Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Ready, Set...GO!

I too want the COMPLETE stamp!
so despite wanting to put it off for longer, here's my end-all-be-all pcp post (no pressure, or anything!):

Ok, I don't know how to organize this post! But I'm taking Tara's cue and I'm going to at least start with some fundamental lessons learned/pcp topics:

The Bod
Starting off with the "core" of PCP, some info on what happened to my body these 90 days. I know you want to see it, so let's start with the tell-all visuals:

PCP Day 1 Photos:




































PCP Day 90 Photos:






































So obviously I'm pleased, heeheehee!
I feel light and upright and I no longer worry about backfat rolls or any rolls at all. Every part of my body has taken on some lovely new shape, and while my genetics aren't very kind when it comes to having any semblance of butt, at least it's a bit rounder and not square! (haha! seriously, it was square before. so weird!)
Ok, getting serious. What's amazing about this new body is yes, it looks good, but really to the touch it's even more drastic. There is serious muscle under my skin now, and I still can't get over how different it feels to put my hand on my waist - instead of fatty fat layers I have this super strong core. It's comforting, and pretty thrilling. I'd still like to lower my body fat % a bit to be able to see the muscles a bit more, but I'm not going to stress it. One thing I've really learned is to connect with how my body feels, and if i'm happy with that then i don't care what size clothing i'm wearing or what any scale says.
In short, I always knew there was a rocking body within me, and it's awesome to see it for myself and get to show it off a bit to others!
Ok, moving on - but don't worry, there are more pictures to reward you at the end of this post!


Cooking
So in the beginning of PCP I thought that this would be 90 days of boring, non-cooking cooking. I even had this whole long post where I said goodbye to kitchen things I thought I wouldn't be using (a photo tribute to my kitchen). But what I discovered was a deeper, more astute way of cooking than before. I hardly consulted any recipes, and let my creativity and basic skills take over. And, if you've been reading this blog, you've seen that I ate a ton of delicious stuff this summer! It helped to have some basic skills mastered, so that I didn't have to just steam everything or use only one method, and then i could focus on getting fresh food that looked good, cooking it in the best way to highlight its natural flavors, and then devouring it!
Also, I used a ton of spices (thank you Talia, for the Israeli spices!!) and I think my next kitchen project is going to be to make my own signature spice mixes. Fun!


Sleep
Now this is the part of PCP training where I don't think I did very well. I have a crazy job, and I try to have some human interaction, and I like to read and relax, and while I tried to prioritize sleep this summer I often failed at getting as much as I need to. This is an ongoing struggle, and one I'm really not sure how to master with my current NYC lifestyle, but I'm working on it.
(Check out my crazy rant on the topic, to see details.) The basic takeaway is, however, that sleep is an integral part of being at peak. Not only does it help muscles grow and build and rest so that they can achieve full potential, for me it directly effects my tendency to overindulge, to self-hate, and to turn into a very negative, masochistic version of myself (aka Schlump Girl).
So anyway, must sleep more.


Social Life
PCP and the NYC social scene are not natural bedmates. During this summer I spent more weekend nights at home alone than I'd like to admit, but I feel okay about that. This was a time to commune with myself, a self-indulgent time, and it's hard to do that and be out socializing all the time. Not to mention, the food/drink focus of most socializing was a challenge that i never quite conquered. This will be part of the balance I try to strike now that the project is over, and one good thing is that now a night out lasts me a week or two, since I'm used to staying in. So, I guess meals and drinks and late nights should all be done in moderation like everything else.
Luckily, I've become very comfortable with getting seltzer at a bar and not thinking twice about it. I think some friends see me as a downer because I go home earlier than everyone else, but when you're not drunk and everyone else is it's just not that fun to keep the party going for hours and hours. If I'm a sexy, healthy, strong downer I can deal with that label :-)


Some little secret pcp side-effects:
  • No processed/packaged foods = beautiful skin. I completely stopped using any facial products other than a light spf moisturizer and I have had the clearest skin these 3 months in my whole life. It's amazing! If you want to save money on those nonsense products, quit the industrial food machine. That's been a big revelation.
  • Clean, easy bowel movements: you too can enjoy these by eating only fresh, real food. I won't elaborate, but it's pretty fantastic. (haha!)
  • Any money saved from not eating out or drinking will probably be spent on clothes or accessories. And that's great! I never put much stock in what I wore, before PCP, but now I see (and feel) the importance of looking great and presenting a strong, healthy, put-together self in front of the world. During this project I have upped the anty on looking a bit more professional at work, and I think it's paid off in my interactions with people and my success. It might sound vain, but it is a physical representation of deeper confidence and strength and it's awesome.
  • Once I learned to shut up a bit about the project (I didn't fully learn this, but I'm working on it), I got great satisfaction out of knowing all that I know about health and strength and letting my body speak for itself. As a person who has a tendency to be on "a high horse" (as my mom likes to point out), this is a good lesson to continue to learn!
  • There are definitely dozens more of these little anecdotes, but I've got to cut this list off. Read all my blog posts to find them - they're all in there!

Demons & Heroes
Finally, PCP revealed to me that I am my own demon and my own hero. The narrative of Schlump Girl vs. The Pink Lady will continue, undoubtedly, throughout my life, but now I have a fantastic framework with which to deal with these two and help TPL come out on top more often than not. Understanding what makes Schlump Girl tick, and having this great visual of The Pink Lady are hugely helpful tools for moving forward from the unhealthy pre-pcp cycle that these two had me spinning in, before. Here's a final tribute to The Pink Lady (her signature pose), that I took on Day 90:
So, I think I've got to end with that, no?
I have all the gratitude in the world for you people out there - my real life family & friends, Patrick and Chen for being the best gurus I could've possibly found, the universe for aligning at the perfect time to get me on this program, and Team SEXAAAY. Oh, Team SEXAAAY what will I do without your amazing support, fantastic personalities, hilarious anecdotes? Well, I'm moving you all into 'real life friend' category (and maybe even into the family sector, since you have felt like this wonderful kind of family all summer). I cried on day 90, thinking about how I won't hear from you all as often, but I will be thinking of you all, all the time. I'm so glad we've supported each other through this process, and know that I'm sending my regards to you around the globe every time you cross my mind.

I heard recently a quote that applies to PCP: When you set out to help yourself, you end up helping others.

I think that's what happens with this program, in many more ways than one, and it's a touching, deeply transformative process - both the helping yourself and the helping of others. If you're reading this and you're thinking about trying the PCP, just do it. 90 days will fly by, do you want to emerge as Schlump Girl or The Pink Lady? You know which one I chose.

(those are some coveted small jeans I've never really been able to fit into... until now!)

Tag! YOU'RE IT!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Day 90, HOLY SHIIIIZ! Woot wooooot!

Ok ok so I want to take a couple days to reflect and organize my thoughts for my final post (also, this way I can extend the final goodbye a little bit!), but for now know this:

I'm so happy to have gone thru this process. When we began this project, 90 days ago, I remember my final decision making thought was something like, 90 days is going to fly by either way, so either I'm ripped and healthy at the end, or I'm schlubby and unsatisfied. The prediction was true - this summer FLEW by, and here we are, in our new avatar-like bodies, armed with an incredible wealth of knowledge and self-awareness to help us sift thru the nonsense out there in the real world, and possessing a sense of purpose and willpower that many people never tap into.

This is a little saccharine, but I'm still going to share...
Here's the image I'm meditating on today, day 90: Team SEXAAAY all standing side-by-side (in swimsuits, to show off our bods!) on the edge of a big lake; we're all holding hands, feeling nervous and excited and we can't help but break into smiles every few moments. Then, from the background (hidden in the woods somewhere, haha) comes Patrick's voice, shouting, GO! YOU'RE FREE!
We take one last long look at each other, smiling, and have a good hand squeeze. Then we each reel back and take our own running jump into the abyss.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Day 89, Secret Agent Mission

I finally made it to a gym for this week's assignment (to look at what's happening at the gym, what the people look like, what the deal is in comparison to how we've trained these past 90 days). To start, let me just say that I had a lot of fun with this assignment. I've always said that if my family was tragically killed or something I would toss in my lot with spies or CIA or whatever, and become a trained killer machine, fighting for American ideals or somesuch nonsense. Part of why I chose Jennifer Garner for the image bar up there is because I think she's so badass in Alias, and I saw SALT a few weeks ago and it was so fun! Anyway, this little trip to the gym was as close as I'm getting to a real life spy mission, so I had fun.

Ok, here's my report!

Gym: Crunch
Today being the first day I've had time to do this, I went at a weird time - 2pm on one of the most beautiful Saturdays NYC has seen in a while. So, the gym was pretty empty. BUT, I realized that the people there are probably your classic 'gym rats', since they're opting to be inside working out instead of outside enjoying the pleasant temp and sun.
So I had to go thru the whole process of pretending that I want to look around and potentially join, which turned out to be really funny. The poor guy who showed me around was very confused (more on why), and I almost wanted to tell him about the whole ruse by the end, but then I thought better of it.

He started by asking me what I currently do for fitness. This was funny, and I decided to act totally nonchalant about it. My answer: "oh, well I workout at home, alone." That kind of threw him, and of course he wanted to know more. Second answer: "well, I jumprope and I use my own body weight and resistance bands to do strength stuff. [shrug]" At this point he was obviously perplexed by me. He then asked how it was going for me. I shrugged again, but then flashed him a big bicep flex and I think the man almost fell off his chair. HAAAAHAHAH! I wanted to laugh and then bounce out of my clothes in the Pink Lady bikini and be all like "SUCKERS! GET OUT OF THIS GYM!"
But instead I just smiled.

So then we went on the tour! This is where i had to tell more lies (lies! lies! lies!) and say I was interested in using the elliptical (a machine that, as far as I can tell, seems to work people on it as hard as napping does), and spin classes, and all kinds of things that I never want to think about anymore. This is where I got to check people out though. Now I will say that there was one woman who was in serious shape. She had super low body fat % and was just ripped. BUT, I wouldn't say she was in peak condition - she was sprinting on this treadmill, looking at 6 different flat screens, listening to music, all on this gorgeous day when running outside would be easy (not too hot). Far from peak, little muscle woman was, in this respect at least.

Other than that, no one else looked great. Lots of flabby mid-sections, not much sweating. This morning during the PCP workout (which, ahem, KILLED ME), I made an extra point of looking at myself tortured with pain during the shoulder exercises. When I'm struggling with the damn DaVinci's I almost look like a different person because i'm making crazy faces and squealing. No one at that gym was even close to failing at anything, I can tell you purely from their relaxed faces and lack of discomfort.

So we tour, it's fine, the bathroom/locker room is gross. I did like that the place was filled with light, and has big windows, so that was nice. but that's about all. He told me about all the classes they have, which actually did sound like fun classes, but I'd rather play sports as a fun active thing, not go to a gym to take a class (though a dancing series is the exception to this!).

Through the whole tour he kept asking me things, and I would reveal little PCPisms but in such a chill way that he continued to be impressed and confused. I think the guy gave me 10 fist-pumps during the tour, I noticed that he wanted to give one for every time I said a PCPism. yet, here he was trying to sell me on a place where many PCP habits can't be practiced effectively. funny!

On top of all that, we then sat down and he revealed to me that they also have...PARTIES. To which I immediately wanted to know more. What kind of parties? and, of course, what's served at these parties at the GYM???
So every month they have a party (the whole gym was very scene-y, so I'm thinking the party is a way to hook up with the people you've been making eyes at over the staff-infection-infested rowing machine), and at this party they serve "all kinds of appetizers" and "tons of liquor/booze". I raised my eyebrows to this, at which point he just kind of nervously laughed.

Now, there was 1 cool thing about this gym:
they have a live DJ spinning in the workout area on Tuesdays! I like this because it's hard for me to stay on top of music choices, and as we've recently learned, the right music helps pump up the workout.
And, it wasn't a terrible place or anything - people were nice and I remembered how good it feels to join a new gym and have that sense of promise and optimism about your goals. But, inherently, the whole place got in the way of helping people to get fit - the main thing the place at least SAYS it's there for. So, that's the ultimate fail I suppose.
won't be joining Crunch anytime soon.

However, I did used to love going to the YMCA. I would swim there with a friend of mine and we were true regulars in the pool - we had fun and got to know SO many characters, and we stayed relatively healthy. I think the Y is a different place though - there are so many kids and families, and it's a community space as much as a gym, and that's what it's trying to be. It still has the flaws I saw at Crunch, but I can respect a place like the YMCA in a way that i could not at all respect this thinly veiled nightclub called Crunch.

At the end of my little meeting with the sales guy, he said something like, "well, you seem like you're in pretty good shape already, so you'd be great here," and I wanted to say "you have no idea, so no thank you CRUNCH!"
But I did one final shrug, just to continue confusing the man, and I thanked him for his time.

what a fun mission!
what a strange place I discovered.

Soooo, then I moseyed down to the beloved food coop and reflected on the other pcp component - our new way of eating. I filled my basket with fruits, veggies, trying to find new fruits and veggies for this week - so fun! I got two new grains to try - amarynth and red quinoa! and I got these post-pcp treats:
I felt so happy and healthy and excited at the fact that, when I thought of getting some stuff for after day 90 that I wouldn't have bought before, I didn't reach for ice cream or packaged chips or candy or anything like that. Instead, I got all weak in the knees for delicious dates, dried unsweetened cherries, dried figs and garam masala cashews. Y-U-M! These are mini indulgences that I'm glad to start having back in my life. They're not unlawful (definition here), but they're still treats, and I'm really glad to move forward with this kind of thinking.

Plus, I still also got all this stuff:
YUUUUUUMMMM. I will always be eating these types of foods from now on!

and then I made these for lunch:
Such a great pcp lunch! and I swear, all that food equates to 150g carbs, 120g protein and as many veggies as I want! These little sandwiches were so tasty!

Day 89 Mini Sammies
6 slices whole wheat bread (small oblong loaf)
1/2 avocado, distributed onto all the slices and spread
spoonful of sauteed peppers and onions onto each bread
1/2 large tomato, cut up with a slice for each bread
Chicken sauteed/poached with onions, garlic, spices

Smash each mini sammie together and consume!

Oh, and on the side I broiled a portobello mushroom and spooned some of the onions and garlic on top.

still full, and veeeery satisfied!

p.s. The workout today was insane! I was a maniac with crazy grunts and sighs and whines, but I got thru it. planks with the arms wide are way harder! v-sits without touching legs back to the floor are way harder! no rest b/w sets are way harder! but it all felt great, in that painful inexplicable way...

Friday, August 27, 2010

Day 88, Daze Days

Well, I can't believe that we're this close to the end.

I once ran a marathon. That was a different health/fitness time in my life - an interesting one, and a good one, but not one I'll be revisiting again as I move forward after this project. There are many mental strengths I developed during the training for that marathon, however, and I draw from them all the time. Right now, these final days on our PCP, I feel the way I did about 100 yards from the finish line of that marathon. The thought that went thru my mind when I could actually SEE the finish: Wow, I did this. I did it! The finish is RIGHT THERE! I could get shot now, maybe even twice, and STILL I'd make it to that line. WOOOHOOOOO!
Then, I crossed the line and burst into tears.

That's kind of how I feel now, as day 88 comes to a close. I'm thrilled to have done this project, I'm so thankful that a friend just happened to mention it at a time when I was looking for just this kind of thing (thank you Jane!!!), and I am shocked that it's already coming to a close. I want to hoot and holler and celebrate... but I also want to burst into tears.

The cool difference, I suppose, is that I feel energized and not exhausted. And, I know that the last thing you have to do to be lean and healthy is train like a maniac and then pound your body into pavement for 26.2 miles (though there are many benefits to running, I know and understand most of them!). So I'm all empowered and filled with knowledge and experience to keep on the peak path, but I'm so sad to graduate from this 'boot camp' so to speak, and move on without the daily touchstones that come with this project (emails from patrick, and all the incredible Team SEXAAAY blogs).

I'm sappy tonight. But change is good! Pain is good!

p.s. one thing I'm forever thankful to PCP for: the advent of my 2% milk love affair. just had a glass. mmm mmm goooood.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Day 86, Hey-Yoooo!

1st Plank today: 2 min, 46 seconds

WOOT WOOOOOT!!!

(of course the subsequent 4 were total shit-shows, but I was excited about #1!)

Monday, August 23, 2010

Day 85, Pink Lady vs. Schlump Girl - an interesting truce

Ok ok ok so I'm going to use the words "unlawful" and "indulgence" in this post.
I'm just preparing you all for that. But don't freak out and call this round for Schlump Girl just yet - The Pink Lady has triumphed in a new way tonight, people! Read on to find out how!
Before a full report, I want to offer up some 'then' and 'now' definitions to those words.

Pre-PCP "Unlawful" = nothing. Nothing's unlawful, because I can eat and drink anything I want, anytime! I run and do pilates and ride my bike for transportation, I deserve to eat delicious things all the time!

Post-PCP "Unlawful" = food that does not make me feel good, physically and/or mentally/emotionally.

Pre-PCP "Indulgence" = lunch. dinner. snack. daily beer. full full stomach. every meal.

Post-PCP "Indulgence" = something delicious and extravagant that I would only eat or drink once a month or so. does not at all equate to quantity, rather this is all about quality, decadent foodstuffs.


So I've learned many things during this project, and rather than save them all for one post i'll probably wax poetic throughout the week as they come to me. Today's lesson is about unlawful things, and about indulgences.

In my previous life (before THE PROJECT) I had unlawful food snacks all the time. Mostly they were tied to my emotional state (fueled mainly by tiredness and boredom and anxiety); my office is a minefield of unlawful snacks, if I'm looking for them, so I could easily be constantly snacking on terrible, non-food junk all day and still think I was a healthy person who ate quality meals. What these unlawful, non-food junk items do (to me, at least) is whittle away at a crater of dissatisfaction. Each bite leaves me searching for something that will outdo that last taste, so I'd mindlessly hunt around for something saltier, sweeter, crunchier, smoother. Naturally, when I'd start down that path, nothing would quite ever hit the mark.

Now stepping away from the dark world of Schlump Girl, we have the idea of the indulgence. What a wonderful word that is - INDULGENCE. It's so luxurious and filled with promise, but the key thing for me at least is that it's a fancy word. A gross pita chip can't be part of a true indulgence! A black truffle is an indulgence; fresh salted butter from a local farm is an indulgence; cheese, beer, wine, chocolate - these are indulgences. An indulgence can't happen every day, or even every week, because the essence of indulgence implies being somewhat of a rarity in and of itself.


Over the past week or two I've inched back into unlawful snacky land (aka Schlump Girl's playland). Little bites here and there have turned into too many, especially this past week --after my failed indulgence #3. Today, I noticed the problem growing a bit too much for my svelte PCP self to condone. What's the deal? I'm not even tired today! I'm not bored! I'm not even really anxious (though I kind of am). So, why did I eat 10 of those gross non-food "honey wheat pretzels" that probably have no honey or wheat in the ingredient list? Why did I go back for 5 more??
I confronted the inner, rebellious adolescent, who was obviously doing this to be stubborn and resentful from something.
What's the deal Schlump Girl? What's your beef this time? Your regular conditions don't exist today, so tell me what bee got up your uglyass bonnet?
Answer: Waaah! Woe is me! I didn't have a good final indulgence! it's not fair! i work so hard and weigh all the stupid grams and have no life or relationship except for the one with my dishpan and my iron skillet! i deserve SOMETHING!

Ahhhhh, I see what you're doing, Schlumpy! You're so transparent. And for the record, you DO deserve something - but something more than 15 honey wheat pretzels. I'm just saying...

So here's the big reveal: the indulgences are important. REALLY important. I get it now. They offer these respites from being so gosh darn responsible and healthy, and yet they are both responsible and healthy, because we don't need a break from that, we just need a little acknowledgment of the hard work. A nod from the other side that signals, hey - enjoy this. it won't derail your efforts and the memory of it'll keep you going thru a couple weeks of more simple, yet still satisfying foods.

When I landed on this conclusion today, it was as if Schlump Girl had worked herself into this whole fit, and here came The Pink Lady, all comfort and rationale. No fighting between these two today, just some understanding and compromise. Now, you could call this whole thing a wonderful rationalization for me to gorge myself on unlawful foods, but I feel really peaceful and aware of something new with all of this.
Once I decided on the fact that what I just needed to do was NOT slip down this consistently-caving slope, but rather decide on a really satisfying indulgence and mindfully have it, I felt much better. I thought about what to have.
Pizza?
Falafel?
Some tapas from local restaurant?
Mexican? (NOOOO!)

Here's the funny part: what did I want? did I want to go out? to have "fancy" restaurant food? Nope, I wanted to cook something for myself. I didn't want to go out and have something be needlessly greasy or salty or sweet. I wanted to make something decadent that I knew would be delicious.
So I bought the ingredients for a carbonara twist, came home, and whipped up this:
O.M.G.
It was, without a doubt, the most glorious thing I've made since 2009. Seriously. I had so much fun making something other than veg-protein-carb, and it was indulgent to not think about how many meals this would last me or how many grams i'd get out of it. It was cooking-to-relax, which is something that I used to do fairly often but I've not been able to have that mindset about cooking these past months, due to PCP planning and time constraint issues. It was so relaxing, so ZEN to just make this singular dish for this singular taste-focused meal (a new cuisine? Zen Indulgence cooking!!).

Make it for your next indulgence. Please do. PLEASE. You'll be so happy. Here's all you need:


Elena's Mindful Indulgence Carbonara Twist*
*The twist refers to a liberal swapping of cheeses, pasta shapes and pork cuts used by my ancestors. Some might slap me for still calling this a carbonara, but at least I'm not a heathen who adds cream!

Ingredients:
  • a couple handfuls of Pasta of your choice (a penne-like shape works best, in my opinion)
  • 1 TB high-quality olive oil
  • 1 large garlic clove
  • 2 fresh sage leaves
  • sprinkle of red pepper flakes
  • thin slice of pancetta or 1 slice bacon
  • 1 oz hard swiss cheese of your choice (get wild with this! sometimes I go with a standard gruyere, but today i tried Montagne de Jura and it was divine. just make sure it's a good melting cheese, with a nutty, swiss-essence taste.)
  • 1/2 oz pecorino of your choice (standard version: romano, but today I got this Bianco Sardo and it was craaaaaazy good)
  • 1 egg, as fresh as possible

Method:
  • Boil large pot of water (unsalted!) for the pasta; in meantime, heat olive oil in an iron skillet.
  • Mince garlic and pancetta, set aside.
  • Once oil is warm, add garlic and the whole sage leaves and heat on low for a few minutes, moving the leaves around with a wooden spoon. After a few minutes take the leaves out and discard.
  • Sprinkle red pepper flakes into the pan, to toast (not too many! you only want a hint of heat in this dish or else the other delicate flavors will be tragically masked!).
  • Add pancetta and continue to heat on low/medium so that pancetta firms up and the garlic starts to brown. Stir occasionally as you wait for the pasta to cook.
  • In meantime, once the water boils pour pasta in and reduce heat to a rapid simmer/almost boil. Stir! Be sure it doesn't stick, but don't bother the pasta too much! Taste it to be sure you take it out 30 seconds before it's perfectly al dente. Preserve a small cup of the pasta cooking liquid - you may need this, though I never use it. But better safe than to see it all disappear down the drain when you needed it...
  • Crack the egg into your serving dish!
The next steps should be done with a quick hand:
  • Spoon the drained pasta onto the egg and pour the pancetta/oil/pepper/garlic mixture over the pasta & egg (if some of the garlic has browned too much, try to get that out with a spoon first).
  • Grate the swiss cheese over the pasta as well.
  • Using tongs or two forks, quickly toss all this delicious stuff! Mix the raw egg with the hot pasta and hot oil and the cheese and it won't scramble, but will turn into a most delicious, wonderful sauce. (If for some reason it's not wet enough, now's the time to splash in that pasta cooking liquid you smartly saved.)
To finish, grate the pecorino on top, sprinkle with freshly grated pepper, and ENJOY YOUR INDULGENCE!
A warning: after consuming bowl of indulgent extravagance, you might look like this:
Next step:
Wake up the next morning, do your jumping, and enjoy eating your clean diet foods. Meditate on the physical and emotional purity of this indulgence! Be happy that you can relish life's pleasures and still look SEXAAAY.

that's all.

oh, and p.s. no bathroom disaster aftereffects! BONUS!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Day 83, phew

Well, I finally got some rest. Thank the heavens!!!!
Friday night I slept 9 hours and last night i slept another 9.5 hours. I needed that so so so much!
And the good thing is that it wasn't nuts like last Friday when I slept 11 hours - it's enough that hopefully I'll be able to hit the hay early again tonight and have a week of 8 hour sleep nights (this is my last week PCP goal!).

So, I didn't realize it'd been so long since I last blogged! sometimes when i read and comment on everyone else's blogs I forget to write my own. Well, here I am anyway, blogging it out!

A few quick anecdotes and then I'll post again later today (with my notes from Patrick's latest assignment!).

1: ABS.
I can't believe it but the long planks the other day didn't kill me! It helped that we had one less set than last week (I'm taking Tara's cue and being vague on how long and how many planks, so as not to frighten those earlier on in the program). They are hard, don't get me wrong, but they also really tap into my badass feeling, so I kind of like them in a weird way.
Also, love the kung fu sit-ups! hanging like that makes me feel like I'm a kid, and i really love it. Most times when we have them I'm smiling all the way thru! I was thinking about how strange this is when i remembered a funny memory (this is the second flashback that PCP has stirred up, which I haven't thought about in decades). When I was little (like, 8 years old little) my dad and I would walk thru this little park between the subway and our apartment. there was a playground, and it had jungle gym type things, including the ladder bars, you know? picture a ladder, now put it horizontal and about 4 ft. off the ground. oh! I think this is called MONKEY BARS.
So at some point I got it into my head that my goal was going to be to make it from one end of the monkey bars to the other. I was not a small child (let's just say that food has always been a problem for me - or, better put, a great passion of mine!). Anyway, I dedicated myself to this goal for weeks. everyday I'd make him stop so I could practice, and eventually I did do it.
it was like a precursor for my dedication to PCP! haha!
But odd, right? for an 8 year old to decide on this random fitness goal, and then to benchmark it every day. i think my dad was bewildered, or maybe too tired to really notice how strange it was. i'll have to ask him what he thought of the whole thing!

ok, off to walk with a friend. more anecdotes later. happy sunday to all you PCP lovies! I don't know about you, but I just finished my morning milk and i'm feeling goooooood.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Day 79, Comfort food (a new perspective)

This is my new idea of comfort food:

it might not look like much to you, but that right there is a FULL fridge!
Totally full! I've got apples, plums, peaches, squash, kale, herbs, eggs (more eggs), milk, watercress, beet greens, a ton of eggplant caponata (low-oil version i've been making), roasted beets, peppers, avocado, yogurt, chicken poached in lemon juice with scallions and yummy israeli spices, quinoa!

In my previous life, I was a regular cook, but i didn't eat nearly the majority of my meals at home, so i'd cook one dish each week, on average. this made for a full condiment shelf and pantry, but a pretty sad fridge (i live alone, so that heightens the situation). Whenever my cousin Dominique comes to visit, or when my sister comes over, they each open the fridge and laugh (well my sister - who lives at home and has a full family fridge - laughs, Dominique - who's married and cooks a lot- is more shocked, I think). Anyway, I wish they could both see me now.

And back to the comfort food thing. I have to say, it gives me SO much comfort, opening the fridge to this bounty of amazing, colorful, delicious, good-for-me food options. When I go overboard buying fruit it does make me overdo it on the fruit consumption a bit, but who cares! Not me! Eating fruit has never been the root of my problem!

Ok going to bed now. Making all that comfort food is fracking exhausting. Plus, workouts this week are kill kill killER! I put MIA on for the 5th set of plank though, and it helped exponentially. I think that, for these incredibly hard planks, the more you can listen to music that makes you feel like a hardcore badass, the better!!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Day 78, New Pictures and 2 pcp wins

first off, i totally forgot to take the pictures last week! damn! i am so annoyed! especially because i was feeling so schlumpy, it would be nice to compare what i actually looked like to today. ah well, we can just think back on that blurry picture of SCHLUMP GIRL and imagine some of that entering the picture...

anyway, new pictures for day 78! woop woop! i think the changes are subtle at this point but i feel pretty happy about them. my abs are noticeable, esp in the angled shot! and i included one shot that finally shows the powerhouses that my legs have become. the legs have doubled their muscle, methinks. today was particularly rough, with jumping, the pistol squats, a bazillion floor jumps, and then after work i had a meeting up in the bronx and since it was such a lovely night i decided to ride back to Brooklyn from there. Then when i was mere mile or so from home i ran into a friend and rode with him a bit out of my way to go watch some of Splash out by the waterfront.
Anyway, legs are mucho tired right now.

oh! but the reason i'm posting! in the shower i thought of 2 things that i don't want to forget to blog about:
1. my skin is SO clear and consistent! about 30 days into pcp i actually stopped using special face wash or cream, as a little experiment, to see if skin is effected more by what we ingest than what we put on it. low and behold, my skin is really clear now with hardly any breakouts!
i do have this weird gizmo my godmother gave me which is helpful though - it's called the Clarisonic. i think it's uber expensive but it's basically a sonicare toothbrush for your face. i know, i know, this from a lady with no tv, no plug-in coffee maker, a general lack of modern day appliances. but man, this face toothbrush thing helps stimulate the pores!
moving on...

2. posture is so incredibly different it still surprises me!!! i think before i always thought that people with good posture were just super mindful of it. now i realize that they just have strong muscles! it's really amazing, for the first time i don't have to think about sitting or standing up straight, or remind myself or chastise myself. instead, it happens naturally! imagine!

ok that's all. so tired!

p.s. had the best glass of milk when i got home 2nite. my god it was so good.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Final Indulgence: Ultimate Fail!

In Jenny's post about her final indulgence she mentioned she thought at one point she might explode. Well, to put it as succinctly as possible: I exploded. (not in a good way...)

ok backing up.
So I had planned to have my indulgence Saturday night with my old friend from college. The plan was: picnic with wine and cheese, then off to favorite neighborhood restaurant where I'd have some yummy calamari and maybe meat and little yummy tastes (the place is like gourmet American tapas). I was looking forward to this!

Instead:
we did have wine and cheese picnic - that was lovely and fun!
but then on our way to favorite neighborhood restaurant we ran into some people my friend knew. They invited us to join them for a drink at this [totally awful] Tex-Mex restaurant. So, being nice and up for anything, we did. :-(
then everyone ordered food and I realized that the neighborhood restaurant plan was over. In hindsight I don't know why I didn't just order something non-indulgent (if there is such a thing at a Tex-Mex place) and pocket the second half of my indulgence for post-PCP.
Instead, I ate a lot of the [really not very good] tortilla chips, 1 pork soft taco (bland and greasy), a few bites of rice and beans (greasy), and 2 beef fajitas (beef & veggies SWIMMING in oil). UGGGGG. It wasn't even good! And, I had sangria which was way too sweet and also not good! I suppose I half did it all because I was hanging out with people I didn't know, and I was trying to salvage the indulgence and enjoy it. To top it off, after we parted ways, my friend and I went to go get small dishes of ice cream (and luckily I had enough sense to get a small dish).
I was SO full though, and not very satisfied.

So then we get home and chat and eventually go to bed.
...a couple hours later I wake up after strange, fitful, haunting dreams to find myself sweating, feeling nauseous and very disoriented. Finally I drag myself to the bathroom where, let's just say, I was unsure (and prepared) for my entire indulgence to explode out of any/all orifices...
And it did.
oh god it was terrible! i was so sick! worst stomach cramping ever, and boy did I purge. all I wanted to do was say OH GOD! and moan loudly, but to top it off I was trying to keep quiet so as not to gross out friend.
Eventually I shuffled out of the bathroom and made it back to bed, for a few more hours of terrible sleep and nausea/sweating. SO GROSS!

i kind of can't believe it, but somehow I did the workout today. not first thing, mind you, but I got it done, and I even went climbing. I also ate some unlawful peanut butter and carbs to calm things down a bit with my stomach this evening. ugh.

on the bright side, I suppose it was good not to fully ingest all that nasty food non-food crap. on the dark side, I wish I could've had a more enjoyable indulgence. But, last weekend I did indulge, and it wasn't caving, it was planned and it was fun and I felt good about it. So, that was my true final indulgence, I suppose.

The interesting thing is that I do think I had a bit of a hangover today, and it did cause me to have more carbs and the peanut butter. i kind of forgot that - even slight hangovers always cause me to eat badly and eat a lot the next day. as I look toward the future of not drinking much, I'm happy to take this post-drinking day of unlawful eating out of the equation.

so there you have it. bum-er.

onwardsssss.

Friday, August 13, 2010

almost Day 75, challenging day with a reward!

gotta write quickly because i need to hit the sack!
i have to work tomorrow, super early, leading a bike ride from Queens to an awesome car-free NYC event, Summer Streets! Must depart BK homestead at 7am, which means a 5am wakeup to do the workout and have breakfast and a little calm coffee time before the storm. At first I thought, NO WAY! I CAN'T DOOO ITTTTT! (whiney voice)
But then i thought of Tara and how she gets up at some crazy time (4am?!) on the days when she works at the radio station, and I just accepted it.

Usually I could just wait until later to do the workout, but I'm very happy to say that the final lady of the college ladies is coming for a solo visit tomorrow afternoon! (she wasn't able to make it to ladies weekend at Chez Paradise, boo.) So, I certainly won't want to miss time with her to do the workout!

Anyway, her visit coincides perfectly with our 3rd indulgence (which, Patrick tells me, is MANDATORY, regardless of my cavings these past few weeks). Right away I was thrilled because, while I mostly haven't been drinking on the PCP I have been collecting some wines for the future, and there is a bottle I'd love to savor with my friend! So, we'll do that. Then I was thinking about going out to eat, and enjoying something, but I kept thinking of my old favorite places and I know the tastes aren't going to satisfy me in the same way - i don't even want to try it out. What I DO know is that I have oh so missed visiting my cheese shop (the shopping for cheese and talking about it more than the eating, even!). So, we will go buy some real gems and have a little wine and cheese picnic!
Then I guess we could go eat a light dinner at one of those old favorites just to double check my prediction. But I kind of also just want to cook at my place! Maybe I will cook but it will be in an indulgent way. I don't know, we'll see.
The point is, it's the perfect time to enjoy this final indulgence and then hanker down for final 2 weeks.

OH! SNACK ATTACK! One final thing! Question for you, Patrick: can I pop my own popcorn from kernels, sprinkling only spices and maybe like 1 tsp of grated parmesan cheese, and allow that as an occasional treat/snack???

p.s. i heart 2% milk so much, it's getting ridiculous.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Day 73, kung fu sit-ups: hello!

So I think I mentioned that I couldn't do the kung fu sit-ups at Chez Paradise. Even with all that cool stuff, nowhere to hang! (climbing wall wasn't good for extended hanging and the leg motion.)
Anyway, back in action with them today.
whoa.
I do my workout at 7am.
Around 1pm today I got up or moved or something, and I thought, what's this? are my abs sore?!?
FF to 2pm and yikes, sore. continued throughout the day. felt great! happy to be back with my beloved pull-up bar, that's for sure!

Also, scale update: 2 pounds up, as predicted! yes sir, it's true. but, now i've had 2 stellar pcp regular days and i was over the number before i even saw it. It's just like Patrick's recent blog post: I'm seeing the results of my carefree moments from the past couple of weeks now BUT I'm already mentally and physically back to the clean clean clean PCP training, so nowhere to go but up. --er, or, down, actually, i guess (scale-wise). Anyway, moving on, moving forward.

i'm EXHAUSTED today. i think i might do the workouts harder in my own apt. I guess because everything is set-up right and there's no running around grabbing the extra whatsit? anyway, feel more fatigued today. going to floss and beddy bye now...yawn. i heart pcp. goodnight lovies!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Day 72, back to reality

Ok I'm going to prepare you all (and by "you all" I mostly mean myself) for something here.

For the past few days I've been carrying this scary fear around. what fear? weight gain!
now I'm not as far gone as Royce, who looks H-O-T but has taken to calling himself an obese man (Royce, I'm going to send THE PINK LADY up there to fight your demons if you don't post again soon!), but having no scale at Chez Paradise and only stretchy clothes for this past week makes me a little nervous.

an analysis of why I feel this trepidation:

first, workouts.
workouts have been great. I haven't missed a workout, let alone a set or a rep in all of the project! Even on crazy Tour de Brooklyn and Tour de Queens days! Even on lazy days. And lonely days. And even on the one day during the PCP when I've woken up with a hangover (yech! it was awful.). But this isn't a big deal for me - I am always solid on the working out.

It's the consumption part that's hard for me...
and the past 2 weeks have not been red letter PCP diet weeks for me. I've blogged about most of the indulgences but in general I've been inching back with the little unlawful bites and the occasional wine. Most of it REALLY doesn't bother me, and I actually consider some of it real success because I'm indulging in mostly smarter ways than I did before, and I'm not obsessing about it in the moment. It's also pretty amazing to me that having a small bowl of corn (with nothing on it) can feel like an indulgence. Mostly i think I've been woo'd back a little bit by salt. he's just so nice and exciting and...tasty. Sugar I have no feelings about. Fruit and milk are so delicious to me that I don't need anything more than that, treat-wise. But a salty cracker can still tug on my heartstrings.

So here's an example of where I've indulged but ultimately it remains a success in my book (but then also might account for a pound or two of reality landing back on my hips these past couple weeks...):
last night I threw a little dinner/climbing party for my coworkers to round out the stay at Chez Paradise (I came back to my much humbler --but much loved-- apartment today). At the end of the night I was left alone with a huge bowl of tortilla chips (my #1 temptation) with guacamole, a medium bowl of these rosemary sea salt crackers (another very strong salty temptation), 3/4 of an AMAZING, decadant chocolate truffle cake, and 2 very yummy peanut butter jelly cookies.
!!!!
Now you know Schlump Girl would've been allllllll over that. She would've found some movie to watch and just had her own schlump party after all the guests left. oh yes, she would've been counting down to that all night!
But guess who I invited to the party instead? Yep, THE PINK LADY. I dumped those chips without a hesitation (ok, maybe there was a slight hesitation); I wrapped up the cake and left a note for my friends to enjoy when they return home tomorrow; I plain FORGOT about the rosemary crackers.
It was cool.
And yes, I did indulge during the dinner, but not crazily. I had gazpacho and some corn chowder (not a cream-based version) and only a few bites of yummy butter sage squash pasta and a small piece of the chocolate cake. I had some bites of cheese and chicken liver (from Zabars - yesssss!) and a few crackers. And I had a small glass of wine and tried an ounce or so of my friend's home brew.
This is why I think The Pink Lady will remain Peak-y but also why she'll always have some boob and curve. It's also why she probably won't go crazy from always denying the foodie inside of her... Because all those things I ate were delicious! and they were prepared with love by people who are important to me! and I didn't waste a nibble on the store-bought quiche or the storebought guac or the run of the mill tortilla chips. and in the most vulnerable time, when everyone left and I was alone to choose Schlump Girl or TPL, I made the right choice and I didn't hem and haw over it.

Ok, ok ok so backing up.
while that's all fine and good and wonderful, I'm still thinking I didn't make much physical progress this week --at least not waistline wise; I DO think I made progress on those hateful 90 second planks, but that's for another post. We'll know for sure tomorrow morning when I creep back onto my scale, but I'm preparing you now for the fact that what we see might not be PCP condoned.

Moving forward. Always moving forward.
Luckily I have no more big social things coming up. A friend is coming for the weekend but we will PCP it up. No parties on the horizon, no dates, no staycations or changes of routine in general. I think this bodes well for some hunkering down to stricter PCP days as the project tops off here in the next 2 weeks, and I think that's FINE. This is what real life will be like, no? A balance of managing indulgences and coming back to the program that we all now know works. I think that this is what I signed up to learn from this project, and if i'm able to swing this pendulum back to the lovely peaceful pcp middle ground after a few high-powered social weeks, then I'll really have learned how to have the body and the health I want and ALSO a life I can feel happy about.

wahooooooo!
also, I'm feeling extra happy today because I really did miss my apartment and it's so nice to be back in Brooklyn. I know it sounds silly since Chez Paradise is...Chez Paradise, but I am so proud of my little home, and I missed my knives...and my coffee maker...and the breeze thru my dining room window...and my scuzzy Brooklyn street...and my kitchen aid...and my radios...and my excellent fan placement...and the lack of mosquitoes...and i even missed the drunk DJ who lives upstairs, sometimes plays music too loud, and calls me "love".

whoa, that little love poem came outta nowhere. ok, going to go to the climbing gym now!

(still nervous about that scale moment in the morning, p.s.)

Monday, August 9, 2010

Day 70, The Pink Lady vs. Schlump Girl

In the spirit of Royce's awesome metaphor about the demons and super-heroes within us all, I spent the 18 min and 40 seconds (I add 40secs to account for the tripping) of my jumping this morning creating my own comic book narrative. I have to say, I LOVE it and I think it's giving me a big push for this leg of the PCP (I really can't say "final" leg of the PCP, because life as I know it from now on is the PCP in my opinion).

Anyway, here goes...


Deep in the concrete jungle there lives a ferocious demon, though innocent she may seem. Her name? SCHLUMP GIRL.
SCHLUMP GIRL, circa 2008

Notice how SCHLUMP GIRL has weak shoulders, flubby arms and big boobs. She drinks a lot, and eats greasy food, and craves salt and sugar all the time. She also makes bad dating decisions, hangs out with random people who aren't truly her friends, and once she ate tortilla chips dipped in chocolate ice cream.
See how she's slightly out of focus? That's thanks to the aura of negativity she emits.
Don't let her fool you with that innocent, unknowing gaze - she's vicious, and lonely, and scared, and she wants you sitting on that banquette with her, NOW.


Thankfully, SCHLUMP GIRL is easily outdone, even at her strongest moments, by...
THE PINK LADY!
THE PINK LADY, circa July 2010

Her picture says it all, really. THE PINK LADY is all muscle with some sexaaay curve on the side. She's got energy and verve and she still has at least some semblance of pretty great boob. She wants to feel good for the right reasons, and help others do so as well. She also wants to see SCHLUMP GIRL grow up, get focused and leave town so that she can get to The Peak already. Until that day, however, THE PINK LADY fights the good fight to keep SCHLUMP GIRL at bay, faltering on her climb from the peak ever so slightly when SCHLUMP GIRL surfaces at a weak moment, but climbing faster and higher after each encounter.

Will THE PINK LADY make it to The Peak, or will SCHLUMP GIRL drag her down time and time again?

To be continued...


heeheehee! so fun!
in all seriousness though, I think this is really going to help me. I mean, how can I EVER let someone named SCHLUMP GIRL win, over THE PINK LADY?!?! I don't care how grumpy or tired or frustrated I am - I feel like I can resist SCHLUMP GIRL's promises of happiness-via-ice-cream or calm-thru-alcohol, especially when I see her as this demon trying to manipulate me and hold back THE PINK LADY from the peak. Nothing pisses me off more than people trying to manipulate me (this is why I do not own a TV!), so I feel like if I look at it this way I might be able to resist SCHLUMP GIRL better when she tries to bring me down to her pond scum level. We shall see!


ok, onwards.
So, wow, day 70. less than 20 days left now, after today. that's amazing. totally nuts! balls crazy nuts! it's funny, around 40 days left or so I got all completely freaked out about not having enough time to truly achieve peak condition before the 90 days was up. I was really panicking about having to see this project complete without feeling that I was there yet. And now, even after a couple weeks of too many unlawful moments (ladies weekend was great, but i had FAR too much wine...), I don't have that anxiety at all. I guess it's a mixture of feelings; one, that every day I am getting to a new peak condition, so even if we ended right now I'd feel that I accomplished the goal, and two, that I think my regular life won't be much different from this. I love working out every day, and I've always done that regularly, so that's a no brainer. The eating is always harder for me, but this is the first time I've learned how to eat so that I never feel hungry yet still lose fat and build muscle - the winning combination! the holy grail!
also I think I really just needed someone (apparently Patrick) to tell me that what I eat is going to be responsible for 80% of what I look like. I can workout all I want but when I ignore sound, natural, healthy food choices and proportions, SCHLUMP GIRL wins. period. no getting around it. i think i finally understand this.

some workout notes:
today I tried some jumping tricks!! I did this funny heel-toe thing, and then i jumped side to side like the boxers and the guys on youtube. I did 4 successful double rope swing moves!
and, I covered my poor butt and thighs with whip marks from the rope (the downside to jumping in undies-only). !! OUCH!
now I have a weird confession: I discovered, this weekend, that I jump better in silence. It's not so weird actually considering that when I was a runner I never listened to music (marathon training: books on tape! nerd alert!), and I was a swimmer which involves silent laps. With the music I become aware of how much time is passing, and I'm less focused. Jumping in silence the past few days felt very peaceful and focused and reminded me more of why I did love running once upon a time (now: YECH!). I'm still going to listen to some badass tunes for the rest of the workout though, i need to rock to embrace the fail.

ok folks, that's all I've got. Busy busy few days ahead, so I might not post again until Wednesday. But the good news is that my next post will be from my very own home. No, it does not have a garden (or a park), or more than one level, or 6 stovetop burners, or--travesty of all travesties--washer/dryer IN UNIT. But, it's my lovely little homey apartment and I miss it so much!!!! Can't wait to go back to Brooklyn and round out the last couple weeks of this journey where it all began. It's so crazy that everything can remain the same, and yet completely change.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Day 68, I'm here!

Hey folks, just realized I hadn't posted in a few days. Why? Because m'ladies are here for the weekend! 3 of my close friends from college are having a little weekend getaway here in chez paradise with me and we're having a blast. I'm allowing the wine indulgence and I've nibbled on some other non-sanctioned stuff but for the most part it's going really well PCP-wise (and of course real life-wise it's wonderful to be around these friends!).

More later once I'm by my lonesome again Sunday evening, but I hope you're all having a great weekend!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Tough day with some unlawfulness and a recovery

So, yesterday and today I've gotten into a really, really low funk. As much as I LOVE LOVE LOVE chez paradise, last year when I was here I was in the throes of a new relationship (albeit a bad one, but I was all optimism at the time), and this year I'm a bit lonely. I think that's clouding my experience here a bit this week, though luckily my best ladies from college are coming Friday for the weekend so that will fill the house with love and happiness of the best sort!

Anyway, back to today. So, I'm in a bit of a loneliness funk. I'm having thoughts like, "what good are awesome abs if there's no one to admire them under the bedsheets?" and, "what are you doing with your life, Elena?!" Luckily I'm not overtired (no life lately = getting enough sleep. bonus!), or else I would probably be writing from the dark depth of a pint of ice cream. Instead, I had an unlawful BUT VERY SMALL cup of chocolate custard this afternoon. then my pity party continued and I came up with this whole plan to go to the movies to distract myself (since I can't have drinks to distract myself) and I decided I was allowed to throw in the towel for an evening and have tortilla chips because after all I deserve it.
Then, I got on my bike and rode back to chez paradise. This is where biking for transportation is good in a whole different way. Once I was on the bike, moving my body, I realized that I don't need to zone out at the movies, and I don't need the stupid tortilla chips (because what I DON'T deserve is to beat myself up about making bad choices). I stopped at Fairway to get milk, shrimp and some sourdough and I got some bonus strawberries and asparagus. When I got to chez paradise I had 2 small slices of sourdough in the garden (unlawful, yes, but if it was going to be that or the stupid chips i'm happy with the choice). Then I stripped down and did 30min of climbing in my undies! while blasting some sweet tunes! It was fun, especially because when I stayed here last year I could hardly do 5 min on the climbing wall without losing all strength in my arms. This time I felt so strong and graceful and badass. and SEXAAAY! Then I had a few strawberries with my yogurt as further unlawful-but-not-so-bad treat.

So, yeah, unlawful items today. BUT I changed my "normal" narrative, from more of a passive/destructive course of action to an active/positive one, and that's no small feat after years of mindlessly doing the former on a frighteningly regular basis. That felt pretty cool. Maybe by day 90 I won't even have to have the custard, or the sourdough, or the strawberries (ok, I'll still have the strawberries, i mean come on!) in order to avoid the stasis and the tortilla chips and the self-punishment. Here's to getting to that point!

ok, that's my report for today. Luckily tomorrow I am seeing an old friend and then Friday I'm taking the day off to prepare for ladies weekend-o-fun! wahoooo! and I'm swearing off unlawful items for the rest of PCP, with an exception for one last indulgence of wine during ladies weekend coming up. Don't worry, I'm not going to go insane, but I am going to have a glass here and there and not worry about it. What i'm NOT going to do is stray from the diet, food-wise, and i think that having this arrangement going into the weekend will help me relax and feel indulgent while not derail things too terribly.

ok, i'm getting under the mosquito net now. side effect to chez paradise: the fracking mosquitos love it here too.

Day 65, Pictures of Chez Paradise


Here's where I'm spending my "staycation":



Not a great picture here, but that bright area above this shower? yep, huge lovely skylight!











Lovely bedroom.


















Climbing room!!













Open, wonderful kitchen (notice all the natural light!).
Also, not in the picture but they have a 6 burner stovetop, which I'm loving, and all sizes of the coveted le creuset pots and pans. heaven!!















And now we enter the garden... (!!)













It's a 2-level garden!


















Top Level. Roses! Tomatoes! More!













Close-up: Grapes!





















Close-up: Figs!









And finally, this is Baboo. I'm historically not a cat person, so she makes me a little nervous, but she's pretty cool in the end.











P.S. Today's workout was HARD! It took me a full 60 minutes and I was dying by the end. Reached real failure in 2 of the exercises, and bad-form-failure in the rest. The planks were KILLER! That was the first time i've had the thought "i'm gonna collapse before the set time is up!". I didn't give in, however, but the final one was pretty awful, form-wise.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Day 64, New pictures (including one inspired by Royce!)

Check out my Royce photo:
heeheehee! i heart you, Royce!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Day 63, America is nuts (is it just America, or are humans nuts?)

Ooof. I am wiped! But, in a good way.
Had a great morning today - dr.'s appt later in the AM, so I got a little extra time in "Chez Paradise", and I spent that time cooking up a storm, sipping copious amounts of coffee, and enjoying all this SPACE and SUNLIGHT! (i swear i'll post pictures soon.) I made shrimp in a spicy white wine broth (not much wine - 1 swig!) and stuffed summer squash with onions, sourdough breadcrumbs, fresh thyme from the garden, other spices and teense amt of grated gruyere on top. BEST. LUNCH. EVER.

I wish every weekday could start with 3 or 4 hours of nice, relaxing down time at home. One of the things I've learned during this project is that I love cooking in the morning, though I don't like to feel rushed while doing so. The schedule works for me, since I have many meetings in the evenings, all over the city, and inevitably there is only 1 weeknight a week when I get home before 9pm. Unfortunately, The American Way of Life does not really support this schedule. I'm coming to see that The American Way of Life does not really support health, in a general more broad view. Yes, I have a classically intense non-profit advocacy job where I work like mad for not much dough, but it's a lot less soul-crushing than the 9-5 jobs I had in my previous career. The problem? Let's do a breakdown of time, as an exercise.

Here are the things I need to incorporate into my day to live a healthy life (and the general amt of time they take):
Sleep (8 hours)
Exercise (1 hour)
Commute by bike (1.5 - 2 hours total depending on meetings)
Making & enjoying breakfast (20 minutes)
Preparing & packing my lunch and any snacks (20 minutes if i have to make food, this kind of overlaps with breakfast but they still wind up taking about 40 min total)
Showering/ablutions (15 minutes)
Washing dishes (10 minutes)
Working (let's say I work an average of 9.5 hours/day. this is a conservative approximation!)

that's 21.5 hours!!!
and I didn't include any time for socializing of any sort, reading (my most favorite thing), any hobbies (i am a novice knitter, looking to improve), grocery shopping, any kind of chore/errand-running, or --god forbid-- any spontaneous activity. Any combo of these additions would be at least 3 or 4 more hours per day, especially when you incorporate travel time! And there we go, we've exceeded the # of hours in the day.

I mean, NO WONDER THERE ARE SO FEW HEALTHY PEOPLE OUT THERE! Both mind and body get the short end of the stick here, or at best one of those gets taken care of and the other has to be sacrificed (which really means they're both sub-par). With this kind of schedule challenge it's not surprising that fewer and fewer people cook for themselves, that more and more people gravitate to the numbing escape of the television, that people are overweight and exhausted and floating thru life, unsure of when to throw the anchor and declare, ENOUGH ALREADY!

I have no big conclusion to this, unfortunately. And to add to the conundrum I'm starting grad school part-time in the fall while still working like this (!!?@!@#$#@). I'm pretty good at organizing and maximizing my time, and I'm hoping that the school thing will just force me to continue to be productive, but this is a tough equation and I'm still looking at how to elegantly solve this proof. Some days I entertain thoughts of becoming a cheese-maker (long-time fantasy), some days I think about going back to the boring 9-5 nonsense paycheck while I finish school. But I try to balance out all the craziness with the importance of my commitment to the work I'm doing, and the movement I give so much of myself to (http://transalt.org). Any suggestions on how to reconcile a meaningful life with a healthy one?
Maybe we can all start a PCP ashram and throw it all to the wind! It can be called PCP Camp and each group name will be a different cabin! I call top bunk by a window in TEAM SEXAAAY!

Ooof. I'm going to go wash the dishes and eat a fresh fig. There are so many great things in this life, can't get too bogged down about how overwhelming it can seem sometimes.

p.s. people keep asking me if i got a haircut. i laugh and just say no, but offer up that I might be more tan from summer bike commuting. as much as I like it when people blatantly compliment the bod, it's kind of nice to know that some are just getting this general sense of wellness from me, and not seeing the weight loss or the muscles right away - they're seeing something else. That je ne sais quoi that Patrick says comes from having zero dissonance between what you think you look like and what you actually look like. cool stuff.

p.p.s. I had an unlawful treat today but i enjoyed it so much i feel zero guilt (sorry, Patrick). it was pretty unlawful though, on the ingredient side... it was one of those awful fake low-fat frozen yogurts! but it was so ice-y and cold and supremely wonderful. It was peanut butter flavored. I know, should just have regular peanut butter if want peanut butter. But I wanted the texture and the coldness moreso than the flavor. YUM. On the plus side, I didn't have too much, and I wasn't even remotely tempted to follow it up with loads of other unlawful things (that's what I would've done BEFORE). so anyway, moving on. eye on the prize for the next few weeks!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Day 62, The Staycation Begins!

Great workout today - I still can't believe how different it feels when I'm keeping the time super strict between sets and the different exercises!
Also, today I jumped to Florence & The Machine (an old favorite of mine, but Jenny reminded me how much I love the album). It felt like the 16 minutes went by in a flash!! Totally awesome.
Additionally I got 2 nights in a row of solid wonderful uninterrupted sleep this weekend, so I think that had something to do with the great jumping session also.

So, Staycation! Today I pack my panniers and my basket and I roll to the Upper West Side where I am housesitting for some friends for the week. I won't say too much, because I will post pictures of why their place is so amazingly special, but let's just say I'm entering a haven of calm and happiness for the week! Unfortunately I discovered another mouse in my place this morning, so I guess I will just have to deal with that when I come back (ugggg). More later from "chez paradise" as I call it!

Final random aside:
Check it out! Yesterday I met up with PCP veterans and current Kung Fu Body stars Shivani and Emily! We have a friend in common (she is how I found out about PCP, from telling me about what Shivani and Emily were doing), and it was really great to meet them, flex our muscles, and feel that camaraderie in person. Yay for the PCP community!!!


This photo below shows how much cooler the KFB exercises are for posing (all I could think to do was the boring 'strength pose')...