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It’s over.

02/14/2010

Beautiful Readers,

…my fast, that is. Over before it really began (see previous post about fasting).

  • 8am    Whipped up a batch of lemonade with maple syrupy goodness and a dash of cayenne. Drank some.
  • 8:15-9:15   Felt virtuously ’cleansed’ .
  • 9:15-9-45  Felt quite hungry and obsessed with things I was not eating.
  • 9:45 – 10:15  Caught myself  thinking thoughts like, ‘cool, even though I am feeling famished and exhausted I still have enough energy to walk up the stairs to the second floor of my apartment!’
  • 10:15 – 10:30Realized this was assinine. Quickly microwaved a small plate of  Organic Blue Corn Chips with colby cheese. Ate a little chocolate. And some pudding. And, just now, cooked up a nice steaming cup of Chai. Totalling, maybe 1100 calories.

Fasting is for someone else I think. I was turned on to it because it was so gratifying to fast when we were in Egypt this past Ramadan. It felt like the polite thing to do and was also thrilling as a culturally significant communal show of strength and discipline, but fasting for no other reason than wanting to fit into even tighter jeans–I’m just not into. If I had medical reasons to lose weight I’d feel completely differently. So that’s all folks. I’m unlinkely to try that particular experiment again.

Overall, my favorite diet secret is very French really (or at least how the French women I have known deal with these things). If I eat a lot one day, I eat less the next, and maybe exerise a little more. I keep track of the numbers on the scale and measure my fat percentage from time to time. If I gain some weight. I lose some weight at my soonest convenience. Some days I allow myself to feel hungry. Most days I eat only the amount of food I need to not feel hungry-rarely more. My family does not have institutionalized dessert. I can count the times I have baked with white flour (kid’s stuff sometimes). My family eats only whole wheat bread and pasta. We eat out infrequently. We order in even less. I cook daily. And Voila! A functional, non self-punishing, approach to normal weight management!

Though my strategy would be very different if I were eager to lose larger amounts of weight.  Having seen clients that were both successful and unsuccessful at doing this–I would first have to admit to myself that significant (anything over 15 lbs) weight loss is very very difficult and would likely have to become the focus of my life for awhile (underestimating ((or just begrudging)) the difficulty of major weight loss is the number one reason I have seen clients fail to lose weight).

I would spend money in advance to line up all the professional support and tools I think might help me, recruit the assistance of any friends and family I could trust not to sabotage my efforts, lay out a whole course of non-eating treats and indulgences to get me through the intense feelings of deprivation that merely not eating can bring. Overall, it is not the physical reality of weight loss that causes most people to fail–it is the psychological burden and the frequent surprise at how terrible merely not-eating can feel. It takes real fortitude to lose a lot of weight, but the health risks associated with obesity certainly can make a full campaign worthwhile.

Thanks for reading,

Alix Florio;     President

Beautiful Fitness

Playing Fast and Loose with Fasting

02/13/2010

Beautiful Readers,

For several years I have been following the recent fascination with fasting. There are all kind of ’systems’ on the market that claim to offer toxin removal, energy-enhancement, and overall purifying benefits. Some popular ones are  Master Cleanse which features a lemonade and cayenne pepper concoction and very little else for as long as you can stand it , something called  Blueprint Cleanse which will deliver new juice to your door every day of the week depending on how long you plan to partake in their juice-only program, or The David Kirsh Systems that offer every variety of healing through specialized eating (or not eating) that you could possibly imagine David Kirsch 5 Day Detox Kit  offers pro-biotic solution (probably not a bad idea for someone who won’t be eating), protein drinks, some fizzy vitamin stuff with tea extract, and pretty much the same lemonade as in the Master Cleanse variety.

A few things come to mind. First, the last place I heard this much language about needing to purify, cleanse, and remove toxinsthat might be within us was in a New England Catholic church with my grandmother many years ago. Coincidence? I don’t think so. It seems pretty safe to presume that humans may have a pesky, irrational, tendency to think that there might be something ‘impure’ about them that maybe needs to be fixed.

Also, there is no actual science to suggest that there is anything that needs to be cleaned inside us that our internal organs don’t do a mighty fine job cleaning themselves. That’s kind of what our body does– take things apart and make them usable, fix them up, and put them in the right places. And this notion that I have sometimes heard that our organs need a ‘break’ is just silly. Our organs don’t need a vacation anymore than our kitchen sponge does.  Here’s what a Gastroenterologist from the Mayo Clinic has to say about detox diets.

Now here is where things get complicated. All the stuff you hear about sugars, fats, and chemical additives being bad for you (and your internal organs) is resoundingly true. Sugar (and that’s carbohydrates of certain kinds too), in too large a quantity, over time, can literally start breaking down the linings of internal organs leaving them available for infection, and literally changing how our hormones behave. In this way, our internal organs do, in fact, want a ‘break’ but the break they want is long term and spans years of dietary improvement. Not nearly so exciting as a little lightheadedness and a bottle of lemonade.

For the record  I think fasting is ok. Short term and with the right conditions (well hydrated-not too much exertion) and please don’t include any form of speed with the suffix ’-ine’ to ‘boost’ your metabolism. Just simply not eating for a couple of days, maybe drinking a fair bit of green tea (which I am convinced has had me lose more weight in the past)  is an acceptable way to gain control over your eating habits, drop a few pounds, and decrease your hunger overall. Also, fasting, can bring into very fine focus (mostly due to that emergency-like starving feeling) your relationship to your body.

The kids are away and the bf is at a weekend workshop..so for the next two days, as the perennial guinea pig (a very svelte guinea pig), I’m going to try living on only a lemonade recipe with cayenne pepper and maple syrup (ingredients of the two above recipes) to see what it’s like…and I’ll let you know how it went when it’s over.

Thanks for reading,

Alix Florio

President Beautiful Fitness

Wear Totally the Wrong Shoes for a Happier, More Meaningful, Life!

02/10/2010

Beautiful Readers,

What the hell happens to us as we start getting more of what we want?
How did a mere six block trip to the gym in a giant, wildly beautiful, snowstorm turn into an hour of hunting for a certain pair of Gortex lined boots? What is going on here? For more than an hour this afternoon, I drifted, unthinkingly, through my apartment, trance-like, rythmically turning over every boot I own in an effort to find the ones that I had bought for a snowy occasion just like this. Two hours later I still have not left.

I mean, after all, if my feet get cold on the way to the gym then it might take awhile for the them to warm up while I work out…and that might be uncomfortable. Oh wait, I know, maybe if I wear wool socks and then change once I get there…oh but then I need a locker because what if  my fancy boots get stolen, I mean they’re pretty nice after all– and where are the wool socks? Maybe with the ski stuff? Hmm, and I should wear a hat, but I really don’t like hats, and I think I might even be slightly allergic to the fur inside the one I have been wearing.

 Now, I’m not sure how this all seems to those of you reading. Boring I’m guessing. But from this end it’s more than that. It’s a warning. A warning that if I don’t put an end to this kind of micro-focused self-coddling nonsense right away my life could quickly turn into an existential nightmare a la the unbearably twee parents in some 80’s brat pack film.  This kind of natural smallness, folks, may be my greatest fear, and it should be yours too. It’s much more likely to take you out than anything more exciting. It is the darkness that is always at the door of a  safe and stable world. And it is not benign.

I am convinced that personal smallness and cumulative petty fears  are perhaps the greatest contributors to aging and depression and age-related depression. Smallness and tightness and meanness and boredom are much more common enemies in life than anything more dramatic. Wouldn’t it be great if the thing you should fear most wore black, dripped with blood, and taunted you with fire? It would be so much easier if your soul was jeopardized most by some kind of fearsome Beelzebub just seething with action-packed torment!

But really it’s Gortex lined boots that you should fear most. Or always needing skim milk in your latte, or being afraid of rain or snow. Or being afraid to look bad. Or doing the wrong thing. Or being a terrible dancer. Or picking the wrong person. Or what your neighbors think of anything.  Or whether or not to return that hat you bought. Or feeling upset you burned the sausage and filled the house with smoke.

I’ve gotta go now–out into the blizzard.

Thanks for reading!

Alix

President; Beautiful Fitness