Posts Tagged ‘ running ’

Why Exercise Is Not Shaping Up For Me

Tuesday, February 18th, 2014

This year I decided to make some New Year’s resolutions I could keep. It included running and yoga a few times a week. On the second week, my resolutions went out the window due to an epic 5 days of illness by my petri dish children. But I decided I wasn’t going to give up. I got back on track and, because I’m a person of extremes, (probably one gene away from being manic like my late mother), I signed up for Bikram yoga.

Bikram is yoga in a 105-degree carpeted room (gross) with 31 other near-naked adults (gross again), where you hold eagle and 25 other poses for a minute. I did Bikram in my pre-kid life and decided maybe it was the fastest way to get limber and in shape again, despite the cult-like feel. The real selling point was the fact that it was across from Emmett’s preschool and it is an hour-long class (as opposed to 90 minutes, which is typical) that ends right at pick-up time.  I could leave just before the final part of the class: the odd guttural breathing that Bikram addicts swear by. Picture a raccoon in heat. With rabies. That’s what it sounds like.

“Just be sure and do the breathing in your car so you get all the benefits of your Bikram,” said the overly chirpy but hard-core instructor. Yep, got it. Not happening.

I took my first class there and I’ve never heard someone rattle on like this woman. Seems like each particular pose “cures cancer, releases toxins, drains glands, prevents arthritis, helps anxiety, alleviates depression, helps insomnia and cures chronic pain.”  This, despite making me feel the opposite. The place smells like a typical Bikram studio of old sweat and super bugs. They claim their carpet is anti-microbial but I know I’m getting MRSA/a staph infection. However, I’m soldiering on because I bought a $45 unlimited pass for the month and I want to get my money’s worth.

Having said that, I don’t think it does much for my stomach muscles, even though it supposedly does “everything.” Here’s the problem with my belly: Most women have boobs that protrude further out than their stomach. When their shirts hang down, they hang from the furthest point out on the boob. I’ve never had big boobs, but since having kids, mine have gone inward. Concave. So instead my shirts going out and over my stomach, my stomach sticks out further than my boobs, making the shirt cling and me look like a tree trunk that cross-pollinated with a pear. Phil and my brother both tell me it’s my posture that makes my stomach stick out–and that’s partially true too. I decided I should try mat-based Pilates for posture and core strength. It goes along with yoga, right?

I showed up to an environment that was so sterile and quiet I almost missed the chirping Bikram instructor. It felt devoid of fun. Even the cult-like Bikram people have a sort of vibe that does give you some energy. Not this. We began class at 9:05 sharp. A bit later I looked at the clock, hoping we were halfway done. It was only 9:12. Time was standing more still than it does when I’m playing make believe with my kids. We used a round Pilates gadget that is supposed to help with your workout. Kind of like a tension band. Or a freestyle guillotine. I didn’t jive with this object and it didn’t jive with me. It kept falling over my head and onto my shoulders. In the stillness of the others, I sensed I was making a scene. I wanted to leave, but there were only 3 of us. Given my dirt obsession, the only thing I excelled at was cleaning the mat at the end. (Yesterday I went around the house with a razor blade and goo-gone and scraped/cleaned every drawer handle and doorknob. Time for hypnotherapy again.)

Running has always been my go-to. I haven’t gotten totally back into it since my marathon days, but it almost always clears my mind. I get grounded when I feel my feet hit the pavement rhythmically. I don’t have to rely on anyone but myself. And therein lies the problem with my latest run. We took the kids to Fia’s soccer lesson on Sunday in Griffith Park. I decided to go for a run while Phil watched Emmett. I told him I’d be back in 25 minutes. I got lost and ended up at the Los Angeles Zoo–which doesn’t tell you much if you’re not from here. But suffice it to say, my 2.5 mile run turned into 5. When I realized I had missed my turn on the path leading back, I debated cutting through the golf course that separated me from my route. But when I saw the lone coyote roaming around, I figured I risked getting rabies and/or hit by a golf ball. I stuck to the path until it wound me around to the zoo, then headed back to soccer. I showed up dirty and starving.

“I spaced out and missed my turn,” I said, panting to Phil.

“I figured something like that happened,” he replied unfazed. The dude knows me.

We took the kids to the merry-go-round (right next to the soccer field) where I ate a pound of nachos with fake cheese and slurped down a diet Coke. We drove home where I collapsed in bed for 2 hours. Phil just shook his head.

I’m not sure what is happening but my “easy and attainable” New Year’s resolutions are not turning out as I expected. Not sure where to go from here…

 

Exercise equipment via Shutterstock

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Helping Hurricane Sandy Victims. Still.

Tuesday, September 24th, 2013

There are a few causes I am passionate about. One is helping others through running. When I ran the NYC Marathon under Team For Kids we raised hundreds of thousands of dollars. The money went to fund health and fitness programs for kids in low-income areas. I got to run one of the most amazing marathons in the world and children benefited.

This year, a good friend of mine asked me to lace up my shoes and run the Staten Island Half Marathon for her team, Race2Rebuild. The organization was founded by NYC athletes to support the nationwide nonprofit, Rebuilding Together, a 25-year old safe and healthy housing organization that brings together volunteers and communities to improve the lives of low-income homeowners.

The race is on October 13 and for a bunch of reasons, including the fact I only run 3-5 miles right now and live in Los Angeles, I had to decline. However, her cause is worthy and I wanted to share it in case anyone wants to lace up or donate. Or both. If nothing else, you can “Like” their cause and “Follow” their movement. Every click counts.

We all know what Hurricane Sandy did to parts of the east coast, particularly Staten Island. It killed people and devastated entire towns. Beachfront residents there saw 15-foot waves tear their homes from their foundations. There are still thousands of displaced families. Volunteer groups like this are still out daily going through wreckage and ruin, helping families salvage whatever they can. We are coming up on the year anniversary of the storm, though in many ways and to many people, it still feels like yesterday.

The race on October 13th is to help rebuild a veteran’s home that was destroyed in the Midland Beach neighborhood of Staten Island. This is about as grassroots as it gets. In doing Like, Follow, Give, you are directly helping someone get back on their feet. The goal for Race2Rebuild on Oct 13th is to raise $15,000.

Here are the details to help:

Like: facebook.com/Race2Rebuild
Follow: twitter.com/Race2Rebuild
Give: www.crowdrise.com/Race2RebuildSIHalf

When you give on the Race2Rebuild Crowdrise site, click DONATE (top right) and select “Virtual Team.”

If you want to lace up for the race and join the team with a $1000 fundraising goal, registration details are here: http://www.race2rebuild.org/register/

As their motto states: RACE HARD. RACE WITH RESOLVE. RACE2REBUILD.

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Remembering the Boston Marathon…

Monday, April 15th, 2013

The feel of your soles hitting the pavement. The roar of the crowds. The pride in pushing your body to do something so extraordinary. You do it for a charity, for a lost one, a loved one–or just for yourself. This is what runners do. This is what marathoners do.

I ran the Boston Marathon in 2008. I did it with two of my best running friends, Katie and Rachel. We were part of a team that trained together for multiple marathons. We ran through ice and snow in the Bronx, through wind and rain in Brooklyn, logging the miles, counting the minutes and checking off the weeks.

I sit here today in shock and heartbreak over the news of two explosions at this iconic event. Reports are still sketchy–many injured, possible packages found… your mind goes to the immediate: terrorism. It’s tax day. It’s Boston. It could easily be domestic. It’s also the world’s most famous running event. So it could be international. Or maybe a gas line exploded. We don’t know. The facts will come.

What is on my mind now are the runners, the spectators, the emergency workers, the reporters, my fellow running friends and anyone else who was, until a few hours ago, enjoying being part of this storied event. On so many levels the Boston Marathon signifies what is good in the world: Persistence, Drive, Kindness, Endurance, Humility, Charity.  But right now, it also signifies the bad. Or the potential of badness that exists. I am trying not to jump to conclusions.

Soon I will put on my running shoes and hit the trail. I will think back to that day when I crossed the finish line: elated, exhausted, proud. For all of those who crossed today and for all of those who watched, it will be a different memory. One mired in death and destruction. Even one of the toughest events in the world remains, at this moment, so incredibly fragile.

 

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My Fia Freak Out–Can I Be Fixed?

Tuesday, July 24th, 2012

I’ve said it before: I need better coping skills. I am almost embarrassed to reveal the absurdity of my latest freak-out. But here goes:

We went on a last minute, mini-vacation to Sequoia State Park a couple weeks ago. We had a great time. As we were heading home, we stopped at this cute playground for Fia to run before sitting in the cramped car (this time we took the direct route versus our disastrous, vomit-induced one).

Phil was playing with Fia while I breastfed Emmett. I walked over and Phil says, “Do you think she’s running funny?”

I gasped. “What? What do you mean?”

“Don’t freak out,” he said through terse lips. “Jesus, can I not even have a conversation with you?”

Clearly, my anxiety has been an issue before.

I took a breath, “You’re right, I’m sorry. Let me watch her run.”

She starts to run and her legs start hobbling. She keeps falling down. They looked like rubber. So guess what I do? I FREAK THE F–K OUT.

“Oh my god, Phil, Phil,” I pleaded. “Oh my god. What is going on?”

He looked at me concerned, because he was obviously concerned too. But I could tell he was also worried about me. Or sick of me. He has said time and again to get a grip. He says I can’t react with such panic–for all of our sakes. I know he’s right.

Trembling, I got down on her level and took her shoes off. I seemed to remember thinking last week the sneakers were getting tight. She took off barefoot. Her gait was perfect.

In the 10 seconds it took to figure this out, here’s where my head went:

On our mini-vaco. These are not the shoes in question, btw.

She has a neurological disorder. A virus. It is fast progressing and eating away at her nerves. We have to rush to LA to Children’s Hospital. Something life-threatening is wrong with my daughter. If anything happens to her I will not survive. I love her too much.

Basically I had an internal panic attack. I say internal, because I did manage to hold it together in front of Fia, mostly because I was so afraid Phil would forever hate me. And of course, I don’t want to scare my kid. I know all too well from my upbringing what it’s like to have a weak, hand-wringing (then drunk, devoid of coping skills) parent. It’s probably where all this anxiety comes from.

But seriously, in less than a millisecond, my mind goes to the worst possible place. Is that a mom thing or a sign of deep neurosis? My friend Kirsten wrote a beautiful piece I posted on the art of letting go. But I justify (in my warped brain) that this is different–this is about tragedy befalling my children.

Phil was really pissed off. And I don’t blame him.  What I kept telling him was I don’t like feeling this way either. My visceral reaction truly scares me. It’s like my wires explode in my body and code red starts to ring. Then, because my body has basically been in fight-or-flight mode, it doesn’t just dissipate. It lingers. And on this day, it sat in the car for our 3-hour drive home, casting a pall on the once-boisterous mood.

If the scenario hadn’t filled me with such anxiety and dread, it would have been comical, ie: bad parenting moment: Our little girl has outgrown her shoes and mama freaked.

I spoke at length to Peter, my hypnotherapist. We did some really deep work in trying to get my brain to stop this pattern. Old habits die hard. It will take work on my part. But I have no choice.

This sh-t has got to stop.

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Is Your Toddler’s Independence Hard on You?

Tuesday, June 5th, 2012

Today my heart broke a little bit. That’s because I took Fia to her gymnastics class. We go every week. But today was different. Today she went to the “big girl” class.

Coach Sam told me awhile back to get on the waiting list for the next level up. He said he thought she was ready. I read Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother and I hated that woman. But in that moment, standing by the uneven bars with her swinging steadily, I got a glimpse of my inner Tiger. I beamed. I was so proud. I wanted to push her. Make her the best she could be. I couldn’t wait to get home and share my joy–yes joy–with Phil.

I bounded in, out of breath, “They want to move her up in gymnastics!” I exclaimed.

He looked at me, slightly puzzled, “Yeah, okay. Great. So??”

“But they want her in an advanced class! Advanced.

He gently reminded me she was just over 2.

Yes, I know, we’re talking about a now 2 1/2 year old. But growing up, gymnastics was my love. I was never very good at it, but I persevered through high school. I always wished my parents had started me earlier. This is the only sport I can see myself being an overly pushy parent on, so I am acutely aware of the need to show restraint. Keep the Tiger on a leash.

Back to today: Fia and I arrived and went straight for the trampoline–her favorite. I noticed no other parents were chasing tots around on the mats. Just some coaches and kids quietly practicing skills. Wait, we were used to the free-for-all. We usually run in and bounce from one thing to the next, catching some mild structure and instruction in-between. This was different. Subdued. A coach approached me.

“Can I help you?”

“Yes,” I said. “We are here for my daughter’s advanced tots class.”

“Great. Wait behind the gate and at 11:45 we’ll call her in with the other girls.”

“But, what about the trampoline?”

“The advanced class isn’t free play. Parents sit and watch behind the gate. We work with the kids by themselves. You can come for the beginning though and see how she does since this is your first day.”

I gulped. She sat quietly on my lap, my arms holding her tight as we waited. When Fia was called in, I went too. But as soon as I sat down with the 6 other tots and 2 coaches, I realized she didn’t need me there. They told her to run and touch the cone. She did (I cheered loudly–then quickly shut up). Hop on one foot. She tried (didn’t realize what a skill that was). Then they were off to the trampoline. She and the others ran towards it with glee. I was left sitting on the mat. Alone. Realizing how quickly time is passing.

From afar, I watched her bounce happily and do seat drops. They moved onto the rings where my girl held on like the best of them. She waited patiently for her turn.

The balance beam was last and right in front of me. There she went walking confidently across. Then on the smaller one. All by herself.

From the moment they are born, it is our job to make them independent of us. It is primal. The baby feeds off you, then weans. She rolls towards you, then crawls away. She walks into your arms, then turns and runs. They still depend on us, but little by little they gain confidence to be okay on their own. It is a bitter and beautiful reality.

And it’s really f-cking hard.

Today I stood on the sidelines and cheered for Fia. Silently. I must remind myself to tread lightly. As she finds her footing, I must too find mine. It is a delicate balance between holding on and letting go. But this is my job–the one I signed up for when we decided to have kids. There’s a reason it’s the hardest one in the world.

 

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