Day one of 17 without vodka

Insert same sister that encouraged me to try yoga. A couple of months ago I was complaining to her about some weight I gained. She looked at me and told me frankly that I “caught” the boyfriend layer. As Oprah puts it, I had an aha moment. Girls, you know how it is when you first start dating someone, we want to keep up with our guys – pizza, wings, and beer. And usually at the beginning of a relationship he is buying and who doesn’t like free food. In my first blog, I admitted I have a love affair with food, so my boyfriend is not to blame. There is a thing called free will after all. But I am the first to confess that I do try to keep up with my boyfriend, who by the way, loves food just as much as me. And to make things worse, he lives in Austin, TX, a city that has amazing food. Mexican, BBQ, and the most eclectic food trailers – oh sweet Jesus, I love the food trailers. The boyfriend and I have now been together for over two years and I need to stop trying to keep up. I’ve gained 10 pounds over the last year and have officially outgrown my beautiful designer denim collection and have gradated to mom jeans – except I’m not a mom, not even close.

Insert Good Morning America. The other day they were discussing the latest fad diet called the 17 Day Diet. I don’t believe in fad diets, but now that I am a blogger, I thought it might be fun to experiment. Just maybe, I could find motivation from blogging to try this diet for 17 days. And just maybe, I could get back into my jean collection. The diet is of comprised of four 17 day cycles. The first of the cycles is called the Accelerate Cycle. Some of the basic rules:
1) Diet consists of lean proteins, vegetables, low-sugar fruits, yogurt and good fats. NO starchy foods. Lean proteins equal chicken and fish, which I hate unless battered and fried.
2) You may eat up to two eggs per day.
3) You can enjoy all the fresh vegetables and fruits you want. EXCEPT no fruit after 2:00pm because it is a carb.
4) No alcohol- gasp, I love my Grey Goose!
5) Drink eight 8-ounce glasses of pure water a day.
6) Exercise at least 17 minutes a day. WTF.
Sounds awful, right? I must be crazy, but all to keep my small number readers entertained. I’ve officially completed day one. I am starving and have a headache. My goal is to keep you updated on my progress. Additionally, each time I blog I’ll identify a motivating factor, provide a meal sampling, and list what I did for exercise that day.
Motivation: To get back into my jean collection.
Dinner: Salmon patty over a bed of greens, tomatoes and an Activa.
Exercise: Spin class – an overachiever here! I crushed the 17 minute requirement by doing 60 minutes.
Anyone care to join in on the fun?

Discovering my inner yogi

For years my sister has been trying to get me to go to yoga. I suck when it comes to flexibility so I kept putting it off. Last summer I had my first exposure to it while doing the YogaX video in the P90X program (I lasted 8 weeks). My first thought was, “this shit is hard”. With the start of the New Year, I made a goal to try “live” yoga and work on my flexibility. I’ve been on a mission to acclimate myself to lower impact activities. I also believe that we should step out of our comfort zones on occasion. I was extremely nervous for my first non-video class, so my sister took me to a place called Stray Dog Yoga (I can’t think of a name more welcoming to a beginner) to show me the ropes. Stray Dog offers vinyasa flow classes in a hot box – I believe the room lingers around 100 degrees. Too be honest, after my first class I felt very light headed and thought I might be sick. But I believe in second chances, so I went back again. And again. I’ve been doing a good job of making yoga a priority and attending a class each week since the beginning of the year. It is challenging, but addictive – the heat of the studio has been a sanctuary for me over the long winter. There have been other moments when I’ve felt sick but when I am overcome by the heat and being upside down I just take a break by grabbing a sip of water and positioning myself in child’s pose. I have found yoga to be extremely non-judgmental and even though my skill set is far below the average yogi, I’ve never felt out of place. In fact, everyone is applauded for just showing up on their mat. I am still waiting for the moment of when downward dog will feel like a rest pose, but in the meantime, I am so happy to have found a new discipline. And in doing so, I am doing something that is as good for my mind as it is for my body.

The other thing I like about yoga is how the yogi’s dress. People come to class in beautiful colorful tanks tops and fun pants. Through yoga I’ve been introduced to a company called lululemon that makes fashionably delicious yoga gear. I can’t wait to get me some. Oh and last but not least, regularly practicing yoga is a good excuse for maintaining pedicured feet all year long (currently sporting, a yellow called, “need sunglalsses”). If you have not tried yoga or if there is something else on your to do list, I am here to say what are you waiting for. I wish I would have found my inner yogi much earlier.

Fraud fighter by day, t-shirt slinger by night

This entry is a follow-up to my Making Lemonade entry. I’ll share another aspect of my life that serves for motivation for PassingLEFT.

As the title indicates, I am a fraud fighter. What this means is that my days are spent navigating my way through the intricacies of white collar crimes. Specifically, I investigate contract fraud, kickbacks, technology transfer, product substitution, health-care fraud, theft of government property – and the list goes on and on. The thing with white collar crime is that you see how all these corporations and affluent people are getting ahead by cheating. This irritates me and I am tired of it. It is so disappointing to see such talented and intellectual people using their skills in such a destructive manner. Is it really that hard to get a head by doing the right thing (I often think about this in terms of politics too)? Really, when it comes down to it – a company with a conscience should be more successful – in an ideal world anyway. I will also add, that the success of a company should not be measured by the bottom line – rather it’s impact on the community. So here I am with my PassingLEFT project, trying to see what I can do with it. I want to do something productive with myself in my downtime and use the resources of PassingLEFT in a positive manner. As you may have noticed, I don’t have a mission statement. I like the idea of beliefs better. In a condensed version, my beliefs for PassingLEFT include promoting fitness, endorsing “local”, showcasing artists, and giving back to the community. I invite you to come along and join the “movement” – together we can make a difference. And you’ll look cool doing it.

Making lemonade

I feel like I have to explain myself.  One could look at me and be confused by how someone of my somewhat “husky” nature could be the person behind a fitness company.  To clear things up, I’ll share my story.   First and foremost – I have a love affair with food.   PassingLEFT is about all things local and let me tell you, I do my part to support local eateries.

After college, I moved from Michigan to Arlington, VA.  Living in the Washington DC metro area, there is a lot of pressure to look the part of a blossoming young professional.    I decided I needed to drop the pounds I accumulated from late night Taco Bell runs, cheap Chinese buffets, Captain Morgan, and countless hours of vegging in front of the boob tube with my college roommates.  So I turned to running and healthier eating.  After gaining a little confidence and dropping a few, I decided to sign up for my first 5k, which happened to be the 9/11 Memorial 5k.  I loved it.  It was so exhilarating to be part of something so meaningful and the sounds of the crowd lit a fire under my ass.  I wanted more.  So I signed myself up for the Army 10-Miler.  It was incredible and by my standards, I rocked it.  Unfortunately though, my feet have never been the same.  I cannot tell you what I did to them; all I can say is that they hurt.  It’s been almost 7 years, countless doctors, injections, procedures, and tests – but no remedy.  To add insult to injury, a few years ago I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, which also limits the type of physical activity I can participate in.  Over the years, I have adapted and have become fond of lower impact activities such as biking and yoga.  But needless to say, my limitations and love of food is not the best combination.  But what I have discovered is a grand appreciation for health.  I would give anything to have my feet back and for my ulcerative colitis to shrivel up and die.  When life gives you lemons, one must make lemonade.  Just because I cannot be as active as I would like, does not mean I cannot pursue other outlets and encourage others.  After all, life is about being the best you can be with what you have.

New Jersey – Always on the run

This shirt offers a humorous interpretation of the New Jersey mafia stereotype. In conducting research for this shirt I found there is truth to the stereotype. According to the FBI, Italian organized crime in the United States is most concentrated in southern New Jersey, New York, and Philadelphia.

The mafia is known for being involved in drug trafficking, money laundering, illegal gambling, political corruption, extortion, kidnapping, fraud, counterfeiting, infiltration of legitimate businesses, murders, bombings, and weapons trafficking. Industry experts in Italy estimate that their worldwide criminal activity is worth more than $100 billion annually.

Designer, Jennifer Baart

New Jersey – Pumping our pedals, not our gas since 1949

Full service gas stations are part of New Jersey’s identity. New Jersey is one of two states, Oregon being the other, that does not allow customers to pump their own gas. New Jersey banned self-service gasoline in 1949 after lobbying by service station owners. The Retail Gasoline Dispensing Safety Act, part of the New Jersey Administrative Code, states that only trained gas station attendants may pump gas. The purpose of this law is to prevent accidents associated with untrained drivers pumping their own gas, and to increase the overall safety of gas stations. Safety concerns include not exposing customers to harmful toxic gasoline fumes they may inhale while pumping their own gas.

Designer, Jennifer Baart

Detroit – Put it in gear

Joe Louis (May 13, 1914 – April 12, 1981) was the world heavyweight boxing champion from 1937 to 1949 and is considered to be one of the greatest heavyweights of all time. Louis spent twelve years growing up in rural Alabama but moved to Detroit in 1926 after his family was shaken by the Ku Klux Klan. A memorial to Louis was dedicated in Detroit at the intersection of Jefferson and Woodward on October 16, 1986. The sculpture is a 24-foot-long bronze arm with a fisted hand suspended by a 24-foot-high pyramidal framework. It represents the power of his punch both inside and outside the ring. Because of his efforts to fight Jim Crow laws, the fist was symbolically aimed toward the south.

Designer, Birgit Keil