Biking vs. Bikram

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“What was I thinking?!” 

A while ago – I came up with the hair brained idea that my parents, brother and I should bike 25 miles along the coast of New Jersey on behalf of the National MS Foundation, which is an amazing charity that funds research, programs and support for people and families effected by MS. 

While MS Research is a cause very near and dear to our hearts, biking 25 miles is not. 

My parents have been riding semi-regularly for over the last year or so – each of them purchasing their own bikes and fancy-schmancy bike bags. But “riding” is a relative term – they’re casual riders; we’re talking 10 mile rides, around 14 miles per hour, with lots of photo opportunities. 

I don’t ride. 

I take that back – I do own an 80lb mountain bike that I take out occasionally to ride to the bank or the train station… both of which are about 1 mile from my apartment. 

Nevertheless – we decided that 1 week after my dad’s 60th birthday – we’d do this ride. 

GO TEAM! 

With the generous donations of family and friends, we raised over $600 MS, and packed up our bags on Friday to head to Monmouth, NJ. Before I left, my biker-boss (who has ridden almost 500 miles since January) asked; 

Him: Do you have bike gloves?

Me: … nope… 

Him: Do you have bike shorts? 

Me:… … nope…. 
Him: Do you at least have a padded bike seat?! 

Me:….. …….

Probably should have at least invested in that one. 

Saturday dawned cloudy and cool – making me long for my 105 degree sweat lodge in New York.  Like the troopers we convinced ourselves we were, we took off at 9am amongst a pack of enthusiastic riders along the Jersey shore. 

Beautiful houses and stretches of beaches were calling to me as I churned my sweating legs up and down and up and down and OMG WHY AM I RIDING A MOUNTAIN BIKE?!

I kid. 

The 25 miles was relatively flat – and the halfway mark offered fresh fruit, power bars and water to refuel for the ride home. 

Biking is sort of like running – (or so I’m told) – you sort of get into a “groove”, and just keep going. Read: the soreness doesn’t kick in until later. 

And yes – we all got medals 🙂 

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I had warned my Bikram studio not to expect much from me on Sunday – I told them I was biking, and they told me I was crazy. 

They were right. 

My tush was screaming, the inside of my left thing felt like a crusty rubber band and I was chugging coconut water like it was my life blood. 

I made it through the class – sweating like a nut, and yes, for the first time in a long time, sitting out Tulandasana and second set of Triangle. 

Totally worth it and all that – but if I had to pick – 

Biking: 1 

Bikram: 0 

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The Hummus Man

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On Wednesdays, my town hosts a local farmer’s market about 3 blocks from my house. During the season, I do 90% of my shopping there, as, let’s be honest, there’s nothing better than farm-fresh food. 

While they do have non-vegan foods (including a local butcher, who advertises “organic rabbits” and YES I do cringe as I walk by and avoid eye contact) this year they’ve brought on a restaurant, Taiim Falafel Shack, which I was convinced sold delicious fried amazing-ness wrapped in a pita. 

Falafels have to be one of my top 10 favorite foods. If you paired falafels with avocado my mind might actually explode. 

To my dismay – Taiim was only selling their in-house hummus (bummer) – no falafels for me. 

BUT – 

after purchasing my first container (house specialty of Masabacha) – The Hummus Man gave me the almost full sample taster, AND a container of Babaganoush to apologize for not having falafels. 

AND he gave me 3 pitas

I am literally swimming in delicious hummus. 

Oh yea – I still got it 🙂 

What Bikram Teaches : Yoga Math

Love & Life, Yoga

This is my second post in a series titled, “What Bikram Teaches” – a personal reflection on lessons learned in the hot room

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f(friend’s wedding) * 2 [A (F + Dnc)] / T(li) = p(B)

Where….

A = Alcohol

F = Food

Dnc = Dancing

T(li) = Time it takes to drive back from Long Island

Equals…

p(B) = the probability that I didn’t drink nearly enough water before a Monday Bikram class.

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After such a crazy week – it was really special for me, and all my friends, to be able to get together and celebrate the wonderful love between 2 of our very own. Congratulations Mr & Mrs Singers 🙂

Sending positive energy & good thoughts to all you folks in bloggersville

 

 

Chubby Vegans – Urban Myth or Viable Reality?

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I’d like to address something that I recently read about – something that seems so incredibly counter intuitive to the core of vegan philosophy, “do no harm” – that it sort of baffles me that it exists.

And then I realized, I’m a victim. And a culprit.

Vegan Body Shaming.

Yeah – apparently that’s “a thing”.

If you want a serious discussion on what VBS is, you can read the catalyst to my post on One Green Planet, “Vegan Body Shaming : Analyzing the Evidence”. But for the gritty version, and my humble POV, read on.

Apparently, VBS is where external audiences (non-vegans/vegans/media etc) perpetrate this idea that all vegans are skinny. Hipster skinny.

And – as you (should) know – this is so not the case. While studies have shown that vegans have a lower body amounts of body fat (Click here for the SCIENCE!) – some of us still have body fat. Some of us have more body fat than non-vegans. That doesn’t make us any less (or more) “vegan” than the 115lb girl sipping her soy latte in the middle of Brooklyn.

Ah sterotypes… you strike again.

I subscribe to a YouTube channel of a chef who refers to himself as “The Sexy Vegan” – he once answered a fan letter that included a rather insensitive (and admittedly irrelevant) question, “I thought all vegans were supposed to be skinny?!” The Sexy Vegan responded candidly, saying, “I’m working on it!” – and taking it with a dose of good humor.

And that’s fair enough for him.

Maybe he is working on his health and weight…maybe he’s not….

But he’s a CHEF for goodness sakes! You’re not supposed to trust a skinny chef!

Even some well-meaning non-vegans get caught up in the hype. This year for Easter my Dad got me 2 books. The first was “Lean In” by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg (the contents of which are for a whole other rant). The second was a decadent, drool-worthy vegan dessert cookbook. He’d even earmarked a recipe he’d like me to recreate. He mentioned to me, almost shocked, “you know – you can be fat and still be a vegan!”

LOL – I know Dad – I am one 🙂

What Bikram Teaches : Humility

Love & Life, Yoga

This is my first post in a series titled, “What Bikram Teaches” – a personal reflection on lessons learned in the hot room

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Lets all try a relatively simple exercise.

Stand up out of your chair

Touch your toes. And don’t bend your knees.

Easy ‘peasy right? Go ahead. Try it. I’ll wait.

….

allposes About Bikram Yoga

In theory – most of the postures in Bikram look easy – especially for those of us who have had some basic athletic training. In other exercise classes (I’m looking at you Zumba), I’ve even done Spine Twisting Pose to warm up. Granted – Awkward Pose is called that for a reason – but looking at these simple outlines doesn’t seem daunting.

And while many are turned off by the idea of the “hot” room – we all go to the beach every summer. In the throngs of a New York City winter, we long for the days of 98, 99, 100 degree weather – with short shorts and cold showers.

From the outside – Bikram isn’t as scary as CrossFit. (It’s just as addictive – but no where near as scary). It’s not as insurmountable as biking across the Swedish Alps. It’s not as improbable as winning the New York City marathon.

From the outside.

I was an outsider once. I thought I could easily handle these 26 postures.

  • Triangle pose? – No problem.
  • Standing head to Knee – Simple!
  • Cobra pose? – Easy as pie.

Then I actually tried Bikram….

The more I practice, the harder the poses become. The pose isn’t a singular pose – it disguises it’s self as the singular – but in reality – it’s comprised of multiple poses, in multiple parts of the body.

It’s not “Half Moon”

It’s suck the stomach,

push down

center the hips

raise the chin

push down

look up

arch your upper body back

weight in the heels

push and push and push and push.

 

The more I think I know – the more I realize I don’t. And Humility joined me on my mat.

“Cherry on Top of the Vegan Ice Cream” – A Recap of the 2013 Oscars

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This post originally appeared on One Green Planet.com on Feb 25, 2013 –  https://www.onegreenplanet.org/news/cherry-on-top-of-the-vegan-ice-cream-2013-oscar-recap/

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Excuse me while I rub the glitter from my eyes – I haven’t yet recovered from the glitz and glamor of last night’s Academy Awards!

The Food

Perhaps Hollywood is finally catching on! No starving vegans at the Governor’s Ball (aka the after party!) this year. For the 19th year (in a row!) world-renowned chef Wolfgang Puck was serving up dinner, taking special care that those of us who live-by-the-veg were well taken care of. In addition to a full menu for carnivores, Puck’s menu included;

vegetable spring rolls, rosemary spiced nuts, edamame guacamole, Japanese baby peach salad, Chinese mustard dressing kale salad with grilled artichokes and lemon vinaigrette, lentils with cauliflower and baby vegetables, and for dessert shaved espresso ice

Now – I’ve had my fair share of vegetable spring rolls. Sometimes they come from restaurants, sometimes they come from the back of my freezer when I’m feeling particularly lazy. But I’m going to venture a guess that Puck’s are probably better. And “shaved espresso ice” – can I get that at my local farmer’s market?!

Over 1,300 staff members were brought in to help make the Governer’s Ball as delicious as it was fun! (although my invitation got lost in the mail, I’m guessing it was fun)

The Fashion

You know who we have to discuss first, don’t you? Anne. Our dear girl Anne Hathaway… who should immediately fire her stylist as NO ONE should be allowed to walk out of the house without the proper…ahem… undergarments. I don’t care if you’re Lady Godiva – pasties are about $5.00/pair – invest! Although – we will give her a shout out for the fabulous vegan Giuseppe Zanotti strappy sandals

I’m a firm believer in, “if it ain’t broke – don’t fix it”, and clearly so is vegan-diva Jessica Chastain. Slinky fitted gown + sparkly diamonds + soft, “Old Hollywood” curls = Red Carpet Royalty! Looking stellar in an Armani Prive gown and Christian Louboutin heels girlfriend is flawless. Not only do I think she knocked it out of the park – but an entire awards season of stunning choices, and she is my choice for  Best Dressed – 2013 Award Season!! Thank you for proving that vegan is beautiful!

Your favorite (and mine) Worst Dressed goes to Real Housewife of Beverly Hills – Brandi Glanville – while Glanville has her moment in trashy TV (and no judgement here – I will watch any/everything Real Housewives) – what the heck was she doing here? And with her lady-bits all out?! According to sources, she designed this mess of a gown herself – but apparently she forgot to order enough fabric!

A special nod to fashionistas of the night  goes out to omnivores Naomi Watts, also wearing Armani Prive and Halle Berry in Versace. While I wouldn’t normally have chosen Berry for one of my “Best Dressed”, at around 8:15pm last night my parents called to say, “Did you see Halle Berry?! She looks so great! She’s sill a Bond girl! – Are you going to put her in your article!?”

The Fun

Cue a moderately amusing opening monologue from funny-man Seth McFarlane. Potty humor galore, his “We Saw Your Boobs” number was met with mixed reviews, although I will forgive him that ridiculously sexist performance as he did have Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Channing Tatum do a little soft shoe. You can read his best/uber-forced one liners here

Jessica Lawrence unceremoniously stole the “Best Actress” award from my choice, Jessica Chastian, and immediately face-planted going up the stairs to collect her award. Just goes to show you, don’t send a girl to do a women’s job! 🙂

And what would an awards show be without the world’s most awkward acceptance speech! This probably has to be one of my favorite moments in Oscar history; “Life of Pi” won for “Best Visual Effects” and VFX supervisor Bill Westenhofer launched into a rather long, and very bizarre “thank you” speech. He started talking about Rhythm & Hues (the VFX folks who worked on “Life of Pi”) bankruptcy  – and managed to get played off the stage to, what else, but the JAWS theme song. How appropriate for a movie about someone being stranded in the middle of the ocean!

While I may not have agreed with her last minute fashion choice – the line of the night goes to Anne Hathaway, “this has just been the cherry on top of a wonderful, wonderful dish of vegan ice cream.” And nothing is better than vegan ice cream!

The Beauty of the Blurry Mirror

Love & Life, Yoga

Recently, I’ve been doing a lot of Bikram.

“A lot” is defined by me as 3 – 4 times per week. While I realize many yogis would scoff at my measly 3 day practice, but let me assure you – it’s hard work.

Very hard.

One would think that after a month of regular practice, I’d be able to “lock the knee” – i.e. the most important thing in Bikram besides breathing.

Nope. I am a wobbly, gel-like mess. Most of the time. Occasionally I see glimpses of brilliance – but only sometimes. Like – my fixed firm pose,

is getting much better – I can actually rest my shoulders on the ground now! 

And the other day – I actually smiled after rabbit pose – my forehead touched the knee!

But one of the best parts about Bikram is something so much simpler – I have to take my glasses off.

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You don’t sweat in Bikram – you rain.  You are soaked to the skin – meaning there’s no way my plastic frames are going to stay on my face. Since each practice is the same 26 postures, and the teacher talks you through each position step by step – you don’t have to have 20/20 vision. I’m near-sighted, so standing in the back row of the class (really – did you think I was one of those front-rowers? psssh….) I can see myself, but I’m very blurry. I can see all my limbs, my general shape – but no eyes, no specific features, I can’t even tell what my hair is really doing.

And it’s wonderful.

I don’t have to worry about fixing a fat roll.

I don’t have to worry about taming some unruly fly-away cowlick

I don’t have to worry about my face looking like a wet tomato

I don’t have to worry about if I forgot to shave my legs

I don’t have to worry.

I just have to breathe.

“A santey-sana squash-banana” – On Green Breakfasts

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I love breakfast carbs.

The people who “skip” breakfasts blow my mind – who does that? Breakfast is the best meal of the day! Pancakes, muffins, faux-egg-omletts, bagels, tofutti….

MAMOSAS!

I don’t have the 30 minutes each morning to craft a steaming bowl of steel-cut oats garnished with chia seeds. I have about 20 minutes from the time my alarm goes off at 5:15 to the time I have to be out the door for bikram at 5:40. (I say 20 minutes because I have a close relationship with my ‘snooze’ button).

Therefore everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, must be done the night before. Laying out my clothes, changing the rabbit’s litterbox, making lunch – none of that is “morning-of” material. ‘Morning -of” is putting on yoga shorts and doing a spit shine with some Listerine.

Which brings us to the breakfast dilemma.

Carbs + Speed =Rice cake with peanut butter & a banana.

This wouldn’t be so bad – if I didn’t spend my day dreaming about peanut butter. I love it. I think it should have it’s own food group. I eat way to much of it, and it’s probably one of the main reasons I can’t seem to lose weight while eating a vegan diet. So – what’s a carb-loving peanut butter addict to do?

Discover the mecca of speedy vegan breakfasts – that’s what!!

Carby, pre-made, CHEAP, and good for you? Oh yeah.

Green Breakfast Muffins- Makes 12 good-sized muffins

Ingredients

2 cups Bob’s Red Mill Flour (I used the wheat/flax/fancy-healthy combo)

2 tablespoons Sugar in the Raw (Depending on the amount of sweet you want in your muffin – 1 tablespoon = 1 sugar packet)

1 tablespoon flax seed

2 tablespoons chia seeds (yes – they are on the expensive side, but a large bag will last you for a long time)

1 cup water

1 cup juiced spinach (it’s 1 entire small box of the stuff in the naturals section. Spinach is usually pretty cheap, you can also get the “short-buy” stuff (things that are about to go bad – b/c you’re just going to juice them).

1/4 cup oil

1 santay sana sqaushed banana! (Anyone remember that line from the Lion King?! Anyone!? – Make sure your banana is ripe, under ripe bananas are like getting coal in your Xmas stocking).

Directions

(In a bowl) Mix all ingredients well. There may be some lumpy bits, but that’s OK

You may need to add a bit more water – the flax & chia seeds tend to soak up a lot of water, so if you need to add more here – feel free 🙂 It should be runny – yes, sort of like bright green snot.

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Green Tea & Green Muffins – the Breakfast of Champions!

Pour muffin mix into greased muffin pan. Bake at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes (or until a fork inserted comes out clean)

NOM NOM with a small amount of v. butter and/or humms 🙂

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The weirdest part about this was that the tops of the muffins (the “muffin-tops” lol) stayed dark green, and just browned on the edges. The bottom half – where it was inside the pan – were totally brown, looking just like a bran muffin would.

The photo on the right is of the inside – and yes, it was only after I made them, and ate half of one, did I think, “hmm – I should probably take a photo….”

I’m guessing these will keep in an air-tight container for a while. You get 12 muffins out of that batch – with enough flour and chia seeds left over to make at least one, if not 2, additional batches.

Happy Nomming Veg Heads!

2013 Green Grammys : A Recap

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This post initially appeared on One Green Planet on Feb 11th

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While staying up until 12:30 to catch all the “behind, during, post, pre-show” commentary makes for a very bleary-eyed Monday morning employee, the 2013 Grammys didn’t disappoint, and was worth losing sleep over!

Before we even get into the Grammys – let’s take a step back, to last weekend’s Beyonce concert   SuperBowl halftime show. In interest of full disclosure, I will shamelessly admit that when Beyonce started performing, I started singing along. And, when Destiny’s Child reunited for that brief 3 minute slice of heaven, I got up off my couch and danced… in my pj’s….alone in my living room. I really don’t think you’re ready for my jelly.

Overall a flawless performance (and if you disagree than I will unfriend you from Facebook) – but Beyonce – why, why did choose to wear something so unfabulous?! As reported by The Guardian, Beyonce’s outfit consisted of (totally unnecessary) snake, cow and iguana. Wearing 3 (ok, maybe 2 – cows are not fierce) fierce animals doesn’t make you Sasha Fierce! This isn’t the only time Beyonce has made some unfriendly fashion choices – at the 2013 Presidential Inauguration, Beyonce arrived wearing a Christian Dior mink coat, FYI Bey – you’re supposed to wear faux fur and sing live – not the other way around!

As for last night’s Grammy extravaganza, vegan songbird and Grammy collector Carrie Underwood took home the award for Best Country Solo Performance – and wore a projection screen around her waist during her musical number. But her red carpet look was all old-Hollywood glam – including a diamond necklace of 380 carats. 380. Carats. She could have bought old-Hollywood for that much.

Normally I watch award shows while noshing on kale chips and hanging out with my rabbit – but it’s an annual tradition amongst my musically-inclined friends that we celebrate “music’s biggest night” and make snarky comments together! My non-vegan friends had buffalo wings, and I ate guacamole. Lots, and lots of guac. So this week’s Best & Worst Dressed comes from a collective vote (so you know it’s not just my own biased opinion).

Best Dressed : CARRIE UNDERWOOD!! There was no room for error with this gown, and she pulls it off flawlessly. Not to mention how fantastic her booty looks! (Hey – I have to give credit where credit is due!) Honorable mentions go to Taylor Swift in J. Mendel – (although she really needs to rethink that ‘do – that’s how I wear my hair to work when I haven’t washed recently) and Kelly Rowland in Georges Chakra Couture for literally laughing in the face of CBS’ Dress Code memo

Worst Dressed: A collective groan went up whenAdele arrived in my dead grandmother’s apron, Katy Perry looked like a stick of Minty Fresh gum with a breast-plate, and Florence Welch came as a metallic stegosaurus. For a full list of the red-carpet horror show, please enjoy this photo montage.

Oh, and Jennifer Lopez’s right leg came naked. Who’s leg is better – J. Lo or Angelina!?