Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Running sucks.

I cleared myself to run again a few weeks ago, just before my week long trip to Kentucky. I figured I'd be able to find time to run there, and from my last trip, I remembered "there seemed to be a prettyish kind of a little wilderness" around the campus.

I did the 1.5 miles just I wrote about around the campus because I couldn't figure out how to get down to the park. So later that week, the weather was way too perfect to not take advantage of it. Out I go for my run. The trees are beautiful and the sky is clear. But there are hills.

I'm sorry, but I'm from Louisiana and if anyone has ever driven through this state, you'll know that we are either at sea level and mostly below sea level. My legs tremble at the thought of running uphill.

So I followed the path where it was level and that was pleasant enough. I took the hill for a few seconds and I totally wimped out and turned around. I felt so many pairs of eyes judging me as I ran back in the other direction. I wanted to just say, "C'mon, look at my pencil legs! There's no way I'm going to make it up there."

The next day turned out to be equally the perfect spring time weather. I work in an office most days, so any chance I can to actually feel the sun on my skin, I will take it! This time, instead of just turning back around when I faced the hill, I walked. Yeah, you heard me. I walked, and there is nothing wrong with walking. Paging Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Back me up, brother: 

Okay, so okay I didn't walk to help with my brain function and memory. I was only walking because, like I said, there is no way I can run up that hill. But the point is, if I didn't just take it easy on myself and walk, I would've missed the best part of the park - the view from the top.

Cherokee Park in Louisville is an incredibly beautiful place to run [or walk or lay around], and if I didn't move my flat ass to the top of the hill, I would've missed out on a spectacular view. As with those times in life when we would prefer to just revert back to what's comfortable rather than push through the difficulties, imagine what we might miss out on? The amazing thing about our bodies is that we are adaptable and capable of growth. Just a few months ago, 3 miles was nothing. Today, 3 miles sucks. In a few more weeks 3, or even 4, miles will be a good run again.

Last month, I was invited to attend the Team in Training spaghetti dinner the night before the Rock N Roll Marathon that my volunteer, Allie, ran. John "the Penguin" Bingham [] spoke to the hundreds of people who spent months not only preparing for the race but also raising thousands of dollars for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. The Penguin is all about completing what you've set out for yourself regardless of how long it takes you to get there.

“Frustration is the first step towards improvement. I have no incentive to improve if I’m content with what I can do and if I’m completely satisfied with my pace, distance and form as a runner. It’s only when I face frustration and use it to fuel my dedication that I feel myself moving forwards.” - the penguin

So I'm frustrated that I can't run uphill or faster or longer. But, God willing, I will keep on keepin' on. [Because there is free food and drinks across that finish line.]

Now, it's time for a random cute photo:

You don't need teeth to enjoy a beer.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Discernment, Dischmerment

I'm so happy to be back here! 

Friends, I do apologize for my absence, but I hope my absence has made your heart grow fonder for my blogging verbal diarrhea.

I kept visiting my own blog hoping that it would churn out some posts on its own. Unfortunately, technology is not advance enough to read my mind. Maybe there's an iPhone app somewhere for that, but I wouldn't know that since my cellphone only makes phone calls. I know, I'm so 2000 and late.

Zack's more 1990 and late.

Anywho, so I've had quite the emotional roller coaster lately. No, it's not just from crazy female hormones. There was just so much that happened in the past two weeks that made me feel overjoyed and overwhelmed at the same time. There have been days when I feel incredibly sad and lost and then an hour or so later felt immense gratitude and affirming love.

For part of my week in Louisville, we had what we call our Placement Event. Around 35 dewy eyed young adults arrived, excited to go through the process of deciding where they were going to serve as Young Adult Volunteers (YAVs) for the year. At times the interviewing and discerning were really intense for these guys and gals who were putting so much of themselves and futures out there with a lot of uncertainty as to where that would lead them. 

Back in the day, before I even arrived at Pepperdine, I was mailed a book about hearing God's call, which is basically what we refer to as discernment - figuring out exactly what I was put earth to do and how I am supposed to live given this crazy environment. My relationship with discernment is so much like my relationship with exercising. I know it's incredibly beneficial and the healthiest thing to do, but sometimes I'd rather just be lazy and not even think about it. [There are DVRed shows to be watched instead.]

So as these YAVs were in the midst of their discernment process, I couldn't help but to get sucked into the whole atmosphere of feeling I need to be doing something really important and constantly life-altering for me and the rest of the planet. There was a YAV alum there that I really admire, and he asked me, "What's your dream?"

With the confused look of half-raised eyebrows and gnarled lip on my face, I didn't have an answer. My dream would to eat bacon, biscuits and cheese grits every day while always having the body of swim suit model. Yes, that is how shallow I am.

So how do you discern what it is you're supposed to be and/or do?

You'll have to become one my YAVs to find out. JK... I would hate to have to work with you. Again, I joke [maybe].

Even Kathy Freston, yes we're not done with her yet, talks about connecting with your own spirituality in whatever shape or form that takes on if your life. She has a pretty good PC way of putting it:
Whether we choose to attend services at a formal house of worship, study with a teacher, join a meditation group, or read intently to learn more of a particular tradition or philosophy, through spiritual practice we increase our capacity to love and be kind, both to ourselves and to others. We learn to think and act out of love rather than fear. We move from indifference to compassion. 
And as we lend ourselves to the shift that comes with spiritual practice, we nurture the light inherent within us so that we can then shine that light out into the world. We are aided immeasurably by putting ourselves in the atmosphere of constant coaching.

This is all very nice, Kathy Freston, but it still doesn't quite answer how the heck am I supposed to be compassionate and light-shining to others? I feel I am a pretty spiritual person and I can certainly use the increase in love for others. What are my next steps, Kathy Freston?

God was all over this one. So a few days ago, I just happened to play a podcast from Francis Chan, author of Crazy Love, and he totally put things into perspective. Essentially he reminded me that it's not often that God shows someone their entire life's plan to them. God always shows people one or a few steps at a time. Rather then asking what is God's will for my life, the better question is what is God's will for today?

For today, it was time for me to blog again. And to make a very long blog post even longer, on my flight home from Louisville, I came up with the best and only Venn Diagram I've ever conceived.

[Note: I feel worried that I may have taken this from somewhere because I never have original ideas, but I truly believe I haven't plagiarized this one. If you've seen it somewhere else, let me know and I will be happy to cite and link and try not to feel lame.]
This is all I've come up with so far, and I still haven't figured out exactly how I'll flesh this out in my mind. But it's a relatively good start for someone like me.

Figuring out life is hard but also essential to making the most out of our short existence. However, instead of being overwhelmed by the bigger picture, let's be overjoyed by the small victories and blessings we experience each day.

"In this life we cannot do great things. We can only do small things with great love." -mother theresa 

It's good to be back, friends.  

Monday, March 15, 2010

1.5 miles, baby.

Yes, friends. I have reached the 1.5 mile-milestone.

Back in the day, this would have been a feat. One day in high school, I went to the park because I decided I would be a runner. It seemed easy enough. I ran all the time. I ran out of class to get to the front of the lunch line. I chased the bus when I was late getting to my stop. This could totally be my sport.

One day I went to the park and ran. I didn't even make it to the .25 mile marker.

To make my long running history short, let's just say I'm a slow runner. Mayhaps you'd call me a jogger.

Two weeks ago I was talking about running with two of my Sunday school students who are very fast cross country runners. I told them that I did a half marathon back in December.
Student: What was your time?

Kathy: Um... I think it was 2:22:something.

Student: You know people can run full marathons under that time.

Kathy: [crying internal tears of shame]
 It's three months after the longest run I've ever accomplished and I'm starting from scratch again. As much as I'd like to make myself sound like this incredible endurance runner, 1.5 miles was hard today. But I did it. And I will do it again some time this week... maybe.

Now that it's starting to warm up outside, and I can be motivated to shave my legs again, it's time to gear up for 5k season. For those of you who are doing the same, here are some online tools that I've enjoyed using.

I know you can easily just keep track of your progress on your own calendar, but for some reason I like to use Active Trainer to log all of my workouts. You can log everything from exercise biking to hiking. It's great to be able to see how much you can accomplish over a month's period of time. But really, I like it because it automatically calculates my pace if I just put in my time and distance. Yes, I'm that bad at math. I swear I don't know how I look so Asian.

Cool Running has a Couch to 5k training plan that just takes 2 months to get you to being a regular 5k runner. Also, I use it to diagnose all my aches and pain when Webmd is too vague.

My first 5k that I hope to run is the Mississippi River Bridge Run on April 10th. That was my first 5k ever that I ran last year, and it's tough because it's uphill for the first half. But the scenery and the site of hundreds of people running up the on-ramp was unforgettable.

Sorry, this is all I have to offer. I lost the files of my mental pictures.

On a completely unrelated topic... Today, my mother asked me to show her how to get on to Faceplace. If case you didn't already know, my mom is a fob.

Look at me now!

I'm leaving today to head to Louisville, Kentucky, with a short stint to Indianapolis to gloat over our Saints Superbowl win. I mean, for more meetings. I will be gone for a week.

I loathe packing. In an ideal world, I would have bags prepacked with everything that I would need. None of the leaving of toothbrushes and cell phone chargers would matter. And, of course, the daunting task of gathering the right shirt, pants, jacket, shoes and accessories in order for me to be prepared for a multitude of wardrobe needs and fitting it all into a 22" x 14" x 9" box.

I don't want to be too casual but not too overdressed. Will I be wearing the same thing all day? Will I really exercise if I bring my tennis shoes? What if it's too cold/hot in the conference rooms? What if I accidentally fall into a large body of water and am stuck with clothes that I will not be able to wear for the rest of the week?

At first, I just said, "Well, I can get reimbursed for checking my bags, so I might as well pack what I want." Then, I sort of felt like I should be a good steward of the limited funds we have for our program. I know, if I really wanted to, I can pack everything I need into a carry-on bag.

It ended up feeling a lot like what I went through during the cleanse. A lot of very intentional decision-making and taking the time in advance to prepare. And being honest with myself.

So I pulled out of my closet everything I thought I wanted to wear and tried on a variety of outfits. This is a little embarrassing but I even made a Monday-Sunday list with what I would wear each day. But it really helped to see that I don't really need to bring 25 shirts for 7 days.

 Yes, I am neurotic.

The being honest with myself part was always the hardest part. I decided not to bring any accessories and only one book. I haven't done any leisurely reading in a long time, so why is it that every time I travel I'm convinced I will have time or even want to read two novels, three magazines, write letters to old friends and journal?

As with the cleanse, I've realized how many old habits I had that weren't good for me. My tendency to over pack developed from my laziness to plan clearly and effectively, from procrastination and last-minute packing, my desire to over-indulge and pack more than enough and my worries about unforeseen but potentially detrimental circumstances that never actually occur.

I can't believe this day has come. From someone who had bags weighing over 100lbs on my trip back from London and a daily grandma purse full of snacks, Tide to-go, hand sanitizer, emergency eye liner and cough drops, I have managed to carefully pack for my week away into just this:

I don't even need to sit on it to make it zip.

And in the plaid bag, I've packed 7 Lara Bars, lots of caffeine free tea, a bag of mixed nuts and a bag of dry cereal. No need to spend $5 on a bag of Chex Mix at the airport!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Next topic please...

I hope I haven't bored any of you (4 readers) with my obsession over eating, the food chain, the effects of food on our bodies and the world. I was hoping that post-cleanse, I'd be able to switch over to "See Kathy Run" sort of fodder, but I've been busy and lazy this week and I don't feel like running. So no running = no stories about running.

So perhaps this week since there hasn't been much sweat, besides the usual pit moisture, breaking around here, I've been feeling the muffin top more than usual. Or my pants must be shrinking again. Like I said, gaining weight is not a big deal for me. What is a big deal is having to get bigger clothes to accommodate the expanding waistline. I will for sure exercise to have to avoid replacing all of my bottoms.

Next weekend, I will be out of town for work. Meetings, oh joy. So I may or may not run depending on how much sitting is involved. If the tush starts to go numb, I may throw in a jog. I know some of you out there can run at warp speeds and crazy distances, but I am determined not to shin split myself again. I will literally start from 1 mile and s l o w l y work my way back up to Mardi Gras Marathon 2011, if God so wills it.

Don't worry, I fully plan on bringing my So You Think You Can Dance Cardio Blast workout DVD that I got for Christmas! That for sure will make for a great work out. I hope Mark is on it and that I get to learn how to be Chelsie in the Bleeding Love routine!

I just wanted to end with a little fun story about my day. So lately, I have been experiencing a lot of upper back and shoulder pain/tension. Probably a combination of a lot of stress, lack of sleep and gripping the handle bars of spinning class out of sheer exhaustion and desire to vomit and pass out.

You know how at Whole Foods there is a little area of chair massages at $1/minute? I decided I would treat myself to 15 minutes so that I don't have to spend the rest of my night trying to reach between my shoulder blades with my metal water bottle in a sad attempt to massage out my own knots.

I am sooo looking forward to the 15 minutes of bliss that I am about to receive that I might release tears of joy. I look at the little white board on the wall of the massage makeshift cubicle and it says "Massage Hours 1-6pm Daily." I check my cell phone.

It's 6:01. fml

So I have to go now to find a tennis ball I can put on the ground and roll on top of and no, I will not take a photo of that for the blog. I would like to maintain a least a shred of dignity, well okay, I don't care about dignity. Just too lazy to set up a camera to capture the weirdness that is to follow.

This is what I look like at work. Except, I would be looking at twitter, not excel.

Friday, March 12, 2010

It's so hard to say goodbye...

... to hot dogs.

I love animals.

I love eating.

I love eating animals.

So I should love the book Eating Animals, right?

Jonathan Safran Foer has been much talked about since the release of his latest book, Eating Animals. Before you read Eating Animals or anything else for that matter, I cannot recommend more Foer's Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. I'll even buy you a copy if you seriously read it. That is how much I love it.

I was surprised to learn Foer wrote a book on the mass production of animals by our present-day farmers. It's so different from his insanely creative stories that take you through all the emotions of life in roughly 300 pages. I haven't read it yet because the public library hasn't gotten a hold of it. But what's the next best thing to do when you can't [or don't want to] read?

Watch the Colbert Report!

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Jonathan Safran Foer
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorSkate Expectations

I'm so sad that farmers unanimously won't eat hot dogs. I know I've said it before but I really do love hot dogs. They're so good grilled, boiled, fried, on a bun, on a stick, with ketchup or mustard and/or chili and cheese with grilled onions.

The other week, I read this New York Times article on a workshop that was recently held to teach people how to properly raise, kill and butcher rabbits. There were even photos of these cute little bunnies. As cute as they were, as I read the article, I started craving rabbit. They are just as delicious as they are soft and fuzzy.

But we've already discussed how supporting our current farming practices is harmful to ourselves and to the world. In this next video of Foer on Ellen [who inspired me to start the cleanse in the first place], Foer gets to go into more detail about how our farm system is a top cause of the detriment of our environment. And for those who have a compassion to see animals like people, yes, the current practices are also just as harmful to us and to the animals themselves.

So the sooner we can all collectively protest our current system of raising animal for meat and other products, the sooner improvements in farming practices will occur and the sooner that those of us who still want to have meat can have it because it's no longer infected by growth hormones, antibiotics and whatever kinds of chemicals these animals are releasing due to the unnatural and at times torturous conditions they live in.

For the die hard carnivores, take the challenge to go meatless [and dairy-less] one day each week.

If not, I dare you to take a stop along the stretch on the I-5 in California with the acres and acres of cattle crammed into a refugee camp-esque farm and sit down and have a burger.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Nervous but never too nervous to eat

How do I feel on my first day off the cleanse?

It's the same way you feel when you turn 22. I remember once when I was 22 and someone asked, "How old are you?" And I just responded, "21." I didn't even realize it until many hours later that I might have been wrong. I looked at the year and pulled out my calculator and lo and behold I was 22 and forgot about it.

At work, one of my volunteers, Gloria, asked if I had gluten today. I forgot that I wanted to have gluten today. I already prepared my lunch for the day and continued to have my usual snacks of fruits, nuts and avocados. Well... I more than compensated for my memory lapse over dinner.

I saw this wonderful calzone at Whole Foods and was told it was stuffed with spinach & mushrooms. I think I drooled on the glass partition.

As I sat down to eat it, the calzone turned out to be stuffed full of Italian sausage. As much as it would've been really tasty, it wasn't what I wanted or what I was craving. I walked back over to the pizza counter, careful not to slip where I previously drooled and switched it out for two slices of veggie pizza.

If you're wondering where the other slice is, I ate it on the drive home. I was hongry. And pizza + soup = bliss.

I am experiencing some food baby pressure right now, but it shall pass. I think I'm also experience the warning signs of another type of visitor. I hate to be crude but let's just say it rhymes with schmenstrual cycle.

It's so crazy how fast things change sometimes. One day you were 9 and the next, boom, you're in the double digits and will never get to go back. Here in New Orleans, I can wake up to a torrential downpour and 10 minutes later it's like the sunniest day we've ever had.

Fortunately, with this cleanse, the change can be as drastic or subtle as you like -- going into it and coming out of it. Like I mentioned many days back, I didn't just wake up one morning and cut out all of the Big 5 at once. I did have a chance to ease into it and that helped tremendously to curb the desire to rip cake out of other people's hands and shove it in my mouth.

Tomorrow, there's another big change happening in my life. For many, many frustrating months now I have been house shopping. It's so crazy to me that I can be in this one phase for almost a year, but after a few emails and signatures [and my entire financial future on the line] and a notary stamp, you're in this completely different arena of life. I'm definitely not close to sitting down for the closing yet, but signing a contract is huge for me.

Could be my future abode!

I'm nervous, scared, excited, anxious and any other adjective you can describe someone who is over-analyzing and is feeling sick and on the verge of tears. Would that be a mental case?

This past Sunday, our church had a service led by the high school and college students. Four of them talked about the story of Jesus telling his disciples not to worry.

Jesus: Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes.

Katholomew: But what about buying a home and all the technical things involved like home inspections, surveys, points, mortgage lenders, down payments, closing fees... What would you do, Jesus?

Jesus: Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?

Katholomew: You're right. Do you know what you're wearing tomorrow?

Jesus: Skinny jeans and TOMS.

Your prayers and positive thoughts and energy are always appreciated, and not just for me but for everyone experiencing life changes and facing big decisions.

If this deal goes through, you're invited to come over and watch movies on my 15-inch laptop.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Day 21: The End of the Cleanse

This is will be my breakfast now that I'm through with the cleanse:

I plan on only living for another 25 years. That way I can stop contributing to my 403(b) and not worry if I'll be an active and healthy senior. I'm tired of spending all of my money on wicking exercise clothes, resistance bands, whole grains, tofu and bananas. Okay, not the bananas. I love bananas... deep-fried and drizzled with butterscotch and dark chocolate with a sprinkle of sliced almonds folded into a crisp, warm crepe with a side of fresh whipped cream for dipping. And if I change my mind later, then I can finally audition to be on the Biggest Loser Season 58!

Okay. I joke. But a girl sure can dream...

I actually made boiled potatoes [with lots o' garlic] for tomorrow to go with my leftover green beans and acorn squash.

Did I have spectacular breakthroughs about life whilst on this cleanse? No. 

Did I think this cleanse was a waste of time? No, that would be watching Giuliana Rancic living. 

I thought it would be helpful for you to know how this cleanse did [or didn't] affect me. 

  • No weight loss - not that I need it but those damn models are messing with my head
  • No improvement in my skin - acne is still acting as if I'm 14
  • Probably annoyed a lot of restaurant servers, bartenders, co-workers, friends and family
  • No significant loss of cravings - went to Cafe du Monde and it was torture not to have a cafe au lait and beignets with lots of powdered sugar
  • I made it through 21 days and still feel good about it all
  • Started a wonderful blog for 4-5 people to read
  • No feelings of guilt related to what I ate or drank
  • No ridiculous outcomes from eating or drinking too much
  • Tried some new and delicious restaurants and recipes
  • Learned that I enjoy unsweetened soymilk, Lara Bars, agave nectar
  • More aware of issues related to food, health and the world
  • Managed to have energy without coffee or added sugar
  • Good and regular BMs 
  • Substituted time spent drinking coffee with exercise
  • Learned making a smoothie is not that difficult & I'm not that lazy
  • Realized I can have self-control and discipline
  • More conscious when it comes to grocery shopping. No wasted food or impulse purchases.
Of course, I made the Yay column more than the Meh column but all of the above are true. Yes there are down sides to the cleanse, but it was only three weeks and not a lifetime.

I've known people who give up buying new clothes or eating sweets for a whole year. One of my best friends gave up looking in the mirror during Lent. I'm pretty sure this was after I tried to cut bangs for her and ended up giving her a mullet that would make many Arkansas-ians jealous. [Note to self: find a photo of this.]  I also just read about this girl who gave up using beauty products, including soap and shampoo, for 30 days.  

Yeah... I won't be trying that one anytime soon.

For the rest of the year I can be smug about my cleanse. Or I can just be thankful that I gave my body this little break and not feel guilty about never giving myself a break [except with a Kit Kat bar].

Between the grocery shopping, the cooking, the spinning, oh yeah, and I still have a job and a few friends left, I'm a few days behind on my reading. So I'm not done with the blog yet because I think Kathy Freston has some insightful things to share. Stay tuned, friends, and thanks for your open ears, hearts and web browsers during the last 3 weeks!

Nothing would be more tiresome than eating and drinking if God had not made them a pleasure as well as a necessity.
-voltaire [hair]

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Day 20: Short and Sweet(ened by Agave Nectar)

I have to be up in about 4 hours, so I am just going to give a little snack of an update to hold you over until later.

Tonight, I worked on Ultra-feast! Tomorrow is my last day on the cleanse. For a few moments I thought about just going with some canned soup I had sitting in my desk drawer for my last day.

[I actually purchased two cans of soup, one lentil and one beans, that were vegan before I even decided to do this cleanse. Maybe the matrix is trying to tell me something.]

I didn't want to go out with a sad can of soup. I've worked too hard to have to write a blog about cans and eat out of it. I deserve a wonderful spread of food so I can enjoy my last true day of vegan, gluten-freedom, cleanservation. I channeled my inner Top Chef and this is what I came up with:

I know acorn squash is a fall item, but it was on sale. I'm a bargain shopper.

Savory and sweet with a bit of crunch. Nom nom nom.

If only I could make this a scratch 'n sniff.

Isn't this the prettiest smoothie?

I am looking forward to Ultra-feast and also to Ultra-sleep. Goodnight, pallies!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Day 19: Does this shirt make me look pregnant?

To my faithful 4 blog followers, I apologize for not posting yesterday. It was simply too beautiful of a Saturday to be spent indoors meticulously blogging away.

In the morning, I met with a small group of ladies who serve as mentors for my volunteers. We talked about hair shirts.  No, I don't mean the sweaters that some well-follicly endowed men wear out at the beach.

If only I could run my fingers through that... 

A hair shirt "is a coarse garment which intended to be worn next to the skin, thus keeping the wearer in a state of discomfort and constant awareness of the shirt's presence."

Why would I put on a hair shirt? Especially since I'm [thankfully] Asian and have very sparse body hair.

Well, a hair shirt was basically a method developed to create discomfort as an act of penance. It was a constant reminder to not become too comfortable and to stay focused. In Medieval times, and I'm sure the same goes for today, wearing a hair shirt wasn't an accepted social norm, and therefore, is significant in also being counter-cultural at the time.

I mean, think about our lives today. We seek what is most comfortable. How else do you explain the phenomenon of Crocs? They are by no means fashionable but everyone and their grandmother claims they are so comfortable and worth wearing in public.

Even 90120 isn't too cool for Crocs.

But also consider our movie theater seats, the snuggie, what we consider to be our comfort foods... we are creatures of comfort. Wearing a hair shirt just doesn't sound appealing to your average person, just like the idea of this Wellness Cleanse

The funny thing is I don't feel like this cleanse is my hair shirt. Blogging is. 

As much as I'd like to tell you that I'm naturally insightful with tidbits of funny anecdotes and am passionate about writing, I would be lying. Don't get me wrong. Keeping up with this blog isn't the bane of my existence. There are other things that are on the top of that list, like people who drive Hummers while talking on their cell phone.

But maintaining a blog that is cohesive and a healthy mixture of light-hearted humor and substance does require me to use parts of my brain and photo library that have been a little dusty. As you can tell from the time stamps on most of my posts, blogging is also a late night activity for me. It's replaced many hours of sleep and reality TV.

You should feel honored that I chose to blog throughout the week rather than watch the Bachelor finale. I'd choose you over Vienna any day. 

Despite some changes to my schedule and habits, in the words of Mark Darcy, "But the thing is, what I'm trying to say, very inarticulately, is that, um, in fact, perhaps despite appearances, I like you, very much. Just as you are."

 I'd like to be his hair shirt.

This blogging experience has helped me to gain much more from this cleanse than I otherwise would have. The reflection of the process and having to put into words and stories the effects of the cleanse on my body, my life and on others creates an experience greater than simply restricting myself of my comfort items. It has motivated me to stay focused and see the greater purpose, especially during those times I just want to eat a brownie or breakfast burrito or ice cream or queso or pizza or shrimp po-boy or bagel or mayonnaise...

So thanks blog, blog readers, the Internet and Al Gore for being my hair shirt.

My dog won't "follow" my blog but can totally relate on the hair shirt thing.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Day 17: 68% of Statistics are Not Real

Sometimes it's difficult to make changes and accommodations in our lives for results that may not directly impact us. When we talk about doing things for the future, it's so easy to just eff it because we're not going to be around in the future anyway. I have a pretty good feeling that my life span is going to be short. Have you seen my driving?

I'm a true Asian woman.

When I was in 5th grade, I remember we were asked to fundraise for a playground that was going to be built after we would no longer be students there. Why would I contribute my money, which couldn't have totaled over $5, for something I would never benefit from? No, I didn't have bad parents who didn't teach me anything about being nice. I was 10.

Thankfully, for all of our sakes, I have grown since then. It took a while but I have a feeling I'm a little different from when I was 10. Just a little, though.

I'm by no means developing into Mother Teresa or anything like that. I don't think I have the bone structure to really pull off a nun's habit.

I'd like to think I could be totally selfless and not conform to what mainstream society and media shoves in our faces every day. Like I mentioned before, I am a woman. I love shopping. Not as a social thing, I like to shop alone. I'm sometimes embarrassed about how much money I can really spend on clothes, jewelry, food and those $10 DVDs at Target.

This past year I have been more diligent about becoming more aware of how much I actually consume, not just what I eat, but all the things that I buy. I have to stop myself and ask if this is really something I need and will use for more than 3 months. Does the product have a ridiculous amount of packaging that'll just end up as more landfill? Is this a store / company / brand I want to support?

It's Saturday, so while you're folding laundry or taking a break from TBS movie marathons, watch this very informative video by Annie Leonard called The Story of Stuff.

I'm sure some of you didn't watch it. But here are some astonishing statistics about our level of consumption and waste production as Americans:
  • Americans consist of 5% of the world's population, but we consume 30% of the world's resources and create 30% of the world's waste
  • 99% of the products you buy now will not be used 6 months from now
  • Americans watch TV and shop 3-4 times more than Europeans
  • Americans produce 4.5 pounds of garbage each day
  • 70 garbage cans of waste is actually produced for every one garbage can you fill at your home
Kathy Freston also talks about how wasteful the animal product industry is: 
  • Animal agriculture causes almost 40% more greenhouse gas emissions than all the cars, trucks and planes in the world combined. 
  • 760 million tons of grain are fed to chicken, pigs and cattle each year while there are 850 million people in the world who are starving
  • The amount of feed it takes to create one 8-ounce steak could fill 40-50 bowls with cooked grains
If every American skipped one meal of chicken per week and substituted vegetables and grains, for example, the carbon dioxide savings would be the same as taking more than half a million cars off the U.S. roads. - Environmental Defense Fund
I know this is all very depressing. Especially because it's a beautiful weekend and nothing sounds better than firing up the grill in your new pair of jeggings with a diet strawberry limeade from Sonic in your hands. 

But hark! There is hope.

Annie Leonard mentions this quote by Victor LeBeau:
Our enormously productive economy...demands that we make consumption our way of life, that we convert the buying and use of goods into rituals, that we seek our spiritual satisfaction, our ego satisfaction, in consumption.... We need things consumed, burned up, replaced and discarded at an ever-accelerating rate.
Yes, a more conscience way of living and consuming will help slow down the rate at which our planet is falling apart and hopefully will help raise up those oppressed by the manner in which we blindly perpetuate this vicious cycle. But the 10 year old Kathy is still asking how does this affect her.
There is just something that is so sad about the notion that our spiritual satisfaction and ego satisfaction is decided upon by the things we buy.

I am totally guilty of this. I love shopping because I love the way I feel in new clothes. Why can't I love myself in the good pair of designer jeans I bought a few years ago? 
Because they're not skinny jeans...

Friday, March 5, 2010

Day 16: I'm always hungry.

Only 5 days left on the cleanse!

I realize in looking through my blog, that I haven't included too much of what I have been eating. I'm sure you already know what mashed sweet potatoes look like, so I'll spare you the minutiae... just kidding.

Something new that I tried during the cleanse was making Indian daal or lentils as we, I mean, you white people call them. A friend of mine helped me out by giving me all the spices needed and the yellow lentils and the recipe.

In addition to the lentils and spices, you can add ginger, onions and tomatoes.  Oh, you also add a glob of [vegan] butter at the end.

You basically simmer this down for 2 hours. Turn on the vent or your house will smell.

Ta-da! Brown mush that provides you with protein, iron, fiber and essential amino acids. I paired this with rice and potatoes and some corn tortillas, which I pretended was nice warm naan bread.

Did you watch The Office? 

Kevin and I are so much alike. Not only is the resemblance uncanny but today I learned we have the same eating schedule: 

First Breakfast

Second Breakfast

First Lunch

Second Lunch

First Dinner

Second Dinner

After-Dinner Delight

It's hard to believe there's time for anything else besides eating. I'm not even exaggerating, but I really do eat this often. Sometimes it's not a full meal for second breakfast, but there's definitely a first lunch at noon and a second lunch at 3:30. Then first dinner at 6 and second dinner at 9.

When I was teaching English in China, there was a bus that picked up all the teachers in the city early in the morning and dropped us off in the evening. One day, the one somewhat handsome of the Chinese teachers [okay, after 7 months your judgment starts to gets cloudy] turned around and said to me, "You're always eating," like me shoving food in my face every day on the bus was bothering him. 

I wanted to pull a Chris Farley skit out of my ass and say, "LAY OFF ME. I'M STARVING!" But he's Chinese and they don't even know who the Beverly Hills Ninja is. 

One thing this cleanse has helped me with is preparing my own meals. Don't get me wrong, I love to cook and this Yan Can Cook. I'm just a control freak so it's been annoying have to cook in my parents' [and grandma's] kitchen. It's not neat. There's Chinese herbs, soy sauce and baos everywhere. So it's made me have to stake a claim in the kitchen and just work with what's there.

Our oven has been broken, so I'm now a master toaster oven chef. This week I have roasted a combination of vegetables: eggplant, tomatoes, mushrooms, onions, bell peppers, asparagus, sweet potatoes. I just bought some zucchini and yellow squash today to roast over the weekend. Just coat them with some olive oil, sea salt, pepper and a generous helping of herbs.



I sometimes top it off with some pasta sauce, but it's not a necessity. Today I tried brown rice pasta for the first time and I actually really like it. I'm one of those people who thinks wheat pasta is not as good as regular pasta. For people who claim they can't taste a difference, something is seriously wrong with you. It's gritty. Pasta should not have that texture. 

I also learned that I can eat an entire eggplant by myself during first lunch. I had to scrounge around for stuff at work for second lunch. So here are some snacks that I like to have:

These are perfect. Absolutely the best snack to carry around. Everyone loves them. And they really are filling. 

Definitely not the same as munching on a bag of Zapps Salt & Pepper flavor but tasty enough to get me through to first and second lunch.

How awesome is it that the day that I buy these, Jillian totally plugs them on the Biggest Loser! So Lara Bars are my new best friends. When I was running, I had Clif bars all over the place. In my purse, in my car, in my desk [until a little mouse decided to try out my protein bars.] But these are not only all natural, but somehow they are gluten-free, dairy free, soy free, non-gmo, vegan and kosher! AND they are the only source of sweets, besides fruit and agave necter, that I have had! I have the chocolate, lemon bar, pecan pie, and today I picked up a coconut creme, chocolate mint and banana nut. They're my dessert.

Every day, even before the cleanse, I bring a grocery bag full of food to get me through the work day. What can I say? I'm a hungry, hungry hippo.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

It's Official...

I'm having a food baby! 

       Baby Daddy: Arnaud's Restaurant 

                           Date Conceived: March 3, 2010

                                                Expected Delivery Date: March 4, 2010

So I slipped up and had a one night stand with my ex-way of eating and now we're having a baby. Don't worry, all you pro-lifers out there. After some extensive counseling with Catholic Charities, I made the decision to keep it, even if it means delivering it all on my own.

You're probably asking yourselves how this happened. I'm ashamed to say it, but it involved money.

Pepperdine Alumni were in town doing a Habitat for Humanity build. I didn't participate in the build because I have pencil arms. The best opportunity for me to visit with fellow Waves and connect with this larger network was at a special dinner arranged for the group. Since I paid $30 for the meal, I wasn't just going to eat the house salad, which was course 2 out of 4.

I think at this point of the cleanse I have managed to still consume animal products, gluten, sugar and alcohol. The only thing I have really abstained from completely is caffeine. Decaf diet coke is okay, right?

I'm not really surprised that some of you are out there judging me about all of this. However, Kathy Freston does say, "Please don't sweat the small stuff. Just do the best you can. This cleanse is not about achieving some sort of purity or perfection." I leave that type of achievement up to Britney and Jamie Lynn Spears.

I caught up on my reading today.

One chapter was solely questions many people ask about the cleanse that are answered by Dr. Neal Barnard, who actually has his own Vegan Diet 21-Day Kick Start Plan. In a brazil nutshell,  Dr. Vegan basically says everything we think we need animals for (iron, protein, calcium, fiber, car passengers) can be found through having a good plant-based diet. We have been ingrained to believe that these nutrients can only come through eating animals. Yes you will get protein and iron from that double whooper of yours, but you'll also get saturated fat and a grease stain on your shirt that's embarrassing to walk around with. 

Eating a variety of fruits, vegetables and grains will provide you with all the protein, iron, calcium and fiber you need and a wide variety of other essential vitamins, complex carbs, antioxidants and other 3+ syllable words.

My favorite part of the reading was the list of vegan athletes! I thought giving up meat had something to do with my shin splints. Turns out I also have pencil legs to match my pencil arms. There are really enough nutrients from a vegan diet that can even sustain:
  • Carl Lewis - Olympian with 10 medals and some killer quads
  • Mac Danzig - Ultimate Fighter and ultimate lover of animals
  • Scott Jurek - Ultramarathoner, including a 152-miler [wtf?!]
  • John Salley - NBA-er; proving vegans aren't just self-righteous white people
  • Dave Scott - Six-time Ironman Winner [again, what the h - e double hockey sticks, don't you hate when ppl really say that?]  

If you don't feel completely unaccomplished and lame after reading that list, I applaud you on your very high, but misguided, self-esteem.

So who's coming to the baby shower? 

No, seriously, I usually shower after I give birth to food babies.

What? I crossed the line again, didn't I? Ooh... shit.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Day 14: Eat dolphins, not war.

I have a confession to make: I almost just cried about not being able to find my vegan butter in the fridge.

It's not that I love the vegan butter. I almost cried more out of the frustration of not being able to find what I was looking for than for the actual butter. I think my personal black hole has moved from the dyer to the fridge.

I feel like I should tell you that I actually didn't cry because I didn't want to make that possibility a reality and something I'd have to live with for the rest of my life. I believe that brings my maturity level up to a... 3.5?

Today's reading [for those who have the book, probably no one, I'm actually a day behind] was all about animal protein and how it's soooo bad for you. Apparently all animals cause cancer. Okay, I generalize. But Kathy Freston is a huge pusher for the vegan, plant-based diet on the basis that you can get the same amount of protein from plants that you would get from animals, but without all the saturated fat, cholesterol, mercury and hormones found in the variety of animals we like to put between two sesame seed buns.

Who wouldn't want to eat that?! It's so cute!

Kathy Freston, of course, chooses all evidence that supports her agenda. Yes, it obviously makes sense that people with high protein diets are more prone to being fat. That's called America. But I just am not at a place where I can rule out eating animals all together. Why would God make pigs so delicious if they weren't meant to be eaten? God made rocks, which are not tasty, so we don't eat them. But if they're pretty, we wear them instead. God made animals so we can eat them and wear them! Genius!

If we didn't eat the animals, the world would be overpopulated by dolphins and dogs.

But seriously, I stopped eating meat a few months ago, not for my health [but now it is for my health, too] but for the sake of the planet and to boycott an industry that is producing and selling diseased and toxic meat that is so far beyond what God intended it to be. And because I now drive a Prius, which means I have to do all things green. I think that's written in the Owner's Manual somewhere.

Also, let me take a step back and clearly say that, no, I am not God. So I can't really project what God did or did not intend for us to do with the animals, besides put sweaters on them when they are cold.

It just seems every 5 hours there is a different study about what we can't / should / need to eat / abstain from / vomit / grow / make at home because it's healthy / harmful / wasteful / fun / and what Oprah does. 

This particular article was featured on CNN today about eating unprocessed foods, and it triggered my friend Ali to send me this lovely rant, entitled Can I just have lunch?

I feel like I have done a lot with my eating habits in the last year.  I mean, I eat actual meals that consist of more than chips or mac n' cheese, I spent over 100 at whole foods on Friday, I drink liquefied kale+water every morning, I listen to podcasts from nutritionists who tell me I need to be drinking high protein shakes and do drink them even though they taste like liquid frosting (wait till that CNN amish lady hears about that!), I watch Food Inc., I cut out meat, I read all day about if I'm going to grow a third boob from the insane amount of estrogen we intake because we cut out meat, I reintroduce meat but only super expensive good for you kind and only a few times a week, I read about how we can't really know the long term effects of soy products yet,  I watch the cove, I cut out dolphins which I never ate, which means I should cut out all fish which means I should cut out meat, I read about caffeine intake, nutrition labels, naturopathy, homeopathy sleep, gluten, flax seeds, toxins, my liver, plastic containers, microwaves, hydrogenated oils, I familiarize myself with local farms, orchards and butchers and their practices, I read the blog of the guy at the Oregonian who is documenting his new 1 month vegan lifestyle, I put unfiltered cranberry juice in my water, I grind up ginger and put it in water, I read ingredient labels of 5,790 different fake meat products, I take 1000 mg of calcium a day and 500 iu of vitamin D -- not to mention my multivitamin that makes me sick, I pee all day because I'm supposed to drink 15x my body weight in water a day, I drink tea that tastes like shit because someone somewhere in the world says dandelion (yeah that weed that ruins your grass) root is good for turning you into superwoman, I listen, I watch documentaries, I read books, I research claims, I doubt, I believe x 4000 because everyone is bothering me... and in the meantime... my life has become 100% about me. And although I am refining my shit so there is enough food for the whole world and for the bettering of the environment and to not support all these unethical farms and to encourage organic foods in hopes of someday driving down the price and for my health that has been corrupted by fast food nation... Seems my whole mind, all my time and my paycheck has gone into my fridge, into my stomach and then into the toilet.  Now before anyone jumps up to give me the Nobel peace prize I would just like to say with humility... you're welcome third world. 
And I thought I was the frustrated one with the missing vegan butter. [Btw, if found, you will be awarded with a hug and steamed broccoli.]

At the end of the day, we don't have all the answers as to what is right and what is wrong. That's is the flip side of having freedom, my friend.

Especially with this Internet, you are bound to find an article that supports whatever you decide to do. Honestly, for the comment I made before about how we don't eat rocks, I originally wanted to say sand. But it turns out you can eat sand and it's good for you!

However you choose to use your freedom to discover (or not, your choice) what sits well with you as far as how you live, eat, breathe, pee, I hope that your path leads to a place of inner peace rather than frustration.

Just don't try to eat my dog. She's old, has bad breath and sometimes poops herself. Basically, what I'll be in 60 years. 

Email me if you'd like the recipe for this dog cake. It's a crowd pleaser.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Day 13: How do you feel today?

I love musicals. I actually wrote a college application essay on how I wanted my life to be a musical and what it would be like. I didn't get into that school.

Here is one of my favorite scenes from the hit Broadway Musical Rent:

I used to have a boss named Mark and in my mind I would always sing, "Maaark, Maark, I'm Mark!"

What I actually do sing aloud to people is, "How do you feel today?" I know it's a little bit annoying, but it's just so catchy. Isn't that how musicals work?

Why do we need to ask ourselves how we feel? Shouldn't we already know? I mean, I am living in my own body and everything seems to be connected and functioning. For now, at least.

At tonight's weekly meeting with my volunteers, we discussed one of the many avenues we can walk in our journey of discernment. Our reading suggests we ask ourselves,
"What is my body telling me?" Our bodies are "fearfully and wonderfully made" (Psalm 129:14) by God with their own hidden wisdom. For some of us, our bodies signal the health or toxicity of a path we are taking. A pain in the back may herald injury to our spirit. A knot in the stomach can speak of still greater constrictions in the soul. Conversely, the unexpected surge of energy, the sudden return of lightness in our stride, may speak the loudest yes! we will hear to our puzzling over whether to move in a particular direction.
You would think your mind is the highest source of wisdom and what you should follow when it comes to decision-making. And there are times we feel its best to follow our emotions. Sometimes that really doesn't work out for me.

So what about following what our bodies tell us?

Like the times you're in a creepy alley and all the hairs on your neck stand up. Or when someone comes to you and says, "We need to talk," and your gut churns and you feel like you might shit your pants.

There are those times you literally can't stop smiling over something really that has happened to you. Or when Jim gives his speech at his rehearsal dinner and says,
Four years ago I was just a guy who had a crush on a girl who had a boyfriend. And I had to do the hardest thing I ever had to do, which was just to wait... For a really long time that’s all I had. Little moments with a girl who saw me as a friend. And a lot of people told me I was crazy to wait this long for a date with a girl who I worked with, but I think, even then I knew, I was waiting for my wife.
And Pam takes the mental picture. How you can cry out of joy and love for this beautiful couple?

Definitely just laughed and cried. Anywho...

So there are definitely things out there, besides this awesome cleanse, that makes us feel good and helps us feel alive, joyful and grateful for life. Multiple studies out there provide evidence that joy and happiness leads to a healthier life.

Today's Wellness Cleanse reading asks me to list 7 things that I can do this week that I love and that make me happy. Here they are:

1. Having a cup of coffee in the morning
2. Traveling around the world 
3. Having long talks with Anderson Cooper about the world and life

Okay, this one's for reals:
  1. Conversing with best friends that are far away. Good thing we're not blind, or we'd never get to see each other. 
  2. Listening to Taylor Swift. Yes, somehow I still have the emotional maturity of a 15 year old. Hence, why it's not the wisest for me to follow my emotions.
  3. Getting new clothes. Don't judge me. I haven't purchased non-Saints and non-sports apparel since... my birthday, I think. That's huge for me.
  4. Watching a rom-com, preferably starring Colin Firth. 
  5. Singing Jimmy Eat World at the top of my lungs while driving around town
  6. Taking a few minutes to reflect on how blessed I truly am
  7. Spending time with awesome friends and making them laugh (at me)
What are some things you love that you can incorporate into your day this week?

The next time I see you, I will sing to your face, "How do you feel today?"

And I hope you respond, "Best I felt all year."

Monday, March 1, 2010

Day 12: Everyone Poops.

(Warning: If you are uncomfortable with talking about pooping or farting, you shouldn't read this. Also, if you are somewhat interested in dating me, I'm sorry but this will totally turn you off.)

The term "gluten" has been adopted into our vernacular lately, but most people don't really understand what it is or how it can possibly be unhealthy to eat.

Click HERE if you want to read more about gluten, or here's a simpler definition by Gluten-Free Girl's blog:

Gluten is the elastic protein in wheat, rye, and barley. Its elasticity is why French bread holds together, why angel-food cakes rise so high, and why H and H bagels in New York are so wonderfully doughy. Gluten is the glue that holds together baked goods and pasta. In fact, gluten comes from the same Latin root as glue. Think of gluten as the glue of wheat, rye, and barley.

Let me just say that not ALL people are affected by gluten. If you're not, wonderful. Continue enjoying your pizza, cupcakes and bagels. However, how do you know you're not affected by gluten if you don't eliminate it for a period of time to see how you respond?

I honestly didn't think gluten had any affect on me. I would say I had a high-gluten diet because I was always concerned with getting enough fiber. Why did I need lots of fiber? (Here goes the w.t.m.i. - way too much information...)

When I was a wee, little girl, I used to get constipation. (Haha... yes, it's funny. And constipation is a funny word.) I remember my mom having to come over and rub my back to get me to relax to poop.

I'm on the left with the look of consternation, I mean, constipation. 

I wish I was one of those people who enjoyed being on the toilet. For #1, it's not a problem. Easy breezy. But for #2, meh... I rather get it over with or, better yet, not poop!

But everyone, even Flat Kathy, poops.

As I learned more about nutrition (and used WebMD), I started paying attention to my fiber intake, knowing it'll help me with the BMs. Even with eat whole wheat bread and pasta, granola, oatmeal... you name it, it helped but there are times when it, frankly, still hurts.

Now that I haven't had gluten... let's just say, pooping ain't so bad.

Another weird body thing I have is something I have affectionally named TGS - Trapped Gas Syndrome.

Sometimes, after I eat, I get super painfully bloated. The annoying part is that the gas is TRAPPED! If you've ever been trapped somewhere, what do you do? You start banging on the walls and kicking things until you're released. That's exactly what the gas is doing to my digestive region.

Since I have cut out gluten, I haven't experienced TGS and it's amazing!

It'll be interesting to see what happens as I incorporate the items I am fasting from back into my diet. I may need you to pick me up a box of Gas-X before you take me out to dinner.