End of May #GoTheDist, Announcing June #GoTheDist

So.... May's #GoTheDist challenge is coming to a close.  I'm saying I reached 3/4 of my goal:  I did 100% in one modality and a little over 50% in another.  I'm happy with this mainly because I am not stressed out about my weight, or feeling like I didn't put in enough effort.  I worked hard the whole month.

The lovely Ms. Vena (@Phatterri) will be writing May's Wrap-up post and that will be posted soon.

I thought quite a bit about the theme of "Second Chances" this month -- about giving myself second chances as well as giving other people second chances.  I think it requires a wise and compassionate heart to be able to realize that we are often not perfect out of the gate, and that some things actually take effort and practice in order to achieve results.  For most of us looking to change our lives and our health, this is one big second chance -- we reached a point in our lives where we found the strength to say "No, this is not the way my life will play itself out" and it requires a few fits and starts until we have tangible momentum.

I've also learned about when another chance is appropriate and when it is just time to move on.  Some things are just within our grasp, not now, not ever. It's not a failing to admit your (or another person's) limitations, it does not detract from our basic goodness.  To paraphrase Tara Brach, there's enough dukkha (suffering) in our lives, why add to the suffering by lumping judgment on it (what she calls the "Second Arrow")?

With that in mind....

June is going to be dedicated to something Karen Anderson (@KCLAanderson) said during #Fitbloggin's "Intuitive Eating/Ditch the Diet" panel.   I quoted one of my favorite Jack Kornfield quotes:  "In the end, forgiveness simply means never putting another person out of our heart" and then asked the panel something like "When things are going wrong, when you're binging and down on yourself, how do you get back in your heart?"  Infinitely wise, Karen said that she stands in front of her mirror.... NAKED... with no harshness in her face.  She looks at herself compassionately and cultivates a self-love feeling, and that is her pathway back into her heart (i.e. forgiveness).

Like I said, she is infinitely wise, but also brave.  I'm willing to bet that this is probably terrifying to most people.  Is it so scary if you know other people are doing this as well?

June's #GoTheDist challenge will still have the same tracking components and spreadsheet (miles, classes, steps, water, strength, or whatever you want to add) but I'm going to take it a bit farther (and along the same lines as February's challenge, as well as New Rule No. 3):
  • Every day have some naked time (it doesn't matter how long) -- but it is completely naked, no cheating.
  • Find yourself in front of a full-length mirror and find a way to look at yourself compassionately and lovingly as you are right now (i.e. do not envision how you want to look)
  • If you find this hard, put your hand over your heart and softly say "I am here... I am here."
  • Remain in front of the mirror until your heart rate is regular, you've stopped giggling, there's no anxiety about the person looking back at you, and until you start seeing what is perfect over what might be imperfect
  • And if you can only do it for a limited time (such as if you're a parent, or live with other people) make sure that when you do this that you're not distracted.  Be present and in the moment.
And if you need to, tape this to the side of the mirror and read it to yourself if you need the permission to love your naked, vulnerable, wonderful self:
You are perfect, only you don’t know it.
Learn to know yourself and you will discover wonders.
All you need is already within you, only you must approach yourself with reverence and love.
Self-condemnation and self-distrust are grievous errors.
Your constant flight from pain and search for pleasure is a sign of the love you bear for yourself;
all I plead with you is this: make love of yourself perfect.
Deny yourself nothing – give yourself infinity and eternity and discover that
you do not need them; you are beyond.
-- Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj
Additional resources:
  • Tara Brach's Dharma talk on the Healing Power of Self Compassion Part 1 and Part 2

Grab the button for yourself (copy and paste HTML into your blog)

How to Join:

1. Click on the SUMMARY PAGE (bookmarking it would be a good idea as you will be using it often).
2. Fill out the next available line on the "Summary" spreadsheet (do not use Columns F or G, J or K -- they will automatically calculate once link your sheet).

3. **CREATE YOUR INDIVIDUAL PAGE** (This is a NEW step. Duplicate the "Participant Sheet." If you're comfortable working in spreadsheets you can edit it where it should repeat your personal information. The formula line will look something like "=Summary!A2" -- replace the 2 with whatever line you are on the summary spreadsheet. For =Summary!B2 do the same, etc.).

4. Rename the tab "@[twitter name]" or if you don't have Twitter "[nickname]" (If you want to link your page back to summary spreadsheet, go for it. It's a huge help. Column F will look like this (minus the brackets): ='[your tab name]'!D43 Column J will look like this (minus the brackets): ='[your tab name]'!E43)

5. Fill out the sheet as you wish.

6. Update your own individual page as needed (if tracking is too hard, consider printing out your page and filling it out by hand and updating it online once a week). The total mileage will automatically be updated on the Summary tab as you report on your individual page.

7. Follow #GoTheDist on Twitter for support if you need it or to support others when they do, to announce achievements, and find new/old friends!

8. PLEASE DO NOT DELETE LINES OR TABS! Do not SORT. If you want to add columns, please add them to the RIGHT of the page. Please do NOT move your page around! You CAN bookmark your individual page using your browser to find it easily.

Follow up re Emotional Eating

This is the follow-up from my previous post about emotional eating and the desire to become an intuitive/informed eater. 

My Take on Intuitive Eating

#Fitbloggin's Ditch the Diet: How to Eat Intuitively panel was kinda intense.  I have lots of thoughts on this topic, so please bear with me if I go in circles or on tangents. 

If I were to say "at one point in your life, you were an intuitive eater" would you believe me?  When you were a baby would you cry when you were hungry?  You should be nodding yes.  Would you eat way past the point of satiety?  Probably not, and if you did, you must've been one little vomit cannon.  Now that you have more choices than a breast or a bottle, food and eating have become an emotional minefield.  I just wanted to say this early on to help remind you that if you were once an intuitive eater you can find your way back to being one. 

My journey into intuitive eating wasn't necessarily the kumbaya feel-good cathartic process.  It started with a few basic admissions on my part:  (1) I wasn't taught proper nutrition when I was younger; (2) I had no idea what my body actually needed; (3) I had no idea what my "diet" actually looked like and if my nutritional needs were being met; and (4) there's a difference between mindless/mindful grazing and intuitive eating.

I couldn't do much about the first point (though, forgiving my parents was a big part of it and letting go of the "if only they knew, I wouldn't be like this" grudge was instrumental in my healing).  However, I could work to understand and correct the final three. 

It is safe to say that I had been winging the whole diet thing for a while.  While I had a trainer (back in 2006), I had very little guidance when it came to nutrition.  I would run a 10k at the gym, do some weights and core work, and then go get a greasy spinach/chicken quesadilla and a beer as a reward for my hard work.  Of course I was frustrated that I wasn't losing weight faster!  There was a huge disconnect in my mind (and in my behavior) regarding fueling my workouts and my life.

For me, the answer was in gathering data.  I knew how to calculate my Basal Metabolic Rate/Harris Benedict Factor, but even that was just an estimate.  I needed something more accurate.  I knew a little about the BodyBugg from watching The Biggest Loser and that sounded like it could work.  I did some research and found out that BodyMedia made both the BodyMediaFit ("BMF") and the BodyBugg ("BB") -- the main difference was the software (the Web interface was different, and the BMF would measure sleep).  Otherwise they looked nearly identical.  In February 2010, I used my bosses' holiday/end-of-the year checks to purchase the BodyMedia Fit for myself. 

I started wearing it as soon it was charged, but (a) it would take a few weeks of information to see patterns emerging in activity and sleep and (b) I would need to go to a dietitian to understand the role food played in all of it.  But I was closer to seeing the whole picture: 
  1. I led a pretty sedentary life when I wasn't busting my ass at the gym;
  2. I was all over the place with food (eating little some days and too much on others); and
  3. While I was in bed and sleeping for many hours, I wasn't actually getting quality sleep.
My dietitian filled in some of the blanks regarding food as well -- I was an emotional eater with a few trigger foods (Oreos and peanut butter (especially when in cookie form));  I didn't get enough fat, protein or calories in general; and that I was in an emotional relationship with my refrigerator. 

Breaking up with my refrigerator (i.e. mindlessly looking in the fridge as if something new were going to appear) was much easier than correcting what was missing in my diet and much easier than handling the trigger foods.  Dealing with the trigger foods would come much later in an epiphany of sorts

Re-learning about diet and nutrition was much easier once I was able to break up with the fridge and break free of the emotions that made me feel powerless around food.  Once I realized that food did not make me happy in the way I thought it was making me happy, it no longer held sway and dominion over me.  Let me rephrase:  I could be happy to eat something, but eating something won't bring me happiness.  I had to deal with the (un)happiness away from the kitchen.

Pretty soon I had cleared away enough emotional/mental space to deal with the questions of intuitive eating.  This is once again where the BodyMediaFit played a big role.  Once I knew how many calories I was burning, it was much easier for me to say "I know my body needs this" versus "I think this is what my body needs" or "this is what I want."  My ability to estimate portion sizes and calorie counts became much more accurate the more I used my scale and my BMF.  I also knew my exercise burns much better. I knew how much an hour on the elliptical would burn versus an hour on the bike, or an hour weight lifting.  I knew that I could adjust my diet accordingly and without panic.

Is this intuitive eating?  Yes and no.  It's the best I can do, but sometimes it falls short of my dietary needs. 

It's what I like to call "informed eating" -- I'm not counting calories as much anymore, but I am almost always wearing my BMF (even if I'm not syncing it or checking my burn on the display).  I am comfortable with the feelings of hunger I might have on a day when my burn is high.  But I'm also comfortable in sitting with that hunger knowing that if I'm within a certain range, that my food is still fueling my activity (I try not to have more than a 1000 calorie deficit and I aim for 750/ 1.5lbs/week).

Is this perfect?  Nope.  When I hit a plateau, I know it's time to start food logging again, mainly to make sure I'm eating enough of the right things. 

Have I had a binge lately?  Well I've overindulged a bit when it comes to vodka, but no emotional "ZOMG I NEED TO EAT THIS BECAUSE IT WILL MAKE EVERYTHING RIGHT IN MY LIFE" feelings lately.  I consider that enough of a victory for now.

I really do credit the BodyMediaFit for this -- it took the emotions out of the process of diet/exercise.  It was now a math equation (as many doctors and scientists have said all along):

Calories in < Calories Out

The emotions have to find their own equation.

Fitbloggin 2011

First of all, hello to my new readers, my new supporters, my new friends.

These are all the places you can find me (other than at a bar, the gym, or in a pool): 
FatGirlvsWorld on Facebook
FatGirlvsWorld on Youtube  
FatGirlvsWorld BodyMedia SpokesBody page (it's a contest... help me win $5,000 by clicking on "like"!)

As many of you all saw (on Twitter), I had my reservations about going to #FitBloggin.  I was very surprised to see that I wasn't the only one intimidated by the whole thing.

My fears:
  • being in a room full of people that knew each other and expected me to know them
  • people knowing who I was and I didn't know them (I'm so bad with names, avatar/facial recognition)
  • saying that I was "FatGirlvsWorld" and having people think I wasn't fat enough for the name
  • being at a fitness conference and being seen as fat
  • wanting to meet people more than learning about monetizing my blog, or data mining, or sponsor du jour, but people not wanting to socialize 
I got out of my cab and was immediately greeted by Tara and Sharla.  In a instant (and deeply moving moment) I immediately knew that despite my fears I was not only in the right place but among the safety and security of friends. 

Two moments highlighted my fears, though:   When I introduced myself to Andrea Metcalf as "Robby, FatGirlvsWorld" she said something to the tune of "you're not fat at all."  I know she meant it as a compliment.  I was very much reminded of something that Cara (of Cara's Cravings) said (in the middle of gelato) -- that the new people she meets have no idea of her journey or what she used to look like, be like, and feel like.  They just see the thin person.

It's odd to be in the middle of a fitness conference and feel too big to be thin and too thin to be big (and worse of all, worried about offending anyone who was bigger than me by calling myself fat).  But the truth is that I will always be FatGirlvsWorld; I will always have the mentality of someone that has struggled with their weight.  I started this blog as an open letter to the world to show that there are many definitions of health and fitness, and it is available to anyone who wants it.  Calling myself "FatGirl" has never been pejorative (in my mind) -- it is my way of paying homage to the struggle.

The second moment came a little towards the end of the conference when Jack Sh!t jokingly said that everything would be gravy for me once I overcame my shyness.  He was being facetious -- but as I told http://www.sweatinguntilhappy.com/,  the truth is that it is much easier for me to be FatGirlvsWorld, with all of her bravado and charm than it is for me to be Robby sometimes.  I try to be both, but it's not always possible.  I am naturally an introvert.  I am petrified of being in new places, petrified of being in large groups of people. 

Courtesy of @FattyBoobaLatty
The resemblance is uncanny, right?

I was shocked by the number of people who came up to me and said "ZOMG, you're FATGIRLVSWORLD.  I love you!"  Here I think I'm running this little blog under the radar.  It truly means so much to me that I'm able to not only write for myself (and my own sanity) as well as write for words when you need the words.  I am flattered, but I am also humbled.

I was equally as surprised by the number of people who were okay with sitting with me in my silence, or who recognized that I was a bit in over my head  A huge thanks to Sharla who recognized that I was on overload and asked if I wanted to get out of there for a bit.  We ended up going to the National Aquarium and getting hit on my a longhorn cowfish (photos to follow).

Another huge thanks to my friend Katie, and my friends Amy and Elisha for giving me a place to rest my head.  Leading up to the conference I was so overwhelmed that I did nothing to handle the logistics.

Thoughts about #Fitbloggin:
  1. It is clear to me now that I am not a professional blogger, nor do I have an inclination to be.  I am not interested in data mining. I'm not interested in being the most read blogger evar!  I'm just interested in writing what's true to me and hoping that my words are what you need when you need it.
  2. I would have loved there to be more fit than bloggin.  My favorite panels/events were Zumba (it was fun to see so many first-timers having fun.  I think it was the ice breaker we all needed -- to look silly, get sweaty, and burn some calories) and the Intuitive Eating panel (it was intimate, honest, and uplifting). 
  3. I appreciate that breakfast was being provided courtesy of corporate sponsors -- however, I greatly missed my morning Chobani and FiberOne.  I know some people were in need of more protein for breakfast.  Hard boiled eggs are easy to transport, but not as good as scrambled eggs. 
  4. I can also appreciate that lunch and some snacks were provided for us -- however, I was missing out on having veggies.  There were tons of fruits, but I run on veg.  Whole Foods was getting a lot of action from the conference. 
  5. I know part of the problem was not having dedicated rooms for the conference, but I would have liked to see a little more flow from the conference -- having a blogger "speed dating" meet-and-greet early on (not everyone was there on Thursday night) would have been helpful.  I would have also put the 101 classes early on in the first day.  I would have split up the fitness events over the 2 days.  The second say was a lot of sitting in a chair. 
  6. OMG, liveblogging is hard.  I gave up after one session (kettlebells). 
  7. I didn't take many pictures. I don't know why this is. Maybe b/c I spent more time on hugging than normal. 
  8. We are a group of very sexy people.  Even the firefighters think so. I think the Preakness people were intimidated.  Do spandex and fancy hats mix? 
  9. I'm glad that no one thought it was rude to listen and tweet at the same time, or if they did they realized where they were. 
  10. It was a shame that so much of the event was inside.  While I know the schedule was busy, it would have been good to have breakout groups for things like the Intuitive Eating panel, it was clear that some people needed some personal attention/support.
  11. I know we all use twitter, but it would have been cool to have some white boards near the registration booth to post stuff like "Anyone looking to take a walk at 2pm?" "We have an extra bed" or "ISO size 7.5 new balance, will trade size 8." The #Fitbloggin hashtag was too much to keep up with sometimes. 
  12. OMG..... @FitandFreeEmily gave me the best new toy. 
  13. Yeah, I'm a teacher's pet. I asked a question at almost every panel I went to.  But I like asking questions. Maybe I need to do more interviews on my blog. 
  14. Are there awards for "Best timing of a hiccup at a conference"???? 
  15. I'm so sorry if I launched a wristband at you and you were hit.  With power comes responsibility, eh?  
  16. Nope. The interview with Dr. Fitness and the Fat Guy was NOT rehearsed.  Man my back was killing me by that time and my posture was horrible.
  17. Trampolines are fun.  But as fitness? Didn't urban rebounding die in the 1990s? 
  18. Where are the wine & cheese sponsors? 
  19. I'm glad there were cherries and chocolate though.  nom nom nom.  The missing sweet link. 
  20. Oooh we should have had a juice/smoothie bar.  One blender was NOT enough, eh?
  21. It would have been nice for wordpress/blogger to have a table or even a "How To" -- as they're the two most popular platforms.  (word to @paolo -- livejournal and diaryland RULE(d)!) 
  22. Did the Marriott know we would be drinking a lot of water? 
  23. Did the Marriott know we'd need more bandwidth/a bigger boat? 
  24. We should have taken over a water taxi.
#Fitbloggin Action Items (not just for me....):
  1. Support http://www.leavingfatville.com/ setting and meeting her next mini goal (#LFDoesIt) and remind her that she's a good mom.
  2. Like I wrote in response to the Blogger Responsibility panel:   We need to be the TRUTH TELLERS of the fitness world.  Let's be louder than mainstream media.  What does this mean?  By being a blogger in the fitness world, I think we have the responsibility of showing the world and media that fit and healthy does NOT need to be airbrushed.  Our collective voice needs to be louder than the media so that those who are at the beginning of the journey know that they can do so without feeling bad about themselves, without feeling alone, without feeling desperate. 
  3. We really need to explore the whole intuitive eating aspect -- many of us still have issues with emotional eating.  Let's get @BradGansberg/#7daychip involved.  Let's have a meditative retreat (or a podcast series) where we work to reprogram our relationship with food and forgive ourselves a whole lot more.  It's very clear that this is a subset of the fitbloggin community that still needs support and love.  ((The quote from Jack Kornfield, if you missed it the first time around:  "In the end, forgiveness simply means never putting another person out of our heart.")
  4. We need to be more willing to (1) be proud of our expertise if we have one (even if it's just being an expert on ourselves, to quote @Krazy_Kris) (2) acknowledge when we do not know something (3) and make connections with the people who might have the information we need, or the information someone is asking us to find.  As a community we should be able to help other people based on trusted and proven relationships.
  5. We need to reach out to corporate sponsors (ones that we currently have relationships with and ones that we do not have relationships with) and show them that they can have spokespeople who are real people, with real lives, who are are imperfect, and who are joyful.  There is one among us that can represent most companies with integrity (diet pills and gimmicks need not apply).  ((KitKat needs to reach out to @Shauna)) 
  6. We need to meet with people more often.  This weekend was proof that we love and support each other in a unique and genuine way.  Mini-Meetups! #Fitblogginsgiving anyone? #FitBloggin Commune? 
  7. I think @charliegirl2490 and I need to star in our own musical revue with many fitbloggin guest appearances.  
  8. From Elisha: We need to be willing to experience the bad with the good, rather than trying to deny it.  Allow ourselves to feel what we're feeling and not be ashamed. [We need to s]hare what we're going through, so we can FIND strength in those who have gone before and GIVE strength to those who follow.

More fun at #Fitbloggin

Kettlebell Info Session

Presented by @KCLAnderson, @workoutmommy @girlhero
  • best to do barefoot or in minimal shoe
  • kettlebells will win versus face/head/brain -- so if you feel like you're going to drop the bell while it's over head, move out of its way.
  • there's a difference between exercise and competition bells
  • a jug of milk is 8lbs -- women should start at a 15 or 18lb kettlebell; men should start around 25lb-- it's easier to use a heavier bell
  • Find a grip/handle that you like -- you want a solid/cast piece (not a handle that's welded on).  You want to invest in a good bell (i.e. please don't get the target ones)
  • Kettlebell vs dumbell -- working multiple muscle groups in one motion; use your whole body; the weight in a kettlebell is off-center, forces you to stabilize core (dumbells are balanced equally)
  • Anyone can do kettlebells, low impact -- but listen to your body!! ((if you have back problems/shoulder issues, be very mindful!!)
  • Anyone can do kettlebells! (old, young, pregnant)
  • Find a trainer who has been certified (lots of bad info out there...ahem, Jillian Michaels

  • @KCLAnderson doing the basic swing: 
  • Around the body
  • Halo

  • A "complex" -- a series of moves put together

  • A double complex

  • At #fitbloggin

    I said I'd wear a cape...
    thanks to @dubyawife, and a tablecloth...

    LA Boxing Post #9: Buddha in the Boxing Ring

    If the title is any warning, things are about to get a little deep/philosophical around here.

    In a previous post, I wrote about how the only way the Buddha was able to defeat Mara (the representation of negative emotions like doubt, fear, etc.) was to turn toward that which scared or overwhelmed him.  In other words, your suffering perseveres when you try to flee from it.

    I was reminded of this today when we were working on defensive blocking.  One person would throw a jab (and only jabs) and the other person had to stand his or her ground by catching/blocking the punch, pivoting, pulling his or herr stomach in, or blocking the punches with their elbows.  The other way to block a punch is to turn your body/shoulder into the person throwing the punch (a great way to set up an uppercut).  By walking into their space, you limit the range of the other person's punch.

     Two of the people in Randolph's technique class said something to me about how it seemed so counter-intuitive -- someone is throwing a punch and yet you walk into it.  Walking into a punch defies our self-protective instincts.  You limit the other person's range, and what they can do to you.  It's not the perfect protection (and you can't stay there), but it is one way to deal with the punch being thrown at you. 

    You cannot always run away from the punches in life.  Sometime you have to take one, sometimes you can defend yourself, but sometimes you can step into what is scary and limit its control over you, capisce?

    Marshall, another trainer at LA Boxing Georgetown, also said that the hardest thing to do as a teacher is to get people to bend their knees.  People stand too tall when they're boxing.  That stiffness in their body not only limits their speed, but it increases arm fatigue and leaves them wide open to get hit.  The Buddha said that one of the reasons why we suffer is because we try to control situations, outcomes, people, etc.  Instead of being present and aware of what is, we are constantly trying to dictate what's to come.  In Western terms, this is the presence, mindset, and sway of the ego.

    In boxing if you're relaxed and bending your knees (and have a clear mind) you're able to respond (what we do when we rely on our training and focus), not just react (what we do out of fear/panic), to what is going on, both offensively and defensively.  When you realize it is not a situation that you can outright control (if you are matched equally, that is; if you are matched unequally you either have all the say or none of it), you start to pay more attention to not only what you are doing, but what the other person is doing.  Bending your knees, and being flexible (mentally and physically) prepares you to act in either an offensive or defensive manner.

    I know the Buddha would preach non-violence, but I hope that even he would appreciate that in a class setting (a boxing sangha), we all respect each other.  We are all teachers, we are all students.  I would hope the Buddha would appreciate the meditative aspects of repetitive motions/drills, and the valuable lesson of our own body's fragility.

    LA Boxing Post 1:  The Risks and Rewards of Change
    LA Boxing Post 2:  Showing Up
    LA Boxing Post 3:  Finding Your Fight
    LA Boxing Post 4:  Belonging
    LA Boxing Post 5:  Fight or Flight
    LA Boxing Post 6:  Finding your Fight: The Class -- Reporting In 
    LA Boxing Post 7:  One of Us 
    LA Boxing Post 8:  The First Rule of Fight Club

    #Fitbloggin: Baltimore from an Insider

    If you see Katie, be sure
    to buy her a drink!
    My lovely friend Katie did an AMAZING job of putting together some information of what to do in Baltimore during #Fitbloggin -- to not only see the sights and get some eats, but to get some exercise as well.

    Not only is Katie one of the most socially/environmentally aware people that I know, she's also one of the kindest people I've ever met.   Originally from Cleveland, Katie has lived in Baltimore for the past few years.  In that time she has made many connections in the local community -- through Fresh Farms and her work in sustainable living. 

    Katie's Bmore* Fit and Fun List:

    Run to Fort McHenry
    • Approximately a 8 mile loop from the Marriott Baltimore Waterfront
    • Stop by the Federal Hill Park (at Battery Ave and Key Highway), run up and down the steps and take a break to take in the jaw dropping view of the Inner Harbor.
    • Pass by the American Visionary Art Museum for eye candy.
    • Run along the waterfront and pass by rowhomes built in late 1800s.
    • Loop around Ft. McHenry to see the statue dedicated to Francis Scott Key.  Stretch, watch the boats on the water and stop in the newly opened visitors’ center.
    Walk along the Inner Harbor
    • Shopping, live music and many dining options.
    • For those looking for something different or have dietary restrictions, check out:
    Pizzazz Tuscan Grille, 711 Eastern Ave, Baltimore, MD 21202 – sources local and organic food, accommodates people with special dietary needs.

    Keep walking to Harbor East (Baltimore’s “second” downtown just past the Inner Harbor)
    • Teavolve, 1401 Aliceanna St, Baltimore, MD 21231 – Lounge with wraps, light entrees, crepes and tea infused alcoholic drinks. Live music on weekend evenings with no cover charge. 
    • Bagby Pizza Co, 1006 Fleet St, Baltimore, MD 21202 – Not just pizza!  Also includes entrees, sandwiches, salads – and a fun atmosphere.
    Keep walking to Fells Point (just a few blocks past Harbor East)
    • Liquid Earth, 1626 Aliceanna St, Baltimore, MD 21231 – A haven for vegetarians but loved by meat-eaters as well. Only downfall is they close at 7 pm! Good place to grab an early dinner and then grab a drink or dessert in Fells Point.
    • Bertha’s Mussels, 734 S. Broadway, Baltimore, MD 21231 – Famous for their mussels. Other options, such as chicken and vegetarian options are available.
    • Pitango, 802 S. Broadway, Baltimore, MD 21231 – The best gelato ever. Nuff said.
    • Koopers,   1702 Thames Street, Baltimore MD 21231 -- fun atmosphere and dog friendly.  For parties of 6 or more, call ahead! @ (410) 563-5423
    In Canton (East of Fells Point)
    • Mama's on the Half Shell, 2901 O'Donnell St, Baltimore, Maryland, 21224 -- one of the best seafood places in baltimore
    • Dangerously Delicious Pies: 2839 O’Donnell St. Baltimore, MD (under 2 miles from the hotel.... this is just one reason why it's dangerous!)
    Dine in Historic Federal Hill
    A 10 minute walk from the Marriott Baltimore Waterfront and downtown
    • Regi’s Bistro, 1002 Light St, Baltimore, MD 21230 – great salads and sandwiches, sources much of their food from local farms.
    • Ryleigh’s Oyster House, 36 E Cross St, Baltimore, MD 21230 – amazing crab cakes, oyster. Great salads and sandwiches.
    • Byblos, 1033 Light St, Baltimore, MD 21230 – Lebanese food. Excellent light fare and friendly staff. Small dining area. Or better yet, take the food as carry out and eat at Federal Hill Park just a block away.
    Walk uphill to Mount Vernon
    • Brewers Art, 1106 North Charles St, Baltimore, MD 21201 – One of the best bars in the country. Beautiful historic building, laid back atmosphere, incredible beer (they brew their own), and delicious food. Live music in the lower level.
    • Soup’s On, 11 W. Preston St, Baltimore, MD 21201 – Best for a light, quick lunch or dinner. Small menu that changes daily with soup, sandwich and salad options.
    Helmand, 806 North Charles St, Baltimore, MD 21201 – Consistently rated one of Baltimore’s Best, this Afghan restaurant has something for everyone. The cuisine is a reflection of Afghanistan’s history in the cross-roads of the Eurasia continent, drawing on flavors from the Mediterranean, the Middle East, and South Asia.** If you walk to Mt. Vernon and would like a ride back, use the Charm City Circulator’s Purple Line. No fee (free!) and comes by every 20 minutes.  Pick up on St. Paul Street (one block parallel/east of Charles Street) by Preston Street or Eager Street. More info at http://www.charmcitycirculator.com/route/purple-route

    *(pronounced "Bawlmer")

    From Robby:

    If that's not enough activity, check out one of Baltimore's many gyms for a free pass (sign up before you travel, print out any vouchers)!
    Also check out:

    My BodyMediaFit SpokesBody Video

    ** Please "LIKE" my SpokesBody page to let BodyMedia know you want me to be the face/body of BodyMediaFit **
    [note:  contest is over]

    Treading Water

    Yes, I am posting this picture again.

    I need to be reminded of both points:  (1) I will be okay; (2) just keep swimming.

    If that doesn't work, I'll go with other pieces of advice/truisms:

    (1) it's always darkest before the dawn
    (2) a still-more glorious dawn awaits
    (3) Hang On
    (4) Hold On
    (5) Walk On

    I don't really want to talk about the particulars of why I've been in a funk as it is both personal and pending/in-progress.  I did, however, want to touch on how what's going on currently is a reminder of the past, and how it relates to my weight loss/health gain journey.

    When my mom died, I was a petulant teenager (e.g., raging bitch).  I would yell to be heard, fight to be acknowledged, and was rather unpleasant to be around.  My mood set the temperature of any room I was in.  The person that bore the brunt of my maladjusted attitude was my father, mainly because we were very similar in our temperament, but also because he was the only one there.  This past Mother's Day I reflected on the nature of our current relationship:  "It has taken many years for my dad and I to have the kind of relationship that we both wanted -- honest, supportive, loving -- and it was only possible because of two things: (1) the honest belief that no matter what we loved each other (even if we were mad, even if there was a difference in opinion) and (2) the willingness to keep on talking through whatever was going on (versus running away or shutting down)."

    Over the years I've learned that yelling doesn't get you heard, fighting doesn't make you strong, and that it is much easier to be pleasant than suffer the ill effects of being angry all the time (as you cannot give your anger to someone else to deal with).  I try to be as mellow and agreeable as possible because it makes things easier on me (less agita).  And I've learned what I mentioned above:  that with love anything can be resolved so long as each person remains present and engaged.

    I've also learned a few other rules, my favorite being "fight fair" -- i.e. do NOT throw the kitchen sink at someone, be constructive, be flexible, give up grudges and aim for forgiveness/resolution.  It's not always perfect, and not everyone plays by the same rules.  But I try to play by the same rules regardless of how other people are acting.

    Also, I think it's important to determine the kind of relationship you want to have with people and then every action, every thought, every word needs to be a reflection of how you want the relationship to be as a whole.  When a car starts to swerve, the rule is to steer in the direction you want to go. It's not really the same as the whole "fake it 'til you make it" idea, but it's close.  Aim where you want to be and then progressively move in that direction.

    When it comes to being in relationships with other people, I think it's important to remember that most people are not mind readers and it's unfair to ask them to be.  Each person is capable of asking meaningful questions and giving forthright/sincere responses.  And if you have a need that is not being a met, find a way to constructively address it.  It's not a perfect system, but sometimes perfection is overrated and progress is too often overlooked.

    I learned long ago that if your boat has capsized and you're in the ocean, you tire yourself out faster if you are treading water/expending your energy to swim, versus doing the survival/dead man's float; relaxing your body and focusing on what's essential -- breathing and keeping your head above water.**  The survival float works with the waves, instead of against them. So I'm going to try and calm the fuck down, and just focus on what I need to be doing.  I'm going to try and not worry about all the extraneous stuff that's going on.  I'm not going to worry about making lemonade.  I'm not going to try and save anyone else. I'm going to wait for a friendly dolphin to give me a lift to shore.

    So how does this relate to weight loss/health gain?  Ever consider that you are in a relationship with yourself?  How much maintenance do you do on this relationship to truly make sure it is a positive and nurturing relationship?  I'm not trying to sound all sentimental or heady here, but I just mean it in a simple way:  how do you check in with yourself to make sure that you're okay, on course, and that you are satisfied with the life you are leading?  Are you working with the life you have, or against it? Are you fighting the waves and exhausting yourself?

    Just keep swimming floating...

    [[**Edit -i It's apparent that I need to explain this a little bit better:
    Say it's the middle of a cloudy night and the boat you are on capsizes.  Swimming to clear the sinking boat leaves you exhausted, without any navigation equipment, and no idea where you are.  You didn't even have time to get a SOS out.  At this point, it would be a dire mistake to start swimming, as you might not pick the right direction (the rising sun will help you orient yourself).  Floating is your best chance to survive at this point.  Conserve your energy, get your bearings, keep your head above water.  Doing this goes against almost every instinct you have, but it will get you through the night.  It's not necessarily waiting for rescue (but if the dolphins do show up, don't be so proud to not take their help, unless they're really sharks); it's about surviving the night when the only option is survive or perish.]]

    Mother's Day/Girl Stuff

    This isn't my first motherless Mother's Day.

    If you've been reading my blog, you know my paternal grandmother died long before I was born (in 1957), my maternal grandmother (Nana) died in 1989, my mother died in 1994, and my dad's stepmother (Ma) died at the end of last March.  March-to-May was just too quick to really process the feeling of being completely motherless (though I have many women in my life who I consider motherly influences).

    If you know a woman, any woman, you know they have specific preferences about everything -- from the way their bed is made, to the way their clothes are folded, to what they eat, and especially what they wear.  Each of the women I knew had their favorite perfume (that would sometimes change at times):
    My mom's
    Elizabeth Taylor, Passion
    Ma''s favorite,
    White Shoulders
    My mom would sometimes
    enjoy Jontue

    Growing up, my first real perfume was Chanel No. 5, which my father bought me for one Christmas.  I liked the way it smelled out of the bottle, but hated the way it smelled on me.  Over the years I would wear many alcohol-based scents from Bath & Body Works, or Victoria's Secret.

    It wasn't until I found Burberry, London that I found a scent that I could say smelled like me, smelled like how I felt inside ("In this floral-fresh scent, gentle top notes of rose and honeysuckle are balanced by deeper heart notes of tiare flower, jasmine and peony and a hint of fresh clementine zest. Solar notes of sandalwood, musk and patchouli impart a subtle warmth to create a inspiring fragrance.").  It was sexy and innocent all at the same time.  It was more expensive than the $10 stuff I was purchasing in the past, but it was worth having a scent that declared who I was.

    I've been wearing Burberry London for the past few years.

    That is until I felt something changing within me -- I was becoming sensual, strong, and confident.  Either I could pick a scent that was just as sensual, strong, and confident or I could pick a scent that would compliment that feeling, and take a back seat to it.

    Before I went to Mexico, I went to Sephora and got three samples -- Cartier Le Lune, Tocca Florence, and Stella McCartney's Stella.  In Stella, I found what I was looking for -- a scent that honored my past, present and future (I know this sounds corny):  "A fragrance based on the contrast between the freshness and softness of the rose, and the dark sensuality of amber, Stella is a sophisticated scent focused on an intense sense of femininity.")

    I know it's silly -- but they say that olfactory is our strongest sense memory.  For example, try and remember Thanksgiving and I'm willing to bet you're smelling the turkey in the oven, maybe some pie, stuffing and other scents.  I've always been able to remember my mother through scent -- warm summer days in the backyard with lilac wafting around us, the smell of the roses she loved through my bedroom window.  I can remember my grandmother mainly from the scent of Dove Pink and peach pancakes. 

    Who knows, maybe some day someone will remember me by the scent I wear and leave behind.  So I purchased the Stella McCartney -- even though it is much more expensive than my $10 body sprays.  I think it's worth it, and I know I'm worth it.

    LA Boxing Post #8: The First Rule of Fight Club

    First, a word about the gentleman on the left:  Randolph Kennedy (his personal training site: http://www.rescueworkout.com/).  His LA boxing bio cites his certifications, boxing pedigree (learning from  Olympic Gold Medalist Charles E. Mooney), and personal philosophy, "our outward appearance is a direct reflection of how we feel inside."  It also mentions that he teaches a wide age range of students.  What it neglects to spell out is that he is remarkably knowledgeable about boxing, infinitely patient (you have to be with me), and capable of wrangling a class full of people at different experience levels. 

    If you are interested in learning a new sport, like boxing, I think it's important to find a teacher like Randolph.  You can go to a cardio boxing class or TaeBo and learn to mimic/approximate boxing, but it's just not the same as learning the actual fighting discipline.  Boxing is a rigorous sport and has a very specific movements attributed to it.  Randolph is able to watch you and diagnose your movement.  He helps correct you on the spot (so you don't hurt yourself or don't get hurt) and builds not only your knowledge, but your confidence.

    What I like best about Randolph is that he doesn't sell anyone short.  If you're doing something wrong, he'll guide you into figuring it out for yourself versus bringing you down a peg.  For example, during my first class with him a few weeks ago he told me to throw a jab and I stupidly threw a cross and he said "Try that jab again."  I threw another cross before the little light bulb in my head went off and then I threw a proper jab.  He smiled and said "ah, you figured it out."  Gradually our bodies will catch up to our minds. 

    Okay... back to the subject line:  the first rule of Fight Club is: you do not talk about Fight Club.

    Luckily, the LA Boxing Technique class/sparring technique class is not bloodsport.  In this class, not only are we learning from Randolph, but we learn a great deal from each other (and the other trainers that are often in the gym during the class who will step in and offer help, such as Ed (see photo below)).  There are people who are more experienced than others, and even the inexperienced people are able to offer up feedback and ask questions that the more experienced people can learn from. 

    When we practice with/spar with each other, there is a great deal of control and trust between each member of the class.  Our aim is not to hurt each other, but to improve our technique, movement, and timing both offensively and defensively.  I just really want to make that clear as some people say that they are not interested in hurting other people.  Well, neither are we.  That's what protective gear is for (or if someone isn't wearing protective gear, you use control/discretion and leave it for the heavy bag).

    I wanted to introduce you, by way of photos, to some of my classmates (some classmates left before I could get my camera out and/or didn't want their photo taken).  Some know about the blog, some don't (but hopefully they'll be checking our their photos **waves**)--but just about everyone in the class agrees with me with the assessment I made in my last LA Boxing post (which I am now making the first rule of my fight club/New Rule #7:   your size, shape, age, gender, or experience level doesn't matter as much as your focus, determination, and heart when it comes to the boxing gym.  What matters most is that when you are in the gym you are 100% committed to learning and trying your very best, whatever your best may be on any given day.

    Our class meets Mondays and Wednesdays -- but there seems to be a regular cast of characters.  I'd like to thank them all for being a part of my fitness journey: 

    Ed and Jessica, who were both quoted in the previous LA Boxing Post
    Though these ladies know how to punch, Alex is in no real danger.
    Kim, Alex, Tessa.

    This is your life and it's ending one minute at a time.  ~ Fight Club

    What are you doing to live deeper, live healthier, and live happier? Are the connections you're making with the people around you furthering your goals?

    LA Boxing Post 1:  The Risks and Rewards of Change
    LA Boxing Post 2:  Showing Up
    LA Boxing Post 3:  Finding Your Fight
    LA Boxing Post 4:  Belonging
    LA Boxing Post 5:  Fight or Flight
    LA Boxing Post 6:  Finding your Fight: The Class -- Reporting In 
    LA Boxing Post 7:  One of Us

    Table for One

    Language... has created the word "loneliness" to express the pain of being alone. And it has created the word "solitude" to express the glory of being alone.

    ~ Paul Tillich

    Did you know that "lonely" was one of the many words seemingly coined by Shakespeare?

    Now, this might come as a shock to some of you, but for as bright and bubbly as I can be, for as much of a social butterfly as I can be, I'm actually very much a lone wolf kitteh.   At times this is exactly what I want, and at other times it is excruciatingly painful.

    If you've met me in person, you know I'm warm and affectionate (I give good hug) and a laugh riot social instigator.  However, if you've known me for a while, you've seen me in my quieter moments.  In those moments, I appear either distracted, disconnected, or deep in thought.  Sometimes I'm just observing life.  Sometimes I'm overwhelmed by it.

    It's odd to be both very social and very asocial at the same time.  I don't know which one is my nature and which one is what I've learned to be out of necessity.  Ultimately I think I am social, but scarred and imperfect.  My instinct is to be social, but I am often awkward and say the wrong things, then retreat into my shell.

    Growing up, I experienced inclusion and (intentional/unintentional) exclusion/rejection from my peers.  My father (in the guise of offering advice) told me that no one would be my friend if I acted "that way" (argumentative, opinionated) around them.  He wanted me to be a bit more moderate/agreeable but what I heard was that I needed to abandon myself in order to please people. That never sat well with me.  I was argumentative (I knew the difference between debate and fight) and opinionated.  I didn't attack people, but I stood my ground.  I didn't want to be friends with people that were pushovers.  I wanted them to respond and be just as forceful as I was (sometimes a category 5 hurricane).

    I also realize now that I stayed close to home because of my agorophobe mother (who was not only afraid to go out into the world herself, but was fearful for her kids as well; luckily I do not have agorophobia like my mother and her mother before her) and lawyer father (who saw the very worst of humanity -- murderers, rapists, child abusers, etc.).  I began using the internet at a young age (11 or so) and spent more time learning how to be social on IRC and aol.com than building connections with actual people.

    [[Edit:  My mom died when I was 13.  I instantly felt that I was different because of this -- burdened with a sense of responsibility and seriousness from that moment on that would forcefully separate me from childhood.  There was a lot of anger coupled with this.  While other kids were able to play and go to their activities, I was doing my laundry, cooking dinner, cleaning house, and trying to make time for my father to do things with us (that he never did).]]

    In college, I was more content to wander the streets of Washington, DC at night than to actually participate in the life that was there for the taking (except for that brief foray into the intramural indoor soccer club).  Years later, I find myself doing the same.  I'm comfortable sitting at a bar by myself, on a park bench by myself, climbing the steps of the Lincoln Memorial by myself.  Sometimes it just doesn't occur to me that I should be calling friends, booking my weekend to the gills.

    That is, until the weekend comes, and I realize that I am alone -- for better and for worse.

    This either makes me a good friend (the kind of friend that can always make room in his or her schedule) or a bad friend (the kind of friend that doesn't call to make plans).  Luckily, I have many friends that understand that I'm a bit of a social misfit and don't hold it against me (i.e. they know I'm not mad at them, just that I'm oblivious).  At the same time, I can understand how hard it is for them to always be the ones reaching out to me or the one making plans.

    I hope to work on this.  I know I'll never consistently be the life of the party or the epicenter of action.  But I hope that in putting this out there in the world, it will show that I'm cognizant of my shortcomings and will be mindful to improve myself whenever possible.

    So what does this have to do with the whole weightloss/health gain endeavor?  Lots.

    When I gave up drinking (when I had to go on methylprednisolone injections for my back), people didn't want to tempt me by asking me out to drink.  (I think some people also didn't know what I could or couldn't do with my back problem.)  Likewise, now that I'm trying to lose weight, I think some people aren't inviting me out to eat or to parties knowing they're calorie bombs. I need to do a better job of (1) showing that just because there's food or alcohol around that I'm not powerless in the situation to be moderate and (2) planning activities with friends that don't revolve around calorie consumption, but rather calorie burning.

    I also want to recognize how this relates to me and dating.  I'm approaching 30 and never have been in a relationship where love was reciprocal.  This just makes me feel sad, and yes, alone.  A friend pointed out that it is better to be 30 and alone than some of the alternatives.  I'm not looking to rate or rank all of life's painful experiences, just saying that this is something that weighs on my heart (making it look like a hamburger).

    Oh. Holy. Crap.

    My life is about to get very busy...

    Monday: Boxing Technique -- 6pm at LA Boxing Georgetown

    Tuesday: Softball -- 6pm at WPP

    Wednesday:  Softball -- 6pm at WPP  (or Boxing Technique in case of game cancellation)

    Thursday: weights & running at gym

    Friday: rest day or 6/7 pm boxing at LA Boxing Georgetown

    Saturday:  12 or 3 pm boxing at LA Boxing Georgetown

    Sunday:  weights & running at gym

    You'll notice I have a rest day built in to the schedule, depending on what else is going on, but the truth is that I'll be listening to my body.  If I need a rest day, I'm taking one.

    It also means that I won't be drinking after softball games.  I have goals that are bigger than crappy beer.