Friday, August 13, 2010

The End.

Rather than leave you with tremendously deep thoughts about the Kung Fu Body, I'll just say this: it was not at all what I expected. At times, I totally resented it. At other times, it was TOTALLY AMAZING. Looking to KFB for the same results I got on PCP was nigh on an impossible task, and I finally realized it a couple of weeks ago. The workouts are way more fun, that's for sure, but like Patrick said in his last e-mail to us, you can't go home again. I've learned that lesson in more than one way this year.

Still, a lot has changed in 90 days. Since KFB began, I have:

*turned 29.
*expanded my kitchen skills exponentially.
*come to my own understanding of death and the afterlife.
*started a writing group with Shivani and some other friends.
*discovered roller derby.
*signed up for that holistic nutrition certification course.
*made new friends.
*sung lots of Dolly Parton.
*driven cross-country for the third time.
*gotten a bike.
*watched my homeboy Pacato flourish in a creative new career.
*discovered eggplant caviar (thank you, Heather.)
*received loads of compliments on my arms.
*let go of many, many uncomfortable ideas about my body.
*embraced positive thinking with a simple word: YES!

And that's just a sample. . . .


So, instead of analysis, I will leave you with some milestones—
WEEK 1
Standing Jump: 10.5 inches (26.7 cm)


Consecutive Ball Punches: 25


Morning Standing Forward Bend: Fingertips to floor with slight bend in knees; fingertips to tops of toes without bending knees


WEEK 12
Standing Jump: 10.25 inches (26 cm)


Consecutive Ball Punches: 136 (That last one was sort of a whiff, so I stopped because I had to go to work.)


Morning Standing Forward Bend: Palms on the floor. Whoa.


And some photos—

BEFORE

AFTER



. . . so you can draw your own conclusions.

Thank you for reading. Thank you for your encouragement and thoughtful commentary. To everybody currently doing or thinking about starting PCP or KFB, I wish you all the best!

To all the TOTALLY BAD ASS PCP veterans-turned-KFB KNOCK-OUTS, I think a Day 91 happy dance is in order.
video

See you soon!

Friday, August 6, 2010

On in 5, 4, 3, 2 . . .

I'm blogging to you live from my wide angle forward bend. Currently six minutes in. How do you guys spend this time? So far, I have looked into an insurance matter that should have been paid back in April (could have made this half-hour stretch incredibly tense) and called a casting director about an HBO reality show based on Brooklyn couples (Pacato's idea.)

I realized the other day that saying YES! probably means I should take time for those people with clipboards who try to get the man on the street to stop and support their causes. At the very least, I can hear them out. Ignoring people on the street is such an automatic response for me in this city where everyone wants something from you. Seriously? I don't have five minutes to spare?

I am reframing my attitude in so many positive ways without even intending to. I used to find excuses for not even pursuing my own interests . . . like, say, attending an urban gardening seminar by myself. (I rode my bike to one last week!) Now, I believe that I can do things I previously would have been too afraid to try (like, attempting a handstand in the middle of the room—not yet successful, but that is not the point.)

Speaking of saying YES! to stuff, do you guys know anything about Soka Gakkai International? This tiny lady handed me a card in the subway the other day. This mission may require a wingman.

Also, while I've got you, I'm considering taking a holistic nutrition certification course. An e-mail put the buzz on me a couple days ago, and I can't stop thinking about it. I'm not sure what to do. Mostly because it is quite expensive (which could affect the "does not compromise my bank account" tenet), and I don't care so much about the certification part (although, I suppose it could be handy) but about the learning part.

Double hmm . . . maybe I should start a separate YES! blog that could help connect me to other cool experiences. Ponder, ponder . . .

Monday, August 2, 2010

Who needs the grocery store?

Yesterday, my YES! project took me on an unusual adventure through the wilds of Brooklyn's Prospect Park: foraging! Pacato, our new friend Ali, and I joined a four-hour tour led by the incredibly knowledgeable (and always prepared) Wildman Steve Brill.

The Wildman shows us how to recognize amaranth.

We found all kinds of edible leafy greens, berries, and varieties of cherries, as well as medicinal plants.


Yum, I can't remember what this green bean-tasting plant is called.


We simultaneously discover burdock root . . . and the fact that we forgot to bring a shovel so we couldn't actually take any home.

Turns out I really enjoy foraging. I may make it a hobby. At the very least, I am definitely going on another tour in the fall. When we got home, I made a tincture for skin irritations using jewel weed, some mugwort tea (good for preventing PMS symptoms and creating lucid dreams), and a dinner salad of lamb's quarters (with a spinach flavor), that green bean-tasting plant, and wood sorrel.


Voila! (Turnips—I think?—foraged from our CSA box. And salmon, from the local fish guy.)

What's that you say? You want more of the Wildman?

Oh, all right.
Impromptu jam session, Prospect Park 2010 from Emily Drum on Vimeo.








Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Go on, ask me.

I've decided to start saying yes. Not okay (sigh) or sure (whatever) or maybe (not) but a resounding YES. If you need one more person on your football team or a square dance partner (okay, I need a square dance partner) or a writing tutor (for fee or barter) or a batch of brownies for your bake sale, yes, I will do it. As long as it doesn't compromise my well-being, my values, or my bank account, I'm in. In fact, I'm totally stoked.

As I've gotten older, like many people, I've started getting set in my ways. By nature, I love to try new things and go new places. When I was younger (um, not that long ago), I was always up for anything. But for some reason, I've started thinking up excuses for why I just can't.

No wonder I feel so much discontent with my life.

I've been reflecting on this passage from the Sacred Path:


You can see people's connection to internal drala by the way they behave: the way they pick up their teacups, they way they smoke their cigarettes, or the way they run their fingers through their hair. Whatever you do always manifests how you feel about yourself and your environment—whether you feel kindness towards yourself or resentment and anger towards yourself; whether you feel good about your environment or whether you feel bad about your environment. That can always be detected by your gait and your gestures—always.

It reminds me of a sentence in Geneen Roth's Women, Food, and God about the disconnect we often experience between who we believe ourselves to be and who we actually are. For me, that disconnect hits home in terms of my aspirations. I love my job and my community in Brooklyn, but I don't aspire to sit behind a desk or live in a crowded city my whole life. There are too many new experiences to be had and dormant (or as-yet-untapped) passions to explore. I want to do it all! Yet, I just can't bring myself to jump.

Instead, I stick to my routine: workout, work, capoeira, Internet, sleep . . . with a little (sometimes a lot of) eating in between. And then I complain about how I want to DO SOMETHING WITH MY LIFE!

I've become a crotchedy old lady, and I'm barely 29.

So what can I do right now to reverse the aging process?

I'm quitting refusals cold turkey. And I'm not going to straddle the fence anymore.

SIGN ME UP.


Sunday, July 25, 2010

Hey shorty

So . . . I'm in North Carolina right now. I didn't pack my jump rope because the last time I was here, we found my dad's old jump rope in a closet—a cotton number with wood handles. Not that jump ropes take up much room, but I'm really big on packing as little as possible. FACT: after a solo vacation to Israel in 2008, authorities questioned me for half an hour at Ben Gurion International Airport because I had apparently packed suspiciously little for a ten-day trip to another country. (I will admit an extra pair of jeans probably would have been a good idea.)

At any rate, my dad was a short dude, at 5'6". And I'm 5'1". But that jump rope must have been from when he was ten. I could not get the thing to clear my head and my feet. It's not often I get to be too tall for something.


BREAKING FACT: My mom just informed me my dad got the jump rope when he was training for a marathon, which means he was in his mid-thirties. He had definitely stopped growing by then.

Eventually I did make it through my ten minutes.


And I would have used ping pong balls for the rest of the face, but I got all cocky yesterday morning about how much time I had to get ready before a car arrived to take me to the airport. Suffice it to say, I will be shadow boxing my way through this week's workout. . . .

Friday, July 23, 2010

Straight from the farm box . . .


Now that's what I call a fresh egg!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Mini-break

I took a KFB vacation today. This week, I've kinda been over being told what and how much to eat. My mind is having trouble reconciling wanting to make its own choices with living up to my commitment to the program. (My mind usually wins, but it feels more like a desperate rebellion than a conscious choice.)

Patrick warned us we might be tired this week. I've been exhausted, fighting to keep my eyes open during the day. Morning KFB + evening capoeira + all-day heat is a monster equation for fatigue. But this morning, my whole body hurt. So I opted for sleep instead of exercise. I made no-bake cookies when I got home from work, and the sugar high inspired me to go to capoeira instead of getting all kung fu in my living room. Then I had a beer with a friend.

In short, the day was AWESOME.

Sometimes, a girl just needs a vacation.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Special delivery!

I am poised to begin a new chapter in my life . . . on wheels!

Inside each of those boxes is a bike.

And do you know who just carried them both up two flights of stairs?

That's right.

This guy, right here.

Go go kung fu arms!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Eeek-a-mouse!

Y'all, I took Patrick's recent e-mail about our meditation practice to heart. For the past few weeks, when I've thought about my meditation practice, I've been all, helllooooo . . . is this thing on? It started out so promising . . . so (cue melodramatic music) life-changing. Then I hit a speed bump. Um, turns out I wasn't meditating so much as sitting on my floor for five minutes a day thinking about stuff. No wonder I've felt so scatterbrained, unfocused, agitated . . .

Frazzled, like this guy:

So last night I sat on my floor with intention. To breathe in, breathe out. Not think, just be. You know, all that stuff.

That lasted about a minute . . . because this guy:
. . . ran across the floor right in front of me.

I have lived in New York for 6 1/2 years, and I still scream bloody murder when I see a mouse.

So much for flexibility.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Mirror, mirror, on the wall

I don't know about you guys, but I started getting TOTALLY bored with the workouts. Fortunately, yesterday, I found the cure: vanity.

I relocated the gym from the den back to its old spot in the kitchen, where a full-length mirror hangs on the wall by the front door. Let me tell you, I could have worked out all day. I was fascinated by watching my own sweaty muscles flex. For the first time in a couple of weeks, I wasn't just getting my exercises done, but actually doing them.

Hey, y'all, whatever works. . . .


Saturday, July 10, 2010

Apparently I've been working harder than I needed to . . .

I just looked at today's workout . . . and then looked at last week's workout . . . and realized that EVERY DAY we were supposed to be doing our leg swings and crescent kicks to the tune of seconds. For some reason, I was reading leg swing days as still being done by rep. It did strike me as odd . . . but man, I hope it gave my legs an extra boost.

At least, now I can jump for joy every day. Woot!

I'm going to double jump for joy now that Patrick has remixed the leg swing and crescent kick part of the workout. Tedium, be gone!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Odd-numbered days make me jump for joy!

This week I have been almost giddy whenever I opened the workout to find all those exercises x X seconds. Hoorah! The session will not go on forever! Today, I even did ten kung fu sit-ups per set instead of calling it a day at eight because I had that. much. time.

It's 6:45 a.m. I've just finished working out, and I'm off to one of my favorite parts of the week: Thursday morning yoga!

A happy Thursday to all!

P.S. In this heat, I find that "hang out as long as possible" means "hang out till your hands to slip off the pull-up bar from sweat," no?

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

File under: Mindful Consumption

My great friend Pimentao gave me a copy of Shambhala: The Sacred Path of the Warrior. I have been especially interested in the passages on drala, or "energy beyond aggression"—connecting the wisdom of your own being with the power of things as they are. As I was reading on my commute this morning, I came across this timely passage:

Internal drala [oneness in your body] also comes out of making a proper relationship to food, by taking an interest in your diet. . . . You invoke internal drala by developing greater awareness of how you use your mouth altogether. You put food in your mouth; you drink liquids through your mouth; you smoke cigarettes in your mouth. It is as if the mouth were a big hole or big garbage pail: you put everything through it. Your mouth is the biggest gate: you talk out of it, you cry out of it, and you kiss out of it. . . . Maybe you don't need to use it as much as you think. Appreciating your world doesn't mean that you must consume everything you see all the time.

Oh, like, the sangria, cookies, banana bread, and tortilla chips I binged on this weekend? (I was at the same rooftop party as Shivani.)

Over the past few days, my grief has manifested itself in a mixture of all-out bawlfests (even in public!) and complete disregard for my health (i.e. eating junk food—also in public!) I started to see myself as a lost cause. Perhaps I will always solve my problems with food. But, I remembered feeling an acute connection between my desire not to sit with my emotions and my desire to eat a cookie. Awareness. I'm filing the weekend under SUCCESS. 

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Paper chaser

Does anybody else find the paper punches incredibly humbling?

Not only did I not knock down the sheet with the steely windpower of my punch, I accidentally hit the thing . . . twice . . . and it still did not fall over. I guess my best defense currently, should I run into an ogre in a dark alley, is to run. Or maybe knee him in the balls.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Greetings from NYC!

. . . where I have just returned after seven days of driving from North Carolina to Oregon. It was great fun, my young nieces and older sister are excellent travel companions, and I am exhausted. But I did want to drop in to say hello before I crash.

KFB on the road was much easier than I expected. I made a tomato and cucumber salad that lasted at least half the week, bagged some chopped celery and carrots, and packed a lot of fresh and dried fruit for snacks. In the evenings when we stopped at restaurants, I had some really delicious salads with fish. I've missed my full workouts the past few days, due to road trip events beyond my control. (You know, the usual stuff like spending three hours in Billings, MT while the Mazda dealership put in a new alternator and driving till 2 a.m. because Ironman competitors in Couer d'Alene, ID and Hoopfest attendees in Spokane, WA—only the biggest event of the year, who knew?—had filled the hotels.) Today's workout was a casualty of an adventurous flight experience back to the east coast that began with my alarm at 4:15 a.m. But I think this evening I will put together all the flexibility exercises since Saturday for a power stretching session and pick things up tomorrow morning with Day 46.

This is cute: a couple of mornings after working out in our hotel room, I'd get out of the shower to see my nieces shadow boxing. My five-year-old niece also led me in a number of her freshly imagined stretches.

A few things I learned:
If a warning light comes on in the car, you should probably have it checked out.
Book a hotel ahead of time.
To 5-year-olds, potty humor is the shit.
Bring more snacks than you think you need in case your flight is delayed until the end of time . . . while you're already on the plane.
When in doubt, Dolly Parton.

I just caught up on all Patrick's e-mails from the week, and I look forward to reading all your blogs. Should get this show back up and running regularly in another day or two. . . .

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Gone fishin'...

Up in the air--it's wide angle forward bend! (Er . . . sort of.)


Just look at this photo and imagine how I thought I looked. I was definitely in a full split. Definitely.

I don't know about you guys, but I LOVED today's new freestyle workout . . . especially the punching part. I gave that ball the whatfor. But it managed to double back and whap me in the face, so I think we're even.

I am also superstoked about the shorter workout. It's going to be a godsend this week. On Monday, I depart for my cross-country driving adventure. NC to OR in 6 days. Which means I'll be up crazy early most days so I can pack it in before we hit the road. I'm not taking internet with me, so I'll probably be incommunicado till then.

A very kung fu week to you all!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Addendum

To my most recent post . . .

I eventually did get up, when the dryer buzzer woke me with a start, causing me to accidentally drop the cat on the floor. Unphased, she lay where she fell and went right back to sleep.

I took the opportunity to do my wide angle forward bend as I started The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. I'm only a few pages in, but it's quite compelling. And I must be making progress on the stretch because for once, I didn't get any back pain.

I'll get the real test tomorrow when my eight-year-old niece and I attend an aerial silk class taught by my friend Caroline.

Will keep you posted. . . .

FTW

One disadvantage to not being overweight is that when I come home to NC, my tummy isn't exactly desirable real estate for cat naps. However, after a stressful day of running from the tiny people (my nieces) who have invaded my mom's house for the weekend and hissing violently at the stray Schnauzer who crashed with us for a couple of hours this afternoon, Gigi managed to find a comfy spot on my legs as I fell asleep on the recliner. I guess she needed some TLC. I know I did.




This week has been a little rough. Every day has brought a constant, unexpected reminder that Sunday is Father's Day. Like, say, when I open my e-mail, and Amazon is all, GET YOUR DAD A KINDLE. My family attended a Bar Association memorial service for my father at the courthouse this afternoon. It was lovely, but I was crying before it even started. Better than bursting into tears on the street, which has happened almost every day this week. (Shivani, I envy your crying during meditation at these times . . . why can't I bawl when it's convenient?) I always get it under control, but one of these days, I should probably just let myself lose it completely.

Suffice it to say, I've been eating a lot of granola.
And unlawful carbs (usually at night.)
And too much fruit (maybe, I don't always measure.)

I don't consider any of these breaches to be KFB fails, however, because if the worst thing I do is eat too much granola, I'm on the right path. I realized this week that I'm not counting the KFB days. I don't feel like I'm missing anything. I have no desire whatsoever to eat processed anything (I can make it myself!), big fancy meals, or refined sugar goodies. Not even cake. Not even homemade. Not even at my unbirthday celebration tomorrow. My brain and my body finally see eye-to-eye. These foods will not serve me (even on an emotional level, though clearly granola has stepped up to the plate on that one . . . baby steps.) Of course, I still need lots of practice, but KFB feels like regular life to me. Definite win.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Deep Thoughts

I rather enjoy the targeted exercises when I can invest the time. Like this evening. After a couple rounds of kicks, I was popping them off. KAPOW! BOOM! BOINK! Finding my rhythm cut my agility time in half (it's a Tuesday miracle!) Soon I'll be able to challenge anyone to a proper street fight. Game face: ON.

Pictured above: the agility section of my home gym. The space is configured such that I have to do kicks from inside the bathroom. I like to do it all in the dark. You know, just in case aforementioned street fight breaks out at night.

I finished the rest of the workout while I watched No Impact Man. Pretty interesting stuff. I'm trying to quit paper towel usage cold turkey. How the experiment is going would depend on which member of the household you choose to ask.

Going back to agility, my new favorite thing is spitting cherry pits into the trash can behind my desk at snack time. Patrick, I think you should consider adding targeted spitting to the agility workout. PTOOEY!

Pacato tells me I'm looking rather agile in the capoeira roda. I have no idea if this is true. What I do know is that we started class today by playing without kicks, and I was pulling tricks out of my bag that I forgot I knew. I must harbor a small fear of getting kicked. I think my game reflects the fact that I'm not a touchy feely person in real life, but throw out the kicks, and suddenly, I'm all up in your space.

Now that push kicks are getting more play in my brain, they've insinuated themselves into my capoeira repertoire as well.

Also, I walked by the mirror the other day in my morning P.E. uniform (sports bra and undies) and actually thought, I can't believe that's my body. I dig KFB muscle tone.

I slept in till 6:50 a.m. this morning. It was glorious. But I literally just woke myself up snoring in the middle of writing this post. So I suppose I'll hit the sack.

Until next time. . . .

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Life is a bowl full of cherries

Or at least my morning snack is. 140g of cherries is a lot of cherries! Nom nom nom . . .

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Do you hear that?

That's the sound of rules breaking.

A few nights this week, I ate peanut butter straight out of the jar. Spoon in the peanut butter. Spoon in the honey. Spoon in my mouth. Repeat. I'm not outing myself to lament having fallen off the food wagon. As far as I'm concerned, I'm driving this wagon. I'm just using Patrick's map. Up till now, when I've taken a detour it has usually (but not always) meant eating less at a meal if I wasn't hungry or having an extra fruit snack if I was. When I started this program, I made a commitment to myself to make mindful, healthful eating a natural part of my daily life, but it does take practice. There have been moments when I've stopped to ask myself, "is this food going to help my body or harm it?" In those instances, I've usually had to put it down and walk away.

But the greatest challenge of mindful eating has not been choosing healthful foods. It has been understanding why I eat. If I reach for a handful of granola when I'm not hungry, what am I trying to cover up? I recently read Geneen Roth's Women, Food, and God, and I've been practicing her approach of inquiry—stopping in the moment of wanting to binge to allow myself to understand what I'm feeling. (In fact, as I type right now, I have a strong urge to get something to eat.) My favorite of her seven Eating Guidelines is "Eat (with the intention of being) in full view of others." Because I tend to eat like I'm afraid someone's going to take my food away from me. I eat quickly. I eat simply because the food is there. And as it turns out, if I give myself the choice to put my snack on a plate and walk it over to the dining table, I usually choose not to eat it. Because food isn't what I wanted.

I met yesterday's mindful consumption e-mail from Patrick (eat a treat, be present for it, and recognize how your physical body reacts) with some discomfort. In fact, I reacted by making a huge batch of granola, snacking on it straight off the baking sheet, feeling terribly gassy all afternoon, and getting a stomach ache later because farting in a movie theater is against our social mores. But in the midst of all those terrible feelings, I continued to eat.

I think there's a flaw with the physical approach to mindful consumption. Food is too entwined with personal experience. Understanding the physical consequences of eating certain foods and overeating in general is not enough. For me, at least, the physical pain can add to the desired result—it provides a distraction from the anxiety, the sadness, the frustration, the embarrassment, etc.—although it ultimately exacerbates those feelings. It's a punitive cycle. Like getting a massive hangover and swearing you're never going to drink again . . . until next weekend. If millions of Americans were going to stop eating Big Macs because they give you indigestion, obesity would not be endemic to our culture right now.

The tricky part is that while the physical consequences are tangible, the emotional causes of eating are not always readily evident. I have no idea why I ate that peanut butter because I didn't bother to find out. If I had, I probably wouldn't have eaten it.

So what is the answer? For me, I have to constantly remind myself that my mind and my body are worth the extra time it takes to a) understand what I'm feeling and b) determine whether the choice I'm making is ultimately going to lengthen or shorten my life. I take more time to chew my food. I've decided that I have enough of everything I need—enough time, enough food, enough money. I meditate. This aspect of the program, I find, has been the most beneficial to me almost instantly. In fact, I've noticed that sometimes anxiety or frustration that might previously have caused me to eat now produces a great desire to sit instead.

What has been your experience with the mental side of mindful consumption?

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Snacktime Triumph

Behold! Banana Ice Cream!


Frozen Bananas + Blender = Greatest Dessert in History

Oh, the simplicity of it all. I wish I had thought of it myself.
Pacato asked me if my way around the "no processed foods" rule is just to make it all myself. I suppose it is, but mostly I'm just stoked on realizing how easy it is to make foods I might otherwise have bought. PLUS I have complete control over what goes into them.

I think this little treat may be my substitute for birthday cake this year.

5:45 a.m.!

. . . is the magic number if I want to finish my whole workout before work.

I noticed much better range of motion in my hips during the side leg swing and the crane—especially for that hour.

Veggie pancakes and spelt for breakfast. Nom nom nom . . .

Also, I'm collecting songs from the 80s and 90s for my road trip. Send your favorites!

Speaking of hits from the 90s, it's time for a MORNING CONFESSION: I totally learned to dance from MTV's The Grind Workout videos.


As I was working out to the 90s on 9 this morning, one of the songs from the videos came on—The Bucketheads' The Bomb. Which reminded me that I can't get as low on the dance floor as I used to. So I figured I'd give it a try this morning. Y'all, I have a feeling I'll be getting LOW-LOW-LOW by the end of KFB. . . . 

Friday, June 4, 2010

Thursday, June 3, 2010

I'm really kung fu at having summer fun.


It's my favorite season, and you are guaranteed to find me outside . . . somewhere . . . most likely wearing a tiny bikini. Tomorrow, I embark on the first of many adventures in the coming hot weather months—a weekend capoeira retreat at a yoga ashram (with a pool—SCORE!).

A small sampling of what the rest of the summer has in store:

Wedding (not mine)
Cross-country road trip with my sister and nieces (ages 5 and 8)
My birthday (wheeeee!)
Pacato's birthday
Visit home to NC (not complete without a trip to the amusement park)
Folk music festival

All these reasons to celebrate will provide ample opportunities to test how kung fu I am at following rules. What are you guys up to this summer that might challenge your KFB mindset?

Monday, May 31, 2010

Caught in the act

Pacato caught me meditating to our home gym this evening.



It was a pretty solid five minutes—definite progress, especially given earlier attempts at evening meditation. I opted for the "I am breathing in, I am breathing out" approach.

Dinner was broiled salmon, raw carrot salad, and steamed asparagus.
My new favorite food blog:
http://noteatingoutinny.com/ (I have a foodie crush on this girl.)

Worked out . . .
with Shivani in the park. The lady demands excellence. Much fun.

Bedtime: imminent.

Until we meet again, blogland. . . .

Sunday, May 30, 2010

In which I give my body and my mind over to Patrick and Chen once more for experimental purposes

When I finished 90 days of the Peak Condition Project, I jumped for joy. I thought, I would definitely do it again for the first time, but NOT for a second time. Then Patrick e-mailed us all about the Kung Fu Body using buzz words like . . . Flexibility! Agility! Meditation! How could a girl say no to transforming her body into a lethal weapon?

But that's not why I signed up.

The real reason I'm here is that my father passed away unexpectedly on April 3. I was on vacation in New Mexico, and the next thing I knew, I was on a plane to North Carolina because my 61-year-old father was in the hospital. My father who didn't look or feel sick. My father who was up walking around and watching the NCAA tournament. Who was talking and laughing with us the whole day. Who was pronounced dead just minutes after we left the hospital because his arteries were a calcified impasse, and he didn't know until it was too late.

When I signed up for KFB a couple weeks later, I was unsure whether I was in the right headspace to maintain such a regimented lifestyle. Sometimes, I'm still not sure. But I believe in the power of food to prevent and heal disease. I believe that if I stay active, my joints, my muscles—my heart—will always be in my corner.

It's not as easy as handing over years of ideas and habits. As having a lightbulb moment and never eating another tortilla chip. Before my father died, I understood that it was important to eat healthy and exercise. But now I finally get it. We really are what we eat.

Everything we consume either contributes to or detracts from the processes that keep our bodies functioning, but our relationships with food can be complicated. It's hard to make the mental transition from eating for pleasure or comfort to eating to sustain our lives—to enhance our lives. Or to work out to keep our muscles working and not just so our pants will fit. But making the choice to change is a no-brainer for me, and that's why I'm here.

I will still trip up. I might bake chocolate chip cookies or have four beers one night and throw up on the train (right, I didn't mention that part Friday.) And I don't believe it's healthy to deprive ourselves completely of the treats we enjoy. The Kung Fu Body has to work in real life. So I am giving my body and my mind over to Patrick and Chen once more for experimental purposes, but I am reserving the right to make my own choices. To eat fewer carbs if I'm not hungry or have some extra fruit if I am. To do fewer punches and kicks if I need more sleep. That's what I believe the mind-body aspect of this program is about. By sitting with our minds, it will grow easier to understand what our bodies really need.

My father couldn't save his own life, but at least he can save mine.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Oops.

Clearly, I learned nothing from Lili's experience of drinking German beers and having to work out the next morning. For that matter, clearly I learned nothing from my early 20s. I had four beers last night without dinner, fell asleep on the train, and ended up at Avenue U. Where is Avenue U? I have no idea. Just that the train will take you there, but it will not bring you home. Anyway, I'm pretty sure four beers violates both the "no carbs at night" and "no processed food" rules. Clearly I learned nothing about rebellion from my teenage years.


Jumping should be fun.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

It's a bird, it's a plane . . .

Today I put myself on an internet diet. No wwws unrelated to my current project till 4 pm. I waste so much time checking e-mail, perusing Facebook, and ogling my Google Reader. I use the web as a distraction from writers' block or to stall when I don't feel like getting into a particularly dirty task (like doing my taxes or cleaning the house.) Maybe it's the quiet mind at work, but I got so much done. It was AWESOME.

Lately I feel like superwoman. Not so much the flying (it's only Day 11, y'all) as the checking things off my to-do list. Heinous adult things like calling the insurance company to reconcile a bill. Usually these necessaries sit on my list for weeks, often getting transferred to a new, updated list. But since we've been KFBing, I'm striking things off like gangbusters. I feel inspired . . . and proud of my accomplishments. Maybe it's the new beginning the project represents, or the daily sitting, or the boost of energy from the morning workout, or the getting enough sleep. Maybe it's all of the above.

I did do my meditation this evening instead of in the morning. My mind is more insistent at night. It was hard not to look at the clock.

In other news, it's summer in New York . . . or at least on Sixth Avenue . . .

Monday, May 24, 2010

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Hot Box (cont'd)

It's still hot in hurrr . . .
But mainly because the oven has been eager to please tonight. I am officially a Brooklyn cliche. Homemade everything. Now all I need is an upside down window garden and my own podcast.

Behold, my homemade bread and preserves:















Pacato asked if my way around not being able to eat some of this stuff for the next three months was to make my own. Um, maybe.

Fact: I had a slice for dessert. I just couldn't wait till tomorrow to taste the fruit (fiber?) of my hands. It was awesome. And turns out both were super easy. (The preserves were just strawberries plus sugar plus some hot pepper on the stove for 45 minutes or so, then I added a splash of fresh lemon juice. I'm curious to try with agave. I don't know if it will work. Shivani, re: peanut butter, don't think I haven't thought about it. . . .)

Dinner came from Chinatown:

It looks better than it smells.













As for my chest, I guess I pulled a muscle? I had no idea it was possible. I didn't finish my exercises today because it hurts to lean over. Should be ready to rumble tomorrow.

Hot Box

It was, like, a gazillion degrees in my apartment when I was doing my morning workout. I felt like a wrestler. Or one of those people who walks through Prospect Park in a rubber suit. Sweatin' off that weight,  y'all.

A lot of the agility moves we do are similar to capoeira moves. We call the hook a galopante. The side kick is a martelo.

This morning when I was on my second set of side kicks, I got some tightness in my chest that wouldn't go away. It still hasn't gone away, actually. Pacato finally made me stop exercising, so I moved on to meditation. I'll have to come back to the rest later.

On the food front, I was crazy domestic last night. My intention is to make all our bread, so I started last night with a basic sourdough recipe that I'll bake this evening. I also made strawberry preserves and my own version of Early Bird granola. THEN, I cleaned the kitchen.

Pat. On. The. Back.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Benchmarks

Standing Jump: 10.5 inches (26.7 cm)

Consecutive Ball Punches: 25

Morning Standing Forward Bend: Fingertips to floor with slight bend in knees; fingertips to tops of toes without bending knees

Friday, May 21, 2010

Day 7 (cont'd)

Ten minute meditation is tough stuff!


For the diet next week, I've decided when Patrick says "no processed foods," he doesn't mean locally produced artisanal goodies like Liddabit Sweets or say, Early Bird granola, even if they are in a package. Also, he must not mean wine.

Have a great weekend!

Day 7

Phew! Boy was I glad to realize it was Day 7 after ignoring my alarm this morning. Less to do, less to rush around to get done. I watched a TED talk while I did my wide angle forward bend (the giant computer being the only source of glowing box entertainment in my house).

William Li talks about eating to starve cancer:

Could preventing, lowering our risk for, and fighting cancer be as easy as eating fruits and vegetables?
I choose to believe it's true. We've got nothing to lose, right?

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Early Bird strikes again!

I bet you thought this post was going to be about getting up early. Well, it's not! Although, I did rise early this morning to squeeze in my workout—a feat, considering I forgot to take my phone off vibrate. Needless to say, I woke up confused.

No, this post is about Early Bird granola. Sweet and salty and made in Brooklyn, it is the BEST GRANOLA EVER IN THE HISTORY OF GRANOLA. No exaggeration. Behold, its birth.


I'm passing it on to you guys so that maybe I won't eat it anymore. I got that bag to send to my mom, who I didn't even know liked granola. Unfortunately, it ended up in my belly before it made it to the post office. Don't worry, I will buy her more.

In other news, the Dalai Lama is in town and speaking next door at Radio City Music Hall. Therefore, there are a number of monkily clad people in the neighborhood. One of the reasons to love New York: the scenery is never dull.

The other reason, of course, is the granola.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

ARRRRRR...Day 5

Ye olde planke is back...

ARRRRRR!

Monday, May 17, 2010

On a whim...

Tonight I went to a lecture at the Natural Gourmet Institute about how cooking techniques enhance nutrition. It was pretty interesting. According to macrobiotic counselor Denny Waxman, the way we cook our food not only brings out different nutrients but also affects the quality of energy we get from it.

For example, quick steaming vegetables brings out fiber (might explain all that gas) and also calms the mind. Blanching (my new favorite technique—why steam for 5 minutes when you can blanch for 30 seconds?) enhances water-soluble vitamins (B & C) and clears the mind. Sauteing is great for vigorous physical activity and quick thinking because it brings out protein. Even frying enhances protein and can provide stamina.

He pointed out that everything we eat becomes our blood. I've been thinking a lot lately about healing through nutrition. I've definitely replaced the old attitude of "will this food make me fat?" with "will this food keep me healthy?"

Anyway, an interesting TED talk by Dean Ornish about the power of food to heal:

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Opening para...

Er...*thoughts...

I already like KFB better than PCP because the first week is all "eat whatever you want!" as long as you reduce your night carbs. Then the workout is just kicks and punches and holding stances and stuff. I feel like a kung fu badass. Also, Patrick mentioned we get more indulgences. Score.


I resent having to count jumps again. I feel like I've been demoted to kindergarten. (Which might actually be fun—definitely more fun than counting jumps. At least kindergarten involves crayons.)


I don't mind counting to 30(1000), etc.,  when we have to hold a stance.


I'm already starting to rebel. At my house, we don't eat carbs much at night anymore, but as soon as I got Patrick's instructions to eat fewer, I was all: CARBS CARBS CARBS CARBS CARBS CARBS HANDFULOFGRAPES CARBS CARBS BANANA CARBS CARBS COOKIEDOUGH CARBS!
Last night, I had the brilliant idea to get Chinese for dinner. Or pad thai! Pacato was all "Um, eat a bowl of noodles much?" And I was all, "Hmmph." So we compromised by sharing some hummus, which I enjoyed with a beet salad. (Incidentally, the hummus was not too salty, as it was during one of my PCP indulgences.) After dinner, I made panzanella for a picnic today, and I liberally taste-tested the bread cubes. Then I went crazy seasoning it with salt. Totally unlike me. And now it's almost too salty to eat. Oops. 


Confession: I don't wait more than 5 seconds between sets. I didn't do it during PCP either, once I figured how much time I could save on my workout. Perhaps KFB will teach me to "be" in that moment, but right now, I'd rather "be" outside or "be" not getting up at 5:30 am every day.


This blog post will be my last comparing KFB to PCP.


I opted for pull-ups instead of incline pull-ups, since I never did find a good at-home solution for the incline. But seeing as how I haven't done anything but jumprope and 8-minute abs in the past couple of months, my back muscles were like, "Are you serious?"


The 5-minute meditation feels like 1 minute. I'm beginning to wonder if I've been falling asleep.


Whenever I catch myself thinking during the meditation, I label it *thought. That's literally what it looks like. Then I watch it float away. I'm not sure who told me about this technique...maybe someone in college or perhaps I read it somewhere. But it's kinda fun. When Pacato and I first started dating, we went to a donation-based meditation class at one of the centers in the city. They did not teach us this technique. But I can't remember what they taught us, so it doesn't matter. That was one of those things where we were like, "Wow, we should really start meditating every day" and then never did it again.


The side leg swing: um? I'm not sure I caught on, but I gave it my best shot. Patrick, you should totally do a short instructional video for all the kung fu moves. I feel confident this is what Mr. Miyagi would have done had he been working remotely with the Karate Kid.


Oh! Speaking of the Karate Kid, look what I found from college:



















Incidentally, I didn't see the movie till last year. Pacato was right. I was really missing out. Next up in never-before-seen classic 80s movies: Back to the Future.