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I get asked this question on a pretty regular basis. It’s a weird question because almost everybody has food and/or body issues and it’s kind of uncomfortable for me to talk about – in part because I’m a thin person. There are also no simple answers to that question.

1. I am a small-boned person. If you don’t believe in big bones, the next time I’m with my sister I’ll get a picture of both of our hands side by side. Frame size is not an illusion. This is not a determining factor to weight, but I believe it plays a role.

2. Yoga. I am a yoga instructor. You might imagine I do a lot of yoga. You would be right. I also jog from time to time, to mix it up. If you don’t mix it up, you get bored, you stop doing what you’re doing. Play basketball, go snowshoeing, try something outside of your comfort zone. Someone asked me today about running vs. walking. Running is harder on your joints. Check your heart rate – if you’re working aerobically in your target range, you don’t need to run. Want to get there without running but have maxed out your speed? Increase your incline.

3. Food. I’ve got a weird relationship with food – as does almost everyone I know. My relationship with food is definitely a determinant of my body shape/size.

  • I’m really lucky that I’m not a stress eater. This is even more important if you had any idea what the last six years were like. I lost weight during my stressful situations. Most people (Spouse included) don’t do that. As far as I know you can’t teach it or change it. It is what it is, you just have to determine what you’re eating at that point.
  • I don’t snack. I generally don’t eat unless I’m eating a meal. Sometimes the meal is small, sometimes it is large, but you don’t generally see me sitting around with a bag of pretzels on the couch and grazing. I say generally because yes, that totally does happen, it happened two weeks ago when I had a terrible pretzel yen and you can even ask Carly.
  • I have an aversion to some pretty popular snack foods (potato chips, popcorn, candy) and am kind of a picky sweets eater. I only really like one kind of ice cream. I’ll eat other kinds, but I only really love one (mint chocolate chip) and you can only eat so much of one thing. This also applies to cookies.
  • I eat in hella weird cycles. For example, when Spouse and I were dating he once (famously) said that he could eat pizza every single day and never get tired of it. About a year later, I got a pizza jones and we literally ate pizza every day for about a month right up until Spouse (who was not yet Spouse) said “I CAN’T EAT ANY MORE PIZZA!” The day lives in infamy. But then, once the cycle is over, I don’t eat whatever that thing is for like six months. It’s not always like that, but it’s frequently like that, and that’s part of the reason I stay physically active.
  • One of my favorite books with regard to food and food relationships is The Yoga of Eating. I highly recommend it. It does not tell you what to eat, it tells you how to eat it. You might be surprised about the difference between the two. And if you’re looking to avoid fast food for a while (at least one year, in my case) pick up Fast Food Nation (the book, not the film). It will absolutely change how you think about food.

4. Genetics. More and more studies show that genetics plays a huge role in how we gain weight (and where). It’s not the only determining factor (e.g. my mother is always talking about how she needs to lose x pounds) but it definitely makes a difference. That’s not to say you don’t have any control (see previously given example) but you can be aware of your family history. You can take action.

 

The bottom line is that there’s no magic answer to weight loss. More than anything else, it requires lifestyle changes. Lifestyle changes are hard and people don’t want to make them. I don’t generally enjoy working out. Crazy, right?

I played sports when I was in school but when I went to college I got out of the habit. I was active, but not really active. And no one had ever talked to me about weight training. One of the things that started me with strength training was when Spouse-who-was-not-yet-Spouse was talking about triceps and I was all “Wtf?” He had me flex it, then pushed his finger RIGHT THROUGH MY MUSCLE to the bone. Lack of muscle would be more accurate. It grossed me out and I started lifting free weights. I did not love it and I didn’t do it on my own. Having a partner was key for me.

So then I got a job away from my workout partner and promptly went back to not working out. This continued into the first couple of years of marriage while I worked really high stress jobs. I bought a yoga book on the bargain rack at Barnes and Noble and started doing some stretches on my own. Eventually I went to an actual class and I got completely hooked. That’s all she wrote.

The more muscle you build, the more calories you burn, the more efficiently your body runs.

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Mom and I were packing last night so I didn’t get to bed until about 12:30 this morning. I did most of my necessary shopping on Amazon.com yesterday, but mom had a few things she wanted to check out today. We left around 7 and were done by 10:30. We got decent parking places, didn’t wait in long lines, and found more than a few deals. All in all, successful – and uneventful – outing.

After breakfast (post-shopping) I needed a nap. I fell asleep around 12:30 pm and then resurfaced at about 3:00. We spent the afternoon packing and the entire upstairs of the house is complete (including all the beds dismantled). The entire basement of the house is complete. The living room is 99.99% complete (the movers have to move the furniture), the kitchen is 98% complete (all that remains are a few dishes and the food), the living room is 95% complete (it’s relocation central), and the office is about 50% complete. The back of my car is chock full of more things to be donated to Goodwill tomorrow.

My brother- and father-in-law are coming over tomorrow on an errand of mercy for Spouse.

Next week I’ve got a lab exam and a paper due. In my spare time, I might start reading Proust was a Neuroscientist. One of my students (who lives near Boston but comes to my classes during the holidays and vacations) recommended it and I’m pretty excited about it.

I’ve got a couple more tables to clean off tonight, so I’m going to go do that.

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I did not love the book. I did not like the movie. If you loved the book, you will probably love the movie. I found it to be kind of stilted and too chock full of high school female angst, pregnant pauses, and swelling musical interludes. I liked the second book much better but I don’t think I’ll bother seeing the movie when it comes out. The only thing I DID like about the movie was Bella’s mittens. I clearly need some.

My main issue with Stephanie Meyer’s vampire mythology is the cold skin thing. Who wants to make out with a corpse? Ew. Also, SLEEPING with a corpse. I’m not one of those people who gives off heat in my sleep (see: Spouse) but I sure as heck would absorb the cold and it would wake me up. Also, CORPSE. EW.

More packing for me tonight. On the TV front, still loving The Mentalist. They did a masterful job of bringing in his old family tragedy this week. Loved it. Grey’s has taken a turn for the crazy but I still adore Kevin McKidd. His chemistry with Sandra Oh will keep me tuning in. Loves them. I thought the True Blood finale was going to be this past Sunday but I was wrong. I actually felt terrible for Jason in the episode, which is a testament to how great the actor is. And last but not least, I am LOVING The Real Housewives of Atlanta. I am positively EXCITED for the reunion special, which promises to be a trashy napalm trainwreck. I can’t wait.

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I return to regular posting and it’s on the weekend, right? But that’s not what my finally is all about. I finally got Zune 3.0 loaded onto my computer. I’ve got NO IDEA what the problem was, just that it was immensely frustrating. But last night when I tried the secondary download (first one still failed) it WORKED. Let me say to you now, games on Zune are LOVE.

I had a second gen iPod once upon a time, as well as a shuffle. The iPod treated me well but I ran out of space. Around the same time, Spouse ran out of being able to use iTunes. I was constantly having to tweak the settings for him and then, memorably, iTunes stopped playing the songs he had purchased. He went from frustrated to fury in pretty much no time flat and at that point swore off of DRM music. And when the time came to upgrade, it was 2nd gen Zune time.

I love the Zune. I know a lot of people bitch and say it’s not as sleek or userfriendly as the iPod, but I’m calling bullshit. Having used (and liked) both, I much prefer the Zune software to iTunes. It takes less time to load and is easier to manouever. It accomplishes the same goals (playlists, etc.). And my Zune is the whip. It’s got an enormous screen. It’s super easy to load video and pictures on to (perfect for trips to the hair salon without magazine clippings). The sound is great, the scroll button is slick, and I don’t have a single complaint.

As I stood in line to vote on Tuesday, I got to watch my Yes We Can video. I buy my mp3s from Amazon (who has everything from current music to the karaoke versions of current music – as evidenced by having to buy some for the recent nuptials) and I don’t have to worry about it not playing on my software. It works in Media Player, Zune, and (if I chose) iTunes. When I finally uninstalled iTunes I felt a huge relief (and my laptop sped up considerably). I also completely heart that I can sync my Zune wirelessly and now (should I choose) I can purchase music from the Zune store over that wireless connection right from my Zune. Love it.

I’ve also crafted a few of my yoga playlists using the quicklist function (adds current song to a temp playlist) on the Zune and that works out pretty great for me.

Packing is skipping along. Today I donated around 300 books to the local public library. I’ve got about another 75 to take to the V.A. hospital. We’ve also sorted out the clothes to be donated to the local battered women’s shelter and have something along the line of 50 t-shirts, 10 pairs of pants, 10 pairs of shoes, several pairs of jeans, several sweatshirts, and some dress clothes for women. We’ve got about one more closet to raid and then I just have to parcel out which things I’m keeping and which other things I’ll donate.

Being able to drop things off has been a relief. Every pound of stuff we give away makes me feel that much lighter. I’m also very happy to be able to support the local library and women’s shelter. The shelter takes first dibs on the clothes and then sells things they aren’t using and the proceeds support the shelter. The library has a donated-book sale each year and uses the proceeds accordingly. The V.A. hospital will make the books available to their patients (including hospice patients who live-in long term) as well as the vets that they travel to treat.

Still to be done: finish boxing the last of the books we’re keeping. Finish washing clothes, sort and pack. Pack bedding. Pack CDs and cases that are remaining. Ideally we’ll get a fair chunk of that done tomorrow and then Thanksgiving weekend will simply be wrapping up loose ends.

Right now though – to couch.

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I made this mix a week or so ago and have been listening to it kind of nonstop on my Zune. Fair warning – I just pulled it up on the lab computer on campus (killing time before Micro lab) so I haven’t actually heard it. I’m hoping all those songs are the originals. It’s also missing Woman! Man! by Gomez, so when I get home maybe I’ll upload it.

Related to that, it was awesome to see Adele on SNL last week. I really love her album and I would not have picked it up if it weren’t on eMusic.com

I’ve got to say that as far as websites/apps that I’ve used the most in the last year, imeem and eMusic are right up there. Imeem lets you find out if you like something before you buy it. Emusic lets you pick up loads of music for way cheap and has a metric asston of awesome indie artists. If you like Hem, eMusic is Hem heaven. ;)

Micro midterm was meh. I’m not thrilled with my performance, but I guess I’ll wait to get the final results before getting overly worked up about it.

I am still way tired – ostensibly left over from the weekend. I’ve got to pick up my costume today (alterations done) and my bra for the wedding (ditto). My major plan after that is paying bills and sorting/boxing books. I live a life of wild excitement, I’m telling you.

Last night was the Bandwagon Book Club. I always enjoy the discussion there, though I sometimes feel conspicuous with my English degree. Last night it meant an explanation of Gothic literature. It’s weird because I’m in a group of mostly retired teachers and I’m also the youngest person by at least 10 years. This month’s book was The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield. I really enjoyed it and thought she did a great job of incorporating the Gothic style and themes, but making it a more modern and interesting story. I’d recommend it (gave it 4 out of 5 stars).

If you’re looking for something fantastic, read Infidel by Ayan Hirsi Ali or A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Housseini.

TV Notes:

Heroes- WTF? I mean, really? WTF.

Sarah Connor Chronicles (Terminator) – Getting wicked awesome. Also, Brian Austin Green has NEVER been this hot. Not ever. I dig that the kid playing John is able to convey a lot of emotion with a minimum of dialogue. I also like that Sarah is starting to see things unravel. Love.

Chuck – I started watching this season after having caught a couple of episodes last season. This show is great. Funny and slapstick spy show with heart. I cracked up at several points.

Yoga notes:

If you don’t normally read The Yoga Journal, I’d recommend picking up this month’s issue. They’ve got a great article on Warrior I as described by people from various yoga disciplines (Kripalu, Anusara, Ashtanga, Viniyoga, et cetera). I love it because it highlights that everyone teaches things in slightly different ways to accomplish different things (I tend to go with the Viniyoga approach to Warrior I). It also shows that just because someone is describing one variation, it doesn’t mean you have to use it. Most importantly – EVERY VERSION talks about safe knee position. I’m a stickler for knees.

My class schedule is changing slightly and I’m excited about it. Life is about to get wicked hectic, though.

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In my classes lately, I’ve been doing a lot more sun salutations + variations (warrior I, warrior II, triangle, extended side angle, et cetera). It works really well to warm the students up but, more importantly, reinforces that while Sun Sals are a very basic series, you can use them to build your own yoga practice. The most common complaint from new students is that they’re unsure how to establish a home practice. Sun Salutations is the key to success. It is a basic series of motions with infinite potential for variety.

I tend to start with the modified version (knee to floor in lunge, modified plank, modified plank push-up rather than up dog) and then gradually increase the level of work (knee away from floor, holding plank longer, more difficult variations on updog/locust, extended down dog positions). It builds heat in the muscles steadily and more importantly reinforces the series of motions. If you forget what comes next, do the next thing you remember. My hope is that because we keep going through them in class, you can do them on your own in the morning/evening/whenever you get a few minutes and that’s what builds home practice.

I HOPE that’s what it’s doing anyhow. Sun Salutations are also comforting for me. Limited amount of concentration, maximum amount of muscle effort. It’s like reading a book you love for the 137th time, you know where it’s going and you still like getting there.

Speaking of books, I’ve been on an intensive reading kick lately and have cranked through about 5 books in the last three days. Some have been better than others and I’m definitely discovering some writers I’ll keep looking for.

Microbiology continues to be intensive. Lab exam next week.

Yes, I watched the debate.

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I have no plans beyond teaching my evening yoga class. I will probably continue to lay around and read fiction before the grind that is Microbiology begins next week.

In related news, I read New Amsterdam by Elizabeth Bear and there is nothing I did not like about it. It’s a collection of short stories which involve the same characters. The people are complex and interesting, I love the alternate history and practical magic.

Up next on the list, finishing The Mermaid Chair, A Thousand Splendid Suns (for the Bandwagon), and the Penelopeiad by Margaret Atwood. I’m very excited about the latter because it was a surprise find.

I’m also excited about my birthday. I’ve gotten to the point where it feels like I’ve ‘earned’ each year and I’m pretty happy to be doing so. I’m in good health – better than when I was in my 20s – as is my family. We’ve got some changes and challenges coming up, but I’m looking forward to them.

And since it’s come up in conversation twice in the last several days, I Just Want To Celebrate by Rare Earth is probably my all-time favorite song. There are so MANY favorites that it’s hard to choose but in terms of tone, tempo, lyrics, and overall good-feeling I think it’s The One. It runs through my head every single day and is great every single day. More music here than video, but you get the gist:
Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “I Just Want to Celebrate – Rare Earth“, posted with vodpod

TV this week:

Generation Kill – Amazing. I can’t believe it’s almost over. I continue to laugh and be shocked and horrified simultaneously. Alexander Skaarsgard defines hawtness. I’m going to have to pick up the book the series is based on.

The Closer- Great Episode. Although really, are there ACTUALLY people who get engaged without having discussed whether or not they want children? Really?

Wipeout- Seriously? Rerun? WTF?

I’m going to eat awesomely Spouse-made lasagna for dinner and then have cake! I love cake!

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