Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Alkaline and Acidifying Foods

There's a lot of talk about not eating too many acidic foods and having a slightly alkaline balance in your body for better health. There are nutrition experts on both sides of this theory -- some saying that an acidic body is a welcome host for cancer whereas an alkaline body is not a good environment for cancer to grow. Acidic bodies also are said to have more inflammatory diseases. I haven't read enough about it to come to my own conclusion, but from what I can see, it goes along with whole food eating. If you're eating processed foods, sugar, and too many animal products and starches, you're going to have more health problems. If you're eating a vegetable based diet with plenty of other whole foods, you'll have a stronger, disease-free body.

Here are some charts I found to show which foods are acidic or alkaline.

ALKALINE / ACIDIC FOOD CHARTS The charts below are provided for those trying to "adjust" their body pH through their diet. The pH scale is from 0 to 14, with numbers below 7 acidic (low on oxygen) and numbers above 7 alkaline. These charts are intended only as a general guide to alkalizing and acidifying foods. Note that there may be some discrepancies between foods included on these charts.*

Alkaline Foods

ALKALIZING VEGETABLES: Alfalfa, Barley Grass, Beets, Beet Greens, Broccoli, Cabbage, Carrot, Cauliflower, Celery, Chard, Greens, Chlorella, Collard Greens, Cucumber, Dandelions, Dulce, Edible Flowers, Eggplant, Fermented Veggies, Garlic, Green Beans, Green Peas, Kale, Kohlrabi, Lettuce, Mushrooms, Mustard Greens, Nightshade Veggies, Onions, Parsnips, Peas, Peppers, Pumpkin, Radishes, Rutabaga, Sea Veggies, Spinach, green Spirulina, Sprouts, Sweet Potatoes, Tomatoes, Watercress, Wheat Grass, Wild Greens

ALKALIZING ORIENTAL VEGETABLES: Maitake, Daikon, Dandelion Root, Shitake, Kombu, Reishi, Nori, Umeboshi, Wakame

ALKALIZING FRUITS: Apple, Apricot, Avocado, Banana (high glycemic), Berries, Blackberries, Cantaloupe, Cherries, Coconut, fresh Currants, Dates, dried Figs, Grapes, Grapefruit*, Honeydew Melon, Lemon*, Lime*, Muskmelons, Nectarine*, Orange*, Peach, Pear, Pineapple, Raisins, Raspberries, Rhubarb, Strawberries, Tangerine*, Tomato, Tropical Fruits, Umeboshi, Plums, Watermelon*,

*Although it might seem that citrus fruits would have an acidifying effect on the body, the citric acid they contain actually has an alkalizing effect in the system.

ALKALIZING PROTEIN: Almonds, Chestnuts, Millet, Tempeh (fermented), Tofu (fermented), Whey, Protein Powder


ALKALIZING SPICES & SEASONINGS: Cinnamon, Curry, Ginger, Mustard, Chili Pepper, Sea Salt, Miso, Tamari, All Herbs

ALKALIZING OTHER: Apple Cider Vinegar, Bee Pollen, Lecithin Granules, blackstrap Molasses, Probiotic Cultures, Soured Dairy Products, Green Juices, Veggie Juices, Fresh Fruit Juice, Mineral Water, Alkaline Antioxidant Water

ALKALIZING MINERALS: Cesium: pH 14, Potassium: pH 14, Sodium: pH 14, Calcium: pH 12, Magnesium: pH 9

Acidifying Foods

ACIDIFYING VEGETABLES: Corn, Lentils, Olives, Winter Squash

ACIDIFYING FRUITS: Blueberries, Canned or Glazed Fruits, Cranberries, Currants, Plums, **Prunes**

ACIDIFYING GRAINS, GRAIN PRODUCTS: Amaranth, BarleyBran, wheat,Bran, oat, Corn, Cornstarch, Hemp Seed Flour, KamutOats (rolled), Oatmeal, Quinoa, Rice (all), Rice Cakes, Rye, Spelt, Wheat, Wheat Germ, Noodles, Macaroni, Spaghetti, Bread, Crackers, soda, Flour, white, Flour

ACIDIFYING BEANS & LEGUMES: Black Beans, Chick Peas, Green Peas, Kidney Beans, Lentils, Pinto Beans, Red Beans, Soy Beans, Soy Milk, White Beans, Rice Milk, Almond Milk

ACIDIFYING DAIRY: Butter, Cheese, Processed Cheese, Ice Cream, Ice Milk

ACIDIFYING NUTS & BUTTERS: Cashews, Legumes, Peanuts, Peanut Butter, Pecans, Tahini, Walnuts

ACIDIFYING ANIMAL PROTEIN: Bacon, Beef, Carp, Clams, Cod, Corned Beef, Fish, Haddock, Lamb, Lobster, Mussels, Organ Meats, Oyster, Pike, Pork, Rabbit, Salmon, Sardines, Sausage, Scallops, Shrimp, Scallops, Shellfish, Tuna, Turkey, Veal, Venison

ACIDIFYING FATS & OILS: Avocado Oil, Butter, Canola Oil, Corn Oil, Hemp Seed Oil, Flax Oil, Lard, Olive Oil, Safflower Oil, Sesame Oil, Sunflower Oil


ACIDIFYING ALCOHOL: Beer, Spirits, Hard Liquor, Wine

ACIDIFYING OTHER FOODS: Catsup, Cocoa, Coffee, Vinegar (other than Apple Cider), Mustard, Pepper, Soft Drinks

ACIDIFYING DRUGS & CHEMICALS: Aspirin, Chemicals, Drugs, Medicinal, Drugs, Psychedelic Pesticides, Herbicides, Tobacco

ACIDIFYING JUNK FOOD: Coca-Cola: pH 2, Beer: pH 2.5, Coffee: pH 4
** These foods leave an alkaline ash but have an acidifying effect on the body.

There are several versions of the Acidic and Alkaline Food chart to be found in different books and on the Internet. The following foods are sometimes attributed to the Acidic side of the chart and sometimes to the Alkaline side. Asparagus, Brazil Nuts, Brussel Sprouts, Buckwheat, Chicken, Corn, Cottage Cheese, Eggs, Flax Seeds, Green Tea, Herbal Tea, Honey, Kombucha, Lima Beans, Maple Syrup, Milk, Nuts, Organic Milk(unpasteurized), Potatoes, Pumpkin Seeds, Sauerkraut, Soy Products, Sprouted Seeds, Squashes, Sunflower Seeds, Yogurt

Ranked Food Chart : Alkaline to Acidic

Lemons, Watermelon

Cantaloupe, Cayenne Celery, Dates, Figs, Kelp, Limes, Mango, Melons, Papaya, Parsley, Seaweeds, Seedless Grapes (sweet), Watercress
Asparagus, Fruit Juices, Grapes (sweet), Kiwifruit, Passion fruit, Pears (sweet), Pineapple, Raisins, Umeboshi Plums, Vegetable Juices

Apples (sweet), Alfalfa Sprouts, Apricots, Avocados, Bananas (ripe), Currants, Dates, Figs (fresh), Garlic, Grapefruit, Grapes (less sweet), Guavas, Herbs (leafy green), Lettuce (leafy green), Nectarine, Peaches (sweet), Pears (less sweet), Peas (fresh, sweet), Pumpkin (sweet), Sea Salt (vegetable)
Apples (sour), Beans (fresh, green), Beets, Bell Peppers, Broccoli, Cabbage, Carob, Cauliflower, Ginger (fresh), Grapes (sour), Lettuce (pale green), Oranges, Peaches (less sweet), Peas (less sweet), Potatoes (with skin), Pumpkin (less sweet), Raspberries, Strawberries, Squash, Sweet Corn (fresh), Turnip, Vinegar (Apple Cider)

Almonds, Artichokes (Jerusalem), Brussel Sprouts, Cherries, Coconut (fresh), Cucumbers, Eggplant, Honey (raw), Leeks, Mushrooms, Okra, Olives (ripe), Onions, Pickles (homemade), Radishes, Sea Salt, Spices, Tomatoes (sweet), Vinegar (sweet brown rice)
Chestnuts (dry, roasted), Egg Yolks (soft cooked), Essene Bread, Goat's Milk and Whey (raw), Mayonnaise (homemade), Olive Oil, Sesame Seeds (whole), Soy Beans (dry), Soy Cheese, Soy Milk, Sprouted Grains, Tofu, Tomatoes (less sweet), Yeast (nutritional flakes)

Butter (fresh, unsalted), Cream (fresh, raw), Cow's Milk and Whey (raw), Margine, Oils (except olive), Yogurt (plain)

Bananas (green), Barley (rye), Blueberries, Bran, Butter, Cereals (unrefined), Cheeses, Crackers (unrefined rye, rice and wheat), Cranberries, Dried Beans (mung, adzuki, pinto, kidney, garbanzo), Dry Coconut, Egg Whites, Eggs Whole (cooked hard), Fructose, Goat's Milk (homogenized), Honey (pasteurized), Ketchup, Maple Syrup (unprocessed), Milk (homogenized), Molasses (unsulferd and organic), Most Nuts, Mustard, Oats (rye, organic), Olives (pickled), Pasta (whole grain), Pastry (whole grain and honey), Plums, Popcorn (with salt and/or butter), Potatoes, Prunes, Rice (basmati and brown), Seeds (pumpkin, sunflower), Soy Sauce, Wheat Bread (sprouted organic)

Artificial Sweeteners, Beef, Beer, Breads, Brown Sugar, Carbonated Soft Drinks, Cereals (refined), Chocolate, Cigarettes and Tobacco, Coffee, Cream of Wheat (unrefined), Custard (with white sugar), Deer, Drugs, Fish, Flour (white wheat), Fruit Juices with Sugar, Jams, Jellies, Lamb, Liquor, Maple Syrup (processed), Molasses (sulphured), Pasta (white), Pastries and Cakes from White Flour, Pickles (commercial), Pork, Poultry, Seafood, Sugar (white), Table Salt (refined and iodized), Tea (black), White Bread, White Vinegar (processed), Whole Wheat Foods, Wine, Yogurt (sweetened)

There are several versions of the Acidic and Alkaline Food chart to be found in different books and on the Internet. The following foods are sometimes attributed to the Acidic side of the chart and sometimes to the Alkaline side: Asparagus, Brazil Nuts, Brussel Sprouts, Buckwheat, Chicken, Corn, Cottage Cheese, Eggs, Flax Seeds, Green Tea, Herbal Tea, Honey, Kombucha, Lima Beans, Maple Syrup, Milk, Nuts, Organic Milk (unpasteurized), Potatoes, white Pumpkin Seeds, Sauerkraut, Soy Products, Sprouted Seeds, Squashes, Sunflower Seeds, Yogurt

Remember, you don't need to adhere strictly to the Alkaline side of the chart. You can still eat foods that are acidifying. Just make sure a good percentage of the foods you eat come from the akaline side of the chart (and keep your acidic foods whole!) Watermelon is one of the most alkalizing foods. Eat up in the summer! And add some slices of lemon to your water.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The Cycle of Dieting

I hesitated to put the word "Dieting" in the title because it seems like everyone is trying to say that a healthier eating program is "not a diet."  But to me, changing your eating from your usual habits is going on a diet, even one that you can stick with for a long, long time.  So that's what I'm going to call it.

Now that THAT's out of the way, let's get to the heart of this with The Cycle of Dieting.........

Have you ever heard someone say something like this:
I read this book (or a blog ☺) about healthy eating by blah, blah, blah and from that very moment, I decided that I was going to change my eating.  I've been eating this way for the past 10 months and I feel fantastic!  
What?  Who does this? I know these people are for real because I've heard this in some variation many times.  But I'm not one of them.  I have failed far more attempts at changing my eating than I have succeeded.  The big picture is that my eating has changed drastically from 12 years ago.  The fine print, however, is an exhausting pattern of making some changes, doing fantastic for a little while, then somehow tripping up and ending up not sticking with it.  It's pretty frustrating, but if I can see it for what it is and realize that I do continue making progress and I shouldn't be so hard on myself.   However, I know it's got to be better for my health to be more consistent.  And this Cycle of Dieting can get old real fast.

When I first looked into cutting dairy out of my diet (there's that word again!), I read Marilu Henner's books. In her first book Total Health Makeover (published in 2000), she calls this cycle of not sticking with a diet as "The Rainbow Theory."   Even though it doesn't describe me perfectly, it certainly hit home and made me feel happy that I wasn't the only one that went through this pattern over and over.  You can read her version if you'd like, but here's how I see it happening for me.  And I doubt I'm the only one.  How many people start a diet and can't last much more than a week? (if they're lucky to get that far).

I'll just group mine in stages:

  • Stage 1 -- Revelation! --   You're starting a new diet!  You've discovered and you're convinced that this way of eating is going to improve your health AND help you shed a few pounds -- GREAT! Why would you want to eat any other way?  Of course you're not going to start today (there's a wedding this weekend, you have friends coming in from out of town, it's not a Monday -- diet changes always work better when you start on a Monday). So you start to plan and prepare for the new you.  Buy plenty of groceries, find a friend who will join you or better yet, sign up for an Facebook group for support.  This is going to be great!  
  • Stage 2 -- Celebration! -- You start your diet -- yay!  It's so fun to see how you feel.  Sure you may feel some detox (there's a ton of information on that, so headaches, grouchiness, feeling like you can't stay awake past 7:00 -- Bring it on!  You've got this and you're excited to continue!
  • Stage 3 -- Making Progress -- You've seen some improvements -- you're feeling lighter, more energetic, and are sleeping better.  You're not even missing the old food.  You're not sure you want to go out to dinner, though -- that may be too tempting.  You bow out of a dinner invitation until you think you can master that.  You don't really tell your close friends what you're doing yet because you'd rather just get a bit more confident and comfortable with it.
  • Stage 4 -- Settling In -- You are starting to feel like this way of eating is something you can live with for a long time. You might nibble on this or that occasionally, but it's okay if you're not 100% all the time.  We're all human and all your friends and relatives who don't eat this way aren't that bad off.  In fact, they're probably having a lot of fun eating that way.  Still, you can see the value of sticking with it and stick with it, you will!  You really need to stock up on more fresh foods though.
  • Stage 5 -- Too comfortable / Off guard -- You decide to order french fries when you're out for lunch with friends.  You don't really want fries, but their house salad isn't that good and you used to love eating fries when you ate out with your grandma many years ago. Just a few won't hurt.  Well, since I had those fries, maybe I should eat that chocolate that's up in my cupboard when I get home. I Then I won't be tempted by it anymore --  after all, I did already get off track a bit with the fries.
  • Stage 6 -- Fickle -- I really should get back to my eating plan, but I just want to bake some cookies.  I haven't baked cookies in a long time.  Maybe after this weekend, I'll get back to my healthy eating plan.  Besides, I won't eat that many cookies.
  • Stage 7 -- Remorse / Re-commitment (three weeks later after eating sugar, sugar, sugar) --Why did I blow it?  Can't I ever have some self-control?  I really need to get back on track.  *sigh!*

Marilu Henner says that it's really the most practical to stay somewhere in that middle range -- between Stages 3 and 4.  We can't all stay hyped up over our new goals forever -- it's kind of a honeymoon phase actually. It's energizing and fun, but day to day situations come and it's more realistic to stay in your stages of Making Progress (even if gradual, stagnant, or unnoticeable to others) and Settling In.

As you feel settled in, if you find yourself veering off  your path a bit, plan ahead for the next day so that won't happen again.   A wise man once said (okay, it was a man on Facebook named Scott Zimmerman who has reversed his heart disease my changing his diet to a whole food/plant based (WFPB) diet, but I'd still call him a wise man):
Planning trumps willpower. By that I mean carefully planning your meals and your snacks. If you rely on willpower, you will fail. 
He also had great advice to times that you don't stick to your goals completely (after sharing an experience of how he was in a remote place one day, got really hungry and ended up eating off plan at a restaurant because there were no healthy choices):
Here's my point: It was a learning experience. I don't need to beat myself up over it. I just need to learn from it. I need to learn the lesson that I have learned over and over again: The WFPB diet requires planning. 
So that's it.  Don't let yourself go through all the stages from start to finish.  Start if you must and even celebrate when you do if you'd like.  But there should be no finish line with healthy eating.  There may be a slight deviation, but it doesn't need to be a detour.  Realize what you need to do so that won't happen again and continue onward.  TTFN!

Diet Police Photo by Lydia via Creative Commons
Rainbow Photo by USFWS Pacific Region  via Creative Commons 
Path Photo by Loren Kerns via Creative Commons

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Mega Support Sports Bra -- And the winner is . . .

I did a little test this summer in search of the best sports bra to wear for my high impact workouts.  I was tired of doubling up on bras and didn't even know if it was possible to find a bra that could work all on its own.  When I was a bit smaller, this wasn't an issue.  I've been in quite a range of cups in my adult life, from B and a half  (if there is such a thing) to a DD.  So I speak from experience on knowing that some "support" bras can cut it for smaller cups, but certainly not for all!

I tried on a variety of high impact bras before my fitness trip in July and nothing came close to the Fiona bra by Moving Comfort.  A fellow Cathlete (waving wildly to you, Terry!) recommended this bra to me when I was on the hunt, so I ordered a few sizes to try out.  While waiting for them to arrive, I also searched reviews (a little hobby of mine) and I found that while Moving Comfort has an extensive line of high support bras, the Fiona consistently had the best ratings.  I also checked reviews and tried on highly rated bras from New Balance, Brooks, Champion, Lucy, Under Armor and Gap.  None of them were as adept at avoiding the bounce factor as the Fiona and none were as comfortable to wear or get on and off.

What sets the Fiona bra apart from the rest is that it has straps with velcro that are adjustable to lift, hold and compress, while somehow not making you feel all suffocated and smooshed.  PLUS, what I love is that the neckline is high enough to not only give you more support as you move the straps higher, but to cover you up better while the smooshiness or compression of other bras would normally just expose your skin more to the world.  Also, the super wide and somehow cushy band around the bottom feels really good against your skin yet gives plenty of support (without an underwire).

New Balance has a similar bra called Shockinly Unshocking, but it has many flaws.  The fabric or shape of the pattern doesn't give as much support to begin with , they use metal for the velcro straps to go through (which rub against the skin and I would imagine could give a good rug burn on your shoulder by the end of a workout) and it just doesn't hold you together on high impact moves like the Fiona.

The only negative I found is that it doesn't have any padding.  But I just add my own pads for days that I need it (like when anyone on the planet would see me or I'm wearing a workout top instead of a heavy t-shirt or sweatshirt).  It would have been nice if they'd added pad inserts like many sports bras, too, but I'm fine using my own.

The Moving Comfort Fiona bra comes in a ton of sizes -- all the way from 30B to 44DD.  You can order several sizes from Zappos and get free return shipping on any that don't fit.  Or you can find try them on in sporting good stores like REI or Dick's Sporting Goods or at Nordstrom. (Come to think of it, Nordstrom.com has easy returns with free shipping, as well).  They retail in the mid-$40 range.  Or if you don't mind ebay shopping, you can find them new or barely used there for less.  Occasionally 6pm.com will carry them, too (6pm is the clearing house for Zappos, if you haven't heard).  But their sizes and colors are limited when they do have them in stock and they sell out fast.

No, I don't sell them or get any profit from writing this article.  I just want to share how much I love finding the best high impact bra out there.  TTFN!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

How to get motivated to Exercise!

Kelly Coffey-Meyer teaching an amazingly fun BoxFit class
(I went to her class in July -- I'm more to the back in on the left -- can't see me)

There was a period of time in my life (many years, actually) that I absolutely hated to exercise.  Then somehow I became this person who LOVED my workouts.  It became the best way to start my day. My days were not the same without my beloved workout.  So just how did I get from the sluggish & demotivated to energetic and excited about fitness?  I'd say with a great big PUSH on my part after getting a desire to have a healthy body. And by a healthy body, I don't mean weight loss.  Even though weight loss was always what made me THINK I should exercise, it was never enough to get me to actually move.  It wasn't until I seriously lacked energy while pregnant with my second baby that I started researching (the old way, in magazines and books) how to get energy.  The answer was always by doing cardiovascular exercise. Oh great.  But I did and it worked.  I joined a YMCA, took step classes and swap laps and loved it!  It turned my energy around!

A few years passed and I had extreme (well, extreme for me) lower back pains after my 3rd and 4th babies. I read some more and found that abdominal strength (they didn't call it core strength back then) would help alleviate back pain.  I was hoping they'd tell me to get a massage!  I hated ab work.  But I bought myself a Denise Austin video (Hit the Spot Abs -- yay!) and it worked.  Wow!  I  eventually branched out in all sorts of fitness arenas, but it took a spark to get me moving.

Was I able to keep that spark going?  Not always, but I came up with tricks along the way.  Here are a few of them:
  • Have a journal handy.  You don't have to write down your workouts (although that could be fun). You just need to write in it if you don't feel like exercising.  And you don't get to just write any old thing.  You have to write your excuse for not exercising. I did this several times and every time I wrote, I saw how lame my excuse was and got up and did my workout.  Nice!
  • Plan your workout the night before.  Know what time you're getting up, when you're going to work out, and exactly what you're going to do.  That last part may sound strange if you're a runner and you always run, but if you have as many workout dvds as I do and haven't been sticking to a planned rotation, it's helpful to plan it out before so your brain is ready and you know the room is clean that you need to be in, the equipment is nearby, etc.  Make it as easy as possible to get up and do.
  • Set out your workout clothes the night before -- even down to the shoes and socks.  Don't give yourself one more thing to look for or do that may distract you or take up too much time on the day of.  You can even fill up your water bottles and have them ready.
  • Before your workout, do NOT, I repeat do NOT turn on that cell phone or computer.  It will distract you like crazy and you may never get to your workout.  Pretend like it's the days of taking the phone off the hook to NOT be distracted and don't turn it on in the first place.
  • Tell your kids, hubby, or whomever that you will be unavailable to them during that time and give them the parameters of what it means to not disturb you.  (One of my sons thinks he can ask me questions while I'm trying to not kill myself with heavy weights or while flying over the step.  He needs some extra reminders). I used to put up baby gates when my kids were little so they couldn't come in if they woke up before I was finished. If you can, workout before any of them are even awake.  It's nice to have that solitary experience if you can.
  • Get to bed early enough that you will wake up refreshed!  A successful morning almost always begins with a night of getting to bed on time.  The number of hours of sleep you need may not always be 7 or 8.  I know if I wake up feeling refreshed after 6 or so, I'm better off to get up then rather than to go back to sleep and wake up like a zombie because I've had all these stressful crazy dreams.  Listen to your body and see how it feels best (and if you're eating healthy foods, you likely won't need as much sleep as before either).
  • Have a friend who you know you'll report your workout to when you finish.  It can be to a group of people on a Facebook check-in, you mom, a friend that you text . . . whomever! Just knowing that someone is waiting to hear that you did it can give you the accountability that you need.  (And you can have fun knowing that you motivated them, too!)
  • If you are able to meet up with a friend to workout together, even better!  It's much harder to wimp out on a workout when you have to be somewhere at a specific time and you know your friend is counting on you. 
One of my favorite things a fitness instructor has ever said in a workout is this:

         "Don't quit because it's hard. Keep going because it's hard." 

This was Kelly Coffey-Meyer in one of her recent 30 Minutes to Fitness workouts.  I loved that advice because we often stop doing something that's good for us because it's hard when the fact that it's hard is actually what is challenging our bodies enough to the point of it being beneficial.  So if it's a challenge for you to make time in your day for a workout or you lack the desire because you know it's going to be tough, just buckle up and push through it until it's not so terribly tough anymore.  You'll be glad you did!  I know I am. TTFN!

Me gushing with excitement with Kelly, Lori and Marcus (Lori & Marcus are in her workouts, too)

Monday, September 1, 2014

The Time has Come

I'm back!  Not just to blog, but to really commit to healthy eating.  I've been eating healthier than many or most, I would imagine for the past few years, but I've also been waffling here and there and it hasn't been serving me well.  My eczema has come back this summer (oh dear!) and my weight keeps going up and down (more up than down).  I need consistency and I need commitment if I want the health benefits to be lasting.  So today is the BIG day.  It's a Monday, so that's always good (why people tend to do better starting a goal on a Monday, I don't know, but it's psychological to be sure, and I just go with what works.  It's also the first day of a month (September 1st, if you don't want to look at top of this post :) ) and it feels like the beginning of fall, even though it's not really. (Summer just doesn't seem like it's still going on in September, right?)

Thanks for enduring that stream of thought which leads me to what I'm doing.  I'm continuing my workouts each day (mostly Cathe Friedrich and Kelly Coffey-Meyer dvds plus yoga). And I'm eliminating sugar, any kind of flour or processed foods (even the ones from the health food store, which have been a downfall of mine for quite a few years), and dairy.  I know that many people aren't fond of eliminating a food group.  But I have a big sensitivity to dairy and this is what works for me to have ultimate health.  I never need any help eating lots of fruit, but I do need some nudging to eat a bigger variety of vegetables.  I'm going to try out new recipes until I have an arsenal of veggie recipes that I love!

I'm not offering any big tips today except to say that if you really want to achieve a healthy eating goal, you HAVE to (okay, maybe I am offering some big tips):
  • Define what you want to do -- tell yourself the parameters in specifics
  • Plan out how it will work
  • Envision how it will play out 
  • Stick with it!  No throwing in the towel by telling yourself that maybe it wasn't the best idea after all. 
 I have had too many times to count lately when I have blown my healthy eating goals out the window at the first temptation. I wasn't prepared.  I wasn't confident in my goals. Not any more.  I plan to share my progress with you at least weekly.  TTFN!

Photo by Oakley Originals Creative Commons

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Kelly Coffey-Meyer's Home Gym Intervals

If you haven't heard about Kelly Coffey-Meyer's 30 Minutes to Fitness workouts, let me be the one to tell you!

Kelly is a fitness trainer/instructor in New Jersey and is the owner and creator of a series of tough 30 minute workouts that are outstanding!  (Would I be telling you about them if they weren't?)  Kelly started this dvd series about 5 years ago and has 22 as of yesterday (well, that's when I received her latest two in the mail).

Her most recent are Home Gym Intervals and Muscle Up.  I was excited to try each of them, but opted for Home Gym Intervals first this morning because I have a spin bike and a treadmill and the idea of getting to break up the gym equipment cardio with weight circuits sounded great!

I don't think I've been on my treadmill since last summer.  It's lost its appeal for me.  I have, however, been riding my spin bike 2 or 3x a week lately to try to build up my leg strength and it's tough!  The idea of getting breaks after each minute and a half sounded like heaven!

Each 30 Minutes to Fitness dvd comes with two 30 minute workouts.  There are premixes that allow for variety, including combining the 2 workouts (without having to do double warm-ups and cool-downs).  I thought of doing the whole thing today (mainly out of curiosity), but I needed to get my son to school 45 minutes from when I was starting, so I decided to do Workout 1 and call it good. Besides, it's a challenging, metabolic boosting workout all on its own.  No guilt in "just" doing one of the workouts!

You can watch Kelly's video clip below to get a glimpse of what the workout is like, but I want to tell you my impressions, too!

Oh, before I tell you some specifics, I have to tell you that I loved Workout 1 so much, that I wanted to try more!  When I got back from taking my son to school, I thought I'd try out the 10 Minute Waistline Bonus (after all, there were ZERO crunches -- I'd previewed it a bit as I was putting away my weights earlier), so I figured I could fit 10 minutes in.  Well, the ab work was so unique (mostly standing, some plank work) and amazing that I got the urge to try out Workout 2 after all.  But I didn't know if I could have the muscle endurance to get back on that spin bike again.  Maybe I could have, but what were my other options?  Oh, the treadmill . . . eh?  Didn't know if my excitement were up enough to pull that out from behind the big chair.  THEN I remembered that I have my rebounder!  Not technically a fitness machine, but it IS a piece of home gym equipment used for cardio.  That could work!

In each 30 minute workout, Kelly has you warm-up on the home gym equipment of your choice.  I guess if you had more than one in the room, you could switch around, but I just got on my spin bike (which I bought myself for Mother's Day last year) for Workout 1.  I really LOVE how great of a workout the spin bike gives me and how I feel like I'm running with resistance when I ride standing, -- tough stuff!  (Cathe in Xtrain Ride telling us that spinning it's not a cakewalk comes to mind often!   )  

Back to Home Gym Intervals, I really loved that Kelly explains from the start that we only have 30 minutes and to make the most of it.  Don't take breaks unless you really need to.  Keep going!  It felt like Kelly was my personal trainer because during the cardio intervals, she didn't have as much cuing to do as she usually does, so she could motivate me to work hard ("not hardly work" )  The warm-up is longer than the cardio segments (just ran and timed it -- a little over 5 ½ minutes long).  The warm-up is long enough to gradually get your heart-rate up and to prepare your muscles to work.

The weight work is fantastic!  Most of the weight work are innovative compound exercises using dumbbells that work upper and lower body together and/or multiple muscle groups.  I've literally done hundreds of fitness dvds and with the exception of push-ups and the triceps work, the weight exercises were in combinations I'd never done before and had a functional fitness / metabolic training feel to them (which I love!) Every once in awhile we'd just work one side with weights, get back on the cardio equipment, then do the other side after.  The weight intervals are only about a minute long each, which seemed to fly!

In fact, the cardio intervals went by so quickly, too!  Once I realized that, I wasn't afraid to work hard and then think I wouldn't be able to maintain it, because it was only 90 seconds!  There are 8 cardio/weight intervals in all (plus nice warm-up and cool-down).  Lots of variety, for sure.

The only big difference overall between Workout 1 and 2 was that Workout 1 just used 1 dumbbell for each strength training movement. Workout 2 used a pair of dumbbells.  So that was fun to have that variety in the approach.  But the over all feel was the same.  It would blend well for the combined workout pre-mix.  You'll need at least one set of dumbbells for the weight work.  Kelly used 10s and 12s, I believe.  And the crew in the back used either 8s or 12s.  I used 10s most of the time; some moves with 8s, and 5s for the rear fly's (shoulder issue).

Doing Workout 2 on the rebounder was a ton of fun!  I did a variety of jacks and plyo jumps and a ton of running.  My heart-rate was up plenty! (I have the Reboundair like the pic to the right, but I can't vouch for that claim about jogging).

I have a feeling that I'll dust off that treadmill the next time I do Home Gym Intervals though.  Kelly is so light-footed on hers, that she skips (as in skipping as a child -- so cute!) and does side shuffles from time to time.  I want to learn to do that!  I'll be sure to follow her direction to hold onto the sides when doing it, so I can be safe.  Be sure you do, too!

Kelly ends each workout with a nice soothing cool-down (each workout has it's own -- nice to know the stretches are tailored for the muscles you just worked and are about 3 minutes long).  Kelly gives you plenty of motivation (with a bit of humor at times) up until the end.  Her crew, Samantha, Lori, and Marcus are stellar, too.  I've seen them in other 30 Minutes to Fitness workouts.  I can always sense the bond they all have with Kelly (as well as their expertise with fitness). Marcus rode a spin bike, Sam was on a treadmill like Kelly (but took it at a slower pace), and Lori was on the elliptical.  I can't wait to see what Muscle Up is like tomorrow!  TTFN!

Sunday, May 18, 2014

What Yoga Means to Me

I just completed my final workshop for my 200 hour Yoga Teacher Training with Mark Stephens at Santa Cruz Yoga Center.  My heart is a bit heavy because I'm sad to see it end.  Of course, I realize this is actually a beginning, but we've grown to love and enjoy everyone in our group. Our class had 20 students and we all went through the first 100 hours together in January and February.  And we have pretty much all been around the additional workshops for the past 3 months.  Some students have had illness or work ventures take them away, but we've kept those bonds going somehow, as well.

I remember Mark saying to us as we sat on our mats that first day something like, "Look around the room.  You will become close friends as you embark on this path of teacher training together."  I thought to myself, "How is that so?"  And then I watched it happen -- pretty quickly actually.

One of our Midterm questions was  "What to you does it mean to do yoga?"

I want to share my response with you.  As you might be able to tell from the title of my blog and many of my past posts, I love a variety of approaches to physical fitness.  But yoga has reached in and touched me more deeply inside.  For that reason, I've loved teaching it and have longed to share it with others.
For me, to do yoga is to explore my body and my mind simultaneously.   There are many forms of exercise that I love, but none of them resonate with me beyond the practice like yoga does.  When I do yoga, I am able to release my mind throughout the asanas (postures) and through the breath. I am able to explore where my mind tends to go and either redirect or or loosen it.  This is quite a freeing experience for me and I always enjoy it.  It separates me from my usual day and my usual thought patterns.  At the same time, I am able to find postures that challenge me, make me push myself in ways that I don’t always welcome, and discover that I can do more than I realize.  I also find much pleasure in the release of postures that increase flexibility, especially in seated hip openers and back bends.  And I find joy and peace when I allow all of the postures to resonate in my body in that blissful final resting pose.
But after the yoga practice has come and gone, yoga extends beyond the mat for me.  I learn lessons through each experience on the mat that I carry with me throughout the day.  I learn to let go when I might normally hang onto tension or unfruitful thoughts.  I am able to step away from my thoughts to explore what is happening before I continue to react.  I am able to slow my breathing and enjoy the moments of each day much more.
I know that many see yoga as a stretching practice and that's part of it.  But there's much more.  If you haven't clicked with yoga in the past, try another class with a different teacher or try one of the many dvds that I love. You may just find it blessing your life for many years to come.

P.S.  (I'll give a larger list of yoga dvds another day, but here are some past posts of some of my favorite yoga dvds:  Altar of the Heart with Tilak Pyle, Inhale with Steve Ross, Timesaver yoga dvds, and a quick mentioning of several favorite yoga dvds).

Photos by Suzie's Farm Creative Commons

Saturday, May 17, 2014

How to restore photos on Blogger if you get a Grey Circle with a Dash and the photos are missing

I just came on to blog today and found 1/2 of my pictures missing!   There was a grey circle with a dash through the center of many if not MOST of my pictures.  I Googled to find a solution and found that when I signed up with Google+ a few weeks ago to buy more storage for my pictures, for some reason, they threw tons of them in my trash!!  Why?  I'm not sure.  But thankfully, I caught this quickly.

The trash stays put for 60 days and I was able to restore them all. But just in case this happens to you, go into Picasa (a part of Google+ which houses your Blogger pics, even if you didn't know they did) or into Google+ and do the following:

Restore a photo from Trash
Photos and videos you move to trash in Google+ are stored for a short period of time before they are permanently deleted. If you move an item to trash, and later want to retrieve it, you can do so by following these instructions:
  1. Open Google+. Place your cursor over the Google+ Home menu near the top left corner.
  2. Select  Photos from the Google+ navigation menu.
  3. Click More > Trash.
  4. Place your cursor over the photos you want to restore > click the  checkboxes to select them.
  5. Choose Restore. Your photos will be restored to the same album(s) they were in before they were deleted.
If you have a ton of photos in a photo, you can just click "SELECT" at the top of the folder and it will check all photos in that folder and then you can restore them.
I'll have to finish my post on eating tomorrow, but I just thought I'd let you know if any of you have this problem. So glad to have my photos back!!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Recipes for a Nutritarian Diet

I have read many of Dr. Joel Fuhrman's books and articles over the past several years and am quite sold on the need to eat a nutrient dense diet.  However, actually eating the Nutritarian way is not necessarily that simple to just dive into (maybe for some, but not for most -- or more of us would be doing it, right?)  In his latest book, The End of Dieting, Dr. Fuhrman poses the question as to why so few people eat nutrient dense foods even when they can clearly see the need to do so.  I was thinking, "YES!  Dr. Fuhrman, tell us why this is!"  All I could think of was the incredibly addictive nature of unhealthy foods.  And guess what his answer was:
I quickly came to realize that science based information about nutrition alone wasn’t enough. many people fail to recognize their need to protect their precious health and lose weight? Why would they be unable and unwilling to change? Why would they want to remain unhealthy? Why would they want to reject unassailable, scientiļ¬c, and dramatically effective advice? I’ll tell you why. Because of the overwhelming twin powers of food preference and food addiction.
I like that he adds "food preference" in addition to food addiction. It's not only what our bodies crave, but also what our brains are patterned to want.  Dr. Fuhrman goes on to say:
Unhealthy eating styles and food addictions have both taken control of our brains, and this addiction to certain foods is often as deadly as many other addictions. 
You can read any of his books to see the support he has for why eating the Standard American Diet leads to so many of the common diseases (and often deadly diseases) of our day.  But I'd like to switch gears and come up with some strategies to help us desire more of these nutrient dense foods.
I'm not a huge fan of spending lots of time in the kitchen.  I do love baking, but I'm finding my favorite baked goods not to be all that nutritious or helpful to my body at this stage of life.  (Oh, how I wish that homemade bread were super nutrient dense though!)  So when it comes to soups, salads, etc.,  I'd rather not spend a lot of time in the kitchen making them.  Maybe that will change.  But so far, I'm lacking the excitement thereof.

I think, however, that if I found some really tasty nutrient dense recipes for each meal of the day, I'd be more inclined to make them and eat them.  Novel thought, isn't it?  :)  I have several cookbooks that I need to actually use.  I'm more of a window shopper when it comes to cookbooks and recipe blogs, but that needs to change.

I've found a few  blogs and websites that support a Nutritarian way of eating, so I'm going to start with finding at least one recipe a day to try until I find several that I love and think my family will also love.

For now, I'll share the links.  And if you try some, let me know which are your favorites and we'll continue together until we've found more healthy meals to replace the less healthier habits we've acquired or have become addictive to.
  • Raw Food Made Easy -- If you're not familiar with Jennifer Cornbleet, she is a raw food chef who creates her recipes with as few ingredients as possible so that it's accessible to more people.  I've met her in person and have taken her online raw food course (I also have a few of her books) and she doesn't eat an all raw diet.  She actually has recipes for cooked foods, as well.  But she recognizes the health benefits and delicious nature of raw foods and eats mostly raw foods from her plethora of recipes.  I want to try more of her garden wraps, which are the nutrient dense alternative to the traditional sandwich.  Jennifer has a variety of approaches to wraps, so I'll try some out and will be sure to post my favorites.  
  • Carrie On Vegan  -- Don't let the V word scare you. If you don't think you'll ever become a vegan or vegetarian, it doesn't mean you can't add some of these nutrient dense recipes to your meals.  Check this out -- Carrie actually cooks kale with her oatmeal!  That's something I've never thought to try, and I'm not so sure I'd like it with strawberries, but maybe I would -- or I could try apples and cinnamon instead (yes, that's one of my recipe trying habits -- changing things up before I even begin!) 
  • Healthy Girl's Kitchen -- Wendy posts some of Dr. Furhman's recipes as she explores them herself and also blogs about how to make eating this way more accessible.  I like this post with tips about making salads more desirable in the colder months.  Granted, our colder months are hopefully behind us, but you never know!  (And they will come back again; I'm sure you know that :) )
  • Fat Free Vegan Kitchen -- I've followed this recipe blog for awhile and have learned that it's not always fat-free, but it is pretty darn close.  Wendy doesn't add oil, but there may be naturally occurring fat (which our bodies do need).  These Hummus Crusted Cauliflower Steaks sound easy and yummy.  It's a blend of a cruciferous vegetable and some beans.  And I'd think that anything crunchy like that would taste like a comfort food.  Right up my alley!
  • Fat Free Vegan -- This is a recipe sharing site like allrecipes.com.  So you'll get a variety and can tweak them to be more nutrient dense or to meet your needs.  Even though potatoes are starchy and aren't packed with nutrients relative to their caloric content, I would include them occasionally and would like to try these Creamy Scalloped Potatoes for Easter dinner!
  • Straight Up Food -- Cathy creates recipes for a whole food diet.  This Southwest Stew looks really delicious and contains lots of beans and some mushrooms -- both which are on Dr. Fuhrman's list of nutrient packed foods or G-Bombs.
  • Dr. Fuhrman's Nutritarian Recipes -- I almost neglected Dr. Fuhrman's website!  He has over 1,000 recipes available in his Member Center that has a monthly fee.  But you can also find a dozen sample recipes that are offered to everyone.  I think I'll try the Mixed Greens and Strawberry Salad first.  I do like my salads to be sweet!  I think I'd make it with fresh strawberries instead of frozen though.  There I go again changing the recipe before I even begin!

I'll get back to you on my recipe exploration.  Let me know how you do, too!  Until then, here's Dr. Furhman talking about his new book on the Dr.Oz Show if you want to learn more about his approach to healthy eating:


Photo of Vegetables by Nociveglia Creative Commons

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Cathe's Top Notch Spin DVDs

Pedal Power -- Cathe's latest spin workout

Cathe Friedrich has 3 spin dvds to date -- Cycle Max, Xtrain Ride, and Pedal Power.  All are 5 star advanced spin workouts!   If you have your own spin bike and can't get to a gym to spin, I highly recommend these.  I started spinning last year when I was preparing to go to Cathe's annual Road Trip in New Jersey.  I heard that there was a spin class on the schedule and decided to prepare for it.
I did a little research on what was important in a spin bike and found that a heavy weighted fly wheel is essential -- and the recommendation was to find one with at least a 40 pound flywheel.   I looked at several sold on Amazon, reading the reviews and getting recommendations from friends.  And I found that many fitness clubs used the Star Trac V Bike or Star Trac Spinners.  After looking around on Craiglist for about a week, I found a used Star Trac V Bike not far from my home for about 1/3 the price of a new one that had been used by a personal trainer (he had 3 for sale) with new pedals, seat, and grip bar.  I absolutely love it!

Cathe and her crew in Cycle Max -- many of the cast 
are my new friends from last summer's Road Trip!
Cathe & her Cycle Max crew after rehearsal

Cathe has all 3 of her spin workouts as the Deal of the Day on her website right now right here for under $40.  You can also purchase them individually from her website or at AdvancedWorkouts.com for $19.95 with free shipping.  You can use a 10% coupon code (VF10), but then the total falls below the free shipping minimum.  But if you're buying more than one dvd, try it out.  Same goes for TotalFitnessDVDs.com , only that coupon code is 10off.  All 3 websites have video clips, which I love getting to see before purchasing a workout.

I love all 3, but if I were going to choose one to start with, I'd chose Ride from the Xtrain series.  The music is great, so have your spin bike where you can blast the stereo.  And prepare to sweat!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Facing Fears & Doubts through Yoga - (Learning to do Salamba Sirsasana 1)

I'm no Psychologist, but I've learned a few things about my doubts and fears while doing yoga.

First there's the obvious that yoga teaches you to slow down your breathing when it gets tight or constricted, which relaxes the body and helps you with whatever is restricting your breath in the first place.  I have done that in moments of great fear.   For example, several years ago, when I was up high in a ski lift, I realized how afraid I was of the height -- I was shaking like crazy and was gripping the rail like I was going to die -- heart beating fast and out of control.  I told myself that while I couldn't get down from the ski lift, but I could slow down my breath and relax my grip.  I made myself open my hands slightly so my body wouldn't be so tensed up.  And I made myself consciously breathe more slowly.  That eventually led to me relaxing in my thoughts and made me adjust to the height  -- amazing!  Relaxing the body in order to relax or change the thought patterns is one approach to conquering fears.

Another thing I've recently learned in my yoga workshops is that I tend to send thoughts of doubts and fears to myself more often than I realized.  I tell myself that I'm too old to do something and that I can't when others are diving in and aren't afraid. There have been some poses introduced that I think will make me collapse on my head, flatten my face, and break my neck.  Who wants that?   I tell myself that my arms aren't strong enough, my torso is too long compared to my lower body, I'm too heavy,  or that I'm just not as young as I used to be (well, I think everyone can fall into THAT category!)  But then I'll look around the room and everyone else would be trying it.  Why am I so afraid?

In these instances, I've had to tell myself that perhaps my thoughts are incorrect.  I may be JUST the right age for doing that particular pose.  Or my body may be completely equipped to do it -- I just have to learn to "ride that bike." I tell myself to have trust in my teacher and listen to what he's telling me to do.

One day, Mark Stephens asked us to do Sirsana 1 pose, which is the headstand where you rest on your elbows.  I have been doing tri-pod headstands (Sirsana 2) for many, many years and an can stay up seemingly forever.  My body knows it, likes it, and is very comfortable there.  But the few times I've tried this yoga headstand that I've seen over and over in yoga videos and books, I thought my neck would break!  My neck felt very vulnerable and I didn't ever want to try it again.  I may have even read something online about someone saying it wasn't safe for the neck, etc.

All of these thoughts were swirling around in my head -- fearful thoughts for sure, as Mark was introducing his thoughts to my mind.  He told us this was a safer, more supportive headstand.  One could stay up in this headstand much longer because it created less stress in the neck.  Hmm, really?  Could I rid myself of the old thoughts and allow new ones to reside instead?  I pondered the possibility while others tried the pose.

I approached the wall and finally decided to give it one try. Just one.  I couldn't even kick up into that version of headstand.  But I had a friend help me.  And I could do it somewhat against the wall.  It wasn't easy and I didn't hold it for long.   I had a few questions and when Mark asked for ?s at the end, so I raised my hand.  What does he often have us do when we have a question?  Go up and show him our pose so he can see what we are experiencing. And was I to go up against the wall?  No.  He would be there to spot me on the mat in the middle of the room in front of the rest of the class.

I had a little fear of falling over or hurting my neck, but had seen him spot others in Dolphin handstand before, so I knew he would keep me safe.  But my legs had a hard time even getting up or staying up, despite my efforts.  My fears of breaking my neck may have been gone, but my doubts of my abilities to figure this out were HUGE.

But Mark told me it was just a matter of getting my body aligned and properly stacked.  He told the class that for some, it may take a year or more to get this pose, but he could see me able to do this pose in just weeks. WEEKS!, he emphasized.  My doubts were starting to melt.  Mark has over 20 years experience teaching.  He must know my abilities much better than I can see them.

I was determined to practice.  I practiced in class with 2 friends spotting me (still a bit of fear there) and one of my friends told me that my elbows were too far apart.   Another told me to lengthen my shoulders away from my elbows.  That made a huge difference in my alignment.  I went home and tried it this away against the wall.  I still couldn't kick up by myself, so I put a block beneath my feet to give me an edge.  Once I could do that, I was able to kick up without the block (within maybe a week's time).

One night at home, I found if I looked across the room (as I'm sure Mark suggested in class) instead of more toward the floor, my alignment improved to almost what it was in my tripod headstands.  Amazing!  It's so great to watch the body and mind connect like that.  After a few more days, I thought I might be able to do it in the middle of the room without the wall.  I was!  I did!

I was excited to finally be able to do this in class and with my first opportunity to do so, I couldn't do it.  I was about 90 minutes into the practice and I didn't have the strength to hold it without the wall. I also think I created some anxiety and instability by building it up so much.  But that was okay.  I'd get there.  And get there, I did!  Just a few days ago, I attempted the headstand on my mat without the wall nearby.  I did it.  I DID IT!  Fears gone.  Doubts gone. Too old?  No way.  I can do this now and I love it.  I'm excited to see what I will learn to do next -- not just for the sense of accomplishment, but for the ability to strengthen my body in new ways and to be able to re-pattern my thoughts.  Love it!

Class photo courtesy of Neeta Lind
Beach photo courtesy of Sweet Carolina Photography

Friday, February 28, 2014

What's the BEST way to eat?

Don't we all ask that question from time to time?  Maybe not everyone, of course, but those of us who are seeking to eat healthy.  As I wrote on my Healthy Eating tab above,

I know there's a lot of conflicting information out there about eating healthy and that can get frustrating. 
What you WON'T get from my blog is some definite THIS IS THE BEST WAY TO EAT! statements over and over.  I have a hard time listening to people preach that it's their way of eating or else.   I don't mind if people tell me what works best for them or a friend.  But I don't believe there's a one size fits all approach to eating.
That being said, I think some things are obvious. 1) Some foods are not good for our bodies, in fact they are downright destructive.  I used to have this belief that since our bodies are amazing creations, they are able to excrete anything that they don't need, so it's okay to eat some tasty treats that aren't good for us.    Yes and no.  Yes, it's okay in the sense that many people go years without any negative affects and our bodies can cleanse and heal. BUT some foods or chemicals in food are toxic to our bodies and can cause illness and damage.  2) Some foods are packed with micronutrients that can benefit our bodies in tremendous ways. 
I tend to look to Dr. Joel Furhman for his Nutrient Density approach.  Am I perfect with eating the Nutritarian way?  Not at all.  But I keep working in that direction and at certain times of my life, I've done really well with it (and have felt absolutely wonderful!)

So what IS the BEST way to eat?  Is it different from person to person?  Is it different at different phases of any one person's life?  I think the answer is yes to each of those.  Some people don't feel "right" if they haven't eaten meat in awhile.  I feel lousy for several hours (maybe even 24) when I do.  I feel great when I eat a TON of fruit.  Others would have digestive issues if they did.   There have been books written about differing blood types deeming what one body may need and another not.  I've never read those books, but I have heard the theories -- I guess that's possible, but there could be many reasons why we differ in our nutritional needs.  Nonetheless, there are foods that are toxic to all and foods that can benefit all.  But I doubt there's a one size fits all approach to optimal health.

I once read how a mother's milk changes not only from week to week as the baby grows, but also throughout each day.  What a baby needs in the morning is different from what he or she needs later in the day and the milk changes as a result.  Pretty cool, huh?  I'd love to understand my body well enough to know what it needs and when (and then have the control to feed it that and the ability to make it taste super yummy! :) )  I imagine that my body has different needs now in my late 40's than it did as a child, teen or young mother.

It's a path I'd like to explore for sure.

Photo courtesy of  Judit Klein 

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Yoga Teacher Training -- the first 100 hours

Since January 11th, I've been engaged in a Yoga Teacher Training course with Mark Stephens.  I've been doing yoga for almost 15 years and even though I love so many other forms of exercise, yoga is the one that I'd volunteer to share with others or teach yoga for  P.E. at the school, classes at family reunions, Young Women Camp, church activities, or in big gatherings with friends.  I just love how yoga makes me feel and it brings me joy to share it with others.

I started exploring yoga teacher training options several years ago, but there weren't any programs near where I lived.  So I bought a book by Mark Stephens called Teaching Yoga.  I knew that I would need more than a book to feel completely qualified to teach, but this was a start.  Just before we moved to this area 3 years ago, I somehow discovered that Mark's yoga studio in Santa Cruz was not that far from my house -- just about 8 miles away!  I told my husband that one of my goals upon moving was to take Mark's teacher training course someday.  Months passed.  Years passed.  I'd look into it occasionally, but I didn't see how I'd find the time to make it work.  7 weekends of at least 12 hours in class.

But something clicked last fall and I realized it was time to do it.  Part of it was a fear that this may not always be available to me.  One of Mark's teacher training courses last year was up in Oregon.  What if he traveled more and more and didn't offer it locally?  Or what if he moved?  Or what if the unknown? . . . When Michael Jackson died, somehow that taught me that not everything we plan on being available will always be available. All of those people who dreamed of going to a Michael Jackson concert and finally bought tickets, didn't get to go.  The opportunity wasn't a given.

So I talked to my husband, explained the time commitment and signed up.  It actually took me about a month to sign up because I was so scared to take that leap to do something that meant so much to me.  That may sound weird, but the excitement was hard to commit to.

Fast forward to now -- I'm 100 hours into the course.  I have learned far more than I imagined, yet with that, I now know how much I don't know.  We get to take In-Depth workshops with Mark for the next 3 months and then I will begin an apprenticeship, which sounds wonderful, too!

Santa Cruz Yoga Center

Just to give you a glimpse of some of the unexpected benefits I had from the start of Yoga Teacher Training, this was what I wrote on Facebook after the first weekend:

How do I love Yoga Teacher training? Let me count the ways!!
  1. I love learning about yoga for 6 hours a shot!
  2. I love practicing  yoga with such amazing instructors.
  3. Mark is a WEALTH of information!
  4. My body is getting stronger and more flexible faster than I thought possible.
  5. My mind is opened to so many new thoughts and philosophies that tie in so perfectly with what I already believe.
  6. I'm making new friends from such diverse backgrounds and places (one flew in from Greece for the course!)
  7. I'm doing something that slightly scares me every time I go, but I like that.  I need that.
  8. My children are having to learn to be a bit more independent without me here while I'm gone.
  9. I am learning anatomy and am actually retaining some of it.  I'll have to work on helping myself remember the terms, but I love seeing the connections to all the forms of exercise I've been doing for so many years.
  10. My husband rode his Vespa to come see me on my break -- so sweet to have a little date in the midst of it all.
  11. I am eating better because I want to nourish myself to be able to move like I need to, but I'm not overstuffing myself as I tend to do because I'm finding it doesn't serve my body well.
  12. I did traingle pose today for about 20 minutes or so while the class walked 360 degrees around me, evaluating my form and my body and I was somehow okay with that.  Pretty amazing!
  13. I finally made the connection in my brain of how to improve my triangle pose.  It's never made sense before when teachers have adjusted me in that pose.
  14. The yoga studio is in a very cool spot by a quaint french bakery in Santa Cruz where people flock to all day long.  It's fun to watch them gather and be so happy.
  15. I know that what I'm learning will benefit me for the rest of my life.

It doesn't get much better than that!