Friday, January 30, 2009

Quote: Make Your Optimism Come True

"Promise yourself to be so strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind. Look at the sunny side of everything and make your optimism come true. Think only of the best, work only for the best, and except only the best. Forget the mistakes of the past and press on to the greater achievements of the future. Give so much time to the improvement of yourself that you have no time to criticize others. Live in the faith that the whole world is on your side so long as you are true to the best that is in you!"

-Christian D. Larson

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

I Will Tell My Children . . .

Recently, an om gal-pal of mine passed along this creative piece of inspiration. I thought you might enjoy it too. Namaste.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Om Gal Returns to the Blogosphere

Despite my best efforts at logging onto the Internet from a Third World country, I quickly discovered that prolific posting on was not in the cards. Nor was sunshine for half the trip, as it turns out. No matter, more time to practice this death defying dancer's pose, on a slick fallen tree, beside a rushing, flooded river. OK, slight exaggeration there, but it looks a little treacherous, no?

Having arrived safely back to the states, with its (hallelujah!) new president, I plan to resume blogging stat- right after I finish my favorite Sunday activities: a steamy yoga class in the morning, followed by a sizable portion of my scrumptious pancakes, then, off to the grocer, and finally, to finish unpacking those wacky pink Crocs and such.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Quote: Vincent Van Gogh

Love many things, for therein lies the true strength, and whosoever loves much performs much, and can accomplish much, and what is done in love is done well.
-Vincent Van Gogh

Friday, January 16, 2009

The I-Don't-Like-To-Workout Workout

While challenging yoga sequences, lengthy nature hikes, bustling health clubs, and long (loooong) runs down stretches of empty asphalt represent places of pure Zen for me, I recognize that they can translate into experiences of utter torture, boredom, intimidation, or insanity (or a combination thereof) for others.

For example, take my lovable (albeit a tad snarky) co-worker pal, who is attempting to get healthy in 2009. Recently, we engaged in the following banter:

Me (prancing into his office, brightly sipping on V-8 juice): You should drink V-8.

Co-worker pal: I hate V-8.

Me: Yeah, I know- I did too! But, now, I like it! My whole life I hated it, and now, I’ve totally changed my perspective; I looove it. [Perhaps I said this too cheerily].

Co-worker pal: Well, I don’t like you, and I don’t think that’s going to change anytime soon.

He was, of course, kidding. (At least, I’m pretty sure he was kidding). Either way, I’m on a mission. You see, I don’t just go around telling people to drink vegetable juice for no good reason. My co-worker pal has made an ambitious resolution to lose weight in the New Year, and make no mistake; this is no laissez-faire, fit-into-my-skinny-jeans again aspiration. This is a buy-new-jeans (several sizes smaller), lifestyle overhaul, slated to take place over the next 10 months. The motivating event? His sibling’s wedding in the fall. In other words, I’m rooting for my friend, and I want to help.

So, when he confided in me that one of the greatest challenges to achieving his weight loss goal is the fact that he hates working out (or even wearing T-shirts for that matter—don’t ask; it’s something he feels strongly about, stylistically speaking), I went to task brainstorming the best ways to get fit sans the gym or any kind of rigid fitness program. Behold: The Non-Workout Workout Program, compliments of Om Gal (new found lover of V-8 and New Year’s resolution cheerleader/champion/resource to any and all who want her help and some who would really rather be left alone).

1.) Walk Off Your Waistline: Walking is the simplest, most natural, most readily accessible exercise program available to all of us. Plus, it’s FREE. All you need is a comfortable pair of shoes or boots (yes, my friends living through wintry weather, you need to git movin’ even when the temperatures plummet, sidewalks become slick with ice, and slush is something through which you wade regularly rather than order in charming colors and flavors at 7-11). In order to substitute daily activity that fits into the context of your life for a designated exercise plan (i.e. the gym, yoga, rock-climbing, kite-surfing, whatever), you must walk in one or more of the following ways: FAR, FREQUENTLY, and BRISKLY.

The best ways to integrate this healthy habit: take a regular walk during your lunch break; run your errands on foot (bonus points for lugging heavy groceries or multiple items of dry-cleaning); park in the farthest spot rather than the closest when arriving at a destination; get off public transport 1-2 stops before your destination and walk the rest of the way; take the stairs (always); choose restaurants and leisure activities based upon location (if you can walk there, do it).

2.) Be Your Own Weight-Loss Infomercial: Chances are you watch at least one hour of TV per day/night—possibly much more, which means you have a built-in time frame for fitness, without leaving the comfort of your own home. What’s more, I’m not even recommending that you interrupt your chosen program of choice (trust me; I know how riveting reality TV can be, and you need to be firmly planted on the couch to focus wholly on such cinematographic mastery). I am recommending that, during every commercial break, you get up and move your tuckus. The math is staggering when you consider that a half-hour program contains eight minutes of commercials. If you watch 2 hours of TV (fess up, folks) and get some exercise just during commercial breaks, you will have compiled 32-minutes of exercise in total. Not to mention, you won’t be engaging in unhealthy activities such as eating a bottomless box of Cheez-its or diving into a pint of ice cream with zero cognition of portion control (a bowl, what’s that?).

The best ways to integrate this healthy habit: Do a set of push-ups during one commercial spot (knees on the floor is fine!), a set of sit-ups during the next, a wall squat for the entire duration of two advertising masterpieces, a set of jumping jacks whenever that insane ShamWow commercial airs . . . You get the picture.

3.) Speaking of Reality TV . . . Have Alliances: If you’re unaccustomed to being active and surrounded by people who are similarly sedentary, you are setting yourself up for an upstream battle. Find a friend, eager co-worker (insert appropriate amount of sarcasm here), or invested family member, and make a pact to do non-workout-workout activities together. If you don’t physically get together for a walk, night on the dance floor, or friendly po-go stick competition, promise that you’ll call, email, or text to check that each of you did some sort of physical activity that day.

The best ways to integrate this healthy habit: Stop being a baby and ask a pal to help you. He/she will be thrilled. Promise.

4.) Become the Non-Jock Jock: There are plenty of fun ways to burn calories that don’t involve the gym or any activities involving spitting, towel snapping, lycra clothing; cheering, clapping, or woot wooting of any kind. Sure, most of my friends are yogis or jocks or both, but many are simply active people. Some have never set foot inside a gym but instead traverse the city on foot, bike, or skateboard; toil away in a garden for hours; chase their kids around the playground (I wouldn’t recommend chasing other peoples’ kids around the playground); take dance lessons, join bowling leagues, or tune into fitness DVDs or TV programs from home. I even have one frugal gal pal who’s taken to acquiring cheap DVDs or VHS tapes at Goodwill and going “retro” on her fitness program. Last I checked her at-home fitness program was circling 1981 with the Buns of Steel series. Hey, if it works, who cares what the copyright date reads? I have a sick pair of legwarmers if anyone wants to borrow them.

The best ways to integrate this healthy habit: Think about what makes your heart tick and choose a corresponding activity. Heck, Om Bro has a pal who just took up archery, in East Cambridge, by himself, at night. Sure, it’s a little eyebrow-raising, particularly for his city-dwelling neighbors as he takes aim at their garbage cans and telephone poles, but it gets my brother’s friend excited. It taps a place of discovery and creativity in him. His brain focuses on mastering a new skill, which is one of the healthiest functions for the body. Lying on the couch and watching TV is fun sometimes, but I hate to break it to you, you were not made to lie on the couch. The good news is that you weren’t exactly made to spend your life on a Stairmaster, either. The gym was invented to counterbalance our increasingly sedentary lifestyles. So, buck the trend! Walk around; lug some groceries; try an unfamiliar activity like yoga or Tai Chi in the familiar environment of your living room. The more you move, the easier achieving your weight loss goals will be.

Remember, the goal isn’t weight loss in and of itself—it’s living a healthy lifestyle to support your true goals and passions. Sure, exercise keeps us fit, but it also makes us feel amazing. Our brains work better; we’re happier, more confident, and more energetic; we have stronger immune systems, better sex, and sleep more soundly at night. We decrease our risk of heart disease and countless other illnesses. Oh yeah, and did I mention, we’re happier?

It’s a pretty compelling endorsement, isn’t it? Might even be enough to rethink that whole I-don’t-like-working-out thing. C’mon, what do you say?

Co-worker pal:
Um, you can leave now.

Okay. Sure. You bet. Wanna go for a walk during lunch tomorrow?

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Quote: Eleanor Roosevelt

You must do the thing you think you cannot do.

-Eleanor Roosevelt

Monday, January 12, 2009

A Yoga Demo From Warmer Days

Shot by Reece Pacheco. Edited by John O'Sullivan (thanks, guys!). With a cameo appearance by Remy, our family dog. Featured poses include headstand, king pigeon, bird of paradise, side crow, dancer, eagle, and more.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Throwback Thursday: Slimming Secrets on the Quick

Looking for continued inspiration to maintain a healthful resolution to lose weight? This post from the past (May, 2008) was originally tailored to suit a more scantily-clad season. You know the one; it begins with a bi and ends in a kini. Still, the tips are equally effective whether you're aiming to show some skin or whittle a little of it from your midsection. Plus, for those of us living through Boston's nouveau Ice Age this week (see my Twitter update from the spill I took last night, at left), it's refreshing to envision balmier climes. Check out the tips dished out, here, in response to a foodie pal's outcry for some help getting swimsuit sleek in a jiff.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

At Least You're Doing Better Than This Guy . . .

Someone: How do 3 a.m. shots of whiskey fit into your 09 health and wellness plans for me?

Me: Hmmm. By whiskey, do u mean “wheat grass?”

Sure, you can call it that.

Via text message between me and someone who might, potentially, be related to me; however, I am beginning to think there’s a good chance one of us is adopted.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Quote: Thich Nhat Hanh

Waking up this morning, I smile.
Twenty-four brand new hours are before me.
I vow to live fully in each moment
And look at all beings with eyes of compassion.

Reciting this gatha* can give us energy to live the day well. Twenty-four hours are a treasure-chest of jewels. If we waste these hours, we waste our life. The practice is to smile as soon as we wake up, recognizing this day is an opportunity for practicing. It is up to us not to waste it. When we look at all beings with eyes of love and compassion we feel wonderful. with the energy of mindfulness, washing dishes, sweeping the floor, or practicing sitting or walking meditation are all the more precious.

-The Heart of the Buddha's Teachings, Thich Nhat Hanh

*Gatha= verse or hymn.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Thursday, January 1, 2009

A Closer Look at Your Resolutions

From the time I could link a few sentences together to form my first stories in elementary school to the all-nighters I pulled as a college English major, writing paper after paper on Shakespeare, Milton, Bronte, Thoreau, and the like, countless teachers implored me, repeatedly, to "write what you know." Those marching orders remain the driving force behind the content of this Web site. With more than 13 years of experience as a yogi, nearly 9 as a teacher, the topic of yoga lays the foundation for this blog's subject matter; however, it's also peppered with ruminations on everything from recipes to the Red Sox, going green to getting massages, break ups and bargain shopping (you'll just have to take my word on this one- I know break ups and bargain shopping). What you won't see also runs the gamut from mathematical derivatives to the world's best beer stein collections, among other topics with which I have zero experience.

What's that you say? What do I know about making and keeping New Year's resolutions? Turns out, a bit. For example, this very site- was the product of last year's resolution. Yes, it's true. Check the tape. I joined Blogger during the introspective week between Christmas and New Year's, vowed to start a blog in 2008, gave myself a cursory education on the vast, wacky world of blogging, and, presto, posted Om Gal's first entry on January 16.

I also once vowed that I wouldn't eat sugar, like, for an entire year, which is roughly the equivalent of Angelina Jolie swearing off future adoptions. So, that resolution crashed and burned, yet it helped me refine my strategy. Hence, here are a few factors that I've identified to help maximize the success of your new found goals and aspirations:

1.) Be realistic. In hindsight, my resolution to swear off all sweets was not a recipe for success; it was more like a momentary delusion of grandeur. While lofty goals are admirable and definitely accessible, they require an approach and investment of corresponding gumption. If your heart isn't really invested, you'll throw in the towel well before Superbowl Sunday. Bottom line: choose a goal that you absolutely want to accomplish, one that holds meaning for you. Then, pragmatically plan your approach. If I had completed this step, I would have realized that foregoing any and all sweets for an entire year would pragmatically require hypnosis, a blindfold, and a stun gun- possibly all three.

2.) Be specific. Measurable goals are most effective. "Getting healthy" or "being less stressed" are terrible resolutions, not for the intentions they represent (which are noble and well-meaning) but for their completely nebulous nature. Opt instead to meditate for five minutes daily, exercise (or floss- baby steps, right?) five days a week, give up red meat or soda, or schedule regular sessions with a nutritionist, personal trainer, etc. (decide the frequency in advance!). The key is to map out exactly how you will achieve your goal; break the larger vision down (e.g. losing weight) into manageable bites (no pun intended), such as lose X amount of pounds by date Y, then be sure you know your BMI, how many calories this goal requires, what your chosen form of exercise will be, and when you will do said exercise. In short, you need to quantify your goals, so that they are tangible and available to you all day, every day. You cannot run a marathon until you succeed in running 5 miles, then 7, then 10, 13 . . . you get the picture.

3.) Be patient. It's a New Year's resolution not a New 2-Week's resolution. If you falter, do not miss the opportunity to refocus and begin again. Remember, you are resolving to improve your life, which is a cumulative process with no finish line, but a plethora of small and monumental victories, along the way, for all of us.