Monthly Archives: September 2013

Health: The Process of Elimination*

*When I told you all at the beginning of the Health|Fitness|Beauty Quest that I was going to take you on my journey I wasn’t kidding. I am sharing the education, experiences and humor. Most of it is informational and some of it is TMI. Consider this your TMI warning. 

Stitching TreeOne of the things I found fascinating about my visits with Dr. Ho and Dr. Q at Pinnacle Wellness was the part where they talked about spinal alignment helping with better bowel movements. Yes, I just typed that and now you know what the subject of this post is about. I pondered several post titles such as “For Guts and Glory” or this winner “Happy Bowels = No Jowls”.

It turns out that if your intestinal tract is functioning properly that many of the health challenges we face disappear or in many cases the existing health challenge symptoms minimize.  At today’s visit, Dr. Ho mentioned the benefits I could expect to see from spending a few minutes on the vibrating platform. One of which was, “improved bowel movements” which also contributes to weight loss.

Not not to put too fine a point on this, but when he said that, I thought he must mean other people who are having trouble. Not me. No siree. Me and my bowels get along just fine. In the past, if and when I’ve had a challenge I turn to trusty mineral oil to set things right. Needless to say I once again dismissed his statement as a benefit other patients might see and didn’t think twice about it……..until I got home.

I titled this post the process of elimination for a reason. Turns out Dr. Ho was right (imagine that). I didn’t know what I didn’t know. In my first week of treatment I am already learning more about my physical self than I thought possible. On a side note, I also discovered that getting my spine adjusted makes me giggle. I am not sure why that is the case, but I would rather laugh than cry any day of the week.

I am still only at the beginning of my journey. I am not sure exactly what I should expect, but I do find it all interesting, strange and kind of exciting. Thank you for being a part of the ongoing adventure.

A Matter of Balance

Eat reasonable amounts of healthy foods. Exercise regularly. Stay on track.

Girl in Balance Artwork by Hebron Chism

It sounds pretty straightforward. Speaking as someone who has tried scads of diets, lifestyles, regimens, books, gyms, training regimens, classes and sports over the years, I can say that each time, I have discovered and rediscovered that the weight, health and fitness equation really does come down to doing these three things regularly.

Much of the time, I have a hard time really accepting this.

The artwork pictured here is a piece I commissioned from the amazing Hebron Chism. It’s called “Girl in Balance.” It depicts me when I was 15 years old (the age my son is now). The piece is a celebration of self discovery, with a bittersweet edge.

My parents divorced when I was 7, and my Mom worked 2 and 3 jobs and went to college, so money was tight and my parents were largely absent. My two brothers were great human beings, but they were older, able to escape. I was trapped at home a lot.

Loneliness and relative poverty are a hell of a way to spend puberty. I comforted myself with Beatles records, dancing, playing the piano, and lots of hot, sweet, milky tea and toast with margarine.

But back to the moment this artwork depicts. Through the help of some dear friends, I had taken up tennis, gymnastics and jumping rope, and had gotten my body into decent shape. To my amazement and delight, I learned that I could stand on my hands for up to 10 minutes at a time. This ability literally turned my self-concept upside down.

I rent studio space for my interactive agency from artist and art community leader James Hendricks. When Hebron camped there for a few months, I saw him sculpting these gorgeous human figures out of blocks of plywood, all poised and graceful and in balance. I was particularly drawn to the ones of heroic female figures. Here’s one of the Chinese Mulan woman warrior figure. Note that Mulan can not only shoot an arrow with her feet while standing on her hands – she also wears a mask.

hebron-chism-mulan-model-400px

Even though each piece ends up affixed to a stable base, each of Hebron’s sculptures actually does BALANCE as a freestanding wooden figure.

Except mine! Let me tell you why he made an exception in my case.

Commissioning the Girl In Balance Artwork

I had never commissioned an artwork before, but James knew how taken I was with Hebron’s pieces and encouraged me to talk to him about them. After a philosophical discussion about what I liked about the piece, some Google images searches and a few skillful questions via email, Hebron caused a bunch of concepts to come tumbling out of me, which was very therapeutic! What balance means. The beautiful arc of body I remembered as I kicked up into the handstands. The ability to surprise myself and others. The vital importance of books and my piano to my ability to maintain emotional balance. The aloneness – which ended up symbolized by that lovely elliptical base.

We went back and forth on the body position. Hebron explained that I couldn’t have maintained that pretty arced body position for 10 minutes at a time; that in order to be stable, my body had to be pushed up much more straight – or it would be too much effort to maintain the balance. He explained that I started with an arc and then straightened up – I had to have done. That rang a bell, and I realized I had never actually seen myself in the position anyway.

So we compromised – he depicts me just as I had kicked up into the handstand – with the little flutter of my shirt showing that movement – in the moment JUST BEFORE I achieved balance.

And that makes it even sweeter. It symbolizes the fact that none of live in balance. We wobble. We strive. Sometimes we fall and have to get back up. And that’s ok.

The other thing this artwork made me realize, is that I can be superwoman like Mulan. I can stand on my hands for 10 minutes at a time, and do it alone, without help. But working that hard to maintain balance, I can’t really do anything else. My hands are occupied. I can’t shoot an arrow. To really get things done, I need to stand on my own two feet, and be willing to accept the help of others.

I do yoga to Rodney Yee DVDs. If you don’t know him, Rodney is a very well known yoga teacher, with many years of experience. Beautiful control and body positions. Yet on our big-screen TV, I can see his muscles flexing as he constantly, constantly, wobbles and corrects, wobbles and corrects. Even Rodney Yee. His corrections are so small you have to look carefully to see them. But they’re there. Most of the time, even Rodney isn’t in balance. He’s working to achieve it.

Thank you, Hebron Chism, for helping me find my balance and better understand what balance means.

Food: Adding Not Taking Away

When I sat down with Dr. Ho and Dr. Q from Pinnacle Wellness, I told them of my stubborn streak when it came to food. I still wanted to eat my breakfast tacos. I would rather cycle an extra 5 miles than give up my Whataburger. They advised me to add a piece of fruit before that breakfast taco and add a salad before that Whataburger.

Immediately I liked their suggestion of healthier eating. I am not one for diets. To me they are limiting, restrictive and not a realistic way I will eat for the rest of my life. However, by adding fruit and salads to my daily meals instead of taking the stuff-that-tastes-good-but-is-bad-for-you away, I do not feel like I am missing out on anything. It sounded reasonable so I went about my merry way and began to implement the “adding not taking away” strategy.

Fruit Salad by Petr Kratochvil

Fruit Salad by Petr Kratochvil

Here is an example of the small changes I made over the last couple of weeks. When I sat down for a post-ride breakfast with my fellow lady cyclists, I ordered the breakfast plate that had eggs, sausage, toast AND a cup of fruit. The meal was satisfying and by choosing to eat a meal that included a fruit cup, I also noticed I felt full but not bloated full.

The one thing that I have changed in kind of a big way is to dedicate one meal of the day to a salad. I am not talking about a no-nothing salad that is more air than meal. Not at all. I order a grilled chicken or crispy chicken salad and don’t skimp on the dressing. I have even taken to making my home cooked meals this way. I’ll get a big bowl of mixed greens and pile on the pork fajita or grilled chicken breast or whatever meat we have in the house and eat a satisfying and filling meal.

Let me tell you something. I do not feel like I am missing out on a thing. I am still eating Philly Cheesesteaks, egg and cheese sandwiches during other meals. Let’s not forget those Whataburgers and breakfast tacos. I know Dr. Ho and Dr. Q mentioned giving sweets up, but let’s be realistic. My cup of coffee would be lonely without that slice of pie.

Here is what I have noticed: I feel good. Post-meal, my soft middle area is not sticking out as much. I am guessing this has to do with the lack of a bloated full feeling. I don’t know, but I plan on asking Dr. Ho and Dr. Q all about it when I visit them next week.

I have to wonder if all these years, I’ve been stubborn about food for no reason. The true question for me will be can I stay on this “add not take away” plan? So far, it looks like an easy thing to do. Only time will tell.

Have you ever made a simple change to your meals and noticed positive results?

Health: Learning About Nutritional Supplements

For this Health|Fitness|Beauty Quest interview, I sat down with Penny Muckelroy who is an Independent Associate with USANA Health Sciences, Inc. She shares the benefits of nutritional supplements when it comes to whole body health, information about USANA’s pharmaceutical grade production facility and how she helps her clients starting with a Health Assessment.

Disclosure: Penny Muckelroy will be providing me with nutritional education and supplement recommendations based on the findings of my Health Assessment.  I will share my personal experiences through blog posts, audio and video which will be posted here on the site as well as on YouTube.

Interview: Chatting with Dr. Ho and Dr. Q from Pinnacle Wellness

In order to get/be/stay healthy I need to know where I am now on the health scale. So, on the recommendation of my good friend and fellow cycling bud, Penny Muckelroy, I sat down with Dr. Ho and Dr. Q from Pinnacle Wellness. I wanted to find out more about their practice philosophy as well as what someone my age (ugh, can’t believe I just wrote that phrase) should be doing when it comes to leading a healthy life.

Disclosure: Pinnacle Wellness will be providing me with services for the health portion of my Health | Fitness | Beauty Quest. I will share my personal experiences of my weekly visits through videos which will be posted to here on the site as well as on YouTube.

Defining Beauty

As mentioned in the introductory post, I started the Health | Fitness | Beauty Quest as a purposeful look at what each of those things mean to me. It has since grown to include some near and dear friends. It is now a collaborative search each of us are doing. We share our own thoughts on what each of those aspects means and by sharing we are each learning and growing.

Creating Album Art

I am recording some quick audio posts on this topic as well as updates on my fitness training. The podcaster in me couldn’t stand to have audio posts without having album art to represent “the show.” So, yesterday I came up with a logo using a public domain background image and some clipart. You may have seen me share it on Facebook as well as the originating audio post.

I showed it to my graphic designer husband who offered some helpful suggestions to make the image pop. He suggested adding a second layer to the background, adding a bevel to the icons and moving the text up and away from icons. I thought it looked better, but wanted to get the opinion of my fellow contributors.

HFBQ Side by Side ComparisonI shared it with the ladies and received a question from Susan regarding the third image of a skinny shapely body as the representative image for beauty. In my mind, skinny does not equal beauty so I could see the reason for the question. After all, the point of this quest is to figure what it means for each of us. And I do think that health, fitness and beauty mean different things to us at different stages in our lives.

Back To The Drawing Board

As I mentioned earlier, I pulled these images from a clipart collection.  So, I began looking for an alternative image to stand for beauty. I looked at butterflies, flowers, women’s faces and nothing fit. It wasn’t until I came upon a clipart collections of people that I found what I was looking for. It was titled “Jumps” and in this collection I found a vibrant joy-filled woman who is jumping in the air.

The AHA! Moment

HFBQuest Album Art V5To me she represented the feeling of beauty. And that was the moment that I began to understand more about what true beauty represents to me. I could look fabulous on the outside but feel crumby on the inside and I will not have a sense that I am beautiful. However, If I feel fantastic on the inside physically, spiritually and emotionally then my own unique beauty will shine through.

Now that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t need to wash my face or fix my hair, but inner beauty is like a light shining inside that gives us that special glow and makes us want to jump for joy.

I want to thank Susan for questioning me and making me spend more time to dig deeper to find the right image. In doing so, she helped me begin to understand more about a beauty that is far beyond a small waistline. May your own journey to health, fitness and beauty be equally enlightening.

 

Triathlon Training: Running


HFBQuest Album ArtOn October 26, 2013 I will be participating in my first ever triathlon. The Martindale Tri is the oldest triathlon in Texas. It is a 7 mile run/16.5 mile bike/5.5 mile kayak. The kayaking vs. an open water swim was what attracted me to this particular race.

Today I began the run portion of my training using the Couch to 5K podcast.

Nike+ First Tri Training Run photo

 

The Diet Equation

I am not a math genius. But after more than 45 years struggling with weight and fitness issues, I submit to the validity of the following equation:

Energy Stored (FAT) = Energy Intake – Energy Expended.

Dammit, dammit, dammit! I wish, wish, wish I could find a diet, pill, surgery or anything that would mean I don’t have to master myself and take responsibility for and control over all variables in that equation. But I’m ready to give up on the wishful thinking. I have tried many things, and considered many more. Whenever it seems like someone has THE answer – often that’s a fleeting, nonpermanent state. I’m getting OK with that.

Everything leads me back to the equation, and the need to take responsibility for what I eat and how I live and move.

The Health and Fitness Spiral

Speaking for myself alone, these are important contributing factors to unhealthy weight and obesity:

  • Wishful thinking
  • Self pity
  • Stress and overwork
  • Hard marketing and easy availability of cheap, fast, inexpensive foods loaded with sugars and refined flour

I lack the math skills to express a spiral, but my best method for gaining control over my diet and fitness is a positive feedback loop or spiral.

Reps for My Tiny Little Willpower Muscle

Tiny, repeatable actions can move me up the spiral toward health and fitness, or down toward indolence, overeating and self-pity. What I’ve learned is that, at any point, I can initiate a positive feedback loop with a single step toward where I want to go. The starting step can be ridiculously easy, like ordering the fish instead of the bacon cheeseburger, or going for a 10-minute walk. Or here’s one: trying a food I have avoided for years, like this beautiful produce from the Leon Valley Farmers Market around the corner from my house that happens each Wednesday morning:

beautiful golden beets and colorful chard

That one step boosts my confidence and self esteem a tiny little bit. Let’s say my first step was a 10-minute walk. The walk gets my blood moving and perks me up. Internally I’m saying “Good for you, you got out there, at least.” My stress level goes down just a tiny little bit. I’m 10-minute-walk nicer to my family. I feel 10-minute-walk better about myself. And feeling just that little bit better, I do another small thing, and another, and another.

Pretty soon, I’m starting to think I’m someone who cares about herself. I order the salad and fish instead of the bacon cheeseburger. My clothes begin to feel looser. I take more care in selecting what I’m going to wear. I notice how I feel.

And so on, up the spiral, just a tiny little action at a time. A wise woman once described this type of small-actions-getting-big-results-over-time as training a tiny, flaccid little self-care muscle. Over time, with enough reps, I’ve become someone who takes care of herself more.

Sliding Back Down? One Upward Step Stops the Slide

Like almost everyone I know, I do well for awhile, then something happens and I start losing ground on my spiral, slipping down in the wrong direction. I get overwhelmed, stressed or anxious. On a business trip, I comfort myself in a hotel room with food. I hurt my knee and can’t work. Waaah. And the scale, or my clothes, sooner or later tell me I’m not taking care of myself again.

The answer is always: Love myself, forgive myself for slipping, for being human, for finding this place again. As soon as I notice it’s happening, take the first step back up the spiral. Start from where I am.

Fresh figs from my backyard

Fitness: I’m A Runner

I have never been much of a fitness buff. In high school I was in the marching band (yes, I was a band geek). I was not a natural athlete, so running or cycling or swimming or tennis or basketball were just not on my list of things to do for fun. This mindset carried on until I got older.

The Challenge

In my 30’s my mother challenged our family to run a half-marathon. My first thought was, “She’s crazy.” The only way I could imagine myself running was if a big man or a big dog were chasing me. Even then, I doubt I would run 13.1 miles to escape. At some point, I would have just given up and let the dog gnaw on my leg and the big man take my purse.

My mother was no fool, so she offered us a bribe. If we actually trained, we would get an all expense trip to run in Phoenix, Arizona’s Inaugural Rock-n-Roll Half-Marathon. Hmmmm….I had never been to Phoenix before and if running would get me there then maybe I should give this some serious thought. She knew she had me hooked and the training began.

The Training

My first run was a painful and gasping experience. I thought I was going to keel over. My mother and sister encouraged me and offered running tips. I both appreciated and despised their advice during our running sessions. It was frustrating to be so bad at running yet during each outing I could tell I was getting better. Well, by better I mean less grouchy and windbag gaspy.

I remember the first time we had to cancel a training run and actually missing the feeling of running. I wondered if I was going loco. I should be thrilled that I didn’t have to put myself through another torturous run, but I was actually sad about it. That’s when I knew that maybe there was a runner in me after all.

The Race

The only picture I could find of me running the Phoenix Rock-n-Roll Marathon

The only picture I could find of me running the Phoenix Rock-n-Roll Marathon

The morning of the Phoenix Rock-n-Roll Half Marathon was mild by Texas and Arizona standards. The highs were expected to be in the lower 70’s. My sister stayed with me up until around mile 3 when I told her to go ahead and run at her own pace. I knew I was going to slow in comparison to my mom, brother and sister so I was already prepared to run at my own tortoise pace.

Between mile 7-9, I hit that wall that everyone talks about. My mind and body started an all out complaint fest: “This isn’t fun anymore. I’m tired. Who thought this was a good idea?” There are more thoughts that are of the Rated R variety that floated around in my head. Luckily we had trained using the John Galloway 5/1 method. I ran (slow jogged) for 5 minutes then walked 1 minute. I did that for the whole 13.1 miles. So during the mile 7-9 wall period, I tricked myself by saying, “You only have to run for 5 minutes.” This mind trickery got me out of that slump and back on track. By mile 11, I felt like I was on top of the world.

The Finish

I finished that 13.1 miles in about 3 hours, 6 minutes and 51 seconds. It wasn’t great time by normal standards, but to me who had never done anything like this is was a very beautiful thing. I wore my finishers medal with great sense of accomplishment. It was with head-held-high-and-chest-puffed-out pride that I told family and friends “I’m a runner” whenever they mentioned how great I looked. That started a period of time for me of running. I completed 3 half-marathons and countless 5K’s and enjoyed the experience of being a runner.