Mindfulness 101: “Left, Right, Left, Right, Left, Left”

Week 1 Exercise:

Every day for one
week, use your non-dominant hand to do at least one thing. We have such great
dexterity with the hand we usually use that we stop having to think about what
we’re doing. Using the other hand forces us to think more about the task of the

Try brushing your teeth with the non-dominant hand. Eating. Using
the computer mouse. Don’t pick something too easy like turning a page; make it
something that will really throw your brain out of whack, and wake it up. And
while you might want to repeat the same activity each day, try adding a new one
in as well.

I played computer Solitaire the other day using my left hand
for the mouse. I not only couldn’t maneuver well, my brain stopped working. I
couldn’t see the cards I needed to move, no matter how much I tried to
concentrate. When I switched back to my right hand and played the same game,
same combination of cards, I whipped right through it.

Don’t think you’ll remember to do this? Try posting a note on the bathroom mirror ‘Brush Left’ (or right). Wear a ring on an unusual finger or just go with the old standby: tie a string around one of the fingers of your non-dominant hand.

Mindfulness 101: “Can You Here And Now?”

The TigerI’ll start with a story from the old Taoist
masters. They have a million of them: you think the Bible is full of parables,
dip into the Tao Te Ching.

A man is walking through the forest, enjoying
his day. He hears a noise behind him, turns, and sees a tiger running at him,
drooling from its rapacious jaws. The man runs as fast as he can to escape the
tiger and comes to a cliffside with vines growing down it. So he grabs two of
the vines, one in his left, one in his right, hand and begins climbing down,
thinking “Whew, that was close, just barely got away from him.” He can see the
tiger pacing around the top of the cliff but knows it can’t climb down. Then,
when he has gotten about halfway down the cliff, he hears a sound from below. He
looks down, only to see a second tiger, pacing beneath him at the bottom of the
cliff. So now, he can’t climb back up or the first tiger will eat him; and he
can’t keep climbing down, or he’ll be eaten by the tiger below. “That’s ok,” the
man thinks. At least I’m safe here and maybe they’ll get tired and go away.” But
next thing he knows, there’s a little noise right on the vine above him to his
right. The man looks up and there’s a little black mouse, gnawing on the vine in
his right hand. “Now,” the man thinks,”what can I do? I can’t go up or down and
this vine is probably going to snap. Oh well, I still have this other vine.” But
no sooner does he think that, then he hears noise above his left hand. Looking
up, he sees a tiny white mouse nibbling away at that vine. He is truly without
options, it seems: a tiger above; a tiger below; a white mouse destroying one
vine; a black mouse, the other. In that moment of despair, he looks to one side
and sees a plum branch growing out of the cliff with one perfect plum on it. He
reaches out, plucks the plum from the branch and takes a bite of the beautiful
juicy fruit. . .

That’s where the story ends. Wow, that’s like watching
an episode of Kung Fu, huh, grasshopper?

The story is about the
importance of living in the present moment. At one end of our life is birth–the
first tiger–and at the other end is death–the tiger at the bottom of the
cliff. The black and white mice represent day and night, the movement of time.
We can’t go back, we can’t escape, and eventually, the vines will be chewed
through. But in the meantime, there is the plum–the “now.” And that is all we
really can live for.

In a world of work and worry and rush and rampage
(and alliterative fun all around), how can we ever experience the “now.”
Although I’m supposed to be an exercise guru, over the next weeks, I’m going to
make those exercises a little different: exercises in mindfulness. Each week,
I’ll present a new one. Try them, share your experiences with what they did–or
didn’t–do for you. Some have food related components, others don’t. But in one
way or another, they will all be about the plum.

Hi-Yo, Lipo! Away!

I just can’t get the image out of my head. Tiny thighs, gigantic paunch. Or maybe flat abs, zoot suit shoulders. What horrible nightmare led to this? Oh, nothing much. Just a study on the long term results of liposuction. Our bodies, apparently, really like their fat, don’t want to lose it, would write love songs and send flowers if they could.

So when we mess around mechanically with what our bodies see as their dear, dear fat cells, the body gets ornery about this. Wouldn’t you, if your friends tried to take your sweetie out every night for margaritas when she should be home with you? Oh, right, that’s not exactly mechanical. Well, what if a giant crane plucked your first born out of the nest and carried him away to Katmandu. Another bad example if your first born just moved back in at 29 with no job; you might think Katmandu is the Kat’s pajamas.

But our bodies are more faithful than we are. Take away the fat from your thighs by having it Hoovered out and you may think you’re done with it but noooo. . .

Your body has other ideas. It can’t just redeposit fat in the thighs because you took the actual cells out, not just the fat in them. So instead, fat starts being deposited in other areas where there are still plenty of cells. And scientists found that where the body prefers to put the new fat is “up” from wherever it was removed. So, you get those skinny thighs and–next stop on the fat track is the stomach. Take it from the stomach and presumably, it moves to the chest or higher.

Keep going and you’re going to end up looking like Sherman from Rocky and Bullwinkle: scrawny little body with a gigantic head. Start practicing saying “Gosh, Mr. Peabody.”

Most disturbing: The majority of people who gained fat upward after thigh lipo? Said it was worth it and would do it again.

“Gosh, Mr. Peabody!”

The Easily Distracted Blogger

Yes, I have been pretty quiet on the updates to my search for the best app for tracking food and exercise. Part of it comes from the pure frustration I keep running into with these apps. I almost hit my limit when I searched for “cottage cheese” on SparkPeople and it gave me a Steak ‘n’ Shake burger meal before it gave me regular old cottage cheese–I still haven’t figured that one out.

Part is, of course, my horrendously short attention span. Since I have some clients that do Weight Watcher’s, either the “go-to-meeting” or online kind, I thought I’d briefly take a look to see what it was about. Well, now I’m deep into my exploration of the pros and cons of that–new obsessions always trump old ones for me.

The worst part about this is that Weight Watcher’s online community has brought out my competitive side. Not that I’m trying to beat anyone at weight loss. Seven pounds off and I’ll be good to go; I almost feel like a spy in the camp. But I joined one of the online groups–planning to just eavesdrop, maybe throw in an occasional comment so I wouldn’t be so obviously a fly on their wall–and discovered that WW posts who the most active participants of a group are.

You can see where this is going. I didn’t think I was adding more than my two cents, but apparently, I was adding more like a Benjamin. One day I popped up on the “most active” list. Now, I have to see myself there or I think, “OMG, just like high school; I’m not one of the cool kids.” I’ve never been most active at anything, so being on the “wall of fame” is just too tempting.

I swear, I’m going to break the habit. Stop checking the group wall when I should be working out or planning workouts for clients. Not weigh in (ooh, pun intended?) on everyone’s day. Read a damn book, anything.

Right after I see whether anyone answered my last post.