Archive for January, 2011

January 31, 2011

February = Month of Self Love? or Self Loathe?

bike riding in Switzerland last year. the layered look! (Shut Up! It was cold!)

It’s okay to hate your body. It’s not okay to love your body.

Or is it?

http://fitnesscheerleader.com A Twitter friend is encouraging women to talk about why they love their bodies during the month of February, a month dedicated to Valentines, flowers, chocolate, hetero love. I’m feeling squeamish about this.

Janice suggests we start with the words “I love myself because….” ugh! Now I’m feeling squeamish AND guilty. The good girl in me says, “Good girls don’t blow their own horns!” (During my workplace leadership academyhttp://gettingmyessayspublished.wordpress.com/2011/01/20/leading-with-positivity/ I learned there’s a book called, “Brag: How To Toot Your Own Horn Without Blowing It.” Sounds good!)

Another good girl, deeper down, says, “Oh go on! You want to model self love for your daughters and son. Besides, you do love yourself!”

I’m no expert, yet I know I’m not alone. It’s hard for me, and likely a lot of my friends, to take a compliment, accept our unique bodies, and discover that deep down we do love our bodies.

So here goes! Diving in! (Once you leap off the side of the pool, you can’t leap mid-air back to the edge!)

I love myself because I take good care of my body. I go for check ups regularly. I am healthy. (I had that little skin cancer thing last month, but got it fixed.)

I work out regularly. (I can practically run a 5K without stopping.) I ride my bike to work. I eat vegetables every night (almost) and fruits every morning (almost). I don’t drink too much (except on book club nights). I don’t smoke. I have a decent figure. I like my crow’s feet and my laugh lines ’cause they show I’ve lived and laughed and squinted.

I have pretty eyes, a laugh that my kids make fun of, a great smile. I have a certain creative thrift store style of dressing that I like. (See above. And yes, my daughters did submit me for the TV show, “What Not To Wear.”)

I have a lot of energy and enthusiasm. I can keep up with almost anyone on the dance floor. I will go so far as to say I can out-dance anyone, except a professional.

Best of all — My body made awesome babies! And my body nursed them each for practically a year! Yay me! I’m awesome.

Boy, that felt good. And now, I’m going to go hide. I’m going to find a hooded sweatshirt and zip up. I’m going to bury my face inside my turtleneck sweater (thrift-store style).

Because that feeling is emerging again:  good girls just don’t blog about how gorgeous they are. Or do they — Self love or self loathe? Let’s talk about it.

January 30, 2011

Just Do It

I am a fan of gentleness. I should write a book about the gentle approach. I try to be easy on everyone — forgiving and kind. Especially myself. But not with running. I can’t be. I have to be unforgiving and unkind.

I have to just do it. The Nike ad is right. You don’t want to do it. But you have to. Because it works. Seriously.

I got my sorry self out of the house at around 9 yesterday morning, stepping over the kids’ snowpants and my own bad self esteem.

I headed down into Riverside Park to the river. The sidewalk was clear; the snow still clinging to the branches. I ran for 1.1 miles. And it took me 14 minutes! Yes. Beat that!

I stopped for bagels and strawberries for the fam on the way home. I seriously walked into the apartment giddy with happiness.

Running is a mood enhancer. I am going to sign up for a 5K in March with my kids and my coworkers (Join us — http://www.coogans.com/events/).

I am going to run slowly, but I am going to stay in the race. And I’ll be happy when I’m done.

January 24, 2011

Motivating for Fitness

Give the late Jack LaLanne props. Sure, he was a comical character. When I was a kid, my brother John and I would make fun of his TV show — yet he was an uber manly and enthusiastic man, unlike our intellectual (yet, of course, manly) father.

But Jack LaLanne inspired his viewers to get up off their duffs and get fit (and he was an old man when I was a kid). Inspiring others to exercise is not easy. As any hardened Middle School gym  teacher would probably tell you.

LaLanne made fitness look sexy and fun. I went to my lunchtime Pilates class today. It was neither sexy nor fun.

We had to hold the plank position for one minute and I managed 38 seconds. That might be my record. I can’t believe that the rest of the class could do it. I sat on my heels marveling at their ability. I was very jealous.

That was probably the advantage to working out at home with Jack LaLanne — you didn’t have to witness how the rest of the world had much better upper body strength than you (or me). (On YouTube, I checked out Jack LaLanne’s 10-point plan 1. exercise 2. nutrition 3. positive thinking 4. good habits 5. grooming 6. smile 7. posture 8. help others 9. relaxation 10. faith. YES!)

So to commemorate Jack LaLanne, I am going to motivate my kids to get fit tonite. I am going to make them do 50 sit ups, 50 push ups or one minute of plank.

I will join them.  Because I experienced a weird thing after Pilates today. I felt taller. I felt more aligned. Although it was exceedingly cold in NYC today, my lunchtime fitness workout warmed me.

January 16, 2011

Sunlight Releases Serotonin

I ran today for the first time in a couple of weeks. I felt horrible. I felt overweight and stupid. I couldn’t find my nylon running shirt so I threw a torn   jean jacket over my baggy velour sweatsuit.

I might run better if I felt more stylish. I know that’s ridiculous but there you have it.

I felt out of shape because I only worked out once this week — one lunchtime Pilates class. I skipped my other class, opting to attend the new book club started by my friend Tracy the librarian at the Interchurch Center.

We discussed The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox by Maggie O’Farrell — really good! And I always love sharing my opinions on a book. My other book club just finished reading Zeitoun by Dave Eggers. Also brilliant.

Any way, when I started in Riverside Park, the sidewalk was hardly cleared. I had to jump over patches of ice and move out of the way of dogs. It was like 30 degrees and windy. I thought, “This is dangerous. I should’ve stayed home with the Times.” (See again, here’s my dilemma — fitness or literature? If only I could read while running.)

But then the sunlight hit me. It’s hard to be grumpy with a face full of sunshine. I felt good. Okay, not stylish, but not pathetic either. I had nobility and purpose in my slow run. I felt proud because I wasn’t totally pathetic. I ran to the end of the 70th Street Pier http://www.riversideparkfund.org/ I remembered running out here in the summer and running on top of this sidewalk art. 

According to my Cardio Trainer app, I ran 1.6 miles in 22 minutes — I know that’s not great, but it’s not nothing.

I think when the sunlight hit, the endorphins kicked in. Or maybe the serotonin — the brain’s natural mood enhancer.

I stopped at a deli on the way home and picked up bagels and blueberries for the family.

January 8, 2011

Getting In a Good Habit

I want healthy habits, but they take time.

I don’t want to write right now. I want to go off on a tangent. I want to tweet and comment on my friends’ status updates. I want to check CNN and learn more about the senseless shooting of Congresswoman Giffords in Arizona. 

That story reminds me of when I was on assignment in Tucson a few months ago and saw bullet holes in the flags flown by Humane Borders, an awesome group that provides water to migrants in the desert http://gettingmyessayspublished.wordpress.com/2010/09/14/humane-borders/ 

I dont’ know why anyone would shoot those symbols of water which could save lives. Vandals shot at Humane Border’s 100 lifegiving water tanks too. I don’t understand shooting at all. Violence begets violence. I hate gun violence.

I believe in peaceful solutions. I believe in the power of small steps to make the world better — small acts of kindness and small attempts at healthy behavior.

I don’t want to get sucked into watching TV and feeling angry and powerless tonite. My desire to develop healthy habits seems insignificant in the face of a national tragedy. 

To overcome stress and national trauma, it is necessary to perform small acts of self care. For me, that’s developing a habit of blogging or walking. I am comitted to these, even briefly.

Fifteen minutes a day is good enough. Between watching my son’s two basketball games this morning and watching the Columbia-Union College basketball game this afternoon, I went for a walk with Barbara in Central Park. We did not walk for long or far, but we walked and talked for about half an hour. It felt great.

How long does it take for a daily action to become a habit?  

One study says 15 minutes of vigorous activity a day reduces the risk of obesity. Another study says after 66 days of an activity you will acquire a healthy habit (and if you skip a few days, that’s okay).

So a week after my New Year’s goal setting, I am on my way to 2011 goal getting. Now that I’m done with this blog, I want to tweet, watch TV, check Facebook, but I think I will just go to sleep. I wanted to be in bed by 10 pm every night, but that goal’s not happening.

January 5, 2011

Shampooing Everyday Is Not Necessary

I shampoo every other day and I’m fine. But lately, I’m going three days between shampoos. Recent studies — okay, a handful of my friends at Happy Hour — have told me that they no longer shampoo every day.

One of my BFFs, let’s call her Grace, and I had the same therapist, let’s call her, June. June has gorgeous long wavy hair. June always looks fabulous in that pulled-together yet slightly-harried-Upper-West-Side-Mom kind of way. June told Grace that she has used no poo for years. My ex-therapist has not shampooed her hair in years and she is a great therapist (okay, I know, totally unrelated!). (If you’ve ever wondered What the heck do people talk about in their therapy sessions? Now you have an inkling —  ‘to shampoo or not to shampoo? That is the question.’ Yes, there are bigger issues to discuss in therapy, but who am I to judge? I’m blogging about going no poo.)

‘No poo’ is a  movement for a more natural cleanliness and a snub to corporate conglomerates who have drummed it into our smelly heads that shampooing daily is essential. It is not. It is better, especially in the winter, to go a few days.

My daughters can go a week between shampoos and they always look fabulous in that pulled-together yet slightly-harried-Upper-West-Side-Kid kind of way.

Grace said her stylist recommended that if she really must shampoo her hair, only shampoo the roots and condition the ends. I have not tried that. But one of my daughters tried it and reported it worked well. When I tucked her in that night and kissed her head, she still smelled delicious as always.

The smell of my kids’ heads releases my happy pheromones.