Sunday, 31 May 2009

Oh my god I'm so fat

Two and a half weeks in the USA making poor food choices and not able to get in enough exercise (even though we tried, doing an hour of Gilad from FitTV most days) has left me fatter than ever. I am afraid to get on the scale, but for the first time in years my trousers are actually tighter around my waist and butt. If I am above 139, I am going to cry.

I am so demoralised.

My clothes being too tight is making me want to eat and eat and eat and eat and eat, to just say screw it and go ahead and get fat again.

I'm going to try so hard not to do that. So instead of eating, I'm going to make a plan. It's a tough rotation, and the last two weeks call for double workouts on the same day. But I got me into this mess and only I can get me out. And we all know it's EASY to gain it, and HAAAAARD to lose it. I can see Debbie Allen now, banging that big stick on the dance studio floor. 'Here's where you start payin'. In sweat.' Now where did I put those leg warmers?

June Rotation--Advanced Turbo Jam 'Rip You Up', modified

1--Cardio Party 3
2--3T + Firm Super Body Sculpt (Upper Body and Ab segments)
3--Punch, Kick & Jam
4--Fat Blaster + Ab Jam
5--Tom Holland Total Body Workout
6--Cardio Party 2
7--Ravi & Ana Fat Free Yoga: Lose Weight & Feel Great

8--Total Body Blast + Ab Jam
9--Jari Love Get Ripped to the Core
10--Punch, Kick & Jam 1/2 with gloves + Cathe Abs from Body Fusion
11--Fat Blaster + 3T
12--Lower Body Jam
13--Cardio Party 2 + Ab Jam
14--Maya Fiennes Kundalini Yoga: Willpower

15--Cathe Rhythmic Step + Fat Blaster (big day!!!)
16--Booty Sculpt + Kickin Core OR Punch, Kick & Jam with gloves
17--Turbo Sculpt + Ab Jam
18--Jari Love Get Ripped 1000
19--Fat Blaster
20--Lower Body Jam + Cardio Party 3 OR Total Body Blast
21--Ravi & Ana Kundalini Yoga: Bliss Hips

22--Cardio Party + Turbo Sculpt
23--R&A Fat Free Yoga: Lose Weight & Feel Great
24--Punch Kick & Jam + Booty Sculpt OR Cathe's Kick Max + Leg Drills
25--Fat Blaster + 3T
26--Cardio Party 2
27--Cathe's Low Impact Circuit Cardio Timesaver mix
28--Amy Bento Slo-Mo Strength Challenge


Wednesday, 13 May 2009

I seem to have lost 2 followers in the last few days. I have been posting about exercising and my weight, maybe that was off-putting. But these are concerns in my life as much as any other aspect of it. The health of my body and the enjoyment of my hobby is as important to me as any spiritual or philosophical aspect of my reality.

This blog is not a subject blog, but the blog of my daily life. If it fluctuates wildly from one topic or tone to the next, such is the ebb and flow of my life and consciousness. All are welcome to accompany me, but don't expect me to stick to one topic!

Namaste. xx

Tuesday, 12 May 2009


138.0, that's how much.


Well, these things happen when you've spent the last 6 months eating pretty much anything you want. For about a year and a half, I maintained at 134, but it's crept up to 135, 136, occasionally wobbling into 137, then today--138.0!

But there's no big mystery to it. Look at yesterday for example. Let me see if I can even remember what I ate.

wholemeal toast with coconut oil, marmite, peanut butter and no-sugar added strawberry jam, black decaf

35g raw food bar and a dark chocolate biscuit

7 small falafels on a mixed salad, an instant cup of soup, a soy yogurt, 2 more biscuits

another biscuit

another biscuit

2 handfuls of granola cereal

roast potatoes, asparagus, faux-chicken breast with gravy and a wholemeal pita

For the last few months, most of my calories are coming from junk. Those biscuits I ate have 127 calories in 2. I checked the packet AFTER I ate them. In fact, I decided to have that last one after I read the packet. Even though I know it takes about 20 minutes of aerobics to burn 127 calories. A cookie that takes 10 seconds to eat takes 10 minutes to burn off. Yet still I ate it.

In fact, this was a relatively good day for me because I didn't eat chips with loads of sugary ketchup for dinner.

Oh, I don't know. I can make excuses about stress and all that, but they're only excuses.

If I allow myself to get to 140, I don't know what I'll do. I just can't do that. I have to be in the 130s, I just have to. I was looking at my photos from 2006, when I was down to 131 for a long time. I looked good at that weight. I want to be back there again. I know if I gain anymore, people are going to be able to see it. I can already see it, even though I'm still wearing all the same clothes. I've always been the type of build that has to lose or gain a LOT in order to go up or down a clothes size.

BUT I AM NOT GOING UP A CLOTHES SIZE! Oh, hell no. That is simply not going to happen.

The warm days are coming, and with them the cheaper and more abundant produce. Time to rejoin the veg box scheme and get back with the program.

Monday, 11 May 2009

Who says veganism's the right thing to do?

Count Leo Tolstoy, Russian novelist & philosopher, (1829-1910):
"If a man earnestly seeks a righteous life, his first act of abstinence is from animal food."

Albert Einstein, physicist, 1921 Nobel Prize recipient:
"Nothing will benefit human health and increase chances for survival of life on Earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet."

"It is my view that a vegetarian manner of living, by its purely physical effect on the human temperament, would most beneficially influence the lot of mankind."

Alice Walker, American author, The Color Purple:
"The animals of the world exist for their own reasons. They were not made for humans any more than blacks were made for whites, or women for men."

Mahatma Gandhi, Hindu pacifist and spiritual leader, (1869-1948):

"It is very significant that some of the most thoughtful and cultured men are partisans of a pure vegetable diet."

"I do not regard flesh-food as necessary for us at any stage and under any clime in which it is possible for human beings ordinarily to live, I hold flesh-food to be unsuited to our species."

Leonardo Da Vinci, Italian sculptor, artist, inventor, (142:1519):

"The time will come when men such as I will look upon the murder of animals as they now look upon the murder of men."

Plutarch, Greek philosopher, (46-120 A.D.):

"The obligations of law and equity reach only to mankind; but kindness and beneficence should be extended to the creatures of every species and these will flow from the breast of a true man, as streams that issue from the living fountain."

Henry David Thoreau, American author, naturalist (1812-1862):

"Every man who has ever been earnest to preserve his higher or poetic faculties in the best condition has been particularly inclined to abstain from animal food."

George Bernard Shaw, Anglo-Irish author and playwright, 1925 Nobel Prize Recipient, (1856-1950):

"My situation is a solemn one: life is offered to me on the condition of eating beefsteaks. But death is better than cannibalism. My will contains directions for my funeral, which will be followed, not by mourning coaches, but by oxen, sheep, flocks of poultry, and a small traveling aquarium of live fish, all wearing white scarves in honor of the man who perished rather than eat his fellow creatures. It will be, without the exception of Noah's Ark, the most remarkable thing of its kind ever seen."

"The average age (longevity) of a meat-eater is 63. I am on the verge of 85 and still at work as hard as ever. I have lived quite long enough and am trying to die, but I simply cannot do it. A single beefsteak would finish me, but I cannot bring myself to swallow it. I am oppressed with a dread of living forever. That is the only disadvantage of vegetarianism."

Plato, Greek philosopher, (circa 428-347 B.C.):

"The Gods created certain kinds of beings to replenish our bodies; they are the trees and the plants and the seeds."

Albert Schweitzer, M.D., Alsatian philosopher and medical missionary, 1952 Nobel prize recipient, (1875-1965):

"--There slowly grew up in me an unshakable conviction that we have no right to inflict suffering and death on another living creature, unless there is some unavoidable necessity for it."

Benjamin Spock, M.D, the famous Dr. Spock pediatrician and author, (1903-1998):

"When I was 88 years old, I gave up meat entirely and switched to a plant foods diet following a slight stroke. During the following months, I not only lost 50 pounds, but gained strength in my legs and picked up stamina. Now, at age 93, I'm on the same plant-based diet, and I still don't eat any meat or dairy products. I either swim, walk, or paddle a canoe daily and I feel the best I've felt since my heart problems began."

Isaac Bashevis Singer, Yiddish Laureate of literature, 1978 Nobel Prize recipient, (1904-1991):

"If there would come a voice from God saying, 'I'm against vegetarianism!' I would say, 'Well, I am for it!' This is how strongly I feel in this regard."

Benjamin Franklin, American statesman, inventor, (1706-1790):

"My refusing to eat meat occasioned inconveniency, and I have been frequently chided for my singularity. But my light repast allows for greater progress, for greater clearness of head and quicker comprehension."

Sir Thomas More, Statesman and Author (1478-1535):

"The utopians feel that slaughtering our fellow creatures gradually destroys the sense of compassion, which is the finest sentiment of which our human nature is capable."

John Robbins, author of Diet for a New America and The Food Revolution:

"It is increasingly obvious that environmentally sustainable solutions to world hunger can only emerge as people eat more plant foods and fewer animal products. To me it is deeply moving that the same food choices that give us the best chance to eliminate world hunger are also those that take the least toll on the environment, contribute the most to our long-term health, are the safest, and are also, far and away, the most compassionate towards our fellow creatures."

Michael Klaper, M.D., American author and international lecturer:

"People are the only animals that drink the milk of the mother of another species. All other animals stop drinking milk altogether after weaning. It is unnatural for a dog to nurse from a mother giraffe; it is just as unnatural for a human being to drink the milk of a cow."
People often say that humans have always eaten animals, as if this is a justification for continuing the practice. According to this logic, we should not try to prevent people from murdering other people, since this has also been done since the earliest of times.
Isaac Bashevis Singer (author, Nobel 1978)

We consume the carcasses of creatures of like appetites, passions and organs with our own, and fill the slaughterhouses daily with screams of pain and fear.
Robert Louis Stevenson (novelist and poet)

It is strange to hear people talk of Humanitarianism, who are members of societies for the prevention of cruelty to children and animals, and who claim to be God-loving men and women, but who, nevertheless, encourage by their patronage the killing of animals merely to gratify the cravings of appetite.
--Otoman Zar-Adusht Ha'nish (1844-1936)

If slaughterhouses had glass walls, everyone would be vegetarian. We feel better about ourselves and better about the animals, knowing we're not contributing to their pain.
Paul and Linda McCartney (musicians)

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, concerned citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.
Margaret Mead (anthropologist)

"Not having known anything better does not alleviate the suffering of the animal. Its fundamental desires remain and it is the frustration of those desires that is a great part of its suffering. There are so many examples: the dairy cow who is never allowed to raise her young, the battery hen who can never walk or stretch her wings, the sow who can never build a nest or root for food in the forest litter, etc. Eventually we frustrate the animal's most fundamental desire of all - to live."
--David Cowles-Hamar.

As custodians of the planet it is our responsibility to deal with all species with kindness, love, and compassion. That these animals suffer through human cruelty is beyond understanding. Please help to stop this madness.
Richard Gere (actor)

I am in earnest--I will not equivocate--I will not excuse--I will not retreat a single inch and I will be heard.
William Lloyd Garrison (author)

"It is very significant
that some of the most
thoughtful and cultured men
are partisans of a pure vegetable diet."

MAHATMA GANDHI (1869-1948)

Nothing more strongly arouses our disgust than cannibalism, yet we make the same impression on Buddhists and vegetarians, for we feed on babies, though not our own.
--Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894)

Suppose that tomorrow a group of beings from another planet were to land on Earth, beings who considered themselves as superior to you as you feel yourself to be to other animals. Would they have the right to treat you as you treat the animals you breed, keep and kill for food?
--John Harris

"A man can live and be healthy without killing animals for food; therefore, if he eats meat, he participates in taking animal life merely for the sake of his appetite. And to act so is immoral."
--Leo Tolstoy

I have from an early age abjured the use of meat, and the time will come when men such as I will look upon the murder of animals as they now look upon the murder of men.
--Leonardo Da Vinci (1452-1519)

I do not like eating meat because I have seen lambs and pigs killed. I saw and felt their pain. They felt the approaching death. I could not bear it. I cried like a child. I ran up a hill and could not breathe. I felt that I was choking. I felt the death of the lamb.
--Vaslav Nijinsky (dancer and choreographer)

"Awareness is bad for the meat business. Conscience is bad for the meat business. Sensitivity to life is bad for the meat business. DENIAL, however, the meat business finds indispensable."
--John Robbins, Diet for a New America

There will come a time...when civilised people will look back in horror on our generation and the ones that preceded it: the idea that we should eat other living things running around on four legs, that we should raise them just for the purpose of killing them! The people of the future will say "meat-eaters!" in disgust and regard us in the same way we regard cannibals and cannibalism.
--Dennis Weaver

Compassion is the foundation of everything positive, everything good. If you carry the power of compassion to the marketplace and the dinner table, you can make your life really count.
Rue McClanahan (actress)

My doctrine is this, that if we see cruelty or wrong that we have the power to stop, and do nothing, we make ourselves sharers in the guilt.
Anna Sewell (author)

And the thing which is missing is love, some feeling for, as well as some understanding of, the inclusive community of rocks and soils, plants and animals, of which we are a part.
Joseph Wood Krutch (naturalist and essayist)

It is man's sympathy with all creatures that first makes him truely a man.
Albert Schweitzer (missionary and statsman, Nobel 1952)

It were much better that a sentient being should never have existed, than that it should have existed only to endure unmitigated misery.
Percy Bysshe Shelley (poet)

It should not be believed that all beings exist for the sake of the existence of man. On the contrary, all the other beings too have been intended for their own sakes and not for the sake of anything else.
Maimonides (physician and philosopher)

"Until he extends the circle of compassion to all living things, man will not himself find peace."
--Albert Schweitzer

..what has been called the "Golden Rule" [should be enlarged] from the area of mere mankind to that of the whole animal kingdom.
Thomas Hardy (novelist)

When I was 12, I went hunting with my father and we shot a bird. He was laying there and something struck me. Why do we call this fun to kill this creature [who] was as happy as I was when I woke up this morning.
Marv Levy (football head coach)

"If a man aspires towards a righteous life, his first act of abstinence is from injury to animals."
--Albert Einstein

Compassion for animals is intimately connected with goodness of character; and it may be confidently asserted that he who is cruel to animals cannot be a good man.
--Arthur Schopenhauer (philosopher)

Every year tens of thousands of animals suffer and die in laboratory tests of cosmetics and household products...despite the fact that the test results do not help prevent or treat accidental or purposeful misue of the products. Please join me in using your voice for those whose cries are forever sealed behind the laboratory doors.
Woody Harrelson (actor)

"Until we have the courage to recognize cruelty for what it is--whether its victim is human or animal--we cannot expect things to be much better in this world... We cannot have peace among men whose hearts delight in killing any living creature. By every act that glorifies or even tolerates such moronic delight in killing we set back the progress of humanity."
--Rachel Carson

The human commitment to harmony, justice, peace, and love is ironic as long as we continue to support the suffering and shame of the slaughterhouse and its satellite operations.
--Karen Davis, PhD (Prisoned Chickens, Poisoned Eggs; 1996)

"The beef industry has contributed to more American deaths than all the wars of this century, all natural disasters, and all automobile accidents combined."
--Neal D. Barnard, M.D., President, Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, Washington, D.C.

The human body has no more need for cowsê milk than it does for dogsê milk, horsesê milk, or giraffesê milk.
--Michael Klaper, MD, author of Vegan Nutrition: Pure & Simple

"Cruelty to animals is one of the most significant vices of a low and ignoble people. Wherever one notices them, they constitute a sure sign of ignorance and brutality which cannot be painted over even by all the evidence of wealth and luxury. Cruelty to animals cannot exist together with true education and true learning."

- Alexander von Humboldt

"The assumption that animals are without rights, and the illusion that our treatment of them has no moral significance, is a positively outrageous example of Western crudity and barbarity. Universal compassion is the only guarantee of morality."

- Arthur Schopenhauer, German Philosopher

"We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals".

- Immanuel Kant

"Last year over a million people left the same suicide note: "SHOPPING LIST: butter, eggs, mayo, potato chips, ham, bacon..."

- Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine

'There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor political, nor popular, but he must take it because his conscience tells him that it is right".

- Martin Luther King

Cowardice asks the question, "Is it safe?"
Expediency asks the question, "Is it popular?" But conscience asks the question, "Is it right?" And there comes a point when one must take a position that is
neither safe, nor polite, nor popular,
but one must take it because one's conscience tells him or her that it is right.

"An environmentalist that eats meat is like a philanthropist that won't give money to charities."

- Howard Lyman

"Imagine living your life in a small, filthy cage constantly in pain, unable to stand or lie down comfortably. After months of agony, your torture finally ends, but not at the slaughterhouse. Instead, two gentle hands reach down to lift you out of the darkness, and bring you to a safe, loving place. For the first time in your life you can stretch your wings and legs and feel soft straw and cool grass beneath your feet."

- Dr. Karen Davis

"I brainwashed youngsters into doing wrong. I want to say sorry to children everywhere for selling out to concerns who make millions by murdering animals."
--Geoffrey Guiliano, the main Ronald McDonald actor in the 1980's who quit and publicly apologised

A reduction in beef and other meat consumption is the most potent single act you can take to halt the destruction of our environment and preserve our natural resources. Our choices do matter. What's healthiest for each of us personally is also healthiest for the life support system of our precious, but wounded planet."
--John Robbins, author of Diet for a New America, and President, EarthSave Foundation, Santa Cruz, California

Can one regard a fellow creature as a property item, an investment, a piece of meat, an "it," without degenerating into cruelty towards that creature?
--Karen Davis, PhD (Prisoned Chickens, Poisoned Eggs; 1996)

"It seems disingenuous for the intellectual elite of the first world to dwell on the subject of too many babies being born in the second- and third-world nations while virtually ignoring the over-population of cattle and the realities of a food chain that robs the poor of sustenance to feed the rich a steady diet of grain-fed meat."
--Jeremy Rifkin, author of Beyond Beef, The Rise and Fall of the Cattle Culture, and President of the Greenhouse Crisis Foundation, Washington, D.C.

All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.
--Edmund Burke (1729-1797)

The quiet conscience is an invention of the devil.
--Dr.Albert Schweitzer (1875-1965)

If we cut up beasts simply because they cannot prevent us and because we are backing our own side in the struggle for existence, it is only logical to cut up imbeciles, criminals, enemies, or capitalist for the same reasons.
C. S. Lewis (novelist and essayist)

To a man whose mind is free there is something even more intolerable in the sufferings of animals than in the sufferings of man. For with the latter it is at least admitted that suffering is evil and that the man who causes it is a criminal. But thousands of animals are uselessly butchered every day without a shadow of remorse. If any man were to refer to it, he would be thought ridiculous. And that is the unpardonable crime.
Romain Rolland (author, Nobel 1915)

"There is no fundamental difference between man and the higher animals in their mental faculties... The lower animals, like man, manifestly feel pleasure and pain, happiness, and misery."
--Charles Darwin

At the moment our human world is based on the suffering and destruction of millions of non-humans.
--Arthur Conan Doyle

"The awful wrongs and sufferings forced upon the innocent, faithful animal race, form the blackest chapter in the whole world's history."
--Edward Augustus Freeman

To become vegetarian is to step into the stream which leads to nirvana.

"All beings tremble before violence. All fear death, all love life. See yourself in others. Then whom can you hurt? What harm can you do?"

All beings hate pains; therefore one should not kill them. This is the quintessence of wisdom: not to kill anything.
--Sutrakritanga (Jainism)

"It is in the battery shed that we find the parallel with Auschwitz....To shut your mind, heart and imagination from the sufferings of others is to begin slowly, but inexorably, to die. Those Christians who close their minds and hearts to the cause of animal welfare, and the evils it seeks to combat, are ignoring the Fundamental spiritual teachings of Christ himself"
--John Baker, Bishop of Salisbury

It ill becomes us to invoke in our daily prayers the blessings of God, the Compassionate, if we in turn will not practice elementary compassion torwards our fellow creatures.
Mahatma Gandhi (statesman and philosopher)

The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.
- Mahatma Gandhi, statesman and philosopher

Sunday, 10 May 2009

Turbo Jam rules

I tried out a couple more of my new Turbo Jams. Yesterday I did Lower Body Jam. It was really tough! Once again she uses the short green band tied in a circle and fitted around the ankles to do side leg lifts and other moves for the outer thigh. There was also a tough series of plie squats, which, if you do using the 'turbo tilt' (basically just a pelvic tilt that focuses on pulling in the abs, tucking the tailbone under and consciously lifting upward using the inner thigh), they are super effective and you can really feel them. During the workout I was wondering about little 5'2" Chalene using the same exact band as the big guys in the back. Then during the special features reel, they show a blooper where one of the big guys in the back (Bret, former college football player and Chalene's husband!) actually snapped his band in two. No, it didn't come untied, he snapped it. So that answered that question! Trust me, the green band was tough enough to do me. When I got up this morning, my legs were a bit sore.

A couple of hours after doing Lower Body Jam, I still felt like working out, so I went and
got Turbo Jam Fat Blaster to try. I was a little afraid of that one because the back says it's 'all turbos.' Those turbos drive my heart rate right up to around 89%, so the thought of doing a workout made up entirely of turbos was a bit daunting. However, Chalene has designed the workout with a warm-up, then you do 4 turbos two times each. The first time is more low impact, so you can learn the moves, then you do it high impact (or you can keep it low). A second to rest, then on to the next. Then a quick cool down and tai chi style breathing and it's all over and done with in 30 minutes. It was so much fun, I was actually stoked to get to the next turbo! I don't know what kind of spell this woman casts during her workouts, but they are just fun, that's it. Fun!

Today I did Cathe's Kick, Punch & Crunch. I burned 480 calories and it was a good sweat, but it wasn't fun like Chalene. I found myself converting some of Cathe's moves into Turbo moves! :)

Golden milk

Turmeric is a yellow spice commonly used in Asian foods such as curries. It has many purported healing properties; its active ingredient is curcumin. It is an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. Studies at the University of Texas suggest it is useful in preventing cancers, and as a treatment against heart disease, type 2 diabetes, Crohn's disease, psoriasis, atopic dermatitis, and arthritis. It's good stuff, and there's a long tradition in Ayurvedic medicine of using turmeric as a health treatment of inflammation, purifying the blood, 'lubricating' the joints, and supporting the female reproductive system.

Yogi Bhajan's recipe for Golden Milk has long been enjoyed by practitioners of kundalini yoga. His original recipe called for turmeric paste, cow's milk, honey and 2 tablespoons of almond oil per cup! I have modified to this:

Golden Milk
3/4 cup water
1 tsp turmeric
1.5-2 cups fresh made soy milk, plain
1 tsp rapeseed or grapeseed oil
3-5 drops almond extract, to taste
2-3 tsp agave nectar
pinch salt if desired

Combine water and turmeric and bring to boil. Simmer for 8 minutes. Turn off heat. Add oil, almond extract and agave nectar. Allow to cool a bit so that it won't split the soy milk. Add warm soy milk slowly to turmeric mixture in pan.

This recipe makes 2 large mugs. It's very tasty!

(Here's Yogi Bhajan's original recipe to make 2 servings:
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/2 cup water
16 oz milk
4 tbs almond oil
honey or maple syrup to taste

Boil turmeric in water. Combine with milk and almond oil. Add honey or maple syrup to taste in your own cup.)

I have reduced the oil and increased the turmeric. The turmeric becomes very mild when cooked, so feel free to be liberal with it. I have also tried it without any oil at all and it was lovely. I am sure it would be wonderful made with almond milk!

Sat nam.

Friday, 8 May 2009

A meditation

'The most important person is always the person you are with, who is right before you, for who knows if you will have dealings with another person in the future? The most important pursuit is to make the person standing by your side happy, for that alone is the pursuit of life.' ~Thich Nhat Hanh

'Whenever you meet anyone, no matter how briefly, do you acknowledge their being by giving them your full attention? Or are you reducing them to a means to an end, a mere function or role? What is the quality of your relationship with the cashier in the supermarket, the parking attendant, the repairman, the customer?
'A moment of attention is enough. As you look at them or listen to them, there is an alert stillness -- perhaps only two or three seconds, perhaps longer. That is enough for something more real to emerge than the roles we usually play and identify with. All roles are part of the conditioned consciousness that is the human mind. That which emerges through the act of attention is the unconditioned -- who you are in your essence, underneath your name and form. You are no longer acting out of a script; you become real. When that dimension emerges from within you, it also draws it fort from within the other person.
'Ultimately, of course, there is no other, and you are always meeting yourself.' ~ Eckhart Tolle

'Do not consider any act of kindness insignificant, even meeting your brother with a cheerful face.' ~ Muhammed

'Love one another, for love is of God. He who loves is born of God and knows God, for God is love.' ~Jesus

'However many holy words you read, however many you speak, what good will they do if you do not act upon them?' ~Buddha

Thursday, 7 May 2009

Great workout

Yesterday I did Cardio Party Mix 2 and Booty Sculpt plus Abs. I just thought I'd take the opportunity to give a shout out for Booty Sculpt. It's a great little workout, and only 30 minutes long. It's a wonderful add-on to a cardio day, or a sculpting day if your other work had an upper body focus, or if you just want a little more emphasis on working the lower body.

This workout consists mostly of squats and plies, then there is a killer segment using the band tied in a loop around your ankles during which you do standing side leglifts until you feel like your outer thigh is going to ignite! Wow! Then comes a fabulous ab routine with some interesting new moves that really gets your abs burning.

I enjoyed it very much, and as you can see if you follow the link to amazon, it's really cheap. Great addition to your Turbo Jam collection.

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Becoming transparent and unlearning the 'unmagical' words

Becoming transparent

In The Power of Now, Eckhart Tolle teaches techniques to help drop negativity.
Let's say you are sitting quietly at home. Suddenly there is the piercing sound of a car alarm from across the street. Irritation arises. What is the purpose of the irritation? None whatsoever. Why did you create it? You didn't. The mind did. It was totally automatic, totally unconscious. Why did the mind create it? Because it holds the unconscious belief that its resistance, which you experience as negativity or unhappiness in some form, will somehow dissolve the undesireable condition. This, of course, is a delusion. The resistance that it creates, the irritation or anger in this case, is far more disturbing than the original cause that it is attempting to dissolve.

All this can be transformed into a spiritual practice. Feel yourself becoming transparent, as it were, without the solidity of a material body. Now allow the noise, or whatever causes a negative reaction, to pass right through you. It is no long hitting a solid 'wall' inside you. Practise with little things first. The car alarm, the dog barking, children screaming, traffic jams. Instead of having a wall of resistance inside you that gets constantly and painfully hit by things that 'should not be happening', let everything pass through you. Offer no resistance. It is as if there is nobody there to get hurt anymore. That is forgiveness. In this way, you become invulnerable.

This is a wonderful lesson, and one I have been trying to apply in various situations. Now I am taking on board the visualisation of becoming transparent. I can imagine myself going invisible, and the irritation passing through me, like a special effect from the X-Men! I have started doing this with teeny tiny irritations, so that I can work up to the big stuff.

The 'unmagical word'

On the website Zen Habits, I ran across an article called 'Are These Three Words Ruining Your Life'? It had a big impact on me. What are the 'unmagical words' that could be ruining your life?

'I don't know.'

Those are the words. 'I don't know.'

For myself, I must say those 3 words a hundred times a day. Ask me anything and my first response is going to be, 'I don't know.' Even if I do know, and 15 seconds later I pop out with the answer, my default response is almost invariably, 'I don't know.' I certainly say it a lot on this blog!

I don't know why I say 'I don't know' so often. Maybe it's because I doubt myself to the point that I think I could not possibly know the answer, so it's the first thing that comes out. Maybe it's because I've convinced myself that a declaration of ignorance means people don't bother me so much with questions. (Not true!) Maybe it's because I can't be asked to make a decision and saying 'I don't know' gets me off the hook.

Even if you don't know, it's still important to move in the direction of knowing. If you don't have an opinion, it's still important to remember that the person you're engaging with deserves your participation in life. Saying 'I don't know' is just an opt-out. Stop opting out of your life!

The example Zen Habits uses is when your partner asks you what you want for dinner. 'I don't know' can mean , 'It doesn't matter to me, whatever you make is fine', but it also means that you're dumping a decision on the other person, someone who would like some input from you. What a surprise it would be to me if for once my husband would say, 'You know what, I would like you to make some spaghetti and veggie mince' instead of 'I don't know.' And I'm sure he would love it if when he asks what I'd like to do on the weekend, I said, 'Let's go for a drive and see what we can find down a little country road' instead of 'I don't know.' I get frustrated always making the decision about dinner, and I bet he gets frustrated sitting at home on the weekends. 'I don't know' is the lazy way, which leads to us doing nothing and getting into a big fat rut. Instead of defaulting to 'I don't know', Zen Habits suggests you take a second and think of something, even it's something you're 'not 100% stoked about' and say that instead, because anything is an improvement over 'I don't know.'

'I don't know' really means 'I don't care'.

If you do care, stop saying 'I don't know.' And if you don't care, maybe you should start caring, for the sake of those around you as well as to make your own life a happier experience.

So...from now on, I'm a transparent X-Man who never says, 'I don't know' lightly. Look out, Jean Grey!

Monday, 4 May 2009

Mung Beans and Rice Detox--Kundalini Yoga

This eating plan is from kundalini yoga. I'm posting it for a friend who asked. :)It involves basing your diet on mung beans, rice and an abundance of fresh vegetables for a time. Traditionally, the detox lasts 40 days, and you are meant to do morning sadhana each day (rising before dawn for a cold shower and an hour's meditation).

The recipes presented here do not have measurements because I don't know how many people you are feeding. They are based on recipes from The Kundalini Yoga Cookbook by Ek Ong Kar Singh.

If I were doing this, I would cook a whole bag of brown basmati rice in one go and keep it in the fridge, and a bag of mung beans to do the same. I would also keep my sprouter busy producing fresh mung bean sprouts for the duration, and be prepared to make daily stops at the grocery store to buy fresh vegetables!

Yogi Bhajan's Mung Beans, Rice and Vegetables

This mixture is traditionally cooked to a gruel-like consistency, but you can have it as a regular fried rice and vegetable style dish if you like.

cooked basmati rice and mung beans
chopped carrot
broccoli florets
diced red onion
loads of garlic (I mean LOADS)
a nub of fresh ginger root, grated

Brown the onions, garlic and ginger in a bit of oil. Add pinches of basil, turmeric, garam masala and red chili flake. Add vegetables and stir fry with some ground black pepper a couple of bay leaves and a cardamom pod. When the vegetables are cooked to your liking, add rice and mung beans to taste. Heat through and serve, or reduce heat, add some water to make it a little soupy and cook it until it's mushy and creamy. Season with tamari soy sauce if desired.

Ong so hung veg and rice

fresh beetroot, cubed
sweet potato, peeled and cubed
yellow bell pepper, diced
onion, diced
a few broccoli florets for colour
big handfuls of fresh mungbean sprouts
chopped fresh parsley and coriander
basmati rice

Steam the vegetables until tender and set aside. Heat the rice in a big dish with a couple of cardamom pods thrown into the bowl in the microwave; add the steamed vegetables when the rice is hot. Toss it all together with fresh herbs and mung beans. Season with tamari soy sauce and lots of toasted sesame, black and white for colour.

Summer Om Mung Beans and Rice

leeks, sliced
loads of garlic, chopped
purple onion, diced
diced courgette
ripe tomatoes, diced
red bell pepper diced
big handfuls mung bean sprouts
fresh basil, chopped
basmati rice

Cook the veg over medium heat with a pinch of cumin seeds, coriander seeds, mustard seeds and chili flakes. Use a bit of olive oil. Add rice and sprouts, garnish with basil.

You might be getting the idea. You just use loads of fresh veg, mung beans and rice and make something tasty and nutritious. Eat loads! Eat as much as you want each meal, heavy on the veg, moderate on the rice. You can substitute rice noodles for rice, or rice pasta. But you're not eating any grains other than rice during this fast.

Here are a couple of sweets:

Sesame seed honey spread with rice cakes
brown rice cakes
sliced fresh fruit, if desired

Mix a bit of light tahini and honey to taste, beating it with water to a smooth consistency (spreadable). Spread on rice cakes, top with sliced kiwi or other fruit.

Rice and mung bean pudding

Mix together some rice and mung beans with equal amount of coconut milk or rice milk (or a mixture of coconut and rice milk). Add some chopped dates, a bit of crystalized ginger and a swirl of honey to taste. Simmer over low until rice and beans are broken down and cooked to a lovely puddingy mush. You might need to keep adding liquid, use your judgement and keep an eye on it. Before serving, garnish with grated fresh apple and a sprinkle of black sesame seeds, if desired.
Good luck--get creative! Eat loads of vegetables and drink lots of water. This will certainly be healthier than the Polo Mint Plan you tried!! ;)

Saturday, 2 May 2009

Ain't got much to say these days

What can I tell you about my life lately? Nothing's happened to me that hasn't happened to everyone. I've been unhappy with my body, I've eaten poorly in spite of that. I've lost a parent and have yet to really realise it. I've felt guilty for everything from air pollution to being an absentee parent. I've felt inferior to some and superior to others. I've treated perfect strangers with more respect and civility than I have those closest to me. I've slept, got up, gone to work, come home, cooked dinner, gone to bed and done it all over again, over and over. I've spent a lot of time thinking about the past and the future. What little time I've managed to be in the Now, I've spent it worrying that I don't spend enough time in the Now. It's been a weird month.

I've been reading 'The Power of Now' by Eckhart Tolle. I'm ruminating over it. I'm mulling over it. I've been comforted by it, I've applied it in the oddest settings. My dad's funeral. In the airport when my plane was delayed and my flight was diverted from 11.30 am to 7.15 pm! I bought myself a copy so I can mark it up with different colour highlighter pens. I've been going through it finding sentences that I can remember in difficult moments when I need to practice being in the Now the most. My favourite one during all this has been:

'Accept--then act. Whatever the present moment contains, accept it as if you had chosen it.'

I also have had good results using the following as cues:

'No matter what happens, I will create no more pain for myself. I will create no more problems.'

'Do not be concerned with the fruit of your action--just give attention to the action itself. The fruit will come of its own accord.'
(This one has proven very useful when applied to my driving lessons.)

Here's my new biggie. It may take me awhile to memorize it:

'Don't look for peace. Don't look for any other state than the one you are in now; otherwise, you will set up inner conflict and unconscious resistance. Forgive yourself for not being at peace. The moment you completely accept your non-peace, your non-peace becomes transmuted to peace. Anything you accept fully will get you there, will take you into peace. This is the miracle of surrender.'