Sunday, May 29, 2011

Why, Oh Why

1. In an attempt to find a yoga class close to home I tried Bikram (set series of 26 yoga poses, including two breathing exercises, each of which is performed twice in a single 90 minute class, in a hot as hell room, filled with Serious.Yoga. People.). The woman in front of me closed her eyes and sorta swayed and danced the whole time, skipping over half of the poses, which irritated the instructor to no end because “you should not  skip a pose….it is very dangerous…..there is an order to the poses for a reason!” The instructor was pretty much spun up the entire class, between She who was not doing the poses at all, and an older indian woman who was attending her third class and kept trying the hardest variation of all the poses, "nonononono, you're going to injure yourself. Stop doing that! Stop. Here do this. Don't look at that woman over there! She's advanced. Don't look!!!!" Pretty sure yoga instructors are not supposed to sound that frantic and irritated but hey, I'm new to this sport, what do I know.

Anywhoo. Besides that fact that the woman reeked of pot (did I mention that the room is heated?), her back was covered with red rings from cupping:  Cupping - A treatment in which evacuated glass cups are applied to intact or scarified skin in order to draw blood toward or through the surface. It was used for disorders associated with an excess of blood, one of the four humors of medieval physiology. Basically modern day leeching. Ew. 

At first, the woman was so distracting I found it irritating, but then I went with it. I decided she was a gift from the yoga universe to me, because I found class boring and very, very SERIOUS, and yet there she was swaying and ignoring the instructor, who's head was about to explode and the whole thing was surreal and very, very funny, in a this can't possibly be happening sort of way.

2. Yesterday morning during swimming there was an older blond Germanic looking woman in the lane next to me. She was approximately 68 years old, wearing a one piece swim suit with yellow/white/blue color blocks which was…well…completely see through. I don’t mean the material was a little thin. Oh no. The material was sheer at best, actually more translucent than sheer. She did the back stroke nearly the entire time. I kid you not.  The only saving grace was that the bottom of the suit was navy. Again, I kept thinking, this cannot be possible. It just can't. And she'd go s l o w l y down the land in her see through suit and I'd laugh hysterically inside.

3. Phew. Now, for something fun. Check this out:

It's a sun umbrella that tells you time and direction. You orient yourself North with the compass (included):

and then look at where the sun shines on the umbrella. The vertical lines and numbers indicate hours; horizontal lines are the summer solstice, the spring/autumnal equinox and winter solstice from the top to bottom. In  the photo it is around 4, during the summer solstice. It's made by zung.
I don't think you can buy it here yet but dang, I LOVE that thing. Perfect for a sunny California day. 

Is there anything out there making you wonder why? Any strangely weird situations that make you want to laugh hysterically? Maybe that's just me. Would you be seen on the street with the parasol? 

    Thursday, May 26, 2011

    The UPS Man Rings Once

    … at my house. No second ring needed, no sireee, certainly  not. Today, that sweet thing dropped a box on my front porch that contained these: 

    Now wait just a second, you may be thinking, who are those for?  You, little Ms. EatRantRun, are on a no running streak, non? Whose shoes are those? What exactly is going on?

    First, everything seems better when you have new shoes. Especially new running shoes. Before you've run in them, the honeymoon is in full swing.

    Now let’s look at the handy little Newton Laws of Running Better that came with these beauties:

    I have been a dedicated yogini, and I have been doing my stretches and I have been swimming, all with consistency and enthusiasm.  But seriously.

     I have this little, tiny, gaping hole in my soul that cries out for a little, tiny, bit of running.

    So, let's focus on number 5 of Newton's laws: 

    See that ? One mile, people. It may as well say one measly mile. I plan to continue my yoga/swim/repeat routine and add in one measly mile (OMM) three times a week. I plan on walking/running this OMM, whilst I focus on Good Form. 

    I am convinced it will strengthen my ankles, soothe my soul, and give me hope for a better tomorrow. All that from one pair of shoes. Nice. Speaking of which, let's gaze at those bad boys on: 

    Why Newton's? I know many dedicated barfoot runners who swear by their Vibrams (Hi, Loren!). I don't try Vibrams because whenever I go barefoot for a day or run a little bit barefoot I have painful, throbbing, knees hours later. I have sat for over an hour with an ice pack on each knee to no avail, until I finally succumbed to the sweet relief of Vitamin A (A is for Advil, B is for Bitchy, which is how I feel when my knees are throbbing. C is for just Can't do it).

    I can't pay money for something that I know causes me that much pain. It's not a pain I'm going to grow accustomed to, and yes, for goodness sake I tried running barefoot, on turf, on a regular basis, for a short distance. The result? ABC.

    The Newton's offer some cushion and I think they are a good option for me. Allegedly, they'll help me transition to a midfoot strike with their Land-Lever-Lift philosophy. Here's how it supposed to work:
    NOT as sexay as my shoes. My shoes were unavailable for the photoshoot.

    I will be keeping you updated on how these work in Real Life. 

    In the spirit of keeping it real, let's give a shout out to the real Sir Issac Newton, maker of laws and those awesome fig cookies, a true Renaissance Man.
    I like his naturally curly hair.

    Newtons First Law of Motion (also known as the law of inertia). Yes, he made a law outta laying around on the couch all day.) :

    I. Every object in a state of uniform motion tends to remain in that state of motion unless an external force is applied to it.

    Newtons Second Law of Motion (also known as the law of complicated math. Too bad you didn't pay attention in high school, then this might mean something):

    II. The relationship between an object's mass m, its acceleration a, and the applied force F is F = ma. Acceleration and force are vectors (as indicated by their symbols being displayed in slant bold font); in this law the direction of the force vector is the same as the direction of the acceleration vector. 

    Newtons Third Law of Motion (also known as the law we all know. What it means is that if you step off a boat and onto to a dock, you go forward; the boat goes backward).:

    III. For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. 

    Sweet blog post today, eh? A little bit of running, a little bit of science and whole lotta pictures. 

    Tell me, have given the minimalist fad, I mean trend, a try? Did you go all the way? Barefoot, I mean. Or did you try shoes? What were your experiences? How do you feel about Fig Newtons? I love them.

    Monday, May 23, 2011

    Filling the Void

    Without an exhausting trail run on the weekends I’ve been madly trying to fill the void. So far, I haven't had a ton of success with that but hey, it’s a transition; it’s gonna take some time (and with time I will be running again and then yipeee my weekends will have Purpose). So what have I been up to with myself?

    For one thing I have been seriously tackling losing weight. When I was training I simply couldn’t bear to track every goo and bar and then say no to my after run hamburger and pint. Now I am not training, summer is coming and who on earth wants to go buy fat shorts? I am not going gently into that good night, no way, no how.  So. I started a food diary on and have taken to it like a new sport. Thus far I have lost 2 pounds, yay me.

    Like all sports, it has not been easy, quick or painless. It has been a steady one pound a week though. Tracking calories has the added bene of really motivating me to find some activity so that I can earn a few “extra” exercise calories because I. Am . Hungry. Srsly. Hungry.  But, my clothes are fitting better. The shorts that I couldn’t fit into before, I STILL can’t fit into, because it’s gonna take more than 2 pounds. But the ones that I could? Those are fitting and feeling much better. I’ll take it.

    Because my Sundays are now wide open spaces, and I am counting calories, and I am fiscally conservative,  I have begun to make my lunch every Sunday and Wednesday. Here is my action plan: throw a slew of veggies on the grill. (Note that some one in my family (coughkidscough) inadvertently set MY camera to take black and white photos, so instead of having the greens of asparagus, the white of zucchini and the browns of mushrooms I present to you shades of gray. Not all that appealing. My apologies.)

    These things were gorgeous.

    After the veggies I throw on the chicken:
    Then I chop up the whole mess and throw it in a glass bowl, serve it over half a cup of brown rice and TA-DA!! two healthy lo calorie lunches, at your service.

    A few losing weight thoughts:
    • I am hungry almost all the time AND it is ok. Apparently, if you cut back 500 calories a day to lose one pound a week, you're gonna be hungry. Accept it and it doesn't hurt as much, at least that's my motto.
    • I am eating healthier than ever because I eye every food and consider what my 130 calories is buying me. So, banana with a teaspoon of almond butter is IN, piece of pastry? OUT.
    • I still have a couple glasses of wine once a week or so. On those days I eat even healthier and try for a little extra activity.

    I hope to have a "went for my first run in awhile" blog post, but until then this is what I've got.

    Sunday, May 15, 2011


    Wednesday I met with my physical therapist, and agreed to stop running for a month, possibly more, while I work on fixing some imbalances that are causing me chronic pain and mental anguish while running.  Or trying to run. 

    Saturday I headed out to Oakland to run a trail half marathon, which of course I ended up mostly walking. Sigh. 

    Here’s the thing: mentally I LOVE trail running. Check out the views:

    Can't you imagine Hansel and Gretel here?
    It feels amazing to be out amongst all that nature for hours on end.  I love how strong my legs feel when I’m done, the next day soreness, and the opportunity to eat a Fat Guys burger without guilt.

    The sweat and the glamorous race photos make me super happy too :

    In case you were wondering what I look like coming across the finish line. I swear I am smiling. Please don't comment on my muffin top. I'm working on it.
    I love the fields of green dotted with tiny blue flowers:

    Even with all that walking I manage to sweat enough to fog my glasses.
    You're jealous, I'm sure.
    Here’s what gives me pause: I no longer run much at all, the pain in my calves is simple too great. Even after I have a good long walking/running warm up, I can only run downhill and gentle rolling terrain. Once the terrain is flat or mostly up, I have to walk.

    This time out I was especially sensitive to how much I wanted to run versus how much I was able to run.  Several times I pushed myself to run up inclines to see how my cardiovascular system has developed. Each time I was pleased to find I’ve really improved on rolling hills, I can run up inclines that would have had me gasping for breath this time last year. Each time I had to grit my teeth to overcome the building pain in my calves and each time I had to eventually stop and pause because the pain was too much. It used to be that my legs felt ok, I simply was unable to get enough air to my thumping heart. Now the heart is ok, and my legs are screaming in pain. 

    What the heck is a swamp brigade? Do tell. I still love the motto.
    I have not taken this downward slide passively. In January I started taking Pilates twice a week to help my core strength and flexibility. A month ago I started swimming to give my legs a break and help my ankle flexibility.

    I’ve seen two different physical therapists. The first one broke up the tissue in my ankles and calves, leaving me literally bruised. I saw him two or three times a week for this treatment and he was in fact able to cure me for small pockets of time. It was clear to me though, that while he was helping to fix the symptoms, whatever was causing my pain was not going away.  I switched therapists. The new guy tested my functional range of motion and found that I lack of sorts of things: hip stability, flexibility, ankle strength, the list goes on and on.  He was not surprised that I’ve been having problems and put together some exercises for me.  He also recommended yoga, as my balance sucks and is another piece of my puzzle. 

    So. Time to regroup and try to cure what ails me.

    I continue to swim twice a week. Last week I found a Power Yoga class that I love; we work hard, sweat a lot and laugh in this class. Plus, no new age spiritual lectures, which tend to make me throw up in my mouth a little. Last time I took regular yoga she nattered on: "when life is challenging, as it will be. As it should....soften...absorb the edges...relax into the pain."  I wanted to interject "sometimes you just have to suck it up. Life's hard. It'll get better. Eventually. Until then, get over yourself."

    And that is exactly what  am trying to do now; suck it up and get over myself.

    Tuesday, May 10, 2011

    A Life Less Sweet

    It’s high time for the no sugar blues challenge update.  First off, if you’d like to learn more about sugar AND you’d like to be able to say ‘I read in the New York Times” (as well you should…), read this article. It does a great job of explaining why all sugar is not created equal (fruit really is much better for you) and why it is so, so bad. Like that guy on the motorcycle you "dated" for a summer. Or wanted to date. Whatever.

    The surprising:  My healthy cereal, which I stir into my daily bowl of yogurt, had organic cane sugar listed as its third THIRD!! ingredient.  My organic and natural peanut butter also had organic cane sugar. Damn. Woe is me. Out went the cereal and the peanut butter. There was also sugar in my cottage cheese “double” which comes with a small amount of sweetened pineapple. Other than those  items, I didn’t find any hidden sugar. I did find PLENTY of unhidden, standing there in full sight, come to momma, sugar in the form of dark chocolate, scones, cookies, etc. 

    Was it hard? Honestly, it was a little harder than I thought it would be. I missed dried fruit (my candy stand in). I missed sparkling water mixed with juice. I hated not being to marinate my chicken or beef and not being able to put on any sauces (teriyaki sauce was out., obviously). I missed mindlessly popping a little morsel of goodness into my mouth…

    I heart gummies.
    Was there any pay off at all? Surprisingly, there was. I no longer put two teaspoons of raw sugar into my morning coffee. YAY me!! Turns out this is a nice to have, not a need to have, and it was easy to give up altogether.  I also found that I do in fact tend to like a little sweet after I eat and I have continued to cut down on those.  I also started eating plain cottage cheese with cut up veggies in it and I love that. The coffee and the cottage cheese are both great daily changes I’ve made with little pain and suffering. 

    How did you end your no sugar fast? Turned out, the day after my two days were over was crazy hot. I picked up my son and we went to Cold Stone Creamery where I enjoyed a kid size lemon sorbet.  Sitting, there enjoying my treat, I suddenly realized that I had broken my fast. I also realized that being able to sit and enjoy the heat and the company while we enjoyed our treats was exactly why I wouldn’t cut out all sugar all the time. 

    How about you, did you make it the whole two days? Miss anything? Not miss anything? Do tell...