powerful and effective and in control of my life. I no longer want to self-medicate, I want to celebrate! The allure of food never quite vanishes, but I view myself as stronger than the compulsion. Plus, I want my physical self to match my improved psyche and surrounding, not weighed down by extra pounds or heavy meals.
I didn't write that letter, but I could have.

So much of this book resonated with me and my "Getting Hot" journey. I found myself underlining and circling ideas in the book. It was most definitely an active tool, and will remain active in my getting fit toolkit.
I have a long way to go in my personal organizing and my weight loss, but I truly appreciate having Peter Walsh on my team!

What about you? Have you read any of Peter's books? Do you agree that clutter and weight are connected? What's in your toolkit right now?

Friday, April 22, 2011

Book buying to banish the blues

I first confessed about my book buying obsession in my post here; over at my other (currently on hiatus) blog.

I love buying books. And thanks to frequent childhood trips to the bookstore, book buying as an adult has this fabulous, comforting quality.
I don't exactly think of this habit as a vice. But as I noted in my post, there are a few drawbacks to this habit:
1) It can get kind of expensive.
2) I buy books much faster then I read.
3) Um. I can't think of a #3. But I'm sure there must be another reason why this is a bad habit. Lack of storage space?
Despite these drawbacks, I love it. All of the possibility you hold in your hands in that moment. A whole other world awaits you. Oh, if only my reading could keep up with my book buying!

I recently made a vow to curb my book buying in favor of getting through my existing home library (and to tighten my budget). Then, yesterday, my roomie announced it was the first day of the annual mega book sale down at Fort Mason. And since this year marks the 50th anniversary of the sale, it was expected to be especially huge. All that and I'd been navigating a tough week; so it is no surprise that I eagerly accepted her invitation to go check it out.

First I have to say that it was a ridiculously gorgeous day. As in perfect weather. Not too warm, not too cold and blustery. It was perfection. We opted to walk to mile down to Fort Mason (which meant the mile back uphill) in an attempt to couple our book buying excursion with some exercise.

My roomie. (she's so stylish!)


Spring!! And GG Bridge in the far background.

As we walked I talked through my "strategy".
"I'm going to limit my book buying to 3 books. No, 5 books. But I'll buy one book as a gift for a friend. So 4 books. And a 5th for a gift. Yes, 5 books total."

As we approached the warehouse, we saw shoppers leaving the building with bags, backpacks and arms full of books. Oh dear, I thought, this could be tough.

How do I articulate the enormity of this book sale?
These pictures don't even do it justice. They had shopping carts you could use. And under each table brimming with books, were boxes and boxes of more books. Even a seasoned book patron such as myself was totally not in this league.

You can imagine what happened next. We spent the next hour or two scanning and trying to breathe as we navigated the overwhelming tables. Folks around us clearly had a strategy. I saw folks with carts full of books which they maneuvered with grace and skill around the crowded aisles. But even without a real browsing strategy, I still managed to quickly fill my basket. (I grabbed a hand basket to browse with, because I knew with a push cart on wheels I would overdo it). When my basket got way too heavy and the cramp in my neck started aching from all of the craning I was doing to read titles, it was time to stop.

I sat down with the 20 or so books I'd collected and started sorting. It was so hard to decide!!! But there are far worse problems than, "I said I'd only buy 5 books!" So I knew I had to do it. I got it down to 4 'for sure' books. I also had a 'no' pile and a 'maybe' pile. The maybe pile was then whittled from 10 down to 4 books. Then I turned to my roomie for support. She "okay'd" 6 books since technically the 6th was a book I was going to mail to a friend. But then those last 4 books in the maybe pile, how could I ever whittle them down from 4 to 1? One was a comedy, one was a short story collection, one was a classic I'd been wanting to read, and one was a book with inspirational stories about folks weight loss. Oh how could I...? So in the end. I got three of them, for a grand total of 8 books. One for a friend and.... 7... for me. I have some problem with limits.... especially self imposed ones. But I am so over the moon about my purchases! Oh happy happy day!

This post is timely because on Monday I am so excited to share my review of Does this Clutter Make my Butt Look Fat! And then I'll be ready to dive into one of my new books.
So happy reading to you all this weekend!

What about you? What's your go-to when you're in need of a little treat? Any other book lovers out there?

Monday, April 18, 2011

Fat girl running

I've been putting off this post. Just like I put off my running.

It had been about 3 weeks since I'd actually joined in on a Saturday long run. I'd managed a few runs on the treadmill and also the Oakland 5K, but no group long run. So it was no wonder that last Saturday I was nervous as we split into pace groups. What if there wasn't a group for me?

As pacers held up their signs, I scanned them for a timed mile that reflected my current walk/run pace. The woman at the far end had a sign that said 13:00-14:00 minute mile. I joined her (I was the only one) and let her know about my "break" from the training runs.

She reassured me and said we could go at whatever pace I felt comfortable. We started out our 6 miles running, and continued without stopping for about a mile and a half. Occasionally we would catch up with a few other runners who had stopped to stretch or have water. For the most part though, it was just she and I.

Our run was through the Lower Haight and included multiple hills (which I mostly walked) and a few famous SF landmarks.

Hello Haight/ Ashbury.

Hello delicious sounding treats.

I ran more than I anticipated on the way out to the 3-mile turnaround mark. Once we'd stopped at 3 miles, I had so much trouble getting started again. My legs felt a bit like they had bricks stuck on them. After walking about a mile or so, I felt brave enough to try running again, despite my leaden feet.

"I can run to that corner," I would tell myself as I eyed the upcoming intersection. "Run to that tree," I convinced myself. My confidence started feeling boosted and I reminded myself to be proud of myself for being out there on such a gorgeous (and early) Saturday morning.

We were about a half mile from the end of our run when I saw him. When we were first heading out at 8 in the morning, there weren't too many folks up and on the street yet. But by the time we'd turned around and headed back, the streets were starting to buzz with energy and city noise. The guy was about a block ahead of us and I probably wouldn't have even thought twice about him. We were on a wide sidewalk and didn't need to negotiate a pass by. We just needed to pass each other and be on our way. No exchange necessary.


He shouted the word with a venomous hiss.

"hey..." My response reflected my shock and was more squeak then actual word.

Since we were running past him when he shouted it, I was now a few steps beyond where he was. I turned my head in surprise and confusion and when I did so, he was there, staring at me.
"Gordaaaa." He spit the word at me again.

"You speak Spanish?" The pacer asked me.
"I speak enough to know he just called me Fatty."

I know how to curse in Spanish (and a few other languages), but as he hurled the insult at me I came up short. I had nothing. My energy was already almost totally depleted and I was there running by, raw, vulnerable... and fat. Yup, it's true. I'm fat. He didn't exactly lie. But why did he have to say anything at all?

I didn't know him. I hadn't ever seen him before. I did nothing to insult him, except I clearly insulted his sensibilities as I ran by on the busy San Francisco street at 9:30 in the morning on a Saturday.

I hated that it bothered me so much.

We made our way back to the starting point and there was a brunch waiting for everyone. I ate half a bagel, finally tried the infamous Chobani yogurt, and drank some juice. I stretched, thanked my pacer, and made my way back to my car.

Then I just sat there... mulling.

Maybe I can find him. Maybe he'll still be walking down the street and I can throw a rotten egg at his head. No that won't work.
1) I don't have any rotten eggs with me.
2) I have terrible aim.
3) It wouldn't actually make me feel better. Not in the long run anyway.

So there would be no egg throwing.

Instead there would just be more... mulling.

I've talked to some friends of size who loathe the idea of heading to the gym. To workout in public is totally out of the question. But I've never felt that way. I have felt a bit nervous, but it's only lately that my mere presence on the city streets has provoked such audible outpourings.

If I didn't workout, you would call me lazy. And if I do workout, you find it somehow okay to call me fat. As if I don't know it. As if I need you to tell me that my red face and jiggly stomach is having a rough time finishing up mile 6. I don't need you to tell me that.

Screw you man in the car calling me fatty. And screw you man on 16th calling me fat.
I'm going to keep running even if it offends your sense of right and good and normal. I'm going to continue the radical act of exercising outdoors, even if I am not in shape (yet) and even if I'm fat. Run on fat girls, run on.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Does this Clutter Make my Butt Look Fat? (Part I)

Remember oh...last year... when I added "my books I'm reading" to the side bar? I started Does This Clutter Make My Butt Look Fat? by Peter Walsh last year and then decided I wanted to read It's All Too Much, his organizing book, first. So off to the "to read" pile it went.
But now, since I'm actively decluttering and getting organized, I decided it was the perfect time to pick it up again. And I'm so in love with this book.

This post is Part I since I'll post a full write up once I finish the book. For now though I wanted to share that I'm diving in to the book. I have my pen right next to me for annotating and underlining and circling and starring!

Right away, his statement "No one makes good choices in a messy kitchen," inspired me and even motivated me to clean up my pantry!

The connection between physical clutter and weight may not seem obvious at first. But he totally makes the connection in this list:
The cookbooks that fill your countertop, leaving you no space to prepare and cook healthy meals are making you fat.

The thin clothes that you hope will fit again one day are making you fat.

The baggy clothes that you hide behind are making you fat.

The garage full of unused exercise equipment is making you fat.

The boxes of memorabilia that keep you living in another time are making you fat.

The pantry chock full of disorganized food is making you fat.

Even the dining room table covered with mail is making you fat.
Peter Walsh asserts he is not a diet expert and he will not give you a list of foods you should and shouldn't eat or offer healthy recipes. Instead he is making the connection between food and clutter. Clutter prevents you from living the life you want; including losing weight.

I remember Suze Orman talking about debt and weight. I wish I could remember the comparison exactly, but it was something about for every $1,000 you owe you are 5 pounds overweight or something like that. Point is... it's all connected.

Can't wait to share more about the book once I'm finished!
In the meantime, what are your thoughts? Does that idea of clutter and weight being connected resonate with you?

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Have you heard?

I got some offline flak for my last post. I know, I know, when it comes down to it, I still missed my long run. But for reals my body thanked me or I thanked my body, or both. Sleep is good.

Also in the realm of self care, I saw my Physical therapist yesterday. I started seeing him several months ago for a terrible shoulder injury. One of the things I love about him, is the way he fuses eastern medicine with more traditionally western medicines. He's studying acupuncture and so yesterday he gave me these things called Ear Seeds.
Each ear seed is a tiny black bead sitting in a little square of tape. After referring to an "ear map" he placed them on different acupuncture points of my ear. Each point corresponds to different parts of the body. You press on the little bead throughout the day and it is meant to stimulate energy associated with that body part. Some folks use it to treat addiction. And in my case, he placed the seeds at points associated with my shoulder, my knee, my heart and lungs, etc. They aren't needles and don't pierce the skin. When I press on the seed it feels painful, the way it might feel to press on a bruise or a tender muscle.

When I was looking around for pics of the ear map, I found this one of Matt Damon with ear seeds. And if Matt Damon uses them... haha
Do any of you use acupuncture?

Info about ear seeds found here. Ear map found here. Pic of Matt Damon with Ear seeds found here.

Monday, April 4, 2011

When in doubt, choose kindness

Especially kindness to yourself. I'm great at saying this but I haven't been practicing it. The negative self-talk has been loud and in charge. I read this tip: as soon as you wake up and while you are still lying in bed, say kind things to yourself or think of things you are proud of.

I decided to try this since I knew it would be a welcome change from. "Ugh I overslept. Ugh I didn't finish this or that.." You get the idea.

So I tried it. Saturday morning was our scheduled long training run and so the night before I went to bed at a decent hour, hydrated, and most importantly located clean running clothes. When my alarm went off at 7am I lay there for a minute, and tried to put a kabosh on the nervous feelings coming up pre run.

I instead said lovely, kind things to myself and I thought about people in my life that make me smile. I thought about this blog and how I feel proud of the sharing. And then, the craziest thing happened. I said to myself "I'm going back to sleep."

Yup. That's right. You thought I was going to say I leapt out of bed and proceeded to run the best long run of my life. But no, I went back to sleep for another 2 hours. But you know what. I needed it. I have been feeling mega run down. I got another cold last week, I haven't been sleeping well and I was exhausted. And it turns out the "nice thing" my body needed most was more sleep. But instead of feeling guilty about it, I actually felt grateful that I'd listened to what I needed instead of pushing myself when I wasn't feeling well.

Yeah it was kind of an unexpected side effect of the whole positive self talk. And I certainly didn't intend to talk myself out of the long run. But truthfully it felt good to listen to my body and be a little kinder that I usually am.

Anybody else on the self-love train? What do you do when you get de-railed from it?