Perfecting a Pleasing and Healthy Pantry

As part of my quest for better/improved health I decided the time had come for me to clean out and ascertain the contents of my pantry, so that I would know exactly what I had to eat.  I wanted to see if there were expired items that I needed to throw out (there were); I wanted to see if there were unhealthy items I wanted to throw out (the verdict hasn’t come in on that one yet), but most of all I just wanted to know exactly what I had, so that I could see how it fit into an eating plan that would give me even more energy and even better health, more stamina in the yoga room, more vibrancy in the classroom, more stillness in meditation, more speed on the treadmill—you get the picture).

During the past two days I took every food item out of my pantry for an evaluation.  (as an aside I have a LARGE pantry, and I want to make better use of it, and not just have it be a junk collection station).  Here are some of my observations, item by item:

1)      Best Foods Light mayonnaise: ever since I moved to this apartment I keep buying mayonnaise thinking I’ll make some egg salad ( I do love a good quality homemade egg salad), but I have yet to make egg salad, so I end up throwing out the mayo when it expires and buying a new one.

2)      Target’s Market Pantry light syrup: who is kidding who here?  I have an addiction to sugar.  When I make pancakes, which isn’t very often, they are more of an excuse to drown them in sugar. After eating the pancakes (aka syrup) I usually go into a sugar coma and sleep for days…..I haven’t made pancakes since I moved to this apartment, and I’m not sure I made them in my last apartment, but I keep buying the syrup, just like I keep buying the mayo……

3)      Trader Joe’s Portobello mushroom soup and Campbell’s mushroom soup (yes, they are both vegetarian): well I bought these thinking I’d cook them with some potatoes and veggies, but have yet to do that, and I think, in actuality, that it might make a rather heavy meal.

4)      Pumpkin Oatmeal: well I pared it down from 6 boxes to 2, so that’s something!

5)      Pickled beets and garbanzo beans and black beans: items hanging around for salads.

6)      Trader Joe’s salsa verde: awesome when mixed with corn tortillas, cheese and eggs.

7)      Ortega green chiles and Las Palmas enchilada verde sauce: yummy for enchilada pie…..

8)      Raw organic coconut butter and raw organic almond butter: arguably the healthiest items in my pantry. The coconut butter tastes awesome plain and the almond butter works well for some extra protein in smoothies.

9)      Artichoke and garlic whipped mustard: bought this in Monterey in June. Haven’t opened it yet, but I remember it was rather tasty.

There are other items in the pictures, but you get the picture! I’m trying to work toward a healthier style of eating, and I’m not always sure where it needs to go. I feel like it’s a constant experiment. I want to eat fresher and healthier foods, but that requires going to the grocery store more frequently, and I have to be careful. When I’m feeling emotional, which is most of the time I tend to stray toward more processed foods, like candy bars. If could eat just one it wouldn’t be a problem, but I tend to eat and want to eat more than just one.

I feel better and healthier when I eat fresh raw foods. My body responds to them more positively. My mood is elevated. My spirit is happier. So that’s more of my aim at the moment, one meal at a time. Sometimes I do okay, and sometimes I just do, but I’m getting there, and, in the end, that’s all that counts.

Oh, and, at the very least my pantry is better organized and clean, so now I do know exactly what I have………

Pantry Before:

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Contents of Pantry:

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Pantry After:

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A Love Letter to My Father

For My Father,

You hated having Parkinson’s. You couldn’t stand that it limited your movements, that you had to ask for help. I remember you drove to a meeting in Van Nuys one day this past April and you needed help from a friend to get up from a chair. It was one  thing to need help from family, but to need it from a friend made the illness more “real.” You felt humiliated that day. Stunned and humiliated.

My heart broke knowing that you felt badly about yourself. Having Parkinson’s was never about you! It’s just what it was. It didn’t make you bad. It didn’t make you a loser. If anything, it made you a winner. You NEVER gave up. Not once. Long before others would have stopped, you kept going, always striving to find a way to have independence.

You NEVER gave up.  Perhaps that’s where my drive comes from. Perhaps that’s the story I need to tell. I’ve been wanting to share more of you with my world, but wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to say……until now. You NEVER gave up. You always wanted to live life as fully as you could, right up until the end.

I have that same drive–I get that from you. That drive propels me to do two (yes even three) yoga classes in one day. It motivates me to go hiking in new places, to discover new wonders I never imagined I’d see, to jump all the way down the rabbit hole head first–I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I know I can go further in this life than I ever imagined, and I look forward to you being there with me, in my heart, every moment, just as you were with me last Tuesday when I went to Disneyland to celebrate your life and to experience the truth of Walt Disney’s vision: “I think most of all what I want Disneyland to be is a happy place….where parents and children can have fun, together.”

Last Tuesday we did have fun together. I know you were with me. I dressed as your Princess, just as I always have been and always will be. I love you Dad!

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Life Lessons Learned from Zip Lining

I’m in trouble, and I know it. I don’t know the solution though. Everyone says it’s supposed to be inside. I suppose that’s true, but I don’t know quite where to look.

I decided to take today (Sunday) just for myself. To do whatever I felt like doing. I didn’t really sleep in but I did lounge around in bed reading Dan Brown’s Inferno.  I’m enjoying his bit of fluff.  It’s been far too long since I’ve just read for the sake of reading, which is sad in and of itself because I LOVE reading!  I also read a yoga magazine just because.

Somewhere around noon I got up and started doing a little cleaning. In my camera bag I found a camera card containing five videos of me ziplining in Maui. A light bulb went off—somewhere on that sdhc card I might find the answers I’ve been looking for.

I worked sooo hard for months, physically and mentally, to be able to go ziplining in Maui. (There’s far more to Maui story, but that will wait. I want this blog to be about zipping……) Of all the activities I dreamed of participating in while I was in Maui, ziplining was the ONLY one that came with a weight requirement. I struggled for months with my food choices and my workouts. I exhibited a determination I’d never seen before. My eating and workouts weren’t perfect but I woke up every day fixated upon my goal.

Someone told me if you worked out before you ate that you’d lose weight more quickly, so almost every morning I’d get up, put on my New Balance shoes and just go straight out the door and walk for 2 miles. I didn’t think about it; I just did it. I ate almost the same thing every day for breakfast: 1) Yoplait light yogurt with ½ c. fiber one cereal and a diced up apple or 2) oatmeal with a diced up apple and a ¼ c. of raw almonds. The rest of my day would vary, but I’d always start off the same.

A few weeks before I left I wasn’t sure I’d make the weight requirement so I bought some Nike shoes that weigh less that one pound.  They’re actually quite comfy.  When I got to Maui, ziplining was the first activity I did. I wanted to do it first so I wouldn’t have to worry about the scale for the rest of my visit. As it turns out I had nothing to worry about.  I was nicely below their weight limit, and I had an amazing time!  With this particular company two people zipped at the same time, so I had the pleasure of always going last and zipping with the cutest safety guy!

That was about eleven months ago (October 18th, 2011). So much of my life has changed since then, in ways I never imagined, in ways I never planned. Joseph Campbell was right, “we must be willing to let go of the life we planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us.” For much of this past year, I’ve been okay. Just okay. I’m referring to my relationship with food here.

Then my father died. I went on auto-pilot. I started eating too much comfort food. It’s not that I ever really binged, but it’s adding up. I’ve gained a few pounds.  Just a few. But that’s a warning sign. I can’t go back. I won’t go back to where I was. But I’m no longer sure how to move forward. I’m just not.  And it’s not really about a number on the scale, it’s about how I feel, about how my body feels, and my body wants to feel better and stronger.

Looking at the videos of my zipling experience remind me of my inner strength and also remind me of the beauty and value of taking one day at time, and I know that if I do that I’ll keep moving forward into the amazing adventure my life is becoming……………….

Scenes from Line 4 of my 5 line zipping experience:

http://youtu.be/fjR9vZpkgPk

Scenes from Line 5 of my 5 line zipping experience (line 5 is over 1/2 mile long and takes you more than 600 feet above the ground!):

http://youtu.be/1dOMuNsutQk

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Yoga Clothes for THIS/MY Body!

Not too long ago I spied the most gorgeous colorful two-piece yoga outfit at Bikram Yoga Marina Del Rey, one of the places I practice.  The top was a bright beautiful yellow, and the bottom—a perky pretty PINK, but, of course, they came in “tiny” people sizes, a fact I lamented with overt vociferousness!

“They NEVER make yoga clothes for women MY size.” “It’s impossible to find CUTE clothes for ME to wear to yoga.” The list of complaints went on ad infinitum……………………………It’s true, mind you, that finding COLORFUL workout clothes in any size over 12 takes GREAT effort, and is almost impossible. But clothing discrimination is a subject I’ll tackle later.

Part of me prefers black workout clothes because I feel they hide my body, well, to be more specific my stomach.  Black does have a slimming effect.  I don’t wear much black in my daily life, but when it comes to the workout room, it’s my color of choice.  Well, it WAS.

Scouring the Internet one day I found some pinkish purplish bike shorts, and then I found a YELLOW Champion sports bra. I HAD found a COLORFUL yoga outfit in MY size.  I didn’t know what to do—actually I did—I bought it, of course.  Then I had to wear it.

Putting it on for the first time felt odd, felt weird. When I looked in the mirror I saw my body for what it was. Saw its lumps, curves—SAW IT!  I didn’t feel necessarily comfortable wearing it in public, but what choice did I have? I always tell my students that all we have is this moment, so all I have is this moment. All I have is THIS BODY.

So I own it. I celebrate it. I wear my new outfit.  It’s bright; it’s happy; it’s colorful; it’s ME.  And I wouldn’t be anybody else but ME!  Sure, I might want a skinnier smaller body, but a wise person once said “an easy life is not a victorious life.” I’m not always sure where the road I’m on is leading, but I’m learning to enjoy it and LIVE IT, one moment at a time.

Here’s to me! Here’s to my new yoga outfit!

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A (My) Picture of Grief

It’s only been 3 and ½ weeks since my father died. I can’t even begin to describe how I feel. My emotions are, understandably, all over the place. I haven’t written a post in a couple of weeks because, quite frankly, I haven’t had much to say, and I’m not sure I have much to say now, but I don’t want to keep my grief bottled up.

After the funeral, after everyone went home, I started to get the feeling my life was supposed to go back to normal. I felt (feel) sad, and a range of other emotions, that go along with grief. I function(ed) because that’s what I have to do, that’s what I need to do in the outside world, but behind closed doors, it’s a different story, a story best told with pictures.

I haven’t cleaned much in the past three weeks: dishes have piled up in the sink, my dining table became a catch-all, I’d wash undies when I was wearing my last clean pair and not before. I paid a $30 medical co-pay over 60 days late (I just haven’t cared). When I’m home, I stare into space, trying to focus, attempting to concentrate, but those moments don’t come frequently enough. I’m sad.  I need to be sad now.  My world looks different; nothing can change that.

Don’t misunderstand me; I don’t need psychiatric drugs; I don’t need therapy—after all it’s only been 3 ½ weeks. I need to and I choose to acknowledge that I need to just be for now; I need the space to figure out how the landscape of my world is altering at a faster pace than I ever imagined.

I miss my father’s love. I know that he’s with me now more than ever, but that’s part of the new configuration of my life that I haven’t quite settled into yet.

Knowing others care and love helps. As I looked around my recently cluttered apartment this morning, I kept focusing on the flowers my friends sent me Friday, and I felt (and feel) the love the sunflower arrangement conveys. Then I thought about the sweet messages of love and hugs I’d been receiving, and somehow all that gave me the energy to make space for my life.

I’m including before and after pics, so you can see the manifestations of my grief. You’ll also see a clutter free dining table, lovingly decorated with flowers and pics of my father, so when I wake up Sunday morning, I’ll be able to have breakfast with him by my side. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

With love and gratitude to those around me who are helping me feel loved when I need it the most.

Pics #1, 2, &3: Dining Table and Kitchen BeforeImageImageImage

Pics # 4 & 5 Dining Table and Kitchen After

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