Redefine beautiful!

Monday, February 21, 2011

The Rough Landing

Walking the path in my 'secret garden' just before Spring livens it with warmth and color.
Last week I didn't have a clue as to why I felt so....weird!   And, even though I was homesick on the road, I re-entered my life at home with a droopy melancholy.   I love the energy of doing the art shows, but, I miss my life after a few days.   So, I entered last week with random, out-of-the-blue crying jags and about as much ambition as an old dog sleeping on a warm bed.  The weather was windy-nipped, cold and gray and I am sure it made me feel just a bit more blah.

I tried to post on Friday but my brain was frozen; devoid of all creativity, so I bumped along to check out my blog buddies  With automated mindlessness I passed down my blog roll, clicking at what ever the little arrow landed upon.  Adrienne de Pitera's was the second blog I hit and her post was a simple one: she was highlighting a video of an old gal dancing.  In all honesty, I didn't really have the oomph to watch one of those  feel good YouTube videos but I went ahead and clicked play anyway.

The longer I watched the lower my jaw dropped as Sarah "Paddy" Jones, seventy-five year old Salsa dancer, shimmied, glided, twirled, leaped and back-bended her way across the stage.  My first reaction was, "wow how freaking cool is this fit, spunky, beautiful, naturally aged woman!"

A gradual smile began to sprout slowly across my attitudinal-sagged face and as it grew, so did a joyous feeling inside my solar-plexus.  Aha!  No matter what our age, our lives will always include challenges, like mud to wade through.  I'll bet Sarah "Paddy" Jones has had few rough landings herself.  Of course she has!  Everyone does!  Hello!!

I would like to think I am as mentally, emotionally and physically flexible as I was when I was twenty, thirty, or even forty-something.  Maybe I am.  Maybe I am more flexible.  I have had rough landings before, often after I have challenged myself to do something new and different.  But, I know if I didn't take on those challenges, I would always regret it.  I've had those regrets, and while they may not be as intense at the moment, they stick around and become like an old wart that won't go away.

It's a new week and for the most part, my routine is effortless.  I leave again on Thursday.  Back to the long flights and connections, restaurant food, hotel rooms and travel sized toiletries, meeting and greeting lines of people and smiling and talking from morning till night.  It's all part of my new routine.  It's just like learning a new dance.  And, I am doing it, dam it!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The All-In-One Exercise

I call it the 'plank-dog', but in the yoga world it is called chataranga.  If you can tolerate the weight bearing on your wrists, it is by far the most comprehensive single exercise out there!

A.  Start in downward dog.  (You can do this on your elbows.)

B.  Move smoothly into plank.  Keep all of your muscles 'active'.

C.  Lower your body slowly, keeping elbows in and shoulders stable.

D.  Come up into cobra maintaining stability and form.

The 'plank-dog' is difficult!  Try B. and C. from your knees!

 What is your single favorite exercise?  If you only had five minutes to do something fitness related, what would you do?

Janet of The Gardner's Cottage asked us what is our perfect accessory.  I must say it is my Sergio Gutierez cuff.  But I also love my Cartier timepiece and my wedding ring!  If you get a chance, post your perfect accessory or, if you don't have a blog,  email it to Janet,

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Life Happens

"Life is what happens when you're busy making plans", are words from the lyrics to "Beautiful Boy (Darlin Boy)" by John Lennon.

It's true.

Life's difficulties and challenges are a part of the journey.  Attitude is a choice.  This image I captured of a painting by Grace Slick, gave me food for thought as I prepared to leave Orlando, exhausted.

Give to yourself as you would a loved one.  It helps my attitude when I take care of me.  I took today off to rest.  Had to cancel quite a few clients and usually that makes me feel badly.

"Choice"   by Grace Slick (Jefferson Airplane and Jefferson Starship lead singer.)

I feel great even though I haven't slept more than three hours in 30 hours.  I feel great because I am allowing myself to take some time to gently re-enter my regular routine.

How do you give give to yourself?

Friday, February 11, 2011

When in Rome

I did the unexpected yesterday.  I upgraded to first class on Virgin America, which is like the royalty of first class.  I wish I had taken photos of this seat I lounged on throughout my flight!  Virgin is like a classy New York nightclub inside the cabin.  Cool lighting, great TV screens, good food and  ordering made easy.  And the coach seats can fit the average sized person without folding their legs under themselves.

I am staying at a Best Western.  My "boss" usually goes for a bit more upper class, but this Best Western boasts the "oldest lounge act".  I have yet to check it out, but this was the draw.  

The days of the lounge act.  What is Sophia looking at?

I know I am supposed to write my "Feasting Friday" post, but I am not feasting.  Well, I did last night.  Starved to death, I followed the gang to a Trattoria near the show headquarters.  I ate two slices of lightly crisped Italian bread, two slices of pizza Margarita, a delicious dinner salad with goat cheese and balsamic vinegarette and we shared the filet mignon with a wine, mushroom sauce that demanded sopping your Italian bread in.  I can't remember the name of the desert we stabbed our spoons into like it was a wild beast, it was kind of a cannoli/ eclair thingie.  

I was stuffed and dragging by the time I checked into my room.  I collapsed into crisp, soft cotton (is that possible?) sheets.  I think reading a trashy novel in a hotel room is a must, but all I had was my book, Poser, by Claire Dederer.  It's a memoir as it relates to her yoga practice.  Funny, dark, unpretentious and truthful, this book isn't a gripping page turner as much as it is a book I can relate to.

I am off to the lounge for the breakfast that lasts from 7 AM to 2 PM.  Lot's of retirees live around here;  all day breakfasts are a must.

Then it will be time for my "lounge act";  Selling the art of John Lennon.  Wish me luck!  

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Blue Suede Traveling Shoes

When traveling, stretch your spine!!  How often?  Every chance you get, darlin!

I'm here.  At the USC campus for a quick visit with GianPaolo before heading to Florida for another John Lennon art show.  I am writing this post just outside the buildings of the School of Cinematic Arts and all around me are tones teeming with creativity.  I just love it!

Lucky kid!  I will reap some of his education by asking a whole lot of questions.

Background:  musical scales on a trumpet and a soprano voice sings an obscure tune just around the corner.  Bicycles whiz past me, their spoked wheels beating time to the melodies filling the spit shined, blueness atop the buildings.  I pretend to be one of the students; just a regular gal in a world of genius.  No biggie.  Yeah, I can pull this off.
Just a regular old building here.

On the predawn flight down here, I snap a shot of me performing a perfunctory stretch.  Lady across the aisle looks at me like I'm twisted.
I call this my "number 4" stretch.  I do it constantly during flights.  (Sorry neighbor!)

As I wait in "ground transportation" at LAX for Eugene, our favorite cab driver, (retired engineer with two USC grads to his credit) to pick up my Starbucked body and deliver it to the campus, I release my tight hamstrings by putting one foot up on the bench and leaning into my outstretched leg.  Oh my, I am tight today.

All you need is a bench.  Maybe a few dips?  Nahhh..

My neck has been kind of crunchy, pinchy so I resort to my old faithful; open my chest, lean back without arching my low back and take a deep breath.  The exhaust almost chokes me, but my thoracic spine feels looser.  (See photo above, taken last summer.)

I elevate my legs for a few moments, people watching.  We are all so different.  I love it!

Ahhh, I am alone and nobody knows me!  Yes, use your luggage for an ottoman! 
I will walk a lot.  I will stretch whenever and wherever I can.  I will be someone else for a few days, but I will be myself.

Do you travel for business?  Do you have a fitness related routine that helps you feel your best?  Give me the scoop!  I need to hear from you well seasoned travelers.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Happiness or Validation

Me Monday

What do think people really want, happiness or validation?  I hear about a lot of famous people, who are idolized by others.  We look at them and think, they must be happy.

Fiona wrote a great post regarding contentment for her blog "How to be Chic".   I left a comment about how we, as mere humans, look for our value through another's validation of us.  Then I mentioned how "I'd rather set my own standards than to have a skinny teenage model tell me what is hot".

The ugly truth is, I do care what people think about me and I do want to be accepted by others.  What are those things I do or don't do for their recognition, to be seen, look up to; admired?  Well, right now I am writing this post for my blog and I think about what it is I truly hope for with it as I type away my Sunday night. Let's face it, it takes time to write one little post.  At least it does for me.

The first image flashing through my mind is that of thousands of readers all over the world, waiting like kids on Christmas to read my blog.   Now why'd I go and dream up that little scenario?   What would thousands of eager readers have to do with my worth as a human being?  I guess it would mean I'm cool.  People like cool people, so therefor, I would also be liked.

Just after this image flash, the other me jumps in to save the day and I continue typing away my Sunday because I am compelled to.  And because I feel I have something of value to say.  If I could inspire or motivate others to love themselves for their unique beauty and care more about themselves, well that would be cooler than cool.  That would make me happy.  To be cool and happy, now that was something to achieve!

I think about the good old days; trying to make a living and raising my boys.  Did I seek validation from others?   I  worked too hard at being 'correct', as it alone would garner acceptance within my world of motherhood, fitness and making money.
I take a look at that person I was; the deeper darker areas in me that I didn't have the juevos to admit openly to.  Just off the top of my head I come up with:
  • I was secretly thrilled that both of my babies weren't satisfied with my breast milk and had to be weaned at three months, give or take.  I'm sorry, I was not the nursing type!
  • I would have loved for my kids to have gone to one of those ridiculously prestigious private schools all of my clients had their kids in (but I couldn't afford).
  • I did envy that elegantly long, thin woman who wore designer duds and drove a brand new politically incorrect car to and fro her law office and never had time for the field trips.
  • I hated running, but did it anyway because it was supposed to be good for me and, after all, I was a fitness professional.
  • I secretly thought about marrying for money so I didn't have to work so dam hard, could travel and do lunch without being a wreck from exhaustion like a lot of my clients did.
Today I am working on being honest to myself and being myself.  At times I am not as pleasing as I once was.  I am not holding my tongue when asked my opinion, however, I am not cruel.  And I am no longer dancing on eggshells to ensure an other's comfort.  I may not be considered 'correct' anymore to those who I allowed to define my worth.

I wished I had listened to myself and not run all those boring hours, maybe I could have avoided knee surgery.  And I love being nearly debt free even though I don't drive a fancy car or wear clothes advertised in Vogue.  I am happy as hell I married for love, I've see the alternative.   My boys are perfect, just the way they are and no amount of breast milk or going to a pretentious school could make them any better.  And I have the best memories of smelly buses hauling screaming, wiry kids to museums and pumpkin patches

For now, I am cool to some and I am happy a good amount of time.  I guess you could say I am content.

As for validation, here is the bate:  What does contentment mean to you?  Who validates you?  What makes you happy?

Friday, February 4, 2011

Feasting Friday, It's All About Food!

My Favorite Bodeci-ful Cookbooks

I thought I would have more to offer up for this post.  But the fact is, I am picky as all get out when it comes to food and there really aren't many cookbooks I feel are bodeci-ful.  (What is bodeci-ful, you ask?  Bodeci is:  an attitude of 'I'm human and flawed' mixed with excellence.  Pleasure with responsibility?  Get your ass moving and stop eating so damn much.  Take a look at a past post for an even more abstract definition.)

The Bodeci-ful requirements for a cookbook are:

  • Delicious recipes.  
  • Emphasis on health without limiting food groups.
  • Easy to prepare recipes without hard to find ingredients. 
  • Use of fresh, local and organic ingredients whenever possible
  • Nutrition facts including calories, fats (broken down between the good and the bad), carbohydrates, protein, sodium, cholesterol and fiber.
  • Attractive pictures.

One of my favorite recipes from Ellie Krieger's cookbook, The Food You Crave.
Soba Noodle-Vegetable Salad

Ellie Krieger has two great cookbooks, but my all time favorite is "The Food You Crave". What sets it apart is it has real family appeal.  Even kids enjoy these recipes.  My husband got into a mood last year and actually cooked nearly every recipe in it.  The other really outstanding feature is that she is a nutritionist, a mom and works outside the home.  There is some valuable nutrition information and pantry/ grocery lists that educate us so we make better choices.  It is the book I give to my clients when they want to make changes with their weight and diet.

In "So Easy" she moves things forward into emore simple meal plans and creative recipes.  Both cookbooks are fantastic and I love her gentle spirit.

Ellie Krieger is just so darn beautiful, simple and REAL!

These two cookbooks have tasty and easy recipes with tight calorie budgets:  "Easy Healthy" and "Just 100 Calories" are both a Parragon Book.   I am guessing this means there is no author.  I cannot find an author's name anywhere, only a little heart logo with "love food" written over it.  

Parragon Books seems to have a simple model for their books; attractive, glossy photos and simple, tasty recipes.

Easy recipes, tight calories, YUMMY

The only "diet" cookbook I really like is the "Flat Belly Diet Cookbook" by Liz Vaccariello with Cynthia Sass, MPH RD.  It is filled with mouth-watering recipes and has all the bodeci-ful bells and whistles.  I do not endorse weight loss diets but I do recommend a the type of eating lifestyle these gals offer up in this book.  The main ideas for the promotion of weight loss are:  eating less calories, certain fats are helpful and a primarily Mediterranean diet is the best model. 

Once again, the food is really delicious.  

Yes, pasta!  Yes, cheese! Yes tomatoes!!!!

Do you have a favorite Bodeci-ful cookbook?  Perhaps you have a recipe that you have made Bodeci-ful.    What can you not live without when it comes to food?  I must know!  

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Workout Wednesday, Bloggers Back Pain

Stretch! Psoas not to Hurt!

(I know, really cute play on words.)  In last weeks "Workout Wednesday", I discussed the psoas (pronounced "so as") muscles and their importance in our core strength.  There is so much more to these guys than I can discuss today, yet most of us have no idea how common hip and back pain are associated with tight or unused psoas muscles.  Why?  Because we sit so darn much!

Without boring you to tears, the lower section of the psoas is the hip floexors.  When the hip flexors are flexed a lot of the time, they will shorten up, resulting in a tight psoas.

Where the psoas attaches to the hip is the "hip flexors".  (Diagram courtesy of StrongLifts.)
In my class last night, Nancy, my trusted sub-instructor, a Physical Therapist, had this to say:  "The psoas is like a pair of suspenders that run from our pelvis up to our lumbar spine."   Well, these suspenders begin to think they should stay shortened and contracted after prolonged sitting.  When they get tight, so does our QL (quadratus lumorum), a muscle in our low back region, and our illiocus, internal hip muscles.   And, let us not forget our sciatica, as it too can be negatively affected by all this tightening!

OK, so, what do you do about it?  Stretch, stretch, stretch!  And here's how:

Begin in this position.  Think: Lengthening from the front hip up through spine.
Tuck pelvis enough to feel the front of the hip (my right).

If you require more, elevate arms overhead and reach from your hips and spine, not your arms.
Tuck your tailbone a bit more.

And if you can handle a bit more, lean back from the low spine, pull up and back, not arching from the low back.

The stretch can be performed while standing.   So, there is no excuse NOT to do them!

I am proposing that you do these stretches every half hour you are seated.  Just try it!  Let me know how it feels.