The Skin I’m In

Welcome to the fifth month of My Best Body Happiness Project! It’s Thursday and I’m sharing my progress over on Running With Spoons weekly link-up.

One element that I have slightly neglected in all of this body talk is my skin. I had a full skin check done back in February when I first visited the dermatologist about the cyst in my leg. Luckily….she found nothing really to be of concern about…..except the cyst. On Monday I was back at the “doctor’s” and my leg is still not healed. It keeps flaring up and the NP gave me an antibiotic for that plus whatever else this cough is that is currently plaguing me and fingers crossed that it heals this time!

Once it’s healed, I’m going to have a terrible scar that will look just as bad as when the cyst was in my leg. It’s kind of part of who I am….I scar. I broke my wrist in several places in March 2007 and had to have surgery on it and a metal plate inserted. The stitches were the kind that weren’t supposed to leave a scar….and yet, I have railroad tracks on my arm. They’re so obvious that more than one person has questioned if I tried to harm myself. I didn’t; unless you count snowboarding without wrist guards as trying to harm oneself.

My skin and I have always had a tumultuous relationship. I am very fair skinned in the winter and tan very easily in the summer. My siblings all have freckles on their face and I have random freckles on my body. I am allergic to “regular” sunscreen and I break out in hives if you feed me mushrooms. I get contact dermatitis from a few things like latex gloves and I had a weird eczema patch on my elbow during both of my pregnancies. I had the worst acne when I was younger and developed an esophageal ulcer thanks to strong medicine I had to be on for the bad acne. Basically, my skin kinda hates me….but not always.

There have been many times in my life when I thought my skin was beautiful! Like my headshot on the blog. It’s from the Christmas after my second son was born. I’m barely wearing make-up and it’s DECEMBER! I was simply glowing at that time. I don’t know if it was the prenatal vitamins, the happiness of being a new mom again, eating well because I was breastfeeding, or what the cause was, but I loved my skin at that time.

Your skin is kind of an amazing organ:

  • It accounts for about 15% of your body weight
  • Is thickest on your feet and thinnest on your eyelids
  • Renews itself about every 28 days
  • Changes in your skin can signal changes in your overall health

(Facts found at https://forefrontdermatology.com/skin-fun-facts/)

So, wow! and Yeah! I see why my skin has looked better at some times than others. For me, at this point in my journey, I would love to see beautiful glowing skin because of the dietary changes that I’m trying to make. However, they’re not always consistent changes. I am still struggling with how and what to cut out when and what fits into our social life.

For instance, last night we had a sick kid who wanted chicken noodle soup to feel better. It’s kind of a given; most of us were raised to believe that it has magical healing powers. So, we had chicken noodle soup….in JULY!

Also, you have to consider taste profiles. We’re learning to love new foods (my kids are digging nectarines like crazy!), but also struggling to find recipes that don’t involve cheese. Why? Because we tried the vegan cheese and it was the worst thing I’ve eating in a long time! It’s not a flavor I will get used to because I’m not interested in spending money on it again. Meatless meals are sometimes sooooo delicious (we recently had apple/almond salads with baby greens and broccoli slaw) and other times a big fail (enchiladas with sauce that tasted like it belonged on pizza or spaghetti).

My skin is responding to these foods and changes as is the rest of my body. But I used to be so good about taking care of my skin in other ways too. I used to have a million different lotions for different parts of my body and applied them religiously. Now I’m lucky to remember to apply any at all to any part. But I’m also choosier about what I put on my skin.

Currently I use:

  • Shea Moisture Fruit Fusion Coconut Water Energizing Bar Soap
  • Shea Moisture Jamaican Black Castor Oil Strengthen, Grow, and Restore Shampoo and Conditioner
  • Shea Moisture Argan Oil and Raw Shea Butter Body Lotion
  • Banana Boat Kids Sunscreen Lotion
  • Ology Facial Moisturizer with SPF

(Not a sponsored post)

I wish that I could afford Shea Moisture products all of the time, but I can’t. Currently all of the ones I’m using were bought on clearance. I wish that I could remember to put on my facial moisturizer every day, but as a mom sometimes my get ready routine means that I forget because I’m in a hurry. And I wish that I took the time to fully lotion after my showers, but I often am rushed then too. So, for the next month I’m going to try and pay a little more attention to my skin in three ways:

  1. Get sunscreen on every day to protect my skin when I’m running, at the beach, on play dates, and in general outside
  2. Take the time to get a pedicure because my feet deserve it (I was given a gift certificate for my birthday last year and I still haven’t used it!)
  3. Get my leg healed.

How do you take care of your skin?

What make it its best?

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Meditation Monday #40 – How to Meditate: The 5 Koshas (Annamaya)

Welcome to another rainy Monday at the beach. Do you know I haven’t taken my kids to the beach at all this summer? How terrible is that?! Last summer our beach days were play dates and there were many of them, but this summer our beach buddy is also my running buddy and play dates have been of a different nature. *Sadness*

Alright, enough about the rain….today I’m here to talk to you about meditation again. Why? Because it’s something that I’m making a priority in my life these days. Over the weekend I was in Asheville teaching the NETA PT Review Workshop to a great group of people at the Woodfin YMCA. They were wonderful to hang with and chat with and to work with. I love it when I have great weekends away like that!

I had intended to go and scout the 8K course for the race this fall after I got done teaching on Saturday, but it was raining….and I had left my car windows open….and my lunch from Whole Foods was disappointing. I had also missed breakfast and hadn’t drank hardly anything all day. I think the run would’ve sucked if I had attempted it.

Instead I chose to go back to my creepy hotel (don’t stay off of Tunnel Road) and work on the Inclusivity Training and some NETA writing. I experienced some seriously great meditation practices in this course that I cannot wait to share with you! And that motivated me to start back up with the How to Meditate series again today.

So now, after that seriously unnecessary introduction to this post, I want to talk to you about Koshas….which is not a slang way of talking about Jewish foods or pickles. Koshas are the five layers or sheaths of the body; the outermost of which is called Annamaya or the “Food Layer”.

First off, this has nothing to do with the food you’ll eat (we’ll talk about that layer later), but rather with the fact that we all must die someday and (if buried) eventually become food for the earth and other creatures on it. We liken these layers to nesting dolls with each successively deeper layer representing a deeper part of the self. However, unlike nesting dolls, the layers cannot be separated.

Annamaya is most often cared for where people start their yoga practice….with Asana (postural practice). Both Asana and Annamaya deal with the muscles, the bones, the flesh. Consider your Annamaya layer and ask these questions from Rebecca Pacheco’s book:

  • What physical experiences nourish me?
  • When am I most comfortable in my skin?

For me the obvious answer for both is exercise. But, during meditation I often find more.

When am I most comfortable in my body? When I’m taking care of it. And that includes eating well, getting enough sleep, making time to move and rest. Not just exercise, but when I’m playing with my kids and when I’m not thinking about the body and all the ways in which I’ve judged it in the past.

What physical experiences nourish me? The little things like putting lotion on, brushing my hair, brushing my teeth with a new toothbrush, drinking warm tea, wrapping up in a cozy blanket, hugging my children, snuggling close to my husband, holding his hand, laughing with friends.

My Happiness Project is all about my body and I started with health and now I’m working on eating (again), but I am not neglecting the Annamaya layer in this process. Perhaps you should give your Annamaya layer a little more attention this week?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on/response to the questions posed above.

Breaking Up with Dairy in the Toilet Bowl of America – A Happiness Project Reset

So, it’s technically three months into this Happiness Project of mine and I’m kind of at the point of starting over. In the first month of my project I focused on getting myself well. Because the whole point of this project is to make me happy by giving me My Best Body, that included getting things right with my health. But, oh did that ever change for me in the last week?!

If you’ve read the blog at all, you know that I’m a big fan of documentaries…..I’m also a great proponent of eating what fuels you and not subscribing to restrictive eating plans. However, a shift has occurred within me that’s been coming for awhile. For a long time now I’ve felt on the verge of making a big change; something inside of me wasn’t quite yet defined, but I felt like the way I was eating was wrong for me. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it until I watched What The Health.

Now, before you stop reading, let me put this disclaimer out there….

I still believe that each and every person has to make their own decisions based on what they feel is the right food for them and their body (diet). This decision can be made for health reasons, ethical reasons, financial reasons, cultural reasons…whatever. And I am not a Registered Dietician, so I will NEVER tell anyone what they should and shouldn’t eat.

With that in mind, I have made a choice for myself to slowly cut out animal products. Why? Because for some time now I’ve felt that they didn’t benefit me in the way that they used to. The food didn’t make me feel as good (hence the reason I went mostly meatless on travel weekends), it didn’t taste as good, it felt like a crutch. After watching many of the disturbing and disgusting facts presented in a wide variety of food documentaries, after always being informed about the secret funding behind our food guidance systems, and after my own experiences with dietary intake, I decided that dairy and meat aren’t really for me.

So, because I didn’t make this decision in an instant and I didn’t do it for ethical reasons (although I wish I could say that I did), I am making a slow transition away from these foods. I’m just not buying more dairy as it gets used up. I’m just not buying more meat as it gets used up. I am going to allocate more of my food budget toward whole fruits and vegetables. I enjoy almond milk and am going to try making my own cashew milk. I am going to try some alternative dairy products and eat more whole grains. I am going to explore different snacks and flavors. I’m rethinking what breakfast means. I am exploring and giving myself until the end of 2017 to see how this experiment goes.

The only expectation I have at this point is to try. I want to live happy and free from disease. I want to love the body that I’m in and feel that I am taking care of it. I am resetting my Happiness Project to have My Best Body in 2017!

Have you seen the documentary?

How do you make your food choices?

What is your favorite meatless meal?

Happiness Project Month 2: Strength – My Second Big Truth

For me and my body I first wanted to focus on health because of all that has gone on with my body in the first few months of this year. Now that I have resolved a few things with my health:

  • The cyst is out and my leg is still healing
  • The final lupus tests were negative
  • No cavities at my dental check-up
  • I’m still as blind as I’ve always been per my eye exam
  • I have had enough blood drawn this month to create a new human

…it’s time to move on to the second major part of my happiness project: Strength. Continue reading “Happiness Project Month 2: Strength – My Second Big Truth”

TOLT: But I Won’t Do That!

You all remember the Meatloaf jam from back in your middle school days…..I will do anything for love…..but I won’t do that!

Well, welcome to another TOLT hosted by Amanda at Running With Spoons. Today I want to expand off of my post from Monday and continue with a series on my own Happiness Project: MY BEST BODY.

I’ve spent a little more time considering my post and my goal and what I will do moving forward and I’ve come up with only three things so far that I promise not to do:

  1. Take before and after photos
  2. Go on a diet
  3. Use exercise as punishment or food as a reward

These are three things that align pretty well with my own living principles as well as some of the tenets of yoga.

Ahimsa – Cause no harm

I, as a fitness professional, know that dieting is harmful to the body. I hate the fact that this simple little four letter word that means all of the food you eat has become something so vile and negative that I have to make a statement about how I won’t go on one. Technically we’re all on a diet…..we all eat. I decided not to harm myself in other ways during this adventure by being mindful of my workouts, checking in with myself on the regular through meditation, and keeping in mind that this is a journey of my whole body getting well….not just trying to get thin.

Santosha – Contentment

I need to remain content as I travel this path. It’s okay that right now I am battling my body, this too will get better. It’s okay that I will never again be a size 2 Juniors. I’m 36 and have two children and care more about being able to someday do a pull-up than to bare my midriff for attention. This is a project and a process, I have to be ready each day to face the challenges with an air of contentment: I AM.

Svadhyaya/Satya: Self-Study and Honesty

I paired these two together because they both also encompass the idea of non-judgement of myself and others by living who I am and by learning about that. This is why I don’t need before and after photos…..I have before and during and after blog posts. I have my meditation journals. I can track my fitness and all of the other measurements I will use along the way. However, as I track I need to go back to Santosha and remember to be content with the progress that does and doesn’t come.

NUMBER THREE

On a side note, I found myself trying to do number three a lot this week. Yesterday I ate a snack with my little guy. I had a super hungry moment (most likely fueled by the Prednisone) in which I ate the snack so mindlessly and then had the thought pop into my head “Thank goodness I’m going for a run now”. Bad me! But I also need to be kind with myself in my thoughts…..I need to avoid falling into the disordered eating traps of rewards and punishments that come with food and exercise. This project needs to be about me being well and functioning.

I can’t guarantee that this is going to work and I’m still in the process of defining my plan, but this was the next step.

Have you ever entered into a Happiness Project?

How do you incorporate the yoga principles into your life challenges?

What won’t you do?

Meditation Monday #30 – My Best Body: A Happiness Project

I’ve been reading Gretchen Rubin’s Happiness Project book this year. I haven’t quite finished it yet and that’s why you haven’t been privileged to a Fave Reads Friday post on the book yet. But, I thought that it was time for me to define my own Happiness Project. The book has been very inspiring in many ways and made me consider many aspects of my life and ways that I have chosen to live in regards to a yoga lifestyle. Yoga has helped me in my relationships, my professional career, my parenting, and with my mental and physical health. It’s help me define who I am and what I stand for. Now, after a weekend of teaching yoga, I have the ultimate goal of my own Happiness Project….MY BODY!

Continue reading “Meditation Monday #30 – My Best Body: A Happiness Project”

TOLT – Why Numbers Matter Part 3

In the past I have been very upbeat about my weight. Part of this has been due to the privilege of being “thin” for most of my life. I didn’t come by being thin easily, but I have been thin for most of my life due to periods of restrictive eating and periods of taking care of my body. No matter what, I’ve always fallen at average or lower, so weight has not concerned me that much….until my recent doctor’s appointment.

This time around, for my yearly physical, I weighed in at 145lbs. I am about 5’8″ tall, so if you do my BMI that puts me in the average category….no biggie right? Well, normally I’d agree except this time it wasn’t a moment of normalcy for me.

Before I go any further, I want to state that I know that weight is a touchy subject for a lot of people and I am by no means overweight or obese, so the question will always come, “Why am I complaining?”. I’m not. I’m just taking notice of a few things. Continue reading “TOLT – Why Numbers Matter Part 3”

Five Yamas Friday #5 – Living Them

Another Friday, another reflection on my Yoga Life…..

How has your week been? Mine has felt like catch-up due to late flights and sick kids. I have skipped all of my workouts so far and this has added to a feeling of unease and chaos.

What’s going well? I’ve been on task this week when it has come to work, I feel a little bit better about my future, and I am starting to live the Yamas so well that they feel like part of me instead of just something I’m having to make a conscious effort to exude.

Nonviolence

Honesty

Nonstealing 

Moderation

Nonhoarding

This week I had two moments that bookended my week of Yamas. They were moments in which I felt like I lived my true self and maintained an authentic practice of the Yamas.

The first was during an argument when I realized and stated outloud that one of the worst things I have been doing in life is spouting angry words toward others during fights as a defense mechanism. I don’t like to say hurtful things, it hurts me to say them and it doesn’t feel like me at all. If I am mad, I want to be heard for the honest expression of my feelings instead of feeling forced into a corner and made to fight like an animal with words as my claws. I am a nonviolent person; I feel that in my soul. I am choosing from now on to practice the nonviolence that my heart aims for.

The second time was during class today. I was expressing honesty to my students and told them that it is easy for me to be kindhearted toward and accepting of others far more than myself. I know, because we’ve all heard it before, that the hard work is supposed to come from inside first. It just hasn’t worked this way for me. For me, it’s been easier to find ways to be more accepting of others and then, slowly, turning those skills inward.

I am trying hard not to hoard, any longer, ideals about myself that do not fit who I am. I am trying hard to shed those same images that others may have of me. I am embracing aging this week as a tactic to stop judging myself. I haven’t pulled a single gray hair out all week. That might seem superficial to someone else, but it’s one way that I can accept who I am and how I am in this moment. By doing this I am not stealing the experience of life….of the present.

My yamas are becoming more and more a part of my daily life….

How are they doing in yours?

TOLT – Distractions

Yesterday I wrote a post about the election that has garnered at least one email response. It’s a post that is not the usual for this blog and I second guessed myself several times as I wrote. I still think that it reflects the use of Yoga in my life and I am glad that I penned it. Today, though, I plan to talk about things I’m considering in my life that are keeping me from thinking about the election and the impending future of this country.

A HUGE THANK YOU TO AMANDA FOR GIVING THIS OUTLET THIS IS SO NEEDED AT THIS TIME!

Things that are distracting my thoughts:

1. What to do about gray hair?

So, it’s finally happening….but don’t tell my sister. I’ve started to notice gray hairs appearing where they “shouldn’t” be and I’m contemplating what to do about it. I’ve always thought it would be nice to have the Stacy London single sexy silver streak….but now I’m thinking about doing something a little more drastic. Why? Because who gets their gray hairs to all grow in in one particular and well-groomed location? No one! That’s who!

I’ve considered the all-over hair dye method (although I’ve had bad experiences with hair dying in the past) as well as the highlights route. My mom has been dying her hair for years and is now “progressing” toward a “natural gray look”….whatever that means. My sister has tons of gray hair and is younger than me, so she has been doing the all-over dye method for some time now. I’m 36 and I feel like a little gray is okay. But I also fear that I’m not as ready for that as I should be (see more on my Santosha battle this coming Monday). So, I’ve come to the conclusion to both embrace the gray and go crazy at the same time. I’ve always been one to express myself in whatever way I see fit and I feel like, as I approach 40, that my hair may be a version of that. Silver-type hair colors are very trendy right now and this is what I’m considering doing along those lines….either silver/purple or silver/blue highlights. I like this woman’s example because it’s not too much nor too little. Am I crazy?

2. Does anyone really care about “Dad Bods”?

I keep hearing about this research on the radio regarding the longer living men who have what has now come to be known as the “Dad Bod”. Here the NY Times more blatantly calls them “Fat Dads”. What I don’t like about this discussion is that it seems like a cop out to taking care of yourself by taking care of your family first. Women are constantly being told not to do that, while at the same time….doing just that. And yet, we’re also told not to body shame and yet we’re body shaming. I have so many issues with this discussion and I’m really over hearing about it on the radio. Please, Mr. DJ, stop encouraging men to go out and drink a few extra to be “more attractive” to women!

3. Go Cubs Go on the Billboard music charts?

And finally, because I listen to the radio all the time in the car….today I heard that Billboard Music Top 100 now hosts the “Go Cubs Go” 1984 song written by Steve Goodman. Are you shocked? I was and had to confirm it. Great job Cubbies! My grandfather would be proud and since he didn’t get to see this or your World Series win in his lifetime….this is for you and him (a Chi-town native and lifelong fan):

What’s on your mind today?

How are you dealing with election results?

Thoughts on my distraction topics?

Thigh Gap? – TOLT

Happy Thursday Everyone!

I’m a little late to the TOLT round up today due to the massive amount of things I’m trying to accomplish before the end of this month so that I can start with a new clean-ish schedule for November. My mornings are trying to get started earlier and activity is getting squeezed in where it can. And that last bit is what brings me to my random topic for today:

THE THIGH GAP

Yesterday I went for my current 5.02 mile run/walk with my littlest one in the jogging stroller. Things went as planned….I started out okay; struggled to the end of the first run segment; walked quickly and regained my composure; then finished up the best I could. The run was not ideal yesterday and I had hoped to be up at 530am to do it instead of 1030am. Also, I ended up with a serious shorts burn at the end of my run. This prompted my google search on “chaffing”

Now, we’ve all heard chaffing called something else before and the not so flattering term of “chub rub” brought me to this article on Huffington Post

I don’t know about you, but a lot of these “tips” just don’t work for me. I’m not a fan of powdering my thighs nor smearing them with lube pre-run. I also don’t get how cotton shorts are supposed to be worse than synthetic fibers? This isn’t a problem I have often, but it made me thin…..maybe I’d rather have the much talked about Thigh Gap?

I decided to read back through some posts on the topic

Fit Is a Feminist Issue

Feminist reflections on fitness, sport, and health

Search Results for: thigh gap

I especially like the posts about faked thigh gaps in advertising, the argument against thin shaming, and the one where they named all of the body parts!

For me the thigh gap is something I kind of wish I had for the specific reason of running and cycling. A lot of cyclists wear long lycra shorts to prevent the chaffing with the seat and a lot more runners and triathletes wear something similar. I, however, am not in the position to go out and get a whole new wardrobe to keep running a few times a week. legs-in-sandSo, I’ll have to try out some of these other alternative solutions, continue to love my thighs (because I do), and occasionally suffer through a few raw spots. Changing my thighs through plastic surgery, targeted training plans, extreme dieting, or otherwise is not an option for me.

So tell me….

Do you suffer from thigh chaffing during exercise or otherwise?

How have you combated it?

Are you pro or anti-thigh gap?