Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Math of Success

When we are dealing with added stress, work, etc, I'm sure we've all heard, "it's all about the give and take."  When we have a goal in mind, sometimes reminding ourselves of this give-n-take is really tough.  It's more than just being patient with the progress we make--it's accepting loss for gain.

How could loss be progressive?

I started to think about this as I watched some students struggle with their Warrior 3 pose.  In this pose, you are working to create a perfect "T" shape with your body.  Your arms are together reaching out in front of you, while you reach one leg back.  Your goal is to be perfectly straight from toes to fingertips, all while balancing on one foot.  Often what I find is that students want to reach with their fingertips, bringing their torso down, but without working to lift their leg up.

When I look at these students in Warrior 3, they look like scales to me.  Which of course got me to think about the constant drive to find balance.    And when their torso has weighed down, but their leg doesn't lift up, they are visually imbalanced. I've talked a lot about finding balance, about learning moderation and patience.  But when I discussed this with my fiance, he simplified it for me:

"If you add something, you must take something away."

How simple is that?  So simple that I had never even thought of it!  The more I thought about the concept of addition and subtraction, I realize it really is all about the give and take.  If you get a different job, have an addition to your family, or begin a new relationship, you take attention away from some people in order to give attention to other things.  In terms of diet, add some veggies to your plate, take away carbs.  Add muscle, lose fat.  Add 2 hours of studying, lose 2 hours of sleep/TV.  Seems like a simple equation for success.

However, often what we are asked to give up is a comfort for us--a security blanket.  Going back to Warrior 3--students must lose the security of two feet on the ground.  That's a struggle!  When we move from having two stable feet to one, the new feeling of instability can be scary and/or frustrating.

But what we learn through practice is that the feeling of instability fades.  If we move slowly, lowering our torso only enough that our leg can lift in unison, then we are able to adjust with each change.  Eventually, it feels natural to be standing on one leg and reaching in opposite direction.

It will always be work, but hopefully a little less scary.  So in order to win, you have to be okay with losing.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

How to Eat Heathy During Wedding Season

Wedding season is fully underway.  Its an exciting time, as I watch loved family members and friends take the plunge into a new stage of their lives.  There is something so moving about watching two people confess their love and devotion in front of a room full of people.  Not an easy thing to do! Weddings also bring family members together; we travel miles to make up for years of being apart.  As the countdown to our own wedding begins, we are also taking notes.   I love everything about weddings from personalized vows, unique entrances, hilarious speeches, and of course the food!  Every wedding has been different, such a pleasure!

Having a good time at weddings is simple...trying to maintain a healthy diet during wedding season is the tough part.  Let me explain, my family and I just came back from my cousin's wedding in Georgia.  We opted to save money and make the 14 hour drive, rather than fly.  So in three days I attended a yummy rehearsal dinner, tasty cocktail hour, an amazingly delicious buffet-style reception, and spent 28 of the last 72 hours in the car.  Not to mention lots of local beer and signature cocktails.  Needless to say, by the end of our wedding adventure, my body was screaming for a good workout.  But all the sitting and eating made me lethargic.  It is hard to recover!  It is three days since coming home and I am finally feeling normal.  Could you imagine if we had weddings every weekend?  By the time the poor couple gets married at the end of August, we would all have to be rolled on the dance floor!

So how do we have a BLAST at weddings (like we ought to) but stay healthy-ish?  Well, here are a few tips I picked up from the last hootin' tootin' Georgia wedding.  (Even though this wedding was twice as challenging due to the long drive there and back, we all will travel at some point this summer, so the advice is still relevant.)

1. Eating and Driving

First and foremost, before the festivities can begin, we must get ourselves there.  Starting our trip out right is an vital part to keeping us feeling great and ready to party.  If you can, pack as much food as you can and place it in a cooler for the drive.  I suggest grapes, apples, bananas, dried fruit, carrots, sliced cucumbers, celery, and your favorite veggie accessory (I like homemade hummus or tzadtziki sauce, but reduced fat peanut butter is also good).  The water in the fruits and veggies will keep you feeling hydrated and the munching will be low in calories.

For protein, pack natural, low-sodium beef-jerky if you are a meat eater and lots of almonds, walnuts, cashews, and peanuts for all my veggie enthusiasts.  If you are bringing a cooler, you can even pack string cheese, no-fat greek yogurt, etc.  If you need additional carbs, limit yourself to one small box of multi-grain crackers.  (Our favorite is the reduced-fat Triscuits)

Here is the key to successful car eating--pick one snack at a time.  How could I say that after I suggested all these fine snacks?  Well its simple, if you snack on everything you want in the beginning of a long car ride, then you will crave more as the trip goes on.  If you have only one snack in between each stretch-break, then you will pace yourself mentally and gastro-ly for the entire trip.

Drink LOTS of water.  Drinking water will help keep your body and mind from thinking about food.  Additionally, drinking water will force your body to have to use the bathroom, keeping everything in your system moving at the right speed even though you are sitting in the car. NEVER not drink during a ride because you don't want to use the bathroom.  Plan for bathroom breaks and use them.

Lastly, the stretch-break.  If you have packed correctly, then you should not need to buy food, your drinking lots of water, and so on breaks the only thing you should be thinking about is peeing and moving.  At each break take time to actually stretch and then try to do a mini power set: 15 squats, 15 lunges, 15 push-ups, and 15 tricep dips.  I like to do the dips and push-ups using the back bumper, so that I don't have to get on the ground in a dirty parking lot.

2. Hotel Food

If there is a buffet (and it's free!) try to keep it light and normal.  If you normally have toast at home, have toast.  If you have cereal, have cereal.  Do not let the temptation of endless bountiful breakfast food hypnotize you.  You know that at the wedding there will be delicious food in excess, so no need to stuff yourself first thing in the morning.

If it is a day wedding, skip lunch.  If it is a night wedding, have a Powerbar or something light for lunch.

3. Cocktail Hour

The only thing I can really say here is this.  Don't make any sudden moves.  Don't run to the nearest butler hors d'oeuvres and elbow your niece for the chicken skewer.  Don't pile your plate with everything from the cheese station.  You will stuff yourself to oblivion, no doubt.

This doesn't mean that you don't eat anything.  Instead you will eat the best.  My fiance always says that the best stuff comes out later.  Think of veggie dip and chips verses pigs-in-the-blanket, no one likes to fill up on chips.  Yeah, like that.  So my advice is to take one loop around the food stations and allow one round of the butler hors d'oeuvres to pass you by.  Then come up with a game plan; what looked the best?  What are people saying about the mini-quiches?  By waiting a bit, you can ensure you only get the munchies you really want.

4. Main Meal

If it is a structured meal--enjoy it.  If it is a buffet--make one trip.  That's all!

5. Bar Time

Shots, shots, shots!  When dealing with the open bar or cash bar, the only thing I can say is be mindful.  Obviously avoid added sugars in sodas, cranberry juices, and heavy beers.  Also, the more you drink, the more you may want to eat.  And if you are full of food and beer, can you really break into the shuffle or anything else for that matter.


This is the easiest one.  Just moving around on the dance floor with friends and family is the best remedy.

So, hopefully these little tips were helpful (even if only reminders) about how to enjoy all those wonderful weddings, while still looking your best!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Fourth of July

On the Fourth of July fireworks rain across the skies, barbeque aromas ride the wind, watermelon juices drip down faces, and our nation’s colors soar in the breeze.  We gather on porches, in backyards, at parks, and monuments.  We are asked to slow down our daily routines and remember our nation’s history, our invaluable freedom, and traditions that have formed our lives one memory at a time.

As I child I remember being proud of my father, grandfather, uncles and aunts, and all others who served in the military.   I was proud to wear red, white, and blue.  I longed for fireworks all summer.   And there were never enough hamburgers and hotdogs to keep me satisfied.  At that time, lightning bugs and lemonades measured summer nights.  But now that adult summer is here, I am finding myself thinking about this holiday in a slightly different light.

On this day 235 years ago, our nation declared its independence from Great Britain.   It was an end of an great era and the start of something even more monumental.  Not only would our country survive against the odds, we would thrive—changing the world forever.  It’s hard to believe our Founding fathers had any idea what the future would hold for the country they created.  Rather, I imagine all the boys planning their big move, damming the British, fighting long and hard for years, signing the Declaration of Independence and then promptly asking, “Uhhh—now what?” 

More often than not, ending something is not the most difficult part—it’s beginning something new. 

For this reason, Independence Day is well-timed in my own life.  At the end of June I completed a two-year apprenticeship and entered July with a future unknown.  It felt like a day of independence when I finally graduated.  Countless hours, long days, and difficult work brought me to the moment of graduation—the completion, the end, the start of something new.  It felt like I was signing my own declaration of independence. 

When our Founding Fathers decided to fight to end British control, they did so in search of freedom.  They sought the freedom to grow into whatever they desired to become.   And they started a nation that has done just that.  America has explored, invented, expanded, and recreated.  We started out as nothing more than an idea and now we are a great nation known throughout the world.  That is simply amazing. 

And yet, here I am over two hundred years later, and my freedom scares me.  I keep asking myself, how could I be scared of the freedom to begin something new?  How could I dread the unknown?  American was built on the freedom to learn, the freedom to create, and most importantly—the freedom to be great.

Well, I refuse to let fear get in the way of becoming something great.  So on this fourth of July, I am breathing in the original American spirit.  In the words of Mark Twain:

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.  So throw off the bowlines.  Sail away from safe harbor.  Catch the trade winds in your sails.  Explore. Dream. Discover.”

Whose with me?!
Simply because Independence Day is a great film :)