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Thursday, August 11, 2011

Cra-Cra for the Sca-Sca

For anyone whose confused, that's pronounced Cray-cray-scay-scay-, as in "Crazy" for the "Scale". This is because I have gone a little overboard with weigh ins.  I officially weigh in on wednesdays, as does my lovely friend over at Vanity, thy name is flab. Weigh in Wednesdays (!) however, have turned into weigh in every days.

Here is one of the many weight loss dilemmas I think about.  When does being conscious of your eating habits and progress become too much? When does it cross the line into something detrimental? Is it about the quantity of time and attention paid to something or is it the quality? Intention behind an action is more important than the time spent performing it.... I think.

I know from experience and all my diligent research, that weighing yourself every day not only leads to emotional upheaval, but also fails to actually give you an accurate picture of your progress. It's foolish. Sometimes it makes me pleased or excited, just as often it leads me to disappointment, confusion, fear, anxiety.  A fun and familiar cocktail, no? So why do I do it?


Now I want to write about the Yoga Sutras.  I'm about as qualified as  James Spader, but here goes nothing.

The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali are a series of concise lessons that bring yoga to light.  It predates yoga poses and explains what yoga is and why/how doing it will change your life. The concepts are simple but they are SO HUGE that I know I will be studying them forever.  

The heart, or what I perceive at this moment to be the heart of the Yoga Sutras is the notion that we are all led to suffering by a basic misperception of reality. We don't see things as they are, so we are perpetually 'laboring under a missapprehension' like Colin Firth apologizes for doing in Bridget Jones. This lack of clarity pushes us towards actions that make us suffer, like me weighing myself every stupid day.

There's a lot more to it than that, like what the misperception is exactly, but even this level of critical thinking is making my brain hurt, so forgive my incompleteness. See? I can't even come up with a better word than 'incompleteness'.

So how does one start seeing things more clearly? It seems to be all about stilling the mind. I am currently trying to grasp the concept of Nirodha, which describes both the state of a quiet mind and the process of quieting it.  In the text I am currently studying, I found a passage that made me better understand how to handle the weight loss dilemma I mentioned I earlier.  I'm not gonna summarize, just type:

"Nirodha is exercised by redirection. The real secret to making progress in Yoga lies in cultivating helpful habits while breaking harmful ones.  The way to develop new habits is the purposeful redirection of attention.  ... Every time we disconnect our attention from an unwanted temptation or habit and redirect it to something beneficial to our growth,  we will have gained a little more mastery over our minds." 
--Inside The Yoga Sutras,  Reverend Jaganath Carrera

So, here is the litmus test for weight loss strategies. Is what I'm doing right now a purposeful redirection of attention? Or more like a mindless dash towards some kind of instant gratification?

Just cause... Why don't you purposefully redirect your attention to James Spader and Michelle Pfeiffer killing it in Mike Nichols' highly underrated Wolf?

Friday, July 29, 2011

Basket Case

I have always been a fan of Little Red Riding hood and it's various incarnations. I was fascinated and traumatized by the Neil Jordan film In The Company of Wolves at a very young age. (Thanks Mom, sincerely.) The movie is really a masterpiece and I will never forget the final sequence. Ta Da:

The brilliant interpretation of Little Red Riding Hood in Sondheim's Into The Woods:

And my favorite. This song made me understand why the american musical is a great thing and the potential power of the genre. It's just the audio, but well worth a listen. (What does this have to do with vegan weight loss? I'm getting there...sort of.)

And finally...

I couldn't find a clip of it which is a travesty but the Buffy Episode Helpless, (season three, David Fury I'm pretty sure) has really amazing red riding hood imagery. Kind of genius.

So anyway... Two nights ago I was waiting for the bus when a stranger came around the partition and said good night to me. He seemed to me to be a little bit crazy and homeless. In the city though, sometimes it is hard to distinguish crazy/homeless from really friendly and a minimalist. Either way, he was on the fringe. I said good night and smiled back. He was actually physically taken aback and told me what a beautiful smile I had. I said thank you and reflexively smiled again. He told me I was SO beautiful and that mine was a hollywood smile.

Hollywood Smile?! Are you neither crazy nor homeless but actually a magical mind reading nymph? I want to make a living as an actress, stop peering into my soul! This is the kind of compliment that really hits a nerve with me, and the kind of compliment I am wary of because they tend to come to me from men who live very near if not beyond the outskirts of sane,functional society.

I fought my impulse to nod and smile again. He might never leave then. I also didn't want to be a bitch because he seemed totally genuine and most likely harmless. (Just like the wolf in Red Riding Hood...THEME EMERGING!)

It turned out I didn't have to worry because he sensed my discomfort, ambivalence, whatever it was and proceeded to demonstrate better social skills than many a man I know who lives well within the confines of mainstream society. He assured me once more how beautiful I was, said a final good night and walked on.

I imagined all the pictures of myself smiling that I hate. I like the quality of my smile but mostly I think it makes me look fat by making my eyes look squinty and that my gums are unattractive. I used to avoid smiling with my teeth like the plague. (Thanks again Mom...) As I promised myself that I would be less self-critical and more self-accepting who should reappear from down the block but the eccentric traveler himself?

Of course he was crazy. These are the people who love me, but instead of asking me to come to his house so he could paint me with a horsey or murdering me he said...

"I don't have much but...", and handed me the basket he was carrying. "Take this to remember this moment." I took it and thanked him after making sure he didn't need it. He left and I waited for the bus. It is a simple basket, like a picnic basket with an open top. It immediately brought to mind Little Red Riding hood and I remembered wanting one like it as a child. I also thought of my Mother; who as a young woman travelled around England casually wearing velvet cloaks and carrying a basket instead of purse. Men wrote poems about her that are actually good. She is cool in a way I don't really comprehend.

I think I will always remember that moment. I think it might continue to affect me and open me up. When I think of it I will try to let go of old associations, like that men who tell me I'm beautiful statistically have to be creepy and should be avoided for my own well being. I will prepare myself for the truth that losing weight and being more present in my life will affect how people interact with me. I will operate under the assumption that old meanings are just that and no longer apply. I will try not to be completely freaked out by this.

At the bottom of this angelfire site (omg it's 2002) you can find the full text of the poem from In The Company of Wolves. It appears at the end of the Charles Perrault version of the story which does not include a heroic rescue by the woodsman. Oh real fairy tales! I love how dark and creepy you truly are!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Accountability is key...

Particularly through the use of a customized weightloss ticker. Behold... My weight loss represented visually by strawberries that travel up Zac Efron clutching a parking meter.

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Saturday, July 23, 2011

This Is Me Posting

Thank you Martin Blank. I think your ability to transform has always inspired me. And scared me a little.