Monday, August 31, 2009

Yoga: A Change in Perspective

Sometimes, when we least expect it, we surprise ourselves.

I had a bad weekend.  It was the kind of weekend where Murphy's Law is in full effect and you want to hide in your bed until Monday morning.  You find yourself begging to go back to work just so your mind can be taken off of things.  In this case, I also had a giant lump in my chest, from being stressed out and upset, that felt like it might never go away.  

Even though I didn't want to leave the house, I forced myself to go to yoga yesterday.  I set an intention of just staying present and paying attention to my breath.  There were only a few students so we had a lot of room to move, experiment and play.  It was the most challenging class I have ever taken, partially because it was physically difficult and partially because every time we did hip work I wanted to break down into tears.  But I tried to remember my intention and stick with it.  And it paid off.

At the end of class, the teacher insisted we all at least try to do a few of the more challenging poses: HanumanasanaBird of Paradise, Crow and forearm stand.  Now I can do Crow (though it is admittedly difficult for me and I sometimes fall out), I can only do the prep work for Bird of Paradise, my split was a little wobbly and, other than Shoulder Stand, I have never ever come up into an inversion because they absolutely terrify me.  

You know what they say about how from rock bottom there is nowhere to go but up?  


So up I went.  I did that forearm stand in the middle of the room without falling over for the first time ever.  I'm still not sure I liked it very much or that I will ever be able to do it again but I know that in that moment I needed it.  My body craved a change in perspective, literal and figurative, and after I came out of the pose, the lump in my chest was gone.  Going into the class with no expectations allowed me to go further than I ever had before.

The teacher joked that we might not be able to walk tomorrow after what she put us through. She might be right but I am so glad.  I needed to use my body to work through the emotional stuff.  I left class feeling lighter, happier and more capable.

The healing power of yoga never ceases to amaze me.

{Image credit: Fit Sugar}

Friday, August 28, 2009

New gadget: TofuXpress

File this one under "Why didn't I Think of That?!?!"

I was flipping through the latest issue of VegNews the other day when I spied this little gadget, the TofuXpress. Place tofu in, push down, water drained and tofu ready to go.
How many times have I tried to get the water out of tofu by using paper towels or two plates, only to realize that my attempts were in vain because it was still watery and refused to cook up correctly?! Could it be that my foiled kitchen creations were just missing the prep work of the TofuXpress? I am not usually one to stock up on random kitchenware but this seems like it could be the answer to many of my tofu-strations! So simple and yet so needed.
The website says that it also can press the water out of paneer cheese, thawed chopped spinach, eggplant, or chopped onions and peppers.
You can order a TofuXpress here.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Overcoming the Post-Vacation Blues

I have been feeling pretty low post-vacation. I feel both overwhelmed and like I need a new direction.

Vacation taught me: that saying no to things is okay, to focus on making a life before making a living, that relaxation is vital for my survival, sometimes doing nothing is exactly what I need and that being in the present moment is the only thing that really matters. I also think I learned that the hunches I had that I am not on the right path for me are correct. Ha...that's a lot for one vacation, right?

Yesterday I came across the "Five Steps for Setting Happiness Resolutions" by Positively Present and the day before that The Bliss Chick posted about the results of staying true to one's passions. Both of these posts could not have come at a better time.

Action steps I can take to refocus, recommit and reconnect right now and in the coming months:

-Say no to things that I don't want to do, I just cannot do or are not realistic at this time.
-Pare down the list of my obligations.
-Create a schedule that is workable and that includes down time.
-Lose the guilt over not doing things that others want me to do.
-Take time to connect to like-minded souls.
-Refuse to let obligations impede on a decent night's sleep.
-Eat well, exercise more and build up my yoga practice.
-Journal. A lot. Get quiet more often so I can hear what I really want.
-Focus on the here and now and not the here and 1, 3, 5 and 10 years from now.

{Photo credit: James Photography Freak}

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Today's pretties.

Fun Skirt by Boden

Regular Yoga Practice Can Lead to Decreased Obesity

The Skinny has a post about a recent study shows that a regular yoga practice can lead to a decrease in obesity, something that I have seen to be true in my own life.

The study, which was a follow-up to another study done a few years back, confirms claims that yogis are more mindful of what they are eating because they have better body awareness. This leads them to be more in tune to their body's hunger and saiety levels.

"In our earlier study, we found that middle-age people who practice yoga gained less weight over a 10-year period than those who did not. This was independent of physical activity and dietary patterns. We hypothesized that mindfulness – a skill learned either directly or indirectly through yoga – could affect eating behavior," said Dr. Alan Kristal, associate head of the Cancer Prevention Program in the Public Health Sciences Division at the Hutchinson Center. "These findings fit with our hypothesis that yoga increases mindfulness in eating and leads to less weight gain over time, independent of the physical activity aspect of yoga practice," he added.

Yet another good excuse to get your yoga on!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Revelry Review: Korres' Products

I have a new love in my life and its name is Korres Cherry Oil Lip Gloss.

I have long been a fan of the shimmer and shine of lip glosses over the dramatic look of regular lipstick.  In the past I have been known to be partial to MAC Lipglass but I am not a fan of how thick and sticky it feels on your lips.  Enter Korres.

These tubes of sheer joy contain cherry oil, which moisturizes your lips and makes them non-sticky.  They also have Jojoba oil to hydrate and vitamins E and C to repair.  They are available in 13 gorgeous hues.

Two other great Korres products?  Pomegranate Cleansing Wipes and Lip Butters.  They also included a few samples in my order of their different lotions and body butters that I can't wait to try!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Maine: The Way Vacation Should Be

I had a wonderful vacation that left me with a week's worth of blissful memories. 

Signs of a great vacation: 

Slight sunburn, lots of sleep with no alarm clocks, snuggling, indulging in whoopie pies and a Boston shake, a breakfast picnic at a lighthouse, shopping at The Happy Yogi and at the outlets in Freeport, swimming, taking the canoe for a spin, spending the afternoon playing with an adorable little kid, finishing a ton of pleasure reading, no internet or tv, laughter, Pictionary and Scrabble, the Lobster Shack, finding out you are halfway decent at ping pong, home cooking, the feeling of sand under your bare feet, feeling your stress melt away, car rides, exploring and falling in love with new places like this one, thunder and lighting outside while you are curled up under a blanket inside, stumbling across a farmer's market, a few glasses of wine, a new yoga class, falling even more in love then you thought possible with your boyfriend, exceptionally yummy meals at new restaurants like this one and absolutely not wanting it to end so you don't have to go home.

{Photo of Panther Pond in Raymond, ME by moi.}

Friday, August 14, 2009


I am off to Maine until August 23rd! I will be visiting Jesse and his family. I can't wait to see where Jesse grew up and learn more about the northern part of the US. Things I hope to see and do include: See a lighthouse, eat a whoopie pie, cuddle a lot, spend time with pretty things in nature, shop at the outlets in Freeport and catch up on sleep.
Have a good week, everyone!
Photo credit: Ken Lund

Words to Grow By.

And did you get what you wanted from this life, even so?

I did.

And what did you want?

To call myself beloved, to feel myself

beloved on the earth.

~Raymond Carver, "Late Fragment"

{Photo credit: pninaN}

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Attitude of Gratitude.

1. I won this awesome relaxation kit from VegNews on Monday!

2. A post from the Icing blog called "2009: Where Are You At?" has been tremendous food for thought this week.

3. Southwest Airlines lets you change your ticket online without ever having to wait for or talk to a human being. Love it!

4. My super amazing boyfriend made me banana chocolate chip pancakes from scratch on Sunday morning. From scratch. Pretty sure I can't even do that.

5. My freelance writing e-course started this week.

6. I am thankful that I am learning that happiness is nothing more than being in the present moment.

7. The power of writing my Morning Pages continues to amaze me.

8. I leave on Friday for a week of vacation!

Is Yoga Enough?

Yesterday I came across an interesting article on the Yoga Journal website: Is Yoga Enough to Keep You Fit?

I try to do some form of cardio and strength training in addition to yoga. I find that I lose more weight, eat better and feel better when I practice yoga more than I do other forms of exercise but I have never given up everything else altogether. It could be the sometimes intense sun salutations. It could be the sense of mindfulness that extends off-the-mat. It could be reduced levels of stress.

I get so many things from my yoga practice but I get different (and important) things from other types of exercise. Would you give up other ways of staying fit and only do yoga?

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Food staples.

My typical MO is to have a few food staples always on hand at home and supplement those with one or two trips to the grocery store throughout the week to buy fresh produce. I know that the more I grocery shop, the better I eat.

I'm curious: What food staples do you always have in the fridge or cabinet?

Here is my list:

1. Some sort of milk alternative. I use light vanilla soy milk on top of cereal or in oatmeal and almond milk for smoothies.

2. Peanut, sunflower or cashew butter. In small quantities, it is great to eat on apples or whole wheat breads or add to my oatmeal.

3. Red lentils. I never get sick of these things and I can cook them 9248934839 ways!

4. Tea. Right now I probably have 10-15 different types of tea at home. Green tea in the AM, peppermint in the afternoon and herbal at night!

5. Frozen fruits and veggies. When I am short on time, in a pinch or the produce is looking icky at the store, frozen fruits and veggies come in handy for stir-frys, smoothies, or soups.

6. Beans. Usually chickpeas or black beans. They have a million uses, they are cheap and they are a good source of protein.

7. Salsa. The best all-purpose condiment!

8. Something sweet. Okay, I admit it. Right now it's all-fruit strawberry popsicles. If I keep something relatively healthy in the kitchen, I won't be as tempted to get something really bad for me elsewhere.

9. Hummus. On a pita or on raw veggies. It doesn't matter much because I love this stuff!

10. Yogurt. I am loving Stoneyfield Farm's fat free peach right about now.

A Letter to the Universe

Lately I have felt like you are trying to tell me something. Or maybe that's you I feel gently nudging me in new, exciting and scary directions.

I'm grateful that you are presenting me with so many ideas and paths to choose from, but please know I need to make baby steps right now. I need time to think about the options. Keep whispering your ideas to me and I'll listen. I promise to follow your lead if you promise not to go so fast.


Monday, August 10, 2009

Beat the Heat

Just came across this picture and had to share. With the sun blazing and the humidity through the roof in the DC area today, I could definitely go for sharing a popsicle with a favorite someone right about now. How cute are they? I love how they are all nestled in the cup together. I want a popsicle built for two!
{Photo credit: willsfca}

Friday, August 7, 2009

Teaching Prenatal Yoga

Last summer, after the first level of general teacher training, I completed both prenatal and post-natal yoga teacher trainings at Tranquil Space in Washington, DC. And the truth is that I fell head-over-heels in love with prenatal yoga.

I learned so much about pregnancy and childbirth. I learned about the options available to pregnant women. I learned about their bodies and specific needs. I learned about home birthing and midwives and birth partners. I watched "The Business of Being Born", which, if you have any interest at all in the topic of how the birth industry has become just that--an industry--then it is a must-see. I read book after book after book on these topics. In fact, while I am not pregnant and I don't practice kundalini yoga, Gurmukh's Bountiful, Beautiful, Blissful made me want to run right out and do both. I also observed two prenatal yoga clases, one at Tranquil Space and one at Flow Yoga. They were very different in their approach, though I appreciated both.

I was amazed by the physical strength and grace of pregnant women as they go through a yoga practice. Another pleasant surprise was the sense of community they created. After class, they would all gather around to discuss doctors, hospitals, baby toys, parenting classes, etc. They would have lunch together. In a city where you pass by a million strangers every day with no contact, these women were reaching out to each other to form a bond over a shared life milestone. It was beautiful.

I'm not sure why I was so drawn to prenatal yoga. It might have been that many of these women were discovering the power of yoga for the first time, or rediscovering the benefits of it to their bodies. It could be the sheer excitement that surrounded them as they expected to bring another life into the world. It could be that I have always had an interest in yoga for every body, no matter weight, shape, condition, age, etc.

Many of you know that I am considering doing the 200 hour Yoga Alliance certified training either this Spring or the next. I really hope that following that I can teach prenatal yoga. I feel like that is where I am being called, if that makes sense. In fact, I've been researching midwifery and being a doula for a few months now. Who knows? It could grow into something much bigger.

There is a good general article on the benefits of prenatal yoga called "Labor of Love" over at Yoga Journal.

{Photo credit: KimLowePhoto}

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Diet Coke is the Devil.

Most of you know that I lost a lot of weight doing Weight Watchers.  Recently I realized that most of what I was eating to stay within my Weight Watchers points included a lot of chemicals and fake sugar.  The primary example of this is the diet coke addiction I only recently parted ways with.  

On Weight Watchers, water and diet coke are pretty much the only beverages that have a 0 point value.  Juices and things are fairly high in points.  As you can imagine, plain water gets boring pretty quickly.  Even water with lemon, lime, mint or cucumber in it gets boring.  I, along with the throngs of people that go to Weight Watchers meetings, relied on diet coke to add something different (and caffeinated) to my drink routine.  One or two diet cokes a day (very, very) quickly became one a day and, sometimes, many more than one.  

The result?  An over-caffeinated and over-faux-sugared me would go nuts and crave sweets.  It was SO much harder to keep my diet after a soda.  If I saw a cookie, cake or muffin, I HAD TO HAVE IT.  My sugar addiction was in full swing.

So I quit.

Not cold turkey.  I still will have one maybe once or twice a month.  But I mostly quit.  And I've been eating so much better ever since.  I never really believed that diet coke could ruin your best nutrition intentions but now I know.  I'm living proof.  Put down the diet coke, pick up the water!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Attitude of Gratitude.

Things I am grateful for and/or excited about right now:

1. I will be spending this weekend with my family, plus going to a friend's wedding.

2. Yogi Tea's Bedtime tea.  And Peppermint.  So good.

3. I received all of my books for the fall semester today.  I'm not that excited to be back in school but I do love new books.

4. All of the new books and movies coming out soon, especially "Julie and Julia", "The Time Traveler's Wife", Margaret Atwood's The Year of the Flood and Audrey Niffeneger's Her Fearful Symmetry.  Plus a few new vegan cookbooks: The Urban Vegan, Vegan Cookies Take Over the World and Vegan Yum Yum.

5.  Sleep.  Lots of oh-so-glorious sleep.  I spent all of last week fighting insomnia so this is a welcome surprise.

6. My sister is planning a trip to the area over Labor Day weekend.

7.  TranquiliT 40% off sale until Thursday at midnight!  I got the hoodie in peony and the savasana throw in noir.  I am so excited for the new fall collection coming in September!

8. A really great workout.  I am grateful for what my body can do in way I never was prior to becoming more health conscious.

{Photo credit: paul+photos=moody}

Monday, August 3, 2009

Words to Grow By.

"The easiest way to care less about how much you weigh, how much you lose, and how much you get to eat while you're losing it is to care more about something else.

...You can come to care less about focusing on your body by developing a wide range of interests. I think of this as becoming a "life gourmet". I love being around people like this. They have fascinating information about all sorts of topics, and if you ask them if they'd like to go to the opera or to the bowling alley, they'll likely say yes and have a great time. You become a life gourmet by expanding the parameters of what's comfortable for you."

~from Fit From Within by Victoria Moran

{Photo credit: juliagriggshavey}

Revelry Review: Master Your Metabolism

Jillian Michaels' latest book should simply be called "Go Organic.  No, That's Not Organic Enough.  I Mean TOTALLY Organic".  

She spends the first half of the book explaining the various hormones that are involved in weight loss and how toxins in our diet and environment can work against us.  A little dry, but I learned a thing or two that made me appreciate my body and its processes even more.

Then the focus shifts to why you should buy organic produce, meat, cleaners, makeup, etc.  She talks about the dangers of plastic bottles and canned foods.  She gives resources for locating organic products.  She discusses the various preservatives that have turned our food into unrecognizable chemicals.  A la Michael Pollan, she firmly states that you should not eat anything that did not come from the ground or did not have a mother.  And as someone who spends a large percentage of her monthly income at Whole Foods and farmers' markets, I would tend to agree.  

And I was with her right up until she started discussing her issue with prescription medications.  I am all for natural and preventative medicines.  I know that these are highly preferable to overloading the body with all kinds of chemicals that work against the bodies natural processes.  However, I would never tell someone battling severe depression that antidepressants are bad because the chemicals interfere with the body's natural state of being.  I know there are others who believe this but I think it is dangerous for someone of Jillian's stardom to preach this kind of thing to people who want to lose weight (many of whom may also be battling depression).

I did appreciate some of her rules to master your metabolism.  Eating something every four hours, not eating past 9 and getting enough sleep are always good reminders.  Another one I need to work on is "eating like a king at breakfast, a prince at lunch and a pauper at dinner". Overall, I am glad that I read this book if only because Jillian's no nonsense attitude is enough to motivate anyone to improve their diet and get back on the treadmill.

You can also check out my review of Jillian's "30 Day Shred" DVD here.