3 Breaths

We are moving at the end of this month. Three weeks and change, to be exact. That’s pretty soon. I’ve started packing. I’ve started crying and packing, at the same time actually. I’m a pretty good multitasker. I learned how to cry and run during the Nike Women’s Marathon and now I know how to cry and pack. I’m really getting a resume boost from my emotions here. 

During this month of transition, it seemed fitting that my yoga teacher would issue a challenge to do one yoga pose a day for the entire month of August. Just one pose. For three breaths. She said it could be used as a launching pad for a home practice. 

I’m going to be developing my home practice considerably in Seattle; both my schedule and finances will likely not allow for classes multiple times per week. One pose a day for three breaths also seems like a good touchstone in this month that will likely have me revving high with excitement and nerves and stress (packing for an out of state move seems infinitely more daunting.) 

Then the question is, which pose? I felt moved to choose forward bend, uttanasana. And handily enough, it’s apparently indicated for anxiety and sinusitis, which has been rearing its ugly head lately. It’s not commonly one of my favorite poses, but it feels right so I’m going with it. 

I’m also looking for any moving tips – both practical and emotional – so if you have them, please feel free to leave them in the comments!

 

 

Links Worth Sharing: Confidence, Vegan Privilege, The Inner Lives of Zoo Animals, and more!

Confidence is a Feminist Issue from Fit is a Feminist Issue

“Confidence is a feminist issue because, as it turns out, there is a confidence gap.  Men are way more confident than women in all sorts of ways, and in a world where confidence takes people further than competence, that cashes out into all sorts of systemic advantages for men.”

Seaweed and Edamame Salad | Thoughts on Vegan Privilege from Farmers Market Vegan

Brilliant reflection on the intersection of a vegan lifestyle and privilege, plus a delicious recipe! “Equally important, however, is that in such a privileged position, I must also engage in actively combating the problematic aspects of the vegan movement, in part by constantly reminding myself that the privilege enabling my vegan lifestyle exists among the phenomena that I actively seek to combat. “

Six Months Ago I Recommitted to FItness and Here’s What Happened from Nerd Fitness

This article really inspired me to push myself and get more diligent about my workouts and heathy eating. It’s also a good reminder that no one, even someone that runs a fitness site, is “perfect” all the time. “If I had been focused on the prize (some arbitrary number of the scale), and I reached it just now, I could then say, “Mission accomplished! Now I can go back to doing what I was doing!” However, because I fell in love with the process, I really don’t feel like I’m racing towards a goal, but rather enjoying each and every workout, trying to figure out if I can set a new personal record each day.  There’s a starting line, but no finish line…I’m never asking “Are we there yet?!” I’m just enjoying each and every day.”

Zoo Animals and Their Discontents from The New York Times 

A fascinating look at the emotional lives of zoo animals. ” A profusion of recent studies has shown animals to be far closer to us than we previously believed — it turns out that common shore crabs feel and remember pain, zebra finches experience REM sleep, fruit-fly brothers cooperate, dolphins and elephants recognize themselves in mirrors, chimpanzees assist one another without expecting favors in return and dogs really do feel elation in their owners’ presence.”

Links Worth Sharing: Importance of Pride Celebrations, the Cost of Yoga, and more!

Introduction to Pride Week from A Practical Wedding

This is a great reminder on why Pride celebrations are still so important. “We still need hope. We need to connect with ever larger parts of the community—not to assimilate, but because it’s still in all of our best interests to note our commonality. Coming out—or just taking a stand—can be such a lonely place. Doing it together isn’t just a good idea for wedding tasks; it’s also for the work of making the personal not just political, but also less lonely. This week, let’s think about where we want to go, and how we’re going to get there.”

The Cost of Yoga, For What It’s Worth from Yoga Dork

I always appreciate reflections on the cost of goods or services, particularly when they seem outrageously expensive (as yoga sometimes does). “I have to wonder, is it possible for yoga, the one we teach, practice, dress ourselves up in, credit for our sanity, share on Instagram, to maintain its values and still make a living? Or is compromising our ideals the price we have to pay?”

Exercise and the ‘Good’ Bugs in Our Gut from The New York Times

After taking microbiology, I’m fascinated by the research on the effect of our microbiome on our health. “Being physically active may encourage beneficial germs to thrive in your gut, while inactivity could do the reverse, according to an innovative new study. The findings suggest that, in addition to its other health benefits, frequent exercise may influence our weight and overall health by altering the kinds of organisms that live inside of us.” 

Freedom Dreams and the Urgency of Decolonized Racial, Food, and Environmental Justice by Kalamazoo College

I’m thrilled to see more discussions like this taking place, and hope it can expand even further. “Even though neo-colonialist assaults glaringly persist in our communities, colonialism is rarely, if ever, discussed within mainstream discourses surrounding so called “food deserts.” Often, the problem of food “justice” is reduced to the lack of a “grocery store” presence, the need for people to learn to eat properly, or, at best, the need for an urban garden. While geographic access to food is critical, its presence isn’t nearly enough. Cost, relevance, ownership and conditioning are key factors in whether communities will be able to truly access the food. “

Turning an Inner Spark Into a Bonfire

At some point relatively recently, I realized I’m probably never going to be famous. At first, this was disappointing; a small part of me has always wanted to do something so awesome for the world that I’d end up with a memoir or a magazine cover. Maybe a library would be named after me! Maybe I’d start an institute! But recently, I’ve realized a) statistically speaking, this is probably not going to happen; b) it’s certainly not going to happen just because I want it to; and c) it’s actually quite liberating to let go of that expectation. 

I’ve been intermittently blogging for over 5 years. I’ve gone back and forth between wanting to fully commit, like so many of my favorite bloggers that I follow, and wanting to allow it to be a hobby that I engage in when the mood strikes. At some point I realized that my level of commitment to blogging was likely not going to net me a book deal or sponsors or invitations to conferences and I had a “what’s the point?” moment. I finally got to the very philosophically complex answer that I do it because I enjoy writing; and writing for a blog specifically helps me edit and choose words carefully, rather than the stream of consciousness that are often present when I journal. And when I cease to make blogging a regular part of my life, it doesn’t happen. The mood doesn’t strike, or it does, but I’m out of practice and I feel like my post will be terrible so I do something else instead. Hobbies require practice, too. 

All of this has led me to reflect on habits – both building them and how they can fall away. What surprises me most, sometimes, is how habits that feel fundamental can also slip away from us. Over the winter months, my healthy eating habits slipped a lot more than I would have expected. My running habit is proving to be a struggle to rebuild. My commitment to my budget has fallen to the wayside. 

I’ve known for a little while that I wanted to take some action to get back into the groove where I feel like my healthiest and best self. But there have been a lot of “I’ll start tomorrows” happening. In part, I’m glad to be taking careful time to consider what is valuable to me because I don’t want to get caught up putting energy into certain behavior because I feel like I “should” or because everyone else is doing it. But on the other hand, change happens in action, not in reflection, and it’s time to move forward. 

I’m reading Yoga & Ayurveda: Self-Healing and Self-Realization by David Frawley, and last night I was reading about tejas. In Ayurvedic theory, tejas is our inner radiance, the subtle energy of our inner fire. Tejas is linked to our digestion, courage, and clarity. I interpreted the passages on tejas to indicate that it helps us move toward action, both internally and externally. The practices used to develop tejas include silence, concentration and meditation, mantra, and self inquiry. Aside from whether you believe in the theories of Ayurveda and yoga, it makes logical sense to me that these practices would help increase focus so we can better correct our energies. The silence directive is particularly focused on not engaging in gossip or negative thinking, which I have definitely experienced as depleting. Concentration, meditation and mantra all require focus, which is vital toward accomplishment in any area of life. And lastly, self inquiry give us an opportunity to reflect on our actions and thoughts and ensure that we are engaging in those that build us up rather than tear us down. 

My biggest takeaway from the section on tejas is that these practices are habits that need to be built – hence the term “practice.” I know some people have an innate focus, but I don’t think I’m the only one that is prone to distraction and laziness and the “just one more episode” phenomenon. There are so many great blogs out there about building habits (two of my favorites are Zen Habits and Nerd Fitness), but I always thought to myself “that’s not for me – I’m great at building habits!”

Both my ego and my perfectionism have been the enemy of activity in the last year or so; I haven’t sought help or resources both because my ego said I didn’t need them, and my perfectionism told me that if I did need them, then what was the point? I should find something else to do. It turns out, it’s really easy to get good at watching TV or scrolling through Twitter or going on walks. Now, I’m ready for a challenge. I’m ready to fail and to start over. I’m ready to pay closer attention to the words that come out of my mouth and the thoughts that go through my head. I’m ready to accept that even if this path doesn’t lead to something extravagant, it’s worth it for all the things I can see along the way. 

 

Presidio 10: A Not-So-Serious Race Recap

Alex and I ran the Presidio 10 for the third time on Sunday. It’s a nostalgic one because it was the first race I ever ran. When I ran it back in 2009, I chose the 10K and finished with a runner’s high so high that it motivated me to sign up for countless races since.  

Sunday’s run was a little less euphoric; while being sick and generally unmotivated for the last month, my running ground to a halt. Alex has been kicking ass (literally) at martial arts, with less time for running. Bottom line: we were undertrained.

Instead of beating ourselves up about it, we decided to go out there and run easy and have a good time. Even while running easy, 10 miles is no joke, so I was nervous about how it would go. The racecourse is beautiful, winding through the Presidio and going across the Golden Gate in Marin for a minute before turning around and running back.

We got there early and picking up our race bibs was super easy. They did a wave start this year, and I found myself a little annoyed at the announcer. First, he said the faster, stronger runners should line up near the front. Yes, some runners are definitely faster than me, but stronger? It irked me but I let it go because I figured I was just being picky and sensitive. Then, later he called them the disciplined, dedicated runners and I rolled my eyes so hard. Some of us are disciplined and dedicated and still run slower than a nine-minute mile. Plus, there’s nothing like starting off a race after hearing you’re not a disciplined or dedicated runner. When it was our turn, he said we were the “real runners” with no explanation of how, since we were clearly not dedicated or disciplined, and started us of with a super slow song. I was annoyed, clearly, but Alex and I just started cracking jokes about it, which made me laugh. (I want to point out that I was not a dedicated, disciplined runner in training for this race, but a) I have trained diligently in the past and still run a 9+ min/mile race, and b) I know lots and lots of runners that train hard and run at lots of different speeds, so why label it?)

 The race has several hills at the beginning, and I found that they were less painful than I was expecting, considering my hill running has been nil. I like to think that all the squats, lunges, and deadlifts I’ve been doing have paid off. I did find myself really sinking into my legs and my butt to power myself up the hills and it really helped. Alex was cracking me up the whole time by making lots of jokes and being loud and goofy; I’m not sure our fellow runners appreciated it as much as I did, but the laughing helped propel me. I can’t wait to get our race pictures, because I’m pretty sure there are some ridiculous ones.

The last two miles of the race were flat, but straight painful. When I mentioned to Alex I was hitting the wall, he said “do you need some Kool-Aid?” and I laughed so hard I couldn’t breathe. Now I want to make a sign involving the Kool-Aid Man breaking through the wall and yell “OH YEAH!” at the next race where I’m a spectator.

Near the end of the race, I came up behind a guy who started saying things like, “don’t wait for me! You can do it!” I appreciated the motivation and pulled past him. He and Alex proceeded to run together for a bit and I could hear them behind me trading encouraging words and it was really awesome. He ended up pulling up next to me at the finish line, which made me sprint all out at the end. Me, him and Alex all finished at the same time and high-fived. Thank you, random man, who helped me finish strong!

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The race seemed to be more poorly organized this year than years past, and the line for t-shirts was literally so long I couldn’t see the end. We grabbed some organic birch tree water (yes, seriously) and hightailed it out of there. I don’t really need another race t-shirt anyway, but I was a little sad to not at least see it! 

We ended up running 10.17 miles in 1:37, at a pace of 9:33 per mile. I’ll take it! Considering the state of my running recently, it wasn’t half bad. We also had a blast, and it was nice to not take the race so seriously and just be goofy!

We just signed up for our first Seattle race in September – the Beat the Blerch 10K, based on this Oatmeal comic which is amazing. I was leaning towards the half marathon, but Alex pointed out that we’re going to be moving and hanging out with people and traveling and who knows what our schedule will look like. The 10K is a good distance to train for, and it’s also a good distance if training plans go awry. I’m really looking forward to hooking up with the running community up there!

 

OSG Cookbook Giveaway Winner

It’s time to announce the winner of the Oh She Glows cookbook giveaway! All the comments are in and thanks to a random number generator, comment #7 was the winner!

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Johanna said….“Lately my favorite is Isa Does It. I also really like Passionate Vegetarian and Bean by Bean.” 

Johanna, you should have gotten an email from me, but if you didn’t, leave a comment and let me know!

Check out the rest of the comments for more great cookbook recommendations!

Happy Monday!

Links Worth Reading: Bees, Mindfulness, and Arcades!

Program Looks to Give Bees a Leg (or Six) Up

While the program only has a budget of $3 million over five states, I’m happy to ANY federal funding being allocated on this important issue. “The new program will encourage farmers and ranchers to grow alfalfa, clover and other crops favored by bees and which serve a second purpose of being forage for livestock. Other proposed changes in practices include fencing property for managing grazing pastures in rotation so that they can replenish, leaving living plants for the bees.”

More About Mindfulness

I really like this balanced approach to mindfulness. Sometimes I get caught up in thinking that every single moment of every activity needs to be mindful, and I get so overwhelmed that I get caught in an anxiety spiral instead of being aware. “[Mindful running] is by far the most profound of the three approaches, but not always easy for me to sustain. It’s not that any of these is necessarily more enjoyable than any other. It really depends on my mood. But sometimes, the mindful run is exactly what I need.” 

Study Questions Fat and Heart Disease Link

To be sure, there is lots of research still to be done and some people think that the ever changing nutritional guidelines make nutrition science a junk science. But I’m attracted to it for precisely that reason – it’s ever changing and dynamic. We’re always learning more about how the body utilizes nutrients and what best fuels us. “Many of us have long been told that saturated fat, the type found in meat, butter and cheese, causes heart disease. But a large and exhaustive new analysis by a team of international scientists found no evidence that eating saturated fat increased heart attacks and other cardiac events.”

The Cure for Your Distraction Syndrome

As always, Leo at Zen Habits writes exactly what I need to read. “I absolutely adore the Internet, but there’s no doubt it has made us more distracted than ever.”

The 5 Biggest Lessons I Learned at the Arcade

I love the way Nerd Fitness frames things in a totally different way than all the other fitness related blogs that I read. I’m always inspired after reading articles like this to try something totally new. “Arcades have hundreds of games because everybody likes something different.  I love watching people set a high score in any game, regardless of whether or not it’s a game I actually want to play.  I watch them be good at the games they enjoy, and then move on to the game I enjoy, focusing on bettering my own high score. Life is no different.”