Today’s Happy Note: Getting a mini massage after work.  Best $20 I have spent in, um…ever.  I LOVE when the masseuse presses hard and this guy was not afraid of the pressure.  I feel so much calmer now, less tense, and energized.  I know this sounds kinda gross, but when I get a massage I feel like all the toxins are being pulled out of my body!

I got sicker again yesterday.  I think I was dehydrated and had low blood sugar, which compounded everything.  More tests being done.  More doctors visits.  More exhaustion.  Booo.

But today I felt better (physically at least)!  I went in to work and walked about two miles and did 20 minutes of yoga.  Yesterday I walked to WF for bread — it’s 1/4 mile each away, about.  I had to stop once I got there and sit down for 20 minutes before I could walk back.  Yeah.

But I think I really might be on the upswing, finally!  I had noodles along with a crack wrap for dinner!  I am craving protein and fat so seriously right now.  But I know I need to integrate things back into my diet slowly; a veggie or two per day, meats and fats and such one at a time.

I also need to integrate fitness back in slowly. A two mile walk and 20 minutes yoga today and I was wiped.  I feel like that’s so sad.  A few weeks ago I was running 15 or 16 mile runs on Saturdays; lifting weights and swimming and going to hot yoga classes and doing HIIT and spinning and boot camp classes.  It is frustrating to know that I can’t have all those things back at once.

I feel like my body is failing me.  I feel so angry at myself — I have lost a lot of strength and cardiovascular/lung fitness in just one week.  I want to just go all out and work out for hours and hours every day.  I know that’s kind of a disordered body image thought, but I also feel like that is what I deserve: I have gotten so weak and flabby during this time off.  This is easily the worst shape I have ever been in, at least that I can recall.  I honestly can’t stand my body right now.  I know that just the other day I wrote about how in awe I am — and I am in awe!  My body is clearly very strong and powerful in ways I didn’t know — but I am also disgusted.

If I was listening to someone else say all of this, I know exactly what I would say to her: “Breathe, calm down — a week of illness has not destroyed your fitness or your health; your body is doing the best it can and is not hideous or huge; it is miraculous.”

But I judge myself far more than others.  Also: due to underlying medical issues, it actually is fairly easy for me to gain weight (and fat) and lose a lot of fitness in a week.  So there is some rationality here.  But there’s a lot of hatred as well.  And not being able to work out excessively (which has always been my weapon of choice when faced with unwanted weight gain or changes in my body) is making everything worse.

All of this results in me feeling mentally and physically weak. Not a fun combination.

I know this post is kind of a downer.  I am sorry.  Hey, at least I’ll have lots to talk about with L next week!

Healthy Stress Relieving and Therapy Tuesday!

Today’s Happy Note: Watching Cupcake Wars.  I absolutely love Cupcakes — making and eating them!  My favorite is peanut butter and chocolate.  What’s your favorite cupcake flavor?

Good news: I got myself a kettleball (sp?) at TJ Maxx tonight!  It was only $6.  Bad news: My blender is broken.  What could possibly have happened?  I use it a lot so maybe it overheated.  It’s a basic proctor-silex.  Thoughts?

Had a nice relaxing 6-mile run last night!  Took today as a rest day and just did a 3-mile walk.  I like having a rest day during the middle of the week, it breaks up the routine nicely.

Last night I had a mini freak-out (felt overwhelmed by work stuff) and, after taking a few deep breaths, made a plan: first I took a 45-minute nap, then read for a few minutes, then headed out for my run.  I was very proud of myself for this!  Normally, I would not soothe myself so well — I might choose unhealthier mechanisms which only end up making me feel worse.  I decided to make a list of my favorite stress-soothing techniques:

  • Going for a quick jog (doesn’t necessarily have to be an intense workout!)
  • Reading books — especially my favorite Neruda collection
  • Giving myself a foot massage/pedicure (nail color suggestions???)
  • Playing with my hair (I love trying new styles)
  • Playing mah-jongg
  • Taking care of my plants, Fanny and Balthazar
  • Writing-ranting in my journal
  • Taking fun classes at the gym
  • Yoga (especially forward folds)
  • Making plans with friends for the weekend
  • Daydreaming
  • Thinking about (but not stressing over) my future

Unhealthy stress relieving techniques that I am making an effort not to turn to:

  • Wallowing in my own pain (crying/sobbing, feeling badly)
  • Self-loathing
  • Bingeing/restricting
  • Isolating myself
  • Punishing myself in any other ways

What’s on your instant destressing list? I would love to add plate smashing like a certain friend but I have no old plates.  When I do, you can bet they’re going to be smashed. 🙂

I know this has been a talky post but I am just not in the mood for pictures.  Bear with me.

Therapy Tuesday

Another good week with lots of insights and comfort — two of the most important things to me in my therapy experience.  I love how I am learning about the actual experience of therapy.  I think this is relevant to my journey; it isn’t exclusively about what’s inside my head.  It’s also about how I think and speak and interact with others.  All  of this comes out in the way I interact with L.  Sometimes, quite frankly, I just enjoy having someone to talk with seriously every week.  A lot of my friends and acquaintances don’t value emotional intimacy in the exact way I do — I do not begrudge them this.  We are all made differently.  But I need to talk about my feelings and share them with others. I always have been this way and probably always will be!  This leads me into my next point…

I have had a sort of epiphany in the last week regarding just how important my writing is to me.  I have always known that writing is integral to my life, but, in reading Seducing The Demon: Writing For My Life (by Erica Jong) this past week, I realized that it is also integral to my identity. My whole way of being is tied to my writing.  The good, the bad, the wonderful — it all comes back to writing.  I write about everything.  I share everything.  I notice things.  Words mean everything to me.  They have saved my life. I understand that other people do not necessarily live their lives this way; Erica’s book helped me see this.  And I don’t mind being “different.”  I just need to be observant of that.

Another thing I have noticed about my writing lately is a new found confidence.  A big thing I talked about with L today was my self-loathing.  It has seeped through into most areas of my life, beginning with my body.  But there is one area that it has not invaded and I will not let it invade: my writing.  I believe in myself as a writer. Even if it’s just this one thing, that’s a start.  I want to work with L on not hating myself so much.  I really want to be a confident person — it’s not especially fun to hate my body, my abilities, my relationships with others.  I agree with L that this is a sort of road block in my interactions with men.  I feel like I have made so much dating/flirting/male relationship “progress” this past year and I am proud of myself for that.  I know I’m ready to move forward even more, and I think this is going to be a learning experience.  I certainly do not want my ability to be happy or to believe in myself to be tied to a partner, but I do think that having more experiences with men will at least help build my confidence and lessen my self-loathing.  I guess this is just another “project” for the summer.  I have a few boys I’m thinking of. 🙂

The Things That Make Me Happy Post

Today’s Happy Note: Everything!  See below. 🙂

1. Haircuts!  I wish I could blow dry my hair and make it smooth and shiny like this…I don’t even own a blow-dryer or any styling products.  My hair is very long, thick-ish, a bit dry, wavy, and prone to frizz.  I want some things to put in it to make it pretty.  Where should I start?

2. Dance parties in the living room.  I didn’t want to run so for a fresh, alternative form of cardio, I danced!

Ignore the messy house (I think it’s endearing!) and that bizarre tanline I’ve got going on.  I need to stop running outside in such weirdly shaped tops.

3.  Rediscovering tuna!  I always thought tuna had to be either boring and plain or mixed with mayo and unhealthy.  Wrong.  I mixed a whole can with a giant spoonful of hummus, giant spoonful plain yogurt, yellow pepper, celery, lemon pepper mix, and sea salt for lunch.  Served in a flat out wrap.  This was a very refreshing lunch, and I most certainly plan on eating more tuna this summer!

4.  Sweaty yoga sessions.  It wasn’t hot yoga or anything, but it was muy humid around here today and there were a lot of bodies in that room.  Unfortunately I had a slippery mat, but the actual class was great!  I loved all the planks and shoulder stretchy poses and balances.  I had two great tripod headstands, which was nice.  Little successes always makes me feel more confident.

5. Eggs.  Seriously, why is such a simple food so incredibly tasty?  I think that I may have actually fallen in love.  They are creamy, savory, smooth, filling, cheap.  What more could I ask for in a protein?  I have been doing a lot of two-egg puffs in the microwave.  They cook in less than two minutes!  Oh, and I almost always eat them with the yolk.  One, because I think it’s weird to buy separate egg whites and I’m too lazy to separate out the whites from whole eggs, and two, because the yolk is ACTUALLY GOOD FOR YOU.  Yes, I said it.  It really has no connection whatsoever with blood cholesterol levels.  The yolk is a source of healthy fats, vitamins, and proteins that can’t be found in the whites.  Eggs have gotten a bad name, but there is actually no science behind this — just a lot of hype,  myth, and misinformation.  So crack open some eggs.  Yolks and all.

Served with hummus, salad, and carrots, this is a wonderful weeknight summer dinner.  Light but also stays with you.

6. Breakfasts that come with a side of sunshine.

7. Baking.  I’m making a special concoction for a blog friend tonight.  One that says “Michigan!”  Hint: what fruit is MI famous for?  I’ll  share some pictures tomorrow.  I haven’t started yet because my mother is currently at war with a thick steak and the broiler.  The broiler is winning.

8. Friends.  I’m going to see one of my best friends from high school tomorrow.  Friends make me so very happy.

What makes you happy today?

Mothers, Banana Maple Chia French Toast, Women’s Bodies

Today’s Happy Note: Going to the Cathedral and listening to the organ in honor of my mother!

Happy Mother’s Day Mom! I love you more than I could ever say.  You are strong, beautiful, caring, and dedicated.  I hope that one day I might be a fraction of the mother you have been to me.

Speaking of mother’s day, go say congrats to Heather and her new little HEABlet!

There aren’t a lot of things that I claim to know in this ever-changing world. But I do know this: I will be a mother some day.  I know it more than I know almost anything else about myself.  I don’t know where my career will go, where I will live, who I’ll be with, or even some of the more nuanced details of myself: but I know that I have to be a mother.  It’s sort of strange how strongly I feel this.  Does anyone else feel this way?

Exercise: I had a short and sweet five mile run this evening.  Although I felt good, the weather did not seem to agree with my mood.  It was seriously blustery!  I was running north along the Hudson River and was a little bit afraid that the wind would blow me into the water!  I also did 20 minutes of yoga, making up my own poses and doing some core stuff along the way.  I love doing balancing flows.  Today I did  a lot with airplane, standing splits, half-moon, dancer’s, hand to foot, extended hand to foot (leg out to the side), and headstand.  Balancing poses seem to reorient me and calm me down.

Eats: Eats were actually pretty fun today! Don’t expect anything too thrilling for the rest of the week though.  I’ll be working my way through my “pantry” (a very disorganized plastic bin) which has a lot of random stuff in it.  Although random food supplies seem to bring out my creative culinary side (exhibit A: tonight’s dinner).  Anyways, breakfast today was extra special!  I love weekend brunches — they are my favorite meal of the week to make and eat.

Banana maple chia french toast!

1 tsp coconut oil

2 slices whole wheat cinnamon bread (or other variety)

1 egg white

1 tsp cinnamon (divided in two parts)

splash vanilla soy milk (or other milk of choice)

3/4 C vanilla greek yogurt

1 tbsp maple syrup

1 tbsp chia seeds

1/2 banana, thinly sliced

Heat coconut oil in a pan on medium-high heat.  Prepare toast “bath” (egg white, half of cinnamon, and milk).  Coat both sides of each slice in the mixture and cook in pan (about 5-6 minutes).  Meanwhile, mix yogurt, maple syrup, more cinnamon, chia, and banana.  When french toast is cooked through, plate and top with yogurt mixture!

Purely, simply delicious.  The maple syrup really takes the plain old vanilla yogurt up a notch in terms of flavor and the chia seeds give it a nice texture.

Other eats included a vanilla peach smoothie (vanilla soy milk, frozen peaches, vanilla whey protein powder):

Topped with almond butter and pomegranat chobani.  For some reason, now that I am obsessed with SIABs, I cannot stand to eat my smoothies without toppings anymore!

Dinner was also fun.  It was basically a casserole with layers of sauteed asparagus and mushroom, macaroni and cheese, more asparagus and mushroom, fresh spinach, and fried eggs.

Below is a little diatribe I wrote after reading a certain article in Oprah magazine this month.  I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Women and Their Bodies: Why Real Health is Beautiful

In my monthly reading of Oprah magazine this weekend, I came across an article that disturbed me.  I felt unsettled as soon as I began reading, and quickly realized why: the entire premise of the article is that women’s bodies necessitate correction in order to be beautiful, particularly as we age.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not some super ultra-feminist who rages against makeup or push-up bras or anti-wrinkle cream.  Women deserve to feel beautiful, but that begs the question: to what extent?  Where is the boundary between natural beauty and technological beauty?  Furthermore, what about the idea that beauty is on the inside?  Most women’s magazines seem to push this fact, but they also relentlessly remind us that we need our abs to look this way or that we need this new haircut.  I think that this particular article, which talks about the “fantastic possibilities” that will emerge in the field of women’s beauty and style in the next decade, reimagines the female body and places it in an unattainable context.  This strikes me as dangerous because, through a pervasive focus on correcting the outside’s of our bodies, I worry that we ignore the insides.  And I am not just referring to the fluffy “I’m a smart, beautiful, kind woman with a good personality” stuff.  Our insides are serious markers of our true health.  By masking this more and more, I worry that we are distancing ourselves from the natural frameworks our bodies have established to maintain our own health.

The article I refer to is entitled “Stop Grays With a Pill, Melt Fat With a Laser: And 12 Other Fantastic Possibilities that might be fully realized by 2020”.  It can be read online here.

Basically, the article profiles some slightly disturbing “health” innovations.  And by profiles I mean “obsesses over”.  From a magazine as empowering and insightful as Oprah, I would have expected a much more two-sided portrayal of things.  For example, one of the items I found most upsetting was entitled “A Slimmer Waistline, Trimmer Hips — No Surgery Necessary!”  It described a device that works like an ultrasound to break up fat in any desired area.   Once the fat has been broken up the body flushes it out naturally.  It can remove 2-3 inches from the waistline.  As mentioned earlier, I find this problematic for two primary reasons.  First of all, why can’t we leave the female body alone?  I find it quite distressful that, as technology becomes more and more developed, we insist on applying it to our bodies.  Isn’t this somewhat invasive?  I would like to think that there is still one personal, sanctified space in this world — my own body.  Do I really need to take a pill ensuring that I never get grey hair?  Or use at-home laser treatments to remove the “unwanted” hairs from every part of my body?  One of the innovations mentioned refers to a sort of improved botox whereby or own blood and proteins are used to fill in wrinkles.  Really?  I think women in their natural state are gorgeous.  Granted, I may think otherwise when I’m sixty, but nonetheless, I hope that I would have the courage to realize the beauty in my health, intelligence, and ability to move and dance and play.  I think these things are beautiful; not artificial mechanisms whereby we bizarrely rearrange the body in the hopes of making it more appealing to who?

The second reason I find these innovations problematic is as follows: let’s imagine a hypothetical woman who has employed these innovations.  She has no love handles, a wrinkle-free face, thick hair, perfectly white teeth, and firm skin.  Regardless of whether or not we might think of her as “beautiful”, there are dangerous health implications.  What about exercise and healthy eating and meditation?  All of these healthful practices can be thrown away when we correct the external body with such a fine-toothed comb.  I am not saying that every woman who chooses to use these technologies will let her health go to the wayside, but I do worry that such inventions could mask real dangers.  For example, many sedentary woman could become relatively thin by removing several inches of fat from their stomach, hips and thighs.  But this does not mean that their hearts are any healthier or that their lungs or any stronger or that their bones are not withering away inside.  Ultimately, I think these new conceptions of beauty create a risky divide between internal and external dimensions of health and beauty.  I think that the internal and external dimensions are intertwined — and are meant to be so.  When I lift weights, I tone my arms and stomach. But I also help keep my bones dense and build confidence and self-esteem.  I think it is morally incorrect to create a separation here.

My own mother, who is in her fifties, is vibrant, radiant, powerful, and compassionate.   She hikes, gardens, bird-watches, plays word games, kayaks, skis, works, and loves.  To me, this is beautiful.  The (few) wrinkles around her eyes are signs of a lovely journey, not signs of an ugly body.  When will we learn to appreciate this?  I only hope that we can see the beauty in the natural female body before we have gone too far down this dangerous path of reconstruction.

So, Oprah, I am highly disappointed in you here.  While I applaud you and the health innovators who are coming up with ways to make us truly healthier — like finding ways of increasing access to fresh fruits and vegetables among people in impoverished communities — I do not think that these devices, mechanisms, and ideas constitute true health.  I hope you will forgive me when I say that I found this article unpleasant, upsetting, and an offense to healthy, beautiful women everywhere.

All kinds of health

I am an excellent student.  I am a good learner and thinker and listener, both at school and in the rest of my life.  I like learning new facts and synthesizing information that I pick up from my city, from my friends, and from the news.  I am intelligent.

I didn’t write the above sentences to be boastful, I did it because I am trying to work on my self confidence.  Self-esteem is such an important part of our overall health, and I think that sometimes I ignore my emotional and spiritual well-being.  So today, I will go sledding, do a quick run, eat oatmeal, and have a salad.  But I am also going to tell myself that I’m a worthy human being.  I am actually studying human rights, which is basically a doctrine outlining the inherent worth in each person on this earth.  Ironically, for the longest time, I believed that other people had worth, but not me!  Obviously, this is a flawed vision, but when you are very depressed and are used to wearing yourself down, this is difficult to see.  So this year is going to be the year of self-love.  I’m going to try to write one positive thing about myself each day, and I encourage other people to do this too!  It is a little scary at first, but feels surprisingly good.

In other news, I had an awesome oatmeal combination this morning!  There is no picture because I don’t have a camera yet, but I plan on getting one soon with my Christmas money.  I used kashi honey cinnamon instant oats (I know, I’m a bad blogger) with half a banana, crushed walnuts, and raspberry jam.  It was probably one of the best bowls I’ve ever had!   MY sister and I are both home right now, which only happens two or three times a year, so I’d better go play with her!  We’re going sledding later, and maybe making snowmen.