Thursday, August 18, 2011
11:55 AM | Posted by Lady Gray | | Edit Post
Like most women, weight is something I think about daily. Some days I obsess over it. Some days I pretend I don't care. I've tried regular diets, fad diets, and no diets. I've studied nutrition and learn tricks that work for my body. I've lost and gained in a cycle that doesn't seem to stop.
One day, I want to close the door on this and never look back. Hopefully that day comes soon.
I don't think its helpful to blame my weight issues on the media or Hollywood or fashion. They certainly don't help, but I create my own hangups. I'm the one who gets to decide how I let things effect me.
Hearing Jennifer Hudson's quote yesterday breaks my heart.
"I'm prouder of my weight loss than my Oscar!" (People)
As the current Weight Watchers spokesperson, she's been extremely successful and I believe a good model for the company. I've done WW a number of times and have been happy with my results. I'm glad that Jennifer has regained confidence that she feels she lost when she entered Hollywood and discovered she was "plus sized".
Getting healthy should be an important goal. I strongly believe anyone can change their life and if they are successful by their own standards, they deserve to be proud of it. I think her statement that she values the number on the scale more than her award sends a very dangerous message. A message that she fed right back into the Hollywood cycle of promoting thinness as the only rubric women are measured by.
I feel for her in the article when she talks about discovering she's wasn't an average size even though where she came from, 16 was normal. She had a healthy self esteem and even though I can't say that her health was optimal at the size, weight isn't the only indicator.
She does go on to say that she wants to be a good example for her son, and I applaud that. Getting healthy is an important goal. But any good she may have intended by that statement is negated by her adding more value to her dress size than her accomplishments. What kind of example is it to send to girls who look up to her that regardless of what you do, you will inevitable be judged by your hip to waist ratio?
This is especially troubling when you consider the the study just released on how mass media effects "fat-stigma" in women. The focus of the study was to determine how individual women felt their weight was perceived by those close to them (friends, family, etc). What they determined was that "media and pop cultural messages are so pervasive and powerful that even the most loving support of those closest to us provides only limited protection against them" (Alexandra Brewis, lead author of the study).
Most disturbing to me was Dr. Brewis' conclusion: "Fat is understood culturally to represent profound personal failing and the attendant moral messages attached to it include laziness, lack of self-control, and being undesirable or even repulsive, So powerful and salient are these anti-fat messages that some Americans say they would rather die years sooner or be completely blind than be thought of as obese."
Understanding that for many (if not most) women, fat is considered a "personal failing" and individuals are more likely to hear the messages they receive from people they don't know, like Ms. Hudson, rather than more positive feedback from those they interact with everyday can not be understated. There is no question that obesity is a serious issue in this country and overall health needs to be promoted. This, however, places the focus on what LOOKS good versus what will equal a long healthful life.
Wednesday, August 17, 2011
11:58 AM | Posted by Lady Gray | | Edit Post
No, I'm not going to be discussing any racial or class bigotry here. The only prejudiced part of me is my gut. And right now its really pissed.
A few months ago, I started noticing some differences in the way my body was reacting and digesting food (don't worry, I'm not going to get TMI on you). I went from getting some pretty gnarly acid reflux once every month or so to having it a few times a week. I generally stay away from spicy foods as my stomach has always been sensitive, so this new development was puzzling. Initially coping by carrying tums and eating them like candy, I slowly began to realize that is was not sustainable.
So I did what every independent 20-something would do. I called Mom.
Now, my Mom was a nurse for over 20 years and I know she would give me some good advice. After I told her about the steady rise in days I was suffering from heart burn, I asked if she recommended I see my primary for a prescription.
Now for a quick background. I don't have a great track record with doctors. A few years ago I developed alopecia areata and after six months, five doctors, thousands of dollars and half my hair long gone I simply gave up. Surprisingly, that seemed to be what brought my hair back. After all those physicians that took my case and were so confident they could find a solution only to tell me "sorry about your hair" a few weeks later gave me some strong opinions about the limits of modern medicine.
Thankfully, my mother was not going to send me to a doctor. She had some better (worse?) news for me.
"Well looks like you've got a gluten intolerance just like your mother!"
While I tried to contain my excitement (read: despair) I thought about when my Mom found out she needed to cut out gluten (as well as a few other things) and how rough it was. I try to be as low maintenance as possible when eating out (five years as a server will do that to you) and with all the travel I do this was starting to sound like a total nightmare.
So what exactly is gluten intolerance and what does that mean for my life now?
Gluten sensitivity (GS) encompasses a collection of medical conditions in which gluten has an adverse effect. For individuals with gluten-sensitive enteropathy, removal of gluten generally results in the restoration of villus architecture or lower lymphocyte densities in the intestine. With some sensitivities, improvements may be seen in the neurological state, but a clinical finding may not be clear. GS also can affect blood chemistry, treatability of certain autoimmune diseases, and/or an untreated improvement in autoimmune conditions. (Wikipedia)
The more research I did and the more books I read on the topic, the more I realized that this isn't a lifestyle choice for me in the way that Vegetarianism or Veganism is to some. It would require the same amount of planning and dedication, but with my history of autoimmune disease (alopecia) I simply don't have the option.
Now you may be asking yourself, all you were battle was heartburn? This seems like a pretty extreme change to make for something like that!
In the months since I cut gluten out, I have had a few involuntary doses of it. A Mexican restaurant Mr. Gray and I frequent apparently uses flour in their corn tortillas. How did I discover this? When I had trouble keeping myself from falling asleep on my keyboard the next day. And not morning, I'm talking late afternoon here. In hindsight, I had had some serious fatigue issues that I chalked up to not getting enough good sleep. Now I know that wasn't the case.
In a lot of ways, its easier than I expected it to be. But like many of my peers trying to create a GF world for ourselves, we find other sensitivities lurking. Just when you get a handle on what it means to be GF, life throws you a "no more dairy" curve ball.
Cheese is going to be very hard to give up...
Monday, August 15, 2011
12:37 PM | Posted by Lady Gray | | Edit Post
I do not give up easily. I'm going to go ahead and blame my maternal genes for that one. Stubbornness is almost a virtue in this family.
About a year ago I decided to try out Bikram Yoga. There are a number of studios in the area and I have a few friends who swear by it. As I am no stranger to a rigorous yoga practice, I was excited to see how this would challenge me.
The first class went well. I got a bit woozy before the standing poses were finished but nothing unexpected. I left feeling amazing. My clothes were soaking wet (gross) but I felt cleansed, renewed. I wanted more.
Second class did not go quite so well. Three to four poses in the wooziness came back with a vengeance and I ended up needing to leave before we got anywhere close to the seated poses. I was embarrassed and humiliated. The teachers encouraged me to work through it and stay in the room for the maximum benefit but I simply couldn't handle it. I've always been really sensitive to heat and am prone to fainting spells if I'm not careful. Needless to say I am VERY careful as fainting is overly dramatic and irritating. Frightening for others and irritating for me.
I decided to give it one more try and loaded up on ice cold water and coconut water before class. I made it about halfway through the standing poses before I had to escape into Child's Pose again. I didn't leave the room, which was a tiny victory, but I didn't see how just sticking around in the heat was doing me any good if I was just sitting there.
I hate not being able to finish something. There are many things I'm not great at. I'm not super coordinated and sports have always been disappointing to me. But Yoga I can do. Having my body quit out on my was infuriating.
I took a few months off and then saw a discount for five sessions at a new studio in Takoma Park. Deliberately forgetting what had happened the first time around I signed up and gave it another shot. The first class went ok. I made it through the full 90 minutes, but maybe did 1/3 of the poses. I left frustrated and embarrassed, again.
Then I had this epiphany. I had read an article in Runner's World a few months back about dealing with running outside in heat and humidity. A study had been done on the best way to keep an athlete's body cool so that they could perform better in races that would take place in extreme conditions. The solution? Drink a slurpee. Something about the combination of ice and sugar helped keep the body's internal organs cool enough to maximize endurance before the outside heat catches up to you. They also found that it was sugar, not sugar substitutes, that had the best results. Sugar when combined with the ice helped keep the body cooler longer than sugar and water or a non sugar sweetener and ice.
I decided to give it a try. What did I have to lose? I had pre-paid for five sessions and wanted to get as much out of that as possible. Saturday, I drove out for the 8AM class and stopped at 7-11 for a child's size slurpee. I generally don't drink beverages so high in sugar, but I thought it more important to really test this theory with a small drink.
The result? After being able to barely complete 1/3 of the poses just two weeks before, I finished the entire class without having to take a break ONCE. I was floored! What a simple solution to a frustrating problem for me. Needing to confirm that this was not a fluke (or physiological) I repeated the course the following day and grabbed a slurpee like before. I had almost identical results! I had minor wooziness during some of the floor series that is intended to produce some of that feeling so I'm not counting that.
I left the class for the first time in a long time feeling amazing. The euphoria that comes from finishing a Bikram class is what gets people hooked and brings them back. I'm hoping to add this practice into my weekly routine as well to get that release in my muscles from the heat and stretching as well as the cleansing component.
Friday, August 12, 2011
2:53 PM | Posted by Lady Gray | | Edit Post
|Courtesy of Totally Les Mills|
That's Dan and Rachel. They're pretty awesome. They are kiwis which is cool on its own. What's cooler is that they are the Program Directors for Body Combat. Someday, I hope to be half as awesome as they are.
I've talked a little about getting hooked on Combat a few weeks back. Today was my first opportunity to teach a class.
Was it awesome? Of course, Body Combat is always awesome!
Do I have a lot to work on? Yep.
I knew this would be a humbling experience. I knew this would challenge me in ways I haven't been challenged before. That's why I signed up!
As my fellow fighter Vicki who gave me the opportunity to team teach with her today assured me ahead of time that I would come out of it feeling this way. After class she didn't indulge me one bit on it either. She just said "Stop" and put up her hand and reminded me that it will come together with practice.
I can't always be a rockstar right out of the gate like I want to...
Thursday, August 11, 2011
2:18 PM | Posted by Lady Gray | | Edit Post
Not too long ago, summertime meant something very different to me.
...clear days when you could smell the salt in the air if you left the windows open...
...warm midday long runs on the peninsula with short sprints in the sand...
|View of the bay|
...clear days when you could smell the salt in the air if you left the windows open...
...always having a towel and beach chair in my trunk for an impromptu afternoon swim...
...not having the imagination to realize my life wouldn't always feel so carefree...
It's funny the things you think that you can't live without. Then to discover the things you actually do yearn for. If you asked me five years ago how I would written the story of my life, the difference in my response when compared to reality would likely be vast. The path that led me here was not as rough as it could have been. My life then was not fulfilling, but I did not realize the full extent until much later. It was enough then to work hard, relax and think about the future when the future comes.
I thought for a long time that I would stay in Long Beach. I went to school there, I created a good group of friends and the peace I could find one a long run on the beach couldn't be matched. The ocean contains so much beauty and life. Being near it was overwhelming. It was a constant reminder that my life when compared to the vastness of the sea was almost insignificant.
Looking back, I find it amazing that the pull I felt to change my life was able to take hold of me. I had a life many people would be satisfied with. The funny thing is not so much that I wasn't satisfied. It was the ocean reminding me everyday that there was so much more.
Long Beach was perfect for me then. It nourished me and I learned there how to thrive on my own. Somehow my spirit knew when the time was right to move on.
I sometimes think that I could have had a nice life there. Simple maybe, but absolutely beautiful. I'm not sure what that life would have looked like now, but I've reached a level of contentment I couldn't have imagined there. It might be because I'm older, or because I have found my path.
Someday we might be taken on a road back to California. I think Mr. Gray might even be open to that idea. That little beach house a few blocks from where the sand starts wouldn't be a bad place to start...
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