Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Which yoga is right for you?

Whether you run, lift weights, dance, or just laze around on the beach like this guy, chances are someone has suggested that you add a yoga class to your workout schedule.

To avoid disappointment, check out this MSN UK guide that matches you by your workout preferences and fitness level to one of the several styles of yoga.

The guide describes
• Ashtanga ("Power Yoga")
• Kundalini
• Bikram ("Hot Yoga")
• Iyengar (which makes use of blocks, straps, and incline devices)
• Anusar

Unfortunately, the guide does not cover the classic Hatha yoga or Vinyasa ("Flow") yoga, which is very popular in the U.S.

I've been going around dabbling in yoga classes since my favorite yoga teacher moved to L.A., and continue to be amazed at the differences between the styles. (And I haven't even tried Bikram yet!) I feel as though I learn something important from every teacher in terms of improving my yoga.

Thanks to Melanie Crow's blog for pointing out the MSN article.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Is this "a guy thing"?

My neighborhood newsblog, My Ballard, has a post about two local men who started a weight-loss competition that turned into a website.

At ("you bet your ass") you and friends can set up weight-loss challenges. Your actual weight is kept private; members of your group can see only the amount you want to lose during the challenge time frame.

I'm wondering if (and hoping that) they'll expand this concept to cover fitness challenges (miles biked during the summer, martial arts levels attained, miles walked per week, etc.).

Friday, April 25, 2008

Bidder beware

Confessions of an online shopper: A good portion of my wardrobe comes from eBay. These are mostly items like bras or shoes where I've purchased a particular item somewhere at full price, like it, and feel confident about getting a second item online. In most cases, I can get the item "new with tags" on eBay for less than half price. (In fact, because many brands discontinue styles after just a few months, eBay is often the only place I can get a second item.)

So, I'd been following a pair of Corso Como shoes that sell fairly reliably for $129 online and in stores. When the eBay bidding edged up past $60 (not including shipping) I thought, "Hey, hold on here..."

I then did a quick re-check at and found the shoes new, from Amazon itself (with free Prime shipping) for $59. I bought them.

A couple of hours later an email from eBay informed me that someone had purchased the eBay shoes for (ouch) $89.

Speaking of shoe deals, I won't be able to make the warehouse sale in Mukilteo tomorrow because I'm joining my neighbor Theresa having a yard sale. She has a whole garage full of furniture and kids' stuff she is most anxious to unload. I've got mostly plants, planters, fountains, and some home decor.

We start at 10 a.m. Early birds will be shot and stuffed.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

April is the cruelest month

I love summer clothes, fall clothes, and winter clothes, but I've never liked spring clothing.

I guess I remember junior high school in Virginia and all the pastel floral shirt dresses and John Meyer matched cardigan-and-skirt outfits (and, one year, a lime green polished cotton dirndl skirt with white fishnet stockings) I suffered through.

For me, spring is the season when it's too late to stride around in my favorite black boots but too cold to start showing off beautifully pedicured toes in my favorite strappy sandals. Instead, I have to deal with pantyhose (creepy), uncomfortable shoes, and socks -- and end up freezing to death anyway.

Worse, spring is the one season when I can't wear all black, so I end up realizing that no two grays (or beiges) will ever match, and that denim doesn't quite work for business meetings -- though I've certainly tried to get away with it.

As it would happen, I have a client meeting early tomorrow morning with a client known for her impeccable and expensive Eileen Fisher wardrobe. I'm thinking this is the moment to wear understated black pants and tank top with the long silver-beige Eileen Fisher jacket/sweater I snagged at a thrift shop and have been wondering about. It's an idea, but I don't think I have a raincoat long enough to cover the damn sweater.

Oh, please. Isn't it June yet?

The one glimmer of hope on the horizon: I have a few VIP passes for the warehouse sale in Mukilteo Saturday morning at 9 a.m. (General public isn't admitted until 10 a.m.) My friend Kim and I went to the fall sale and each came away with five or six pairs of the most stunning shoes and boots, and we each spent less than $120.

Interested? You know how to reach me... I'll be happy to give you a pass.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Perfect popcorn in a frying pan

I used to make popcorn in an old Revereware pan and then groan when I had to remove all the sticky residue from the hot oil. Microwave popcorn certainly bypasses the pan cleaning, but it always seems so greasy or strange tasting. Have you ever looked at the ingredients on the package? Ewwww.

Today I took out the old cast iron frying pan, put some peanut oil and three corn kernels in, turned the gas on high, and put on a lid. When the three kernels popped, I tossed in 1/4 cup of corn, lowered the flame to medium high, and popped the corn. (The little pouring spout on the pan was perfect for letting the air escape; I didn't need to try to angle the lid.)

The batch popped very quickly (all that frying pan surface area!) and, to my shock, when I poured it into a bowl, there were no unpopped kernels. (This in spite of the fact the corn had been in a jar in the fridge for three years.)

I wiped down the pan with a paper towel. Now I had a perfectly seasoned cast iron skillet and some of the most delicious popcorn ever -- all it needed with a tiny bit of salt.

Step-by-step yoga

I've been enjoying this website with animations that demonstrate yoga exercises (asanas) and poses. I'd never seen the Revolved Triangle pose before.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Harder! Faster!

As I search for the perfect workout (am I as tiresome as my 20-something girlfriends searching for the perfect guy?) I've been looking at two local yoga programs.

Today I tried one. It was great. But it was wrong. (Yes, I do sound like my 20-something girlfriends searching for the perfect guy.)

The teacher is a delight and an inspiration, and explained sequences of activating muscles to achieve amazing pre-backbend poses. I learned a quite a bit, enjoyed the people, and plan to keep taking the once-a-week class. But workout value? Not much. This was the perfect warm-up for a workout. And fortunately, I'd logged a fast two-mile walk mid-day.

So, back to my workout search.

Unfortunately, what would be great workouts for lots of folks aren't appropriate for me. The issue is risk. I need a tough workout with very low risk of injury because, at my age, recovery time from an injury is measured in weeks, not days—by which time my fitness level would be zapped. (Were it not for this, I'd be trying out for one of the roller derby teams, or doing African dancing or capoeira.)

When I got back from yoga I did some online research and think I've discovered something. Ever heard of "tabatas"? Stay tuned.

Friday, April 4, 2008

The garlic cure

Like quite a few people I know, I've spent the past few weeks suffering from a mild but seemingly endless cold. Or was it two colds in succession?

It had been quite a while since I'd had colds like this, and I think I made the mistake of treating the symptoms instead of the colds themselves. I tried resting. I tried cough suppressants. I tried going about my work and workouts as if nothing were wrong. Finally, I tried garlic.

This was not just chopping up some garlic and eating it. This was the full garlic ceremony at the High Temple of Garlic, Fu Man Dumpling House.

I went there for lunch, and had a little salad of cold vegetables in a garlic marinade, followed by a cup of hot and sour soup redolent of black pepper. And then I had dumplings, smothered in the thick garlic and ginger sauce for which Fu Man Dumpling House is renowned.

Four hours later, all symptoms of the cold had vanished. I was almost sorry to see them go, because I had vowed to return to Fu Man Dumpling House for lunch every day until I was cured.