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?

Finding a Rhythm – Obliging Myself

I’m sitting at the Charlotte airport again. I had a lovely and brief weekend in New Jersey at the Fanwood-Scotch Plains YMCA teaching the NETA PT Workshop. It was one of the best groups I’ve had in awhile, so I’m glad that I got to share that time with them.

The trip was a little precarious in that I got in late on Friday night and had to navigate Newark and the surrounding highways in the dark. Let me just tell you…..I’m not used to New England drivers and being just over a month out from my accident it was an added challenge! I even felt my left arm going numb at times and worried I was having a heart attack. Some good Ujjaii breathing helped me calm down, but it didn’t help that I had chosen the Toyota Yaris from Hertz that had no cruise control. Yikes!

The weekend was a success in that I tried to spend a little time thinking about why I’m away from the blog so much at this time. I thought about my training routine lately (or lack there of) and my general situation in life. I came up with a few things that I’ve been meaning to write about while seeing beautiful deer grazing in someone’s yard this morning. It almost made me consider moving to New Jersey….but don’t jump for joy yet Tina!

So, I’m an OBLIGER. This is something I discovered in my research on Gretchen Rubin’s work and Happiness Projects. What does it mean exactly? It means, something that I’ve kind of known all along, that it’s much easier for me to commit to something if the outcome is for someone else.

In what ways am I an obliger? With my kids, especially. If something is necessary for one of them, it’s going to get done at my own sacrifice. For work I’m pretty good at making sure the work is done (maybe not always in the time frame I’d planned, but always before the deadline).

In which areas of my life do I not oblige? Ugh, I’m probably not the best obliger in my relationships…..

I read this interesting article on NBCNews.com the other day about why it’s so much harder to be married in 2017 than it was before. One thing that I hit on was the whole “getting married later” and “finding it easier to be single”. I was married once before and while I liked being married both then and now, find it harder this time around. I didn’t spend long being “single” (about a year), but the independence that came at that time in my life was refreshing in a way I didn’t know it could be. There are still times in which I wish I could have things only MY way (not a very Yogi Attitude).

In my friendships I’m probably a decent obliger and currently more so with one friend than others. I am training with a friend for an 8k in September. My 2017 birthday present to myself. And that’s probably where I’m the worst obliger….in my own yoga practice and fitness (especially right now).

I can get up at 530am twice a week to go and teach yoga to others. I can make my body do 4 or more classes per day. I can run 6 miles with a friend. I can’t seem to find the rhythm that keeps me going on my own.

You may say, with all that other activity, why would it matter? It does. It matters a lot to a fitness professional. I understand, after many failures in life, how hard it is for people to create behavior change. I understand the struggle to “stay healthy”, to “get in shape”, to “be fit”. I understand the ups and downs of this journey more than a lot of other fitness professionals. I feel like Obligers are not often found in the fitness realm. My colleagues tend to be highly driven toward working out for themselves and, while I’ve had those moments in my life, I’m finding it easier to commit to others and their needs right now than my own.

One thing that used to help me was my schedule. My planner set the rhythm of my life….10 lines for each day dedicated to what I wanted/needed to do. I put in exercise as a priority, play dates with friends, intentions to catch up with people, dates, household obligations, and work commitments. However, I haven’t used my planner since the beginning of May and it shows in many areas of my life. I am surprised by how many ways the accident has impacted my life. So, today, on my flight from Newark I busted out the planner and started writing in it. I made a list for this week of all that I’d like to accomplish, but didn’t put exercise on it. Why? Doesn’t that seem counter productive to my goals and my Happiness Project? Yes, but it’s also more productive for me to find my way back to exercising on my own organically.

I have this big fitness goal that I’d like to achieve this summer….108 Sun Salutations. I was inspired by Tracy at Fit is a Feminist Issue awhile back, but haven’t found the way to commit to it yet. I even tried to wrangle my friend I’m running with into it. But I don’t think she was exactly game. I’m going to keep running with her twice a week and see what happens. I finish teaching for the summer on June 29th and then it will be all on me. Fingers crossed that I pick up again before then!

Have you been over to the quiz yet to find your tendency?

Have you been to New Jersey before?

What is your summer fitness goal?

What keeps you in your rhythm?

My Best Body Part 3: The Shape of it All

We’re in the thick of it now….it’s the end of May and time for phase 3 – SHAPE!

I know, I know, how cliche for a fitness professional to be talking about their body shape and size and how wonderful it is to be fit! Well, NO APOLOGIES HERE! It is wonderful to be fit and I have really missed being as fit as I can be over the last few years. I have struggled to stay consistent with it and now that I am getting more consistent, I want to feel it in a tangible way. I have been tracking my mileage for the last two months:

Miles Run/Walked/Jogged since March 15 – 88.77 and counting

However, as I wrote about yesterday, other things are not going so well. I have a whole post I’m working on about being an Obliger….again because it’s sort of affecting my life and my workouts and this project.

For this month, I do want to focus on some other numbers and some strategies for improving them. It was time for my annual Health Risk Assessment with my husband’s work recently and I just got the numbers back:

Things that are a problem include my blood pressure going up, all of my cholesterols rising again, and my BMI (but I throw that number out anyway). I know that my weight is up and part of my goals for last month were to get stronger (although I didn’t sufficiently meet them) and therefore I am looking to improve body composition over weight or BMI. And how do I do that? By improving the amount of muscle I have and decreasing the fat in areas that are dangerous to my body.

The biggest pluses on this year’s results were that my glucose is down, my HDL is up, and my waist is down 3 inches from last year….although I’m pretty sure that different people measuring measure different ways. So, this waist measurement got me thinking about the measurements I had taken last year around this same time. I remeasured (myself this time) on Thursday to find more changes in results:

So, I’m pretty much up all around in my size and that’s what has prompted me to choose the following for this month:

MORE RESISTANCE TRAINING

It’s one of the areas in which I’ve really fallen off lately. When I do resistance training my body falls back into the type of “shape” that allows me to move. I will also be done teaching yoga sometime in the next month so I will also be setting the goal of doing my own yoga more. It’s a form of both resistance and flexibility training that makes me feel great.

Some of this was prompted by my own need to feel differently about my body…..I mean, that’s what this whole Happiness Project is about for me, but some of this has been prompted by my friends and their own stories. One such friend is currently pregnant and commented to her husband,

Please don’t ever let me get fat because I don’t’ know how I would move and sleep.

Obviously that’s not the attitude that I hold, but the movement part of her statement really struck me.

It’s not about being “small” to me; it’s about being able to move and live the way I want to.

Breaking Down

I’m getting ready to leave on a trip this weekend, but before my Happiness Project post FINALLY goes up tomorrow, I wanted to write a short post about why I haven’t been writing posts. A couple of weeks ago I wrote about my car accident. That was the start of my break down…..

Since May 2nd I’ve had a hard time running on my own, exercising other than running on my own, meditating, working, and in general….living. Last weekend I was supposed to attend the Roots of Love Yoga Festival and got in my car to drive up there only to have to turn back around. While stopped at a stop light a large truck came to a screeching stop behind me and almost rear-ended me. When I rear-ended the other car the girl in the passenger seat had said that she had rear-ended someone 5 days earlier. Since that time I have been waiting for my “pay back”.

I came home and cried.

I am set to go out this weekend for work and my family is coming with me to help me make the drive. Driving for me is still a challenge, but I never expected the accident to effect my life in so many ways. I find myself less focused right now and more tentative. I broke down during a run with my friend the other day…..actually twice now. I am usually the one pushing her and I found myself being the one falling back and needing breaks.

I don’t know if it’s emotional or physical, but I do know that I am 11 days past when I was supposed to update my Happiness Project and I am not feeling stronger in any way due to these lapses. I do know that this is nothing new for me and will be something that I address in the course of this project. I’m just ready to feel normal again and I have some strategies in place for that.nOne thing in particular (and I have a full post coming on that) is to play into my tendency of being an Obliger.

For now……it’s just one day at a time, one foot in front of the other, and breathe!

50 Years Stronger

50 years ago in the Boston Marathon a woman attempted to compete. She was attacked partway into the race when it was discovered that she was a woman. Yesterday she completed the same event while running one of her fastest marathons ever. This is the kind of strong that I aspire to….not just for MY BEST BODY challenge, but in life. I aspire to be stronger each day. I aspire to stand up for what I believe in. I aspire to get better with age. Kathy Switzer’s race number (261) was officially retired yesterday after she crossed the line.

What will you be doing 50 years from now?

How strong can you get?

Read the whole story here…

Meditation Monday #35 – How to Meditate: The Four Aims of Life (Kama)

It’s Easter Monday….for some of us…..and it’s always bittersweet in my mind. The joy of the holiday still resonates with me: time spent with my children, good food with family and friends, and beautiful weather. However, it’s over and now it’s back to daily life. Today was my son’s first day back from Spring Break and it didn’t go horribly, but not exactly smooth either. I believe the phrase, “I don’t HAVE to go to school” was uttered, but was quickly corrected.

Do you ever have something that you don’t want to do?

Well, that’s kind of our topic for today’s meditation: Kama = Pleasure. Continue reading “Meditation Monday #35 – How to Meditate: The Four Aims of Life (Kama)”

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”

Meditation Monday #32 – How to Meditate: The Two Pillars of Yoga

Alternating periods of intense activity and rest is an important part of life, so it’s no surprise that this principle serves as the foundation of yoga itself.

This is the opening sentence to a 2007 Yoga Journal web article describing the two pillars of yoga: Abhyasa and Vairagya that I use with my Yoga II students. For the next few weeks I plan to focus our Meditation Monday posts on the topics I cover with them in regards to meditation. I have previously presented a series of 4 posts titled How to Meditate that covered some basic meditation techniques. Now I am expanding that for you with a deeper practice into meditation as well as my own insights on the topics at hand. Continue reading “Meditation Monday #32 – How to Meditate: The Two Pillars of Yoga”

Coming Down

It’s been awhile since I’ve written on the blog….a little over a week. On Monday I had every intention of posting about how wonderful it was to have taken my last dose of Prednisone, but the truth is that this week has been a little of ups and downs. In my health journal I have seen my first smile on Tuesday when I went for a run with a friend and didn’t have to take the meds, but also my first frown because Wednesday I was so fatigued and couldn’t get off the couch to go exercise.

I am pretty okay with the neutral face days because that means that I’m still getting life done. I had another smile on Thursday while getting to experience Goddess Yoga as taught by a former student of mine. Things are looking up, but coming down from the Prednisone has meant that I’m more tired, my mind has slowed down, and I’m adjusting to the old eating patterns again.

And today? Today gets another smile! Today I am in Rochester, New York at one of my favorite workshop sites (Rochester Athletic Club for Women) teaching the NETA Pilates Specialty Certification. I love this place because the women are amazing, the facility is super clean, and the host, Nikki, is fabulous! I would work for her if I lived in this area.

I’m also getting the opportunity to eat at one of my favorite restaurants….Root 31. Today I had their Mediterranean Flatbread for lunch and it was so good that I ate it before I could snag a photo for you. For dinner I had to indulge in my go to Beets and Sweets salad. At first I thought it was a little smaller than last year, but it still hit the spot after my 4 mile walk on the treadmill. I wanted to run, but seriously….the treadmill is so close to the ceiling at this hotel that I was afraid of going through the roof!

Now I’m just prepping for another great day of Pilates training, one last meal at Root 31, my trip home, and a better week ahead. Check in with me on Monday for a full recap of my weekend away plus the start of a new Meditation series (think How to Meditate); Wednesday we’ll be breathing together in a different way; and Saturday I’m back doing another race for RTE.

How is your health holding up?

What is on your agenda for the week ahead?

What was the best part of your weekend?

TOLT – What is your Tendency?

Hello Thursday and THANK YOU to Amanda for hosting another TOLT! If you’ve been reading the blog the last two weeks you already know about MY BEST BODY Happiness Project. In my reading of Gretchen Rubin’s book I came across mention of the Happiness Toolbox and so, intrigued, I attempted to visit the site. The book is a few years old, so the site had changed and kind of been dismantled. However, Rubin is publishing a new book called The Four Tendencies and recently posted about it here:

She offers a link to her quiz to tell you which of the four tendencies you fall into. I took the quiz and found that I am an OBLIGER: Meets outer expectations/Resists inner expectations. as-you-wishBasically, I’m really good at following the rules, but find it hard to do things that benefit myself. I’m better at taking care of others than myself. This is evidenced in my resolutions I’ve made over the years. Often when it’s something centered on benefiting me (either primarily or only) I put it to the back burner and focus on the things that benefit the whole. In some ways this is very “YOGA” of me, but the words of a long ago Dr. Phil episode still linger in my ears You can’t fill other people’s tanks if yours is empty. (or something of that nature)
One of the keys to success offered up by the quiz is to have external accountability in achieving a change. Wow! That’s definitely something I need. I’ve blogged before about walking with friends and the sadness that I have from lack of a true workout partner. Just Tuesday my friend mentioned the women that she runs with on Saturday mornings. However, she’s across town and I am often gone on the weekends. I am going to have to take time to ponder how to create a sufficient support network on this journey and to remember that I want this for me and that’s okay.
What is your Tendency? Do you think your results are an accurate representation of your tendencies in making decisions?