Tuesday, March 30, 2010

#10: Conquer the 30-day Bikram Yoga Challenge—CHECK!

30 Bikram classes in 30 days and still standing—on one leg at that! Ok there are still a million things wrong with this pose (that one leg I'm standing on not being locked out, for one), but I have a lifetime of yoga ahead of me to work on that. The important thing is, I made it out alive and still able to pose for a picture in the steamy room afterwards!

There's a line that I heard on Brothers & Sisters recently that stuck with me. Rebecca, still reeling from a miscarriage, decided to go back to taking ballet classes in an effort to feel better. But when she found herself struggling through steps that once came so easily to her, she broke down. "My body keeps failing me," she said. A lot of us at this age have felt this way at one time or another. I was a ballet dancer for 12 years of my life, and I'd always prided myself on my balance and flexibility. But of course, as time passed and life got in the way, my body started to fail me too. I remember being horrified last year when I got a terrible cramp just from pointing my foot. What the hell?! And I distinctly recall how my pride was pretty crushed the first time I attended a Bikram class. I expected that I would do well. But Bikram is a tough practice and I was hella out of shape. I hadn't stretched in ages so my flexibility seemed a distant memory. And balance? How could I even fathom balancing when I already felt like I was going to black out just standing on two feet!

It's the memory of that first class that makes today that much more special for me. The same person who just last year couldn't get past the third pose without hyperventilating, who was so out of shape that just pointing her foot left her with an excruciating muscle cramp, who thought her body was past it's prime and failing her, just completed the 30-day Bikram challenge. While I'm light years away from perfecting any of the asanas, I have come so far physically, mentally and emotionally. I've regained my flexibility and my body is stronger now than when I was a sprightly 18-year-old. Bikram (in conjunction with vegetarianism) totally reshaped my body over the last 30 days. My body's gotten more firm and toned, and I have more energy after a 7AM Bikram class than when I've slept in all morning. My mind can relish stillness and calmness (very difficult for someone living in New York). My heart has learned to acknowledge an emotion and then let it go (not all the time, mind you, but at least most of the time!). And hello, I've been re-acquianted with my waist! I thought I'd lost it forever after learning the joys of swigging beer, but no, apparently it's still there!

If my little story inspires just one person to take on this challenge, it will all be worth it! I concede that it was easier for me to do because my work hours are fairly regular, I'm single, and I'm not responsible for anyone other than myself. But if you're going to do just one good thing for yourself, consider dedicating one little month of your life to something that will increase your confidence, and improve your health and well-being massively. It's totally worth trading in a few drunken Saturday nights/overworked evenings/days of pigging out for. When the month ends, all of that will still be there. But you will find out things about yourself that you never knew before.


Monday, March 29, 2010

Get the Party Started

I might be developing a mild obsession with Pink. Just maybe. I've been looking up clips of her Funhouse tour, where she did a lot of trapeze performances and it's getting me excited about the prospect of trying it out. Aside from just being an amazing experience, it seems to be a great toning workout. Pink and her back-up dancers all look so long and lean, and I'm sure it has to do with all the work she does with silks and hammocks. Pink's always been in great shape, but she used to be a lot bulkier. Check her out in this video from back in the day, where she's doing one-handed push-ups and all that sh!z. She can totally afford to wear a baby blue Santa-eque hat and a fur-lined bikini top because no one's gonna mess with a chick with those biceps. 

Compare how she looks in that video with how she looks now:

She has a way leaner, more feminine silhouette now (and she doesn't look half as angry). Wasn't that such a sick performance? I wish I'd gotten to watch her concert in Madison Square Garden last year! If only I knew ... oh and seriously, how much fun would it be to perform on her show for a living? Dream job! When I was in high school and my life was all about dancing, my dream job was to be Janet Jackson's back-up dancer. After seeing this, I think I'm gonna have to change that into wanting to be Pink's back-up dancer now. I can't wait to try this!!!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

A Runner's Dream Apartment

So sorry for dropping off the blogosphere for awhile. What with going through the last leg of my veggie/Bikram month, catching up with friends over long overdue dinners, and moving apartments for the third time in less than a year, I've found myself completely exhausted. Today I finally got to sleep in and this morning I explored my new neighborhood a little bit. It's way uptown but it has one beautiful advantage for an aspiring runner like moi. This is just a stone's throw from the new digs:

Couldn't believe my luck that Natasha found this apartment just when I'm about to start training for the marathon! I should be ashamed of myself if I can't make myself get up and run when the Jacqueline Onassis Reservoir is just steps away. It's going to be gorgeous in the spring, with the cherry blossom trees in full bloom. Can't wait! Three more days to go on my 30-Day Bikram yoga challenge ... and then I pull on the running shoes and bolt!

Oh and did I mention that the new apartment has a washer and dryer inside the unit? I've died and gone to runner's heaven. 

I want to be like Pink

Did you see this incredible performance by Pink at the 2010 Grammy's? That performance, in conjunction with my longtime Cirque du Soleil obsession, is what made me put #28 on my list: try the trapeze. It's not so much the classic flying trapeze that I'm interested in but working with silks and aerial hammocks. I remember last New Year's Eve at club Amnesia, there were two girls swinging over the crowd in silk hammocks and I thought, "Wow, that would be a cool gig to have." Some friends and I are planning to take classes next month, and I am so excited! Trapeze School New York offers classes at $35, which is not a bad price to pay for a little bit of adventure. If Pink can do it, so can I! (or so I like to believe)

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Veggie Diary: Facing my kyptonite—SISIG!

You know how I said that my biggest veggie fears were facing down Ippudo ramen and bon chon? Well it seemed there was one dish that was irked because I failed to acknowledge my love for it, and decided to make its presence felt yesterday. Damn you, sisig, damn you.

We were at Krystal's Cafe 81, a newly opened Filipino bar and restaurant in the East Village. The torture began with a table about five feet away from the bar ordering a sizzling plate of sisig. The delicious smell of it wafting in the air was sheer torture. And then it got worse. Our friend JM ordered some and Chef Aris Tuazon not only put down the sizzling plate in front of me but proceeded to break up the egg on top and mix the sisig six inches from my nose. I thought I was gonna break down and scarf the whole thing up. 

Sisig is made up of ... well there's no delicate way of putting it so I'll just say it: it's chopped up pig's face. Before you get all squeamish and dismissive about it, watch Anthony Bourdain proclaim his love for the stuff:

Sisig is good. Really good. Those pork bits that are alternately chewy and crispy, mixed in with onions and garlic and seasoned with sour kalamansi juice and hot sauce are the perfect accompaniment to an ice cold brew. I was near tears for not being able to have any. Chef Aris, perhaps sensing my heartbreak, decided to ease my pain by having the bartender whip me up a Weng Weng. I had Googled the recipe for this traitorous Filipino drink and suggested that they serve it at the bar, so the bartender tried her hand at it and produced a properly deadly Weng Weng. This drink is twice as potent as a Long Island iced tea and contains vodka, tequila, bourbon, brandy, whisky and rum, and is made deceptively fruity with orange juice, pineapple juice and grenadine. Needless to say, drinking too many Weng Wengs can hurt you. I was just glad for the distraction from the pork orgy going on in front of me.

My belief that it's incredibly difficult to be a vegetarian if you love Filipino food was reaffirmed last night. I actually had a bagel with scallion cream cheese before coming to the bar because I had a feeling I wouldn't find anything meatless on the menu. True enough, there was only one vegetable dish that did not have any pork or shrimp thrown in the mix. Filipino food is all about fat-riddled pork, seafood and meat with skin cooked to a crackling crispiness, and other such artery-clogging yumminess. While clearly unhealthy, that food is such a big part of who I am as a Filipino and I don't know that I can completely let go of that. I can (and most definitely will) cut down significantly on the carnage. But life just aint life if you can't have crispy pork skin every now and then. For me, at least.

That said, I am on Day 21 of the experiment and still going strong. I feel like a million bucks every single day, never sluggish or devoid of energy. Trading one good thing for another, I suppose.

It's a beautiful Sunday in New York today. I'm gonna spend it soaking up the sun and then sweating it out at a 5PM Bikram class. Hope there's lots of sunshine (and sweat?) in your day too!

Krystal's Cafe 81 is located at East 7th Street (at First Avenue), New York, NY.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Veggie Diary: Surviving Ramen Night

Last night, I faced one of my biggest veggie fears: a night out at Ippudo (my other veggie fear is having a platter of bon chon in front of me, in case you're wondering). To say that I love ramen is a bit of an understatement.  Everything about it from the pork fat-laced broth to the chewy noodles, unctuous pork slices and poached egg swimming in all that hearty goodness just makes my heart beat faster. So when my friends picked Ippudo for our dinner to welcome our dearest Gaea to New York, I have to admit I was pretty terrified. Was I really going to walk into this place where heavenly steamed pork buns and pork-laden ramen bowls are conceived? I scanned the menu in vain for a delectable veggie ramen but found nothing. I hatched a plan to kill my hunger with deep fried Japanese shishito peppers and a Kirin while we waited at the bar, so that I could just pick on some agedashi tofu over dinner. It was a day of mourning for me, as you can imagine since all I really wanted was to dig into a piping hot bowl of Akamaru Modern (pictured right).

It took an excruciating two hours before we got seated and when I looked at the menu, I went into a panic because there was no agedashi tofu on the menu! Everything remotely enticing to me had cod roe, bonito flakes or some other innocuous form of animal life thrown in! I was coming to terms with the idea that I'd probably have to eat edamame for dinner when it occurred to me to ask the server, "Do you have any vegetarian dishes?" (I actually blushed when I asked. I felt like a fraud knowing I'm just flirting with vegetarianism and not committing to an actual relationship). God bless her for telling me that they actually do have a vegetable noodle soup. It's not on the menu and they keep it hush hush, but they can make it if someone asks for it. Which I did, of course.

Ippudo's veggie ramen utterly and completely kicked Menchanko-Tei's version, I have to say. There's no comparison. The soy-based broth was hearty, flavorful and satisfying, even without getting spiked with pork fat. The soup was laden with greens, scallions, some tofu slices and these incredibly delicious Bunashimeji mushrooms. The little brown mushroom caps had a silken texture and a light, earthy and slightly nutty taste. And of course, there were those perfect ramen noodles to consider. So good. It was not a one-dimensional dish at all, despite being vegetarian. What I liked most of all was how I felt at the end of the meal. I was full and sated, without feeling like I was on the verge of a food coma, as is normally the case when I indulge in ramen. That said, I can't quite subject myself to a life without that tonkatsu soup and tender pork slices (And definitely not to a life without pork buns. Not just yet.). But it's good to know I have options.

Because I didn't feel like such a heffer, I was able to justify indulging in some cereal milk softserve at Momofuku Milk Bar afterwards. Hooray.

I'm down to the last 11 days of veggie month, and to be honest it's starting to wear on me. But Ippudo's fantastic veggie ramen was a wonderful revelation in this whole process. My expectations for food honestly dropped this month. If something was just "not bad", it was good enough for me. But Ippudo's veggie ramen was actually truly delish. I reckon I'll be back for a bowl before the month ends.

Now, off to bed to re-energize for a morning Bikram class and a long day of walking around, basking in the New York sunshine. Good night!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Been There, Loved That: Tisha & Skydiving

Introducing a new section on the blog I'm calling "Been There, Loved That." I can attribute a lot of items on my list to friends who have done these things before and just absolutely enjoyed the experience. So I will be posting their experiences on this blog to inspire myself and readers to just go for it!

First up is my friend Tisha Ang, who has had me thinking about jumping off a plane for the last three years. She literally took the leap in 2006, when she was living in New York and taking a course at Columbia University. She returned to the Philippines later that year to tend to Martish, the business she runs with her cousin. What started out as a Havaianas sub-distributorship in Southern and Eastern Mindanao has now evolved into a lifestyle boutique carrying numerous clothing and accessories brands in Tisha's hometown, Davao.

Tisha and her friend Franz embarked on the skydiving adventure together, taking the 11AM train from Penn Station to Mastic Shirley. From there they took a 30-minute cab drive to Calverton, where Long Island Skydiving's drop zone is located. In a 45-minute whirlwind, they trained, suited up, jumped off the plane and landed safely on the ground. "So quick for a lifetime experience!" exclaims Tisha. Here's more of what the experience was like, in Tisha's own words ... 

What on earth made you jump out of a plane?
Part of my bucket list as well. I was going through my adventurous stage. Pretty much what you are going through right now, I believe. =P

What were you thinking before you jumped off that plane?
OH SHIT. It was a random idea that I pursued without really giving it much thought. I never really dug into details so up until the plane took off, it was the only time I questioned what I was doing.

What were you thinking while you were falling?
Pure excitement. Amazing feeling, no ounce of fear.

What did it feel like falling through the sky?
I felt like i was flying. The air was pushing against me from below which made me feel like there was a string attached on my back pulling me up. Definitely didn't feel like I was falling. (It was) exactly one minute of free fall—just about right. I was fortunate enough to stabilize soon after i jumped, giving me enough time to look around and enjoy every bit of it.

Any tips for other people who want to do it?
Just book it and do it. Don't think about it too much.

Would you do it again?
If it were free, yes.

What's the next adventure for you?
Nothing too life threatening, that's for sure. I am no longer a drifter. I've slowed down a lot and have way more responsibilities other than myself now. =p

Things you're glad you've already done:
In no particular order:
  1. Skydiving.
  2. Swimming with whale sharks in Donsol and wild dolphins in Ozamis.
  3. Crossing a river 27 times to deliver school books for indigenous children up a mountain.
  4. Missionary work—lived in a town without a bathroom or electricity for 5 days.
  5. Traveling in general. Around the world and in my own country.
  6. Exploring the underworld. Swimming with sharks, barracudas—Tubbataha etc. I am so glad I got into diving.
Things you still want to do?
I definitely want to continue traveling and explore places I haven't been to. I would also like to take cooking classes around southeast Asian countries and immerse myself in their local cuisine—lutong bahay. Not as a career but just as a hobby and for the love of Asian food.

Thanks for telling us about your amazing experience Tish! Stay tuned for more stories from people who've been there, done that, got the t-shirt! And if you have amazing stories of your own to tell, do drop me a line!

P.S. Wasn't her tandem jump instructor just HOT?!? Worth trekking all the way to Calverton for, must say!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Aerosmith Factor

It just came to me that a chunk of stuff on my list is probably borne out of my teen obsession with the Aerosmith trilogy of videos featuring Alicia Silverstone. The first time I ever thought about how thrilling it would be to bungee jump (#8) was when I saw Alicia leap backwards off that bridge in "Cryin'." As for the other rebellious things she did ... I did actually get a belly-piercing but eventually grew up, got tired of it and stopped wearing the ring. I still think about getting inked every now and then (especially since my friend Pattie's hubbie Joel is one of the owners of P&P Tattoo and I could get a sick one if I wanted to), but the thought of inevitably ending up a little tattooed grandma someday keeps holding me back.

"Amazing" could certainly be one of the reasons behind #18: ride a motorcycle and #5: skydive (ok they're "skysurfing" in the video, but same difference). Tell me, how can you not want to hop onto a motorcycle after watching those steamy scenes? And skydiving ... well it just has to be done. That's all there is to it.

The road trip idea is absolutely, definitely inspired by "Crazy." When I hear the words "road trip", I think of Alicia and Liv Tyler driving around in a convertible, wind whipping through their hair, a jumble of little granny dresses in the trunk, getting into one shenanigan after another ...

I guess you can also give that video a little credit for #15: pole dancing. Liv Tyler makes pole dancing (and pumping gas, spitting, lip-synching ... pretty much anything) look smoking hot in this video.

I ♥ Aerosmith circa '94

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Conquering the Double

105°F. 40% humidity. 26 asanas. 180 minutes. 1200 to 1800 calories burned.

I can't believe I made it. I've known for a few days now that I had to do a double. I missed class completely last Tuesday due to well, life, so I had to do two classes in one day to make up for the one I'd missed. I didn't think I would do it today—not after the gin & tonic fueled night of dancing I had last night. But as I laid in savasanah at the end of my 3PM Sunday class, I found myself completely energized and ready for more.

So still dripping in sweat, I went to the counter, signed up for the 5PM class, and asked for a fresh set of towels, another bottle of water, and another coconut water. I downed the coconut water to quickly rehydrate and went right back into the room to lie down and wait for the next class to begin.

It's kind of strange starting another set of 26 asanas after just having finished one. I thought my mind would be yelling, "Woman, you've got to be kidding me!" But it was actually pretty silent. I just went about my class as if it was my first. I actually performed some of the poses better this time because I was more limber and strangely more focused. I thought I'd half-ass the class because it was my second one but I didn't. I guess I've realized over the course of the last two weeks that it makes the poses much easier if I try to do it properly. Cheating just makes everything harder in the end. 

I'm entering week 3 now of my 30-Day Bikram Yoga challenge, and mostly I'm just amazed at what the human body can handle. I never pegged myself as a physically strong person, but somehow, I'm doing this. And that means anyone can do it if they put their mind to it. After all, I'm the person who, on her first Bikram class here in New York last year, only got as far as the third pose before surrendering to the mat. I spent most of those first 90 minutes lying there and wondering if I was going to pass out/throw up/just flat out die right there in that room. And now I've done 14 Bikram classes in 14 days. And I survived the dreaded double. I am so excited for what the next two weeks will bring!

If you've ever toyed with the idea of doing Bikram Yoga but haven't quite taken the plunge, I suggest you read this incredibly inspiring story written by Paige Williams for O Magazine. She was 80 pounds overweight, divorced, unemployed and in debt when she undertook not just a 30-Day challenge but a 60-Day Bikram Yoga Challenge. Such an amazing article.

Meanwhile, I am going to go replace all those calories that I've burned and then take a much deserved rest! Have a great week everyone!

Napa Valley Marathon

It's too good. Just. Too. Good. Whether or not I'm lucky enough to get picked for the New York Marathon in November, I think I've found a marathon I would love to run next year: the Kaiser Permanente Napa Valley Marathon. The 26.2-mile run starts at Calistoga, winds south along Silverado Trail (hello my old friends, Stag's Leap and Robert Sinskey), and finishes at Vintage High School in north Napa. It's a mostly rural run that goes through Napa's stunning vineyards and scenic countryside.  Then there's the wonderful pasta dinner (accompanied by more Silverado Trail wine) the night before the race. The piping hot, homemade soup at the finish line. Rumors of sorbet at mile 23. And guess what the top male and female runners get as one of their prizes? Their weight in wine from the Silverado Trail Wineries Association.

Seriously?!? Where do I sign up?

The downside to running a race like this, however, is that there's not a lot of spectators to buoy runners up when their energy starts to flag. One of the best things about the New York Marathon, I've heard, are the crowds that flood the streets to cheer the runners on, whether they know them or not.

This entry from A Trail Runner's Blog does a pretty informative review of this marathon, particularly for serious runners. Since I'm not one of those people, you'll understand why this is my favorite line in this blog post: "If I had to drop, that would be fine - there are plenty of wineries along the way where I could recover in the shade with a nice Sauvignon Blanc."

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Get me to Bonnaroo!

Before Alida suggested I add going to a music festival to my 30 Before 30 List, I was completely clueless about such things. The only thing I knew about music festivals was that Kate Moss made Hunter wellies extremely fashionable when she wore them at a music  festival in Glastonbury. Clearly, my knowledge on this subject is seriously lacking. 

So I resorted to asking my peeps on Facebook for suggestions on music festivals to attend. A number of people suggested Bonnaroo but I wasn't particularly set on it ... until I found out today that Conan O'Brien would be doing a show in the comedy tent (nobody told me there was a comedy tent?!) and emcee the main stage on June 11 and 12. What an amazing bonus! The Bonnaroo lineup is already pretty meaty, with Jay-Z, Kings of Leon, Dave Matthews Band, Phoenix, Norah Jones, Kid Cudi, Regina Spektor, Ingrid Michaelson and Thievery Corporation all slated to perform. Coco just puts it over the edge!

I am crossing fingers, eyes, toes and legs that I'll score some free tickets through a contest I joined. I can dream ... In the meantime, if you're suffering from Conan withdrawal, you can follow the funny guy's Tweets.

Meanwhile, I am hitting the sack. Tomorrow is the dreaded day of the double for Bikram. The things I do to make up for irresponsible amounts of Patron shots. God help me ...

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Bataan Memorial Death March

I was reading this article in Runner's World called "Marathons to run in 2010" and was completely taken aback when I saw that the runner up for Most Organized marathon is an event called "Bataan Memorial Death March." The Bataan Death March is etched into most every Filipino's mind, and quite possibly a number of Americans, as well. During World War II, the Japanese forcibly transferred 75,000 American and Filipino soldiers captured in the Philippines from the Bataan Peninsula to prison camps. The prisoners were forced to walk a grueling 61 miles in the intense tropical heat, leading to the death of thousands due to starvation, dehydration, disease, and wanton execution. The Bataan Death March was later accounted as a war crime. 

In the Philippines, the soldiers who suffered through the march are honored every year on the 9th of April, the "Araw ng Kagitingan" or "Day of Valour." I was surprised to find out that there is also a yearly marathon held in White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico held in their honor. It's 26.2 miles of desert trails and washes in 4,100-5,300 feet elevation. There is also a half-marathon. The biggest incentive for running this marathon now is to run it while you still have the chance to shake the hands of the Bataan Death March veterans honored by the event.

This is probably one run that I will never be in a position or condition to join, but I think it is an amazing event, nevertheless. It is one race that would be a true honor to run.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

7AM Bikram Yoga

If there's one thing that irks me, it's people telling me who they think I am. To be more precise, I don't like it when people say I can't do something or that I'm a certain type of a person versus some other type. That said, I recently realized that more often than not, the person who stereotypes me the most ... is ME! Whose mouth did the words "I don't like to sweat", "I don't do winter sports", "I'm not a morning person" and "I could never be a vegetarian" come out of, after all?  

So one of the best things about this 30 Before 30 Project is that I'm proving myself wrong on a lot of things. This morning, for instance, I found out that I am perfectly capable of waking up at 5:45 in the morning to get to a 7AM Bikram class. I thought I was off my rocker for doing it, especially when I strolled into the studio and I was the only person there other than the teacher (thankfully the class filled up after awhile so I didn't feel like such a weirdo). I also thought that I would half-ass my way through class because my muscles were still tight and I'd be a little sleepy ... but it turns out I underestimate myself. I worked as hard in that morning class as I do in every other class. 

I might even go as far as saying I actually like morning yoga classes and I'd like to take more of them, thank you very much. The getting up at the crack ass of dawn and wrenching your hands from the super cozy duvet part sucks mightily, yes, but once out of the door and into the studio, it's not so bad. The classes aren't packed so you can actually bend down for dandayamana bibhaktapada paschimottanasana (see yoga pose in blog header above—and yes, I picked a really long name on purpose to impress y'all) without crashing into someone's glutes. And coasting through the morning with a massive endorphin high beats a grande red-eye from Starbucks any day. I was in such a good mood all day today and I had so much energy from morning til night. If this is what an early morning yoga class can do for me, I'd definitely be willing to trade in a few winks for it.

Next "I'd never" statement to conquer: "I'd never do a double." A double refers to taking two Bikram yoga classes in a row—that's 180 minutes of Bikram yoga in 105° heat. Someone doing the 30-Day Bikram Challenge can skip a day if he/she makes up for it by doing two classes on another day. I was trying to avoid it but I'm going to have to do at least one double this week due to work and social life cramping up my schedule. Scared sh!tless but I'm gonna have to grit my teeth and bear it. Wish me luck!

Image via gmando's photostream

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Cherry Blossom 10-mile Run

It's a gorgeous day in New York today, with 50 degree temps and loads of bright sunshine. So I'm wishing I was already training for the marathon because it would be a beautiful day to go for a run. But alas, I have another physical challenge to conquer this month. I start running in April so I've been reading up a lot on how to go about training (I am now the girl sitting in the train reading Fitness magazine). I've also been researching on the different races that go on in the US throughout the year because other runners have stressed the importance of doing shorter races before I go for the big one. I ran across one race that won't be part of my training regimen but that I think I'd want to try next year, nevertheless: the Credit Union Cherry Blossom 10-mile run. How amazing would it be to run through DC with all the cherry blossom trees in full bloom?

That would be a good way to knock off #27 on my list, too: Watching the cherry blossoms bloom. I've always put that off for one reason or another but this year I'm gonna see them, be it in DC or the Brooklyn Botanical Garden.

In other news, I'm on Day 6 of the vegetarian & Bikram yoga 30-day challenge, and I feel fantastic! I got a solid 10 hours sleep today and woke up feeling totally fresh. My body feels limber and I don't feel sore anywhere. Last night, I took the most amazing class taught by Corinne. I love her classes. She is so motivating and every time I take her class, I find myself learning something new about the asanas that I've been doing for a year now. Last night was one of those classes where I barely felt the heat; I was just focused on pushing myself to the limit with every asana. I hope that today's class will be as great, too.

If you're in New York, I hope you're enjoying the lovely weather we have this weekend. If you're anywhere else in the world, I wish you a blissful weekend!

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Chichén Itzá

Did you watch Apocalypto? That movie was a visual smörgåsbord, but one of the most memorable parts for me was the scene showing human sacrifices being made at Chichén Itzá. It's terribly gruesome so I ended up distracting myself with the scenery when I was watching it. I mean, if you look at the photo below, it's truly majestic isn't it? (Especially without the distraction of beheaded blue corpses rolling down the steps).

I've been plotting to see the Mayan ruins with my girl Avery for years, but we never set the plans in stone. A few days ago, my married friends Bads and Bong put up photos of their vacation in Mexico, which included a visit to Chichén Itzá and after seeing that I thought, that's it! I've got to go! So I added it to my list so that I'll have to make it happen. It's apparently just a day trip from Playa del Carmen and Cancún so I can combine sightseeing with sunning and knocking off another item on my list (#12: Eat the worm in the mezcal). Totally worth it! This picture of the Kukulkan Temple makes me want to pack some sunscreen and just go:

This is the famous temple to the Mayan snake diety, Kukulkan—just one of many temples and structures to be seen in the Chichén Itzá archeological site. Tourists flock here during the spring and autumn equinox specifically to see the illusion of a massive serpent slithering down the steps of this temple:

Fantastic isn't it? I would be quite happy to just see the temple on a regular day though. I'm not a fan of massive crowds in equatorial heat. Chichén Itzá was recently named one of the seven new wonders of the modern world. I didn't need any more reasons to see it, but that's a pretty good one don't you think?

In related news, Elton John is having a concert there on April 3, 2010. I sh!t you not. WTF?

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Veggie Diary: Falafel Love

To be honest, one of the things that convinced me that I could probably hack a month of going veg is the fact that I've been constantly craving Maoz Vegetarian's falafel sandwiches after Bikram. Somewhere between the full locust pose and the rabbit pose, I start daydreaming about the crisp and tasty falafels, which I like to smother with tabouleh, tomatoes, onions and tahini sauce from the open bar. If I'm lucky, I get the seat right by the bar, allowing for convenient topping refilling and tahini sauce re-drizzling. Maoz has a branch right by Union Square so it's an extremely convenient stop after class. I usually get a Junior Maoz, which is half a wholewheat pita stuffed with 3 crisp falafels and lettuce. It's less than $5 and with that open salad bar at my disposal, it's definitely enough to fill my little self up. Hey, I said I'd go vegetarian, I didn't say I was going on a diet.

In other news, I'm feeling a bit tired today but I don't know if that's because I'm not getting enough protein (thus the falafel massacre after today's Bikram class) or because I didn't get much sleep (my apartment was so hot last night that I turned on the AC. In the middle of winter!). Hopefully an early bedtime and more helpings of lentils tomorrow will do me good. Prying my grubby hands from the keyboard now ...

Image by bonnie via maoz vegetarian food cool pics

Maoz Vegetarian is located at 38 Union Square East between E 16th and E 17th Streets.

Day 1: The Vegetarian Bikram Yogi Experiment

Today I took the first step in crossing two items off my list:

#10: Conquer the 30-Day Bikram Challenge. 
#24: Give the vegetarian thing a shot for one month.

I officially "declared" that I'm starting the 30-Day challenge at my home studio, Bikram Yoga Union Square. I also ate tofu yakitori for lunch and butternut squash with wholewheat linguini for dinner. Not too bad so far.

A strange thing I've noticed is that I have my best Bikram classes when things are going shittily outside the studio. One time on my way to Bikram,  I almost got hit by a limo. It was such a close call that my hands ended up on the hood of the vehicle! I came out unscathed, thank god. When I got to class, I was so shaken by the thought that I could've been lying in a gourney instead of doing Bikram that I had one of my best classes ever. The standing head-to-knee pose is always a trying one for me, but that day I kicked, kicked, kicked with everything I had and never fell out. Today was quite shite as well, lifewise, because my purse was stolen over the weekend and I got it back today with my camera and iPhone gone. I felt utterly crappy on my way to the studio but once I got there, I thought, you know what? It's just stuff. I'm happy, healthy, stable and I've got all these great challenges ahead of me. I suppose it was the sheer gratitude for what I still have, what I've never lost, that motivated me today.

Then again, knowing that I'm undertaking this challenge also gave me a lot of focus. I'm really excited to see what the next 30 days will do for my body and how it'll improve my practice. The same goes for the vegetarian experiment. Truthfully, I love meat so much that I can't see myself going veggie for life. But I do want to know what it feels like to totally cleanse your system, and find out why vegetarians get hooked!

That's all for today. Time to rest up for Day 2!

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