Monday, June 28, 2010

Whining, Dining, Kung Fu Timing

I've been putting off this little whine-fest I'm about to launch into for about a week and a half, only because I wanted to give the new diet a shot. By "new" I mean the infamous dinner of apple, banana, egg white.

Right now I think God is laughing at me. Laughing because I was so smug about being spared this concoction while on the PCP. I kept waiting for it - every week I'd open that New Diet email thinking, Patrick's gonna get me this time. Sort of like that family in Shirley Jackson's The Lottery who think they're going to get stoned, because it's what they do every summer to ensure a good harvest. I'm kidding!

But seriously, I couldn't think of a worse punishment (and failed to see the logic in eating fruit at night when unlimited steamed spinach with that egg white is pretty damn healthy, too!)

Ok, sorry for that drastic (and jaded) response.

But wait, can someone explain the banana apple thing? Why not apple and kiwi? Grapefruit and peach?

What ends up happening is I eat part of this fruity dinner early, maybe after capoeira, or after my two mile walk home. Or after a long afternoon during which I've had tea with milk for snack. Then I do the KFB work out and eat the "evening snack" of veggies and egg white as my real dinner. And while 140 grams isn't exactly sparse, I'm not sure why I can't eat all the cucumber and lettuce I want. And, ahem, weren't we promised more AMAYW items on KFB?

Now that I'm done whining, I'll also say that perhaps I deserve some cutbacks. I've been straying from the diet, and not sensibly. I'll try to control my hunger, and then, after not being able to get through a particularly physically strenuous day, I'll head for the peanut butter like a wild woman (yeah, Emily, I feel ya).

I can safely say I'm over that phase. I think? Wait, one more gripe. Have you seen 60 grams of oatmeal? It's like, a tablespoon and a half...guess I need to find something lighter for breakfast.

But seriously, I'm not seeing dramatic results in my weight/size, so I've got to recommit here. And stop whining about how I just finished PCP. Shouldn't it be easier to continue on the road to wellness armed with the knowledge that I'm capable of sticking to a plan?

Here's a photo of me showing off some new muscles. I call them surfer boy muscles, but really, I had a more scandalous term for these when I was 13 (thanks to my gaggle of beach going friends. We'd swoon when we spotted these bad boys on badass beach boys).

They're the muscles that run in a V from your waist down to your thigh. I've never had them before!

If you zoom in, you can see my new favorite bodily addition...VEINS!

Let's go BRASIL!!!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Focus Factor

Since I've been turning away from the internet during novel writing time, I've produced some good stuff! I even wrote a little scene about meditation! Hey, maybe ya'll will be star characters!

Of course, I'm no Stephen King on Adderall. My mind still strays, even while my eyes are boring holes into the computer screen. I'll be staring at a sentence but comprehending nada, just kind of watching the words dance around. However, I'd say that 70% of the time I'm very much in the world I'm trying to create, which is a big improvement.

I'm used to being a hardcore zoner-outer. Living in NYC, you kind of develop the whole hear no evil see no evil defense mechanism. Blocking out the world around you feels necessary and safe at times.

I'm an expert in this arena. When I was a child my mother thought I was deaf. Sometimes, when she called me for dinner or whatever have you, I just wouldn't hear her, even if I was 4 -5 feet away from her (I blame Judy Blume books).

Another time I was separated from my family at Disneyland for like 10 hours but I had no idea, and thus didn't panic or try to find them (a great strategy!). I just stood in the same spot, dreaming and chowing down on my candy apple.

Then there were those embarrassing few months I played softball. Who goes through an entire season of playing a sport without understanding the rules? Yo. Naturally the coaches picked up on this and relegated my spacey ass to some way out there position. I'd stand still in a hot field and not have to touch the ball (correction. Once, I did have to touch it. I threw it to the wrong team).

Thankfully, I've made some improvements in this area. And without prescription drugs! Thank you, meditation! Finally, I feel more "present in the moment," to use a phrase I hear people toss around, like "love," or "mindfulness," or "sits bones." Unless you feel it, you'll never know.

So here's my interpretation. Instead of dreaming of where I'd like to be, or where I was, or where I thought I'd be, I'm like, uh, this is me now. Stuff is happening!

During today's workout, I wasn't thinking about what I was going to eat afterward, or what I had to do tonight, or that my thighs are way tighter than they were a month ago, or that it kind of sucks that I lost my job a few days ago (oh yes, be careful what you wish for).

And despite the fact that I was sweating like a boxer before weigh in and starving like a....SHIVANI ON KFB (I have a bone to pick with this diet. Less food than I was allotted on PCP, but ok fine... I'll try it) I was so into the sensation of kicking, the use of my core, adjusting my distance from the ball to make contact - all without too much thinking and analysis. Same with the stretches. I felt those neck vertebrae totally wake-up and come to life in plough and rabbit. I could have stayed there forever. So awesome!

Here's hoping for another productive day tomorrow. Tchau people!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

You Had Me at Freestyle

For some reason, I downloaded the workout for Day 39 instead of 37, and got myself a little surprise treat (sort of like opening up the Christmas presents early!).

I'm loving the new moves! The shadowboxing and freestyle kick sequences got me jamming all over the living room, feeling warrior-ish. So much more fun and satisfying than hitting that ball (in my case, an old golf ball I used to employ as a massager, back in the day when I had crazy shoulder pain. Haven't had to bust out that bad boy in a loooonnng time). The momentum of moving around the room adds force to the kicks and power to the punches. Good times!

Now that the workouts are shorter I can really linger and relax into the stretches. YUM. Feels awesome.

And my body is responding. I've got veins popping up all over the place and new muscles above my forearms, which I actually started petting today while I held plank pose. Cool stuff!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Mindful Indulgin'

Behold my first official KFB indulgence. It's called the chum chum.

It's not my favorite thing in the world, but on Friday I was in the mood for something sweet. I thought I'd dive head first into a fro-yo so delish that my kundalini would rise, but then I found myself in Little India. So I thought what the hay. Time to return to my roots to satisfy the craving.

The owner of the sweet shop was nice enough to give me an extra something something, a sample of coconut barfi.

Concentrating on eating the items was a little awkward. I didn't love how they tasted, but I thought if I just focused more, I could turn them into something else. I had childhood flashbacks, memories of my mother stirring the stuff on the stove and the shame I sometimes felt when she explained to my friends that she was making something called barfi.


No, barfi.

The sugar made my teeth ache, but, you know, each mithai did its thing. Made me feel a bit overwhelmed and sluggish.

It's funny how little attention I pay to the textures, and sometimes, the taste, of "clean" KFB food. Like, it doesn't feel so unholy to inhale kale in front of the computer, because it's kale and why should I expect its consumption to turn into a sensual experience? No offense, kale (especially the purple really ARE a beauty).

And doesn't it technically not matter whether I keep eating the kale mindlessly (I mean, is anyone examining how they feel after chewing each piece of kale 20 times? You're eating your allotment! Doing what you've been told!) because overeating isn't really a danger, if I'm following the rules? Why should I concentrate on consuming this beautiful gift nature gave me? Do I ponder how the PeptoBismol is going down?

But shouldn't I?

Even if our food is medicine, we can do more than just shovel it around and in like fertilizer. Like pellets.

Geneen Roth would surely argue that both kale and cocoa (and, in effect our spirits) are equally deserving of appreciation, no?

Friday, June 11, 2010


I finished PCP on April 14 and started KFB on May 15. At the time I signed up for this project, 30 whole Patrick-free days seemed like one too may, but in retrospect I realize I wish I'd had more time to strike my own balance, to develop a sustainable eating and fitness plan before embarking on yet another regimen designed by someone else. My first bought of KFB sign-up regret was evidenced by yesterday's intense sense of deprivation.

P.S. You think this qualifies as a Zen Pie?

Anyway, my indulgent life's-unfair-why-can't-I-eat-whatever moment was triggered last night when I passed a pizza parlor and realized that I couldn't for the life of me recall the last time I'd consumed a cheesy slice. Anyone out there know the answer to this? 2009?? I think I was at Pizza a Bessa in Asa Sul, Brasilia, where you eat til your buttons pop off...not a good moment for me.

Suddenly, the lack of pizza in my life was cause for alarm. And then, I was concerned that I wasn't really that concerned about leading a pizza-free existence. Still I was plagued with the sensation that I was missing something. Internally, I got all whiny. Clearly, this despondency had nothing to do with food; rather, it stemmed from my tenuous connection (or lack thereof) with someone I'd just hung out with, someone I once cared deeply about. Yeah yeah yeah. Food and intimacy. I've hear they're related.

Here's the dealio. That old friend and I had just spent like four hours talking about the past, which was fun, but not so much. Sometimes you don't want to delve so far back and relive complicated memories, especially when the facts regarding what really happened are debatable (but who's counting?).

He drank relentlessly, I sipped on water. He kept urging me to have some wine, to have a piece of chocolate. He tapped my hipbones and joked, OUCH! Damn, those are like daggers!

I was irritated. Stop trying to feed me, fool! And yes, my body is becoming a weapon! I wanted to say (so dramatic, forgive me). Instead, I disengaged. I was tired and wanted to go home and meditate. I convinced myself that my non-consumption was making him uneasy. Maybe he wanted to drug me with stimulants so that I'd think him funny and sweet, when in actuality, at least last night, he was neither. These racing thoughts led me to believe that perhaps it is I who am nervous with the awareness this project is bringing me. Sometimes, clarity is shocking. And scary.

After excusing myself, I strolled through a trendy Brooklyn neighborhood and tried not to stare too much at the beautiful World Cup revelers, but I couldn't help it. Stuck in a moment of outside looking in, I was suddenly envious of the sexy folks stirring gin and tonics in their summer finest. And forgetful about what I'm trying to gain on KFB.

On the way home I asked myself these questions (and hope to blog about them as the answers reveal themselves): What do I want? What do I really really want out of life? And how is KFB going to help me get there?

My body responded with agitation as well, with my knee pain intensifying so much that it woke me up later that night (it has since migrated from behind the right knee to wrapping the entire kneecap - even yesterday's half forward bend was impossible).

Thinking about things this morning, I figured out that I'm annoyed at having to give up certain indulgences on principle.

While I haven't experienced any seriously intense cravings for my normal go-to "treats" (hello fro-yo, where for art thou), I just wish I could indulge on my own. Without being ordered to; without having to "process" the whole experience. If food is just food, then why do we have to think about it all the darn time?

My goal this week (P.S. the non-internet thing has been AMAZING, both for my mood and creativity. I use Freedom to cut myself off) is to do as Emily said earlier: to have the cookie if I must (or in this case, the wine!), and not obsess about consequences and how to "fix" or overcompensate for indulging.

If I slip and sip, I won't die; nor will I necessarily feel better, I'll just have gotten a taste of something that alters my mood, numbs me a bit, and makes me groggy.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Our Brains on Technology

I'm sure some of you have seen this article that came out in Times about the effect of technology on our brains. Dude. Let's just say that while I was reading it my concentration was so wickety-wack I could barely finish.

That worried me. I'm supposed to be writer, but lately, I'm not much of a reader. So basically I'm a poser. If I can't focus on someone else's words, how do I expect anyone to pay attention to mine?

This is especially troubling when I consider how voraciously I read as a child. Forget The Smurfs, Different Strokes, and Family Ties (though sometimes the narratives were quite provocative). You couldn't pull me away from like, Old Yeller and The Grapes of Wrath and Ramona Quimby, though most of the time I wasn't fully grasping the plots. I was just into the words.

These days, I don't have time for poetry (at least that's the excuse I make). I want info, and I want it quick. In the middle of working on (or rather simply staring at) my novel, I'm like, you know, I REALLY need to know RIGHT NOW how to make KFB friendly zucchini bread. And, I might die if I don't find some recipes using Chia seed. (P.S. Google this stuff; it's so cool. Has anyone else worked with it?)

My goal for this is week is to shut off the internet while I'm writing, and to write for four hours a day, minimum. I wish I could show you a weekly photo of me performing said action (which reminds me, I have not taken any photos since day 1. Whoops!!).

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Kung Fu Flexi

Hey Team Crane! We're in our roaring 20's. I hope you're all feeling fabulous, light, and flexible.

Here's what I've noticed since beginning the plan:

1. I've lost about five pounds. This may be partially related to my sickness, but I do notice that my arm muscles are less bulky, more wiry, and that my hips are narrower.

2. CALM. CALM. CALM. A few mini-crises have arisen, but I've yet to breakdown, scream, or polish off a bottle of wine.

3. Letting go of the past. This is a big one for me. More on this later.

Here's my goal for this week: conscious stretching.

I'll admit. When I'm hungry and tired and at the end of my workout, I don't always give the stretches the attention, love and time they (and I) most certainly deserve. I count my breaths faster, and my inner monologue tends to have nothing to do with what my body is doing.

My gaze just wanders around my living room, drifting between the pile of bills and paperwork and the computer, where I'm sure emails I don't want to read are popping up. I'm like, "This kind of hurts. I've done this before. Should I have fish or chicken for dinner? I wish someone would tell me if I'm doing this right. Can I go now?"

Maybe I should play Enya, light a candle, or close my eyes, or...just be SUPER SORE so that by the time the stretches roll around I'm dying for them.

Today is that day. I can barely walk without my quads screaming. I can't really move my neck that well. We just came back from our capoeira school's summer retreat at Ananda Ashram. Lots of capoeira, dancing, stretching, sit-ups, push-ups, a yoga class, swimmin', meditating in my tent, and some jump roping with Emily/Pingo overlooking a lake and a field full of geese and sometimes, one of these: an amazing run on a dewy Appalachian trail.

I left town on Friday morning, so I never received this week's diet and exercise plans. I didn't panic too much because I figured that once again, Emily would have all the information (she always knows what's up!) and I was confident we'd be doing lots of kicks, strength training, and stretching (hello revitalizing 7 am yoga!).

Also, in terms of diets, we have no control over the food at the ashram, which is lacto-vegetarian. I.e. there was not an egg white in sight.

My non-panic is a definite sign of progress. Three months ago, not knowing my damn grams would have thrown me through a loop. I probably would have obsessed about the unknown amounts of salt/oil/sugar lurking in my food.

This weekend, I actually enjoyed relinquishing the responsibility of controlling what I was eating and how I was moving. How awesome was it to have my meals prepared for me? And to not have to wash pots and pans? And then, to attend amazingly fun classes in which we didn't have to count kicks, just dodge them. To live music! With friends! Sure, I didn't always know exactly what I was consuming, but somehow I intuited (based on the way my body responded) that I wasn't straying too far from the plan. Of course there were some processed slips - hello tempeh! I've missed you, my friend - but I think I did quite well.

I will say this. After two days of sweaty activity without real protein, I was ready to inhale a roast chicken upon arrival in Brooklyn (I settled on tilapia).

Hmmmmmm....wonder if this guy ever did the frog pose. Speaking of, am I the only one who feels like a bowlegged superman in frog?

So back to the flexibility.

I'm proud for not obsessing about whether or not I was following the plan to a T. I plan to do what I can from the workout tonight, but if I feel like my legs are going to fall off, I'm going to stop. What I will concentrate on are the stretches - keeping my mind in the present moment and taking full, long breaths so I don't cheat myself of the release and relief these poses bring.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Girl down

I've had a high fever since Tuesday morning. I'm shivering even though it's 90 degrees outside!

It must have been something I ate because I've basically taken up permanent residence in the bathroom. Like the mediation tears, SOMETHING HAS TO COME OUT!

I couldn't do yesterday's workout. My meal plan consisted of two crackers. Today I'm still very nauseous.

I decided to meditate in the morning. It's something I've seen my mom do, and since I can't get my body to jump in the morning, I figured sitting down wouldn't be so bad. And maybe it would bring some calm to my discomfort of feeling so weak.

Ha. My mind was jumping all over the place (all those things I'd have to start doing!) but then, I tried the "I'm breathing in, I'm breathing out." Much better. Somewhere in the black matter behind my eyes, a pulsating glowing star appeared, and it too was breathing in and out. It helps when you have a visual.

I felt a difference when I started my morning business. Normally I'm doing 14 things at once (and never to completion). I'll start making the bed, then realize I want tea, then realize I need to write someone an email, and then the milk for my tea boils over and I have to clean the stove, and so I leave the email half-written, and then I'm hungry, but then I have to make my bed, so the egg burns too...does anyone else have mornings like these?

After the meditation, I completed the tasks with much more calm and focus. One thing at a time. It really works!