First off- what the hell are these stretches pictured? They are weird and unnatural and I don’t like them. Although I try. Sometimes.
I admit to bleh start to this program. The good news- I’m doing the mileage and more. 10 mile run with my husband on Monday was delightful. The bad news is the diet and active recovery. I’ve been doing a vegan January and have been eating lots of healthy food and veggies. But I haven’t locked it in Kenzai style yet. And I haven’t cut out alcohol yet. Part of this was in choice knowing that I had a busy and social Jan. Part of it is lazy. I know this is a long program so I’m not feeling particularly motivated to get into the Kenzai zone yet. I have a ski weekend this weekend (I should say après-ski: I cook soup for my friends and day drink), and I’m going to have that be my last hurrah. If you hear that I’m not totally dialed in next week, please give me shit.
Before I jump in, if you want some jump rope inspiration, follow waffle_tatsuya on Instagram. The guy has sick skills.
I turned 48 at the beginning of 2020. This past Sunday, I celebrated by hosting my -
Annual Spam Cook-off Competition.
Yes, you read that right. I'm Filipino + Hawaiian. There's something about the disgusting, processed, pink pig part brick that I just can't resist. So I took a break from Kenzai, veganism, and sanity to indulge with my friends. The top left photo was the grand prize winner - a savory cheesecake with spam. It tasted a bit like an artichoke dip and I would have this again on Super Bowl Sunday. Top right is a kim chee paella with spam. Bottom right is a Filipino buko (young coconut) and pandas pie with chunks of Spam and a shameless plug for my affection. Bottom left was my personal favorite, individual Spam wellingtons served with a spicy mustard dip. The alcohol flowed as well. It was a wonderful uber indulgence and I felt like utter shit the next day. I'm definitely ready to be back on track.
This week is challenging. I'm heading to Boston for a conference. This means that my days will be completely occupied and offline. I'll take care of my trainer responsibilities in the evening for an hour each day. Thanks Ward for jumping in on the chat rooms. I hear Boston is cold in January. I don't know anything about running in cold weather, so that will be a challenge as well. But I will figure that out as well. Finally, I don't know what the plant-based options are like at mealtime, but I can always get by on rice or plain pasta and salad.
Pic below is my youngest having his own indulgence. I don't like cake so I always choose doughnuts or pie for my birthday.
The runs have been going well and I'm feeling strong. Have a great week Marathon team, Beach trainees and all my Kenzai homies.
All’s good in the hood y’all. After feeling knee pain on Sun, I rested M and T. W And today I did my runs as planned and had no problems with my knee or anything else.
And while Fake Dr Fish may not condone a vegan diet, I’m enjoying playing with these recipes. Check out - 1. The fixins for DIY ramen 2. Homemade instant noodles. 3. Farro risotto.
Naoko- I bought that Bento book you you mentioned. The instant noodle idea came from her.
I’m excited to start with the marathon crew.
Ed here, training in San Francisco, CA. My race is the Eugene, OR marathon on April 26. This will be my 12th marathon. I know how to train for a race, but marathon training is such a solo endeavor. I’m excited to have a sense of team and support.
1. have a healthy, injury minimal training and race.
2. Finish under 4 hours.
3. Reduce my waist size from a holiday fluffed 34 inches, to a race-ready 32”.
4. I’m experimenting with a vegan January. So far it’s been great, see pics of my artichoke hummus toast, and the farro risotto my husband made. I want to see how a plant-based diet fuels my mood and training for at least a month.
I didn’t have the best start to the program. Yesterday I ran 5 miles. At mile 4 I experienced significant knee pain that I haven’t felt before. I walked a bit, then pushed through and it went away. Then later in the day I felt it for a second when I was walking downstairs. I decided to take today off and rest. Hopefully when I run tomorrow or Wed it will feel fine. I’m excited to be training with all of you.
Met up with Straight girlfriend and trainer extraordinaire Cecilia Aiello to enjoy a non-compliant lunch (if you are in SF or Oakland, check out Burma Superstar, y'all!) and discuss our reflections on the last decade and how we want to evolve over the next one.
For This Guy GRADUATION POST
This kid in the picture.
He's the reason why I signed up to do Mind for the second time.
It's very clear to me that part of his and my mission in this life time is to make each other better. We can be best friends and we can turn on each other quickly. Family therapy is helping. I also realized that I need to do some of my own work on my own shit that he's triggering. Meditating every day over the last 5.5 weeks has been that work. Here are some of the things that I learned or remembered while sitting on my ass.
- I procrastinate a lot before meditating. Once I'm in it, it's not so bad.
- Even the 30 minute meditation today went quickly.
- It's best to sit in the morning. The afternoon and evening bring more intense thought chains, and I can forget to interrupt them and go back to my breathing.
- I have a lot of thoughts, but I am not my thoughts.
- Compassion meditation (metta) reminded me that everyone is doing the best they can at any given time. I also realized that people who have wronged me are trying to teach me something. If I don't learn the lesson from them, they will show up again in another body to teach me the same lesson. Better to learn the lesson, thank them, and then let them go out of my life.
- When intense feelings like anger or frustration surface, I don't have to allow those feelings to rule my actions. This is particularly true with my family. Over the last 5 weeks, I've been much more likely to stay calm, be present, defuse situations, or just walk away and get some time.
- The biggest gift we can give is our full attention. This means full presence, no screens, no multi-tasking.
- I owe this to myself for a few moments every day.
- I owe this to my husband for a few moments every day.
- I owe this to each kid for a few moments every day.
I've been giving B at least 15 minutes each afternoon or evening where he decides what activity we do and we do it together. Wrestling, nerf gun wars, making Lego buildings have been staples. At the end of special time, I ask him to meditate with me for one minute. Mostly he squirms around and asks how much longer. But it's a start.
I met my goals of meditating every day, and I think I commented on each one of every teammate's blog posts, which is always my commitment in program.
My goal is to keep meditating each morning for 10 minutes, and sometimes in the evenings. I know from past experience that I tend to slip away from good habits when I'm not on a Kenzai program. So when I lose the daily habit, I need to remember that I can always come back to it - especially when things get tough with B again.
I think that both Mind and Reach are great programs for me to do annually.
SGF - how beautiful to finally have you as my trainer, and how funny and perfect that you - my favorite distraction - should be my coach on focusing. Thanks team, for the support - special shout out to Jenny for modeling vulnerability, which helped me to be vulnerable as well.
I've been enjoying my winter weight gain (up an inch in the waist since the end of Oct), and look forward to starting Kenzai Marathon in January.
My K-note went live today. However, if you are currently on a program, you didn't get to see it. So I'm reposting here. I'm planning to do a subsequent blog where I answer these questions for myself.
Seven Big Questions for the Past Decade
In less than three weeks, the year 2020 rolls in and a new decade begins (I know technically the new decade begins in 2021, but the general culture has decided to ignore this fact). January will come with resolutions, goals, and planning your fitness for a year or years to come. Before we do that, I encourage you to pause and look backward, not just over 2019, but at the past decade, and reflect on your fitness, your body, on your approach to wellness and how it has shifted over 10 years. To help you, here are seven questions for reflection. Take 30 – 60 minutes this week to journal your responses. If you are so inclined, post them in a blog. If you are inspired, have your partner, a close friend, a friend from Kenzai journal responses as well, and use your journals as a springboard for discussion.
Question 1: What are you grateful for?
Let’s start with a practice of gratitude. You are alive and well enough to participate in Kenzai and that’s a significant start. What is working well? What do you love about your body and what it can do? What are the things and who are the people that support your health and wellness? What have you accomplished? What skills can you fully rely on? How have you grown?
Question 2: How has your body changed?
For some, a renewed commitment to fitness has you in better shape than you can remember. For many, including me, the past 10 years have brought challenges of age including slower metabolism, and greater recovery time. For others, significant physical events such as pregnancy, surgery, illness, recovery have impacted the body and physicality.
Question 3: How has your approach to exercise evolved?
For me, age and Kenzai have had a profound impact. I went from big athletic events (soccer tournaments and marathons) to consistent, daily exercise with an eye toward the long road. I think about areas of fitness that I used to ignore (I’m looking at you, flexibility and range of motion). Lately, I’ve been paying a lot of attention to mindfulness. How has your exercise and how you approach fitness shifted over time?
Question 4: How has your diet and relationship with food changed?
With Kenzai, I have a sustainable approach to healthy eating that I didn’t have before. I also know when to let go of that approach and have fun. But as I push 50, my body can’t handle as much fun-time as it used to. How did you approach food and nutrition in 2010? How is that different from your approach now?
Question 5: What were you too scared, lazy, or stuck to try?
I never got around to writing that novel and I still don’t speak French. More relevant to Kenzai, my use of alcohol comes up a lot in my blogs. I’ve been afraid to really dig into that. I’ve long thought that we do ethical somersaults to justify how we love our dogs, but eat cows and pigs. But I love the taste and culture of meat. I’ve wanted to try a martial art, but it seems like such a huge effort to start at the lowest belt level. What are the issues you’ve been avoiding? What are the things you’ve wanted to accomplish but haven’t even tried? Why?
Question 6: Who are your people?
You are a Kenzai member, so you already know the value of community in fitness. Who are the people that support your healthy journey? Do you have teachers and mentors? Dear friends that won’t judge you but will push you? Who will you need to rely on in the years to come and in what ways? How have you used your wellness journey to inspire and support others? Conversely, who are the negative forces in your life? What compels you to sustain your relationships with them? Which leads us to the last question -
Question 7: What do you need to let go?
You have a thing you do; a behavior, a pattern, that served you at one time. It might have even been pivotal for your survival. Your life is different now and that behavior isn’t serving you anymore, but you don’t know how to let it go. Name that thing for yourself and think about whether you want to carry it for the next 10 years. Cigarettes? Gossip? Negative self-talk? What (or who) are the things it’s time to let go. I’m going to start by examining my relationship with my phone and social media.
I wish an amazing and healthy next year and decade for all of us in this community. That won’t just happen. We will have to play an active and intentional role in making it so. Look back. Think. Reflect. Write. Talk. And then plot out what you need to do to make this next decade golden.
I've been composing this blog in my head for a few weeks, and Jenny's recent blog in all of it's beauty and vulnerability inspired me to get this down in print.
In my introduction blog, I mentioned that a key driver for taking Mind again is that I’ve been struggling with my older son.
B is 8 years old. He’s charming, playful, empathetic, and mischievous, with a wicked sense of humor. His entrance into this world was hard. His birth mother was and is experiencing homelessness. B didn’t have prenatal care, and was born 28 or 30 weeks gestation (at least 2.5 months premature). He weighed just three pounds (1.36kg). He was born on the steps of City Hall in San Francisco. From minute one, he fought for survival. The paramedics arrived during labor and rushed birth mother and child to San Francisco General Hospital. There he was received by some of the best doctors in the world, including Dr. Susan who was the pediatrician in charge. Under her care, he survived. She is still his pediatrician today. But that survival was a battle. He was in neonatal intensive care for a full month. During that time, he had wires attached to him, lights overhead, a tube and machine to help him breath, food administered intravenously. At some point during the first week, his birth mother asked the staff to find him a good home, and made what I believe is a bold and loving decision to leave.
I met him when he was five months old. I had read his medical file and it was scary. His foster mother took him out of the stroller and placed him on my lap. He grabbed my fingers. He looked into my face and he smiled this big, toothless grin. Then he threw up on me. My husband and I fell in love with him with an urgency and protectiveness that defies genealogy. He moved in with us one month later and the adoption was finalized a year after that.
My son has developed into a wonderful boy in most ways. The human body and brain are resilient and miraculous. Here’s the complicated part – all of that craziness of his birth and first month had an impact. His brain was wired in emergency. The result of that is that his fight-flight response is overly developed, and it’s hard for him to control that with his developing rational brain. Things that are annoying or bummers for other kids can cause a full-on melt-down temper tantrum for him. For example, last week I told him to set the table for dinner, and he refused, then screamed, then threw himself onto the ground crying. Other recent triggers include saying no to buying gum, the iPad having only a 2% charge, not scheduling a play date when he told me not to schedule it (you read that right), telling him to get dressed in church clothes, saying no we can’t have mac n cheese and SPAM for dinner tonight.
We are in family therapy and it’s working. We are learning tools to manage help him manage big feelings and reactions. His outbursts have reduced in frequency, duration and intensity. The really hard part is that every tool requires me to be calm, firm, centered. When my kid screams and cries because he can’t have gum, I need to say, "I’m sorry you can’t have it. I get it. You really wanted that gum and it sucks." But there’s a part of me every time that wants to scream, “Why can’t you be normal?! Why are you doing this to me?!” And sometimes I do scream. His adrenaline triggers mine and then we can both be in a fight-flight situation. It always makes it worse. I always feel like shit afterward. I’m not a calm person, and providing the right kind of discipline for my son and his developing brain means working on my calmness.
So here I am participating in Mind for the second time. Every day, there’s a moment where I can feel the surge of anger rising. Most times, I see it, remember that I am not my thoughts. I am not my feelings. And then breathe through it and choose a response that is more beneficial to my son, to the situation, and to me. This six weeks is providing me with some powerful tools. This is going to be years and years of work for both of us.
What could've happened: Finally, I had had enough. I glared at my mother in law across the Thanksgiving table and yelled, "Have you ever considered NOT sharing one of your God damn opinions?!!" I slammed my fork down and marched out of the room.
What actually happened: I closed my eyes and took four deep breaths. Then I got up, and made myself another cocktail.
Thank you, Mind.
Meditation is all about being fully present. On Thanksgiving morning I had 27 things I needed to do. I was also trying to find time to meditate. As I was about to find 15 minutes in a less crazy corner of the house. My two year old came up to me - "I want to be a airplane" - meaning he wanted me to lift him overhead and fly him around the room. My immediate instinct was to brush him off. I had to get to my meditation and then get to my To Do list. Then I thought again. I can be fully present with him and that's a gift for both of us. I lifted him up high and flew him around the room. I tickled him. We pretended to be cats (a sock makes a great tail). We jumped on the bed that I had just made. For 15 minutes I gave him my full attention and play. I was fully present and focused and felt a sense of flow. Such cheap mental health and joy. I meditated for 5 minutes after that and moved on with my chores.
This is my cousin June.
She’s more big sister than cousin. She’s my hero, spiritual counselor, best friend, super aunty to my kids (and godmother to one), and best of all, we laugh and get into a lot of trouble together.
In January, she joined Kenzai, and then was on programs non-stop until her 60th birthday on Halloween. Don’t worry, the party was a very un-compliant affair.
The family we come from isn’t a healthy family. Our grandfather died of a heart attack in his late forties. All the siblings in our parents’ generation struggled with obesity, and many of our cousins do as well. Alcoholism is prevalent in our family. At family reunions you’ll find lots of alcohol, cigarettes and weed. I’ve indulged in all of them.
But one of the things that binds us together is that we’ve decided not to follow that script. June describes it, “We decided to rewire our DNA.” This means we exercise, eat well, prioritize sleep, and monitor and course correct our relationships with alcohol. There’s some vanity in this. We jumped into Beach Blast before her birthday to look great in swimsuits (doesn't she look amazing in a swimsuit?!). But more importantly, this is about a commitment to being healthy for ourselves and for those we love.
I got to see June this past weekend in Cape Cod. It was for her brother’s funeral. He was 57. His adult life was riddled with health complications; a car accident that left him paraplegic, obesity, use and abuse of alcohol and other substances. A fear of doctors prevented him from getting the care he needed. I remember him as a teenager. He was vital, handsome, witty, and prone to poor decisions. He left behind two young adult children and a one-year old grandson. He won’t get the joy of watching that boy grow up.
Two days after the service, Cousin June and I drove up to Provincetown and rented bikes. We rode them on miles of trail through the sand dunes. It was wicked cold, and we screamed out the song, “I can’t feel my face when I’m with you,” because, well, we couldn’t feel our faces. We made stupid videos jumping around on a jetty, and a couple walked by laughing and said, “You’re only a kid once.” We spent the day enjoying these healthy, capable bodies that through a combination of hard work and God’s will, we are blessed to have.
Funerals remind us that we aren’t promised tomorrow. But this funeral also reminded me that we have a responsibility to our health, to ourselves, to those we love, to do the best we can to take care of these bodies.
I appreciate that Kenzai provides tools and a community to care for myself. I’m blessed that Cousin June is part of that community.
I've been enjoying the sessions. I think because this is my second time through, I find the sitting sessions easier, and time goes by faster. It's not that I have fewer thought chains. It's that I don't beat myself up for them. I notice a thought. I let it go. I focus on my breathing.
Yesterday during my meditation I really had to go to the bathroom. Like now. So I tried to stay breathing and walked into the bathroom and continued there. That was the most present, intentional shit I've ever done. Like I really felt at one with my digestive cycle.
I did the walking meditation, that was really hard. So many distractions that lead to thought chains. It's definitely not my preferred way of meditating. However, I can see it's usefulness as a tool. For example, I can take a break and leave the office and go for a walk around the block for 10 minutes and center myself.
My thought chains often involve people. When I notice the chains, instead of just going back to my breathing, I've been sending love to the person I'm thinking of. This brings me many moments of joy when I'm thinking about people I care about. But I've also been sending love to people who wounded me in the past, that a-hole former boss, our president. That last one is really tough. But you know, my desire is that he would lead with more love, and so it can't hurt to model that myself.
I'm traveling all week. It will be interesting to bring this practice on the road everywhere.
This isn't a metaphor.
Today I actually got kicked in my face. By my son. We were horsing around and wrestling. He told me to get off him and I didn't. He got upset. When I eventually pulled back to give him some space, BAM, he kicked out and made contact with my nose and mouth. FUUUUUUCK. No actual damage done. I'm fine. But it hurt like hell, especially where my lower lip pushed back hard and was almost punctured by my teeth. I was pissed. My fight system went into high gear, and honestly, I could've hit him. I didn't. I couldn't even talk, I was so mad. I pointed to the door and glared at him and he left the room. I just lay on the floor of the room for awhile to calm down. I played out conversations in my head which were mostly me yelling at him. Finally I walked into my room, closed the door, and set the timer for a 10 minute meditation.
The cat was in the room and she came up and cuddled with me. I decided that this time she could be a complementary distraction. So I breathed, petted, breathed more. Somewhere through the meditation I remembered that I am not my thoughts or feelings. Then I forgot that and got angry again. Then I remembered again. I kept breathing. When 10 minutes were up I felt a lot calmer.
I walked into the living room to find a scared eight year old boy - am I in trouble, will I get yelled at, is Daddy ok? I sat on the couch and invited him to sit on my lap. He said I'm sorry. I said I know. I said I'm sorry I didn't stop wrestling early enough. I said you are getting bigger and stronger now and you have to be more careful with your body. He said he would.
He asked if I would read him Captain Underpants before bedtime. I did.
I stayed next to him as he fell asleep, our breathing slow, easy, meditative. I said my nightly prayer that we are given all we need to love and protect each other in a world so brilliant, so hard.
Hey Y'all. I made a last minute decision to join Mind. This is my second time through this program. I got a lot out of it the first time. In particular, it made me a better parent. See this picture? We look pretty perfect don't we? Like we should be on ads for queer families (actually we are). But we aren't perfect. I'm going through some hard times with my older son right now. He's doing some big acting out. It has every thing to do with some early childhood trauma (we adopted him from foster care). But even though I intellectually understand what his actions are about, they often trigger big reactions in me. Coz, you know, my childhood wasn't perfect either. But see - I'm the adult. Or so my husband reminds me. I need to be in a calmer space in order to respond well to him. So no pressure, Mind - but I need the help of this program.
Having said that, I'm absolutely planning to have fun in this program. Meditation without humor is just some silly breathing. I was definitely enticed knowing that my sassy straight girlfriend (SGF) Cecilia was training this.
Okay some basics:
Where are you: San Francisco California
Why Mind: See above
What scares you about this course: I'm not scared having been through it before. The hardest part is starting a meditation. Once I'm in it, I'm fine (even if I can't settle the brain).
What gets you excited and jazzed: Working on being a better parent. Feeling a sense of calm. Abs. Oh wrong program.
Are you facing obstacles to this training cycle: Nothing that can't be overcome.
Started marathon training yesterday (race TBD in spring - I'm taking recs if you have any). Almost 10 mile run felt like 13. While I squeeze an occasional run in, running hasn't been my focus since I ran a marathon last February. Going on a longer run felt like greeting an old friend. Sharmali, I know you feel the same way.
I'm also excited to start the new Kenzai Marathon program in November. This will be my 12th 'thon, but first time training for one with the full support of a Kenzai program, trainer and team.
I love to look for raptor birds on long runs. I got to see this beautiful red tailed hawk in the bottom pic up close. And observe her dive for some prey in the bushes. Unfortunately a failed attempt. Maybe I'll go back and bring her an apple and egg whites.
Hey y'all - I need some accountability help. Since ending Beach Blast a week ago (great, short, hard program - check it out). I committed to staying on Klean Kompliant eating until I get to Hawaii at the end of the month. Well the eating has been fine, but the drinking hasn't. I drank the last 5 nights - and not just one drink. Ugh.
I'm recommitting now to no alcohol for 9 days. My first drink will be with cousin June when I get to her house on Kaua'i on Oct 30 (please make it a good drink, Cuz!).
I'm going to post my streak in the comments to keep myself accountable. Please give me that nudge of support.