Category Archives: Super September

Equinox

And just like that, it’s fall. I find myself restarting my fitness plan for the third time in as many weeks. I started to feel bad about that, until I took a hard look at the last three weeks. More workouts, less crappy food, more produce, less stomach issues. So even if I never “follow through”, even if I never finish this the way it was intended to be done, I’m still doing awesome things and maintaining a significantly better lifestyle, much closer to my ideal health and wellness goals.

And what’s better? I’ve got the kid working out with me. She’s six, and she’s happily sweating and stretching and lifting at my side. She likes it. She asks when we’ll do it again. It’s awesome. Although I do, now, feel pressure to make sure she’s not hearing body shame in these videos, which is surprisingly (maybe not?) pervasive. I don’t want her hearing that you need to sweat off the pounds or work off the donut. That’s crap. We move because we’re meant to. We sweat because it helps us live and work and study in better moods, with more energy to give to the tasks at hand. I’m hoping that’s the lesson she’s learning, at least mostly. I know I can’t control outside influences forever, but I can try.

Speaking of the kid, she’s two weeks into the new school year at a new school, and overall she seems to be doing really well, which makes me happy. We really struggled with the decision to take her out of private school, but the cost was breaking us and it meant never being able to do other things–everything from buying much needed new mattresses and school clothes to seeing movies or going on vacation–without guilt and/or further financial distress. So we moved her to a public school…and she’s doing just fine. She’s bored in class, but she was bored at the private school too, so atleast we aren’t paying for her to be bored. And she’s getting the chance to meet a much more diverse group of kids, which can only be good for her. And seriously, the joy this kid finds in buying hot lunch from the cafeteria every day is amazing.

The husband, as always, is traveling a lot for work. He hates being away, but it comes with the job, so we spend a lot of time on Skype and phone calls and email to stay connected, and then we celebrate his very existence every weekend and on the ocassional day that he’s home during the week. It happens now and again.

So we’re doing well, all told. I’m stupid excited for pumpkin season. The kid and I are both looking forward to a repeat of our ComicCon costumes for Halloween, and we’re in the process of researching all sorts of cool after school options for her now that we actually have a tiny bit of money to put toward enrichment programs, karate class, swim lessons, or whatever else strikes her fancy this year.

I’m really glad it’s fall. I’m yearning for the Mid-Atlantic fall weather, with cool breezes and crisp leaves and that smell in the air. Instead, I get more muggy Florida days for at least another month, but I can still enjoy the fall. I know it makes no sense, but it has always felt like a time of renewal for me, and this year it feels particularly apt that it’s happening…because it’s time. It’s time for a sloughing off of old habits and old thoughts, and turning toward some shiny new ones. It’s time to recommit myself to all the love I have around me, to giving and receiving it, to being grateful for it on a regular basis. When I focus on love–for myself, for others…it hardly matters which–everything else tends to fall more simply into place, and the world seems gentler around me. And that’s what I’m aiming for in the end. A life that feels at times thrilling, but more often than not just gentle. At ease with it’s own existence. Full of possibilities but striving for nothing more than simply being in the moment, the here and now.

Writing feels good, particularly now. I’m determined, among the swim lessons and school events and work crazies, to start making a little more time to write again. I have a partially finished, potentially wonderful story sitting on my computer breathlessly awaiting completion, and I have this blog, that has been the portal to so many meaningful connections in my life.

Thanks for being here.

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Run, Walk, Crawl

See those gorgeous medals right there? I’m SO excited to share them with you, and I hope I can encourage you to grab one for yourself. You see, here’s the thing. I don’t run anymore. It’s not news to anyone who has followed the blog for a while. But I DO like moving, getting some sunshine, and earning medals. I mean I really do. Since I’m out of the game for most races, I started getting into virtual medals because it meant a chance to get out and moving, and have some powerful motivation to do it.

Now it’s even more important, as next week begins my training to walk a half marathon in December. I’ve struggled with follow through in the past, so when I was offered the chance to blog for Jost Running (in exchange for a few months of their incredible medals) I jumped at the chance. Now I know I have some gorgeous bling to keep me motivated to train. On those days when I’m really not feeling like taking my training walk, it’s going to make all the difference to know that I can earn a nice shiny medal by getting out there for thirty minutes or an hour.

I know plenty of my runner friends are training for fall/winter races now, so I’m hoping the same can be true for them. The medals are big and beautiful, but they’re also a chance to support some really powerful causes. September’s SOARING medals, which you should get soon, are supporting Team For Kids.  From their website, “Team for Kids is a committed group of adult runners from around the world who add meaning to their miles by raising funds for NYRR’s Youth and Community Services programs while training for major endurance events. The funds they raise provide free or low-cost health and fitness programs to kids who would otherwise have little or no access to regular physical activity. These programs serve more than 200,000 children each year in more than 800 schools and community centers in New York City, across the nation, and around the world.” So every registration for a September medal is going to make a real impact in the life of a child. THAT is meaning. THAT is motivation.

Medals are for a 5K/10K or for a Half or Full Marathon. And if you’re not yet up for a September race? BEHOLD the beautiful October medals. GET THESE NOW on presale, because they sell out FAST. These crazy awesome medals (which are also bottle openers) are selling in support of Midwest Food Bank, which is “a faith based organization it is the mission of Midwest Food Bank to alleviate hunger and poverty by gathering and distributing food donations to not-for-profits and disaster sites without cost to the recipients.”

Even better? You don’t have to run. Walk. Bike. Swim. Get your community involved. Take your family around the block in their wagons and on their tricycles. Push a stroller or a wheelchair. Invite your neighbors to the park. Walk your dog. Just get your body moving and enjoy the gentler weather as fall starts to show up in most of the US.

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MPH@GW: Why #YogaMatters To Me

Sponsored by MPH@GW Public Health

GW’s Public Health blog reached out to ask how yoga has improved my health. Where to even begin? Regularly practicing yoga, which began in 10-15 minute intervals just a few times a week, has given me back so much. I started doing yoga seriously when I was medically directed to stop running thanks to compartment syndrome. At the same time, I stopped tracking calories and food because it was causing me mental stress and, frankly, making me neurotic about food, eating, and social activities. I took up yoga in the hopes of finding a new way to exercise.

What I found instead was so much more. I found peace. I found stillness in my always too busy head. I found a way to appreciate the incredible things my body could already do. I smiled at pictures of myself. I felt proud of my body again. despite all it might not do.

Yoga also had concrete physical benefits for me. With my very special auto-immune version of colitis, yoga gave me twisting and cleansing postures that helped ease the worst of the pains and even helped me cut off symptoms before they flared too badly. Yoga taught me that my issues with food, the size of my jeans, or what I thought I saw in the mirror didn’t matter, and then it went on to help me develop significant strength. Now I can hold a plank, do a pushup, and kickup into a forearm stand all because of yoga (and a little help from my ENELL bra…).

When I practice consistently, I’m calmer. Yoga breathing mediates stress from commuting, helps me get through hard days at work, and helps me recenter when it’s time to slough off the work day and spend time with my gorgeous family. Yoga has also given me an incredible special chance to bond with my daughter, who practices with me more often than not. She loves it when I let her call the poses, and she teaches me so much about patience and bravery and listening to my body when I’m practicing. When I practice beside her, I lose all sense of competition or reaching for that one white whale of a pose, because practicing with a five year old is all about laughter and joy, about silly poses and movement for it’s own sake, about mimicry and love.

Yoga has brought me a clearer understanding of how I want to define beauty, of what strength means to me, and how those things play out in my own body, mind, and life. It’s helped me see the importance of pursuing health instead of a particular aesthetic. Yoga has helped me dig up my own sense of awesome, renewed my confidence, and given me the chance to show off just how much I can do when I put my mind to it. It’s taught me about perseverance in practice, about living outside of my comfort zone and how important the difference is between that and pain. Thanks to yoga, and to the many inspiring yogis I follow online and through Instagram, I’ve made a habit of daily practice that serves as my meditation when all else fails. Also, I can do this:

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I Am Enough

I’ve been working hard. I’ve been paying attention, making notes, and surrounding myself with inspiration. I’ve been doing my homework, working through exercises, and thinking through my life with a new gentleness.

I’ve been making time for yoga almost every day, taking walks, remembering and honoring the way my body likes to move. I’ve been paying more attention to myself… hair, makeup, a nighttime and morning care ritual that help start and end my day with a focus on me.
I’ve been slowly eradicating the shame, the blame, the constant analysis of perceived faults. I’ve been embracing all that I am, every aspect of mind and body, working hard to get and stay aware and in the moment.
It is a choice, every single day, every hour, every moment. It isn’t second nature and it may never be. I struggled with that at first, feeling irritated that I was signing up for one more lifelong fight. And then I realized I was thinking about it all wrong. It’s not a fight. It’s a chance, EVERY. DAMN. DAY., to remind myself of all I have, all I can offer, and all the beauty and worth I possess by just existing. What more could I want than a reason to wake up every morning with an ode to my thighs, praise for my smile, pride in my big bushy hair? I get the chance to spend every day reveling in my own particular brand of awesome.
And you know what? It’s working. Evi and I fight less (almost never). Aaron says I’m lighter and brighter. I’m more relaxed. I’m certainly more aware.
And that awareness has brought me to the sharp discovery that in one particular space I’m not yet honoring ME.
It’s food. In all I have going on, I’ve turned back to food for comfort without even realizing it, and as my awareness grows I’ve begun to notice the toll it’s taking. All that sugar (my biggest comfort food) is making me tired. I’m not sleeping well, I’m foggy in the mornings, and more often than not my stomach is unhappy at night.
If nothing else, this is an incredibly powerful exercise in the NO BLAME, NO SHAME arena.
I have not failed. I’ve done the best I could in every moment, and in the slow process of discovering and honoring my own needs I’ve made incredible strides. I love myself a little more every day. I’m proud of my mind AND my body. I am stronger than every hardship and surrounded by unending depths of love and support, reflecting back all that I give to others.
And so this is another step on the journey. It’s time to again turn the focus back to nutrition. This isn’t about counting or tracking or weighing. This is about food as energy, as meditation, as another way to show myself love and care. This is about slowing down, being RIGHT HERE RIGHT NOW (it always comes back to that…), and jut listening. This is about simplifying my foods, answering my body’s call for clean energy sources, and respecting my right to be the most breathtaking version of myself.
Today I will continue taking my walks. I will make one for my yoga. I will walk my dog and take out the trash and spend time with my beautiful little girl. I will read my book on the train, work hard and maintain focus, smile at myself in the mirror, and meditate on joy.
Today I will listen… to my body’s cues, to the often subtle differences between physical and emotional cravings, to the quiet bliss of a body well fed and needs met more satisfyingly than in the cold of an open fridge door.
Food is a neutral circumstance (thanks Christie and Mara) and it’s time for me to remember that again. It’s time for me to recognize that I AM ENOUGH, all on my own, just as I am in this and every moment… even the dark ones. Food recharges my batteries so that I can go on being enough, and in its best form it is as appealing and delicious as it is restorative and clean. It won’t make things better if I’m sad, and it can’t make me happy either. I’ve got it all inside already, every resource I need to meet those needs.
When I accept that I am enough, that I am whole and unbroken just as I am in this moment, then (ONLY then) I can turn my focus. Then I can shift my relationship with food, learn what resonates with my happiness, and feed myself with all the love I deserve.
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