Easing a Grumpy Tummy… Who Knew It Could Be So Easy?

I have a love-hate relationship with my stomach. I know I’m not alone. I feel like half of the blogs that I read are written by young women with similar problems. And we’ve all been told we have IBS, the all-encompassing (and oh-so-unhelpful) diagnosis for grumpy tummies that will not cooperate no matter how hard we try. (Aside: my stomach happens to be misbehaving right now, this very minute. Sigh. Will have to try these tummy tips.)

I’m not going to say I have a definitive solution, because I don’t. But I do have a few tricks up my sleeve that help me keep my disobedient stomach in check. I’ll share my top 3, and maybe if I find more I’ll do an Ease-My-Tummy-Tricks Part 2.

  1. Do NOT snack. I find that the more often I eat, the more my stomach bothers me. Forcing myself to eat 3 meals a day (and 3 meals a day only) and possibly an afternoon snack, if desired, definitely offers major improvements to the stomach situation. When I am eating constantly my digestive system never needs a rest. I give myself rest each day, so why not do the same for my stomach? It makes sense.
  2. Do NOT overeat (especially fiber-y foods). Yes, salads are great – but in moderation. If you eat a salad for every meal you will be uncomfortable. You’ll also start to think that over-fullness is normal. I spent years overloading with almost too many veggies, and now I’m still trying to get used to being satisfied when I’m not stuffed. The Japanese have a great expression to summarize these healthy eating habits: “hara hachi bu” – which means precisely, “eat until you’re 80% full”. I look up to both Bobby (who is half Japanese) and his mother for their ability to eat moderately.
  3. Yoga twists. If all else fails, this is what I turn to, because in addition to helping my tum, yoga stretches are soothing for me. One of the best ways to massage and ease the digestive tract is to breathe deeply while in a twist. My favorites are…
    • supine twist: lie on your back. Pull one knee into your chest. Drop the knee to the opposite side (right to left for example) and look away from the knee (if you’ve dropped your right knee to the left, look right). Take 10 deep breaths. Repeat on the opposite side.
    • seated twist: Cross your right knee over your left. Twist to the right. Take 10 deep breaths. Repeat on the opposite side. Make sure your back is elongated and upright; your shoulders should draw down the back. As you breathe out each time, twist a little deeper.

Does your stomach get angry at you? What are your tricks to calm it down?

How to Exercise Without Realizing It

My favorite exercise is walking. For me, walking isn’t a chore; it isn’t boring; it’s not ever something that I force myself to do. Walking comes as naturally to me as sleeping (and also yoga, but that’s for another post).

Do you think you hate to exercise? Maybe you’re just bored of the usual suspects – spin, pilates, aerobics, kickboxing, and so on. Here are my favorite ways to exercise without even realizing it.

  1. Walk. Walk your heart out. I can easily get in upwards of 10,000 steps a day (that’s about 5 miles) if I just make a little bit of effort: get off the subway 1 stop early, go on a walk to the farther coffee shop (Organique’s free-coffee-Wednesday perhaps?), walk on your lunch break, walk after dinner (this is great for digestion), walk to meet a friend… You get the picture.
  2. Dance. Dance in the kitchen, in the living room, the bedroom, and any other rooms you have. (I only have those rooms because I live in Manhattan, but if you live outside the city you probably have a lot more space.) I like to turn up the music while I cook dinner or clean the house and as I cook/clean I spin around and move. It’s fun. It’s also really uplifting and will make a bad day good really fast.
  3. Skip the elevator (at least once a day). Okay, I have to admit that at work I usually take the elevator. I work on the 12th floor! But I try to take the stairs at least a few times a week. I usually have to do this when I know my co-workers won’t see me coming out of the stairwell because they’ll think I’m crazy. I happen to live in a 4th floor walkup which is also good exercise.
  4. Stretch. Instead of sitting on the couch while you watch TV, sit on the floor and stretch. Do some yoga poses to feel better. Try a triangle pose or standing splits. I like doing these Diance von Furstenberg stretches that I found in her old Book of Beauty.

Hope this will encourage you to do more fake exercise. I actually think that getting into the habit of adding in unrealized exercise will keep you fit and healthy for life. These are all things that anyone should be able to do at any age. I want to be walking, dancing, skipping, and stretching for many many years to come.

Do you like to “exercise” without realizing it?

Simple Vinyasas (Yoga Poses) for 5 Common Ailments (Part 1)

For me, yoga is like therapy – both physical and mental. When I’m sore, when I’m tired, when I’m frustrated or sad, yoga seems to help me heal and get my groove back. Before I get to today’s poses, don’t forget to check out my yoga recommendations, as well as the Yoga Quickie routine I did last year. It’s only 5 minutes.

Here are some poses and routines that I turn to…

  1. Yoga for a headache. This is the simplest pose I will suggest today. Legs up the wall pose is great for headaches. The pose is simple – place a towel by the wall; lie on your back with your hips/butt on the towel; put your legs up the wall. Close your eyes, breathe, and relax. Stay in the pose for 5 minutes (or more). If you want more intensity, pile a few towels instead of just one.
  2. Yoga for energy. I like bridge pose to re-energize. Exhale as you push your pelvis up towards the ceiling. You can stay in the pose for about a minute, breathing deeply. To release, exhale and slowly roll your spine back onto the ground. You should feel revitalized and stimulated.
  3. Yoga for sore feet. Take off your shoes as soon as you get in the house. Go barefoot as often as you can. And step into downward facing dog pose a few times every day. I do this pose in my kitchen, my living room, and even at the office when I’m there alone.Press your heels towards the ground – you can bend your knees to facilitate this. Your shoulders should stay down your back (meaning they should lift up towards the ceiling). Think about putting your shoulder blades into your back pockets.
  4. Yoga for depression. When you’re feeling down after a rough day, child’s pose can ease your mind and improve your mood. Spread your knees and sink back into your hips. Breathe deeply and enjoy the stillness.
  5. Yoga for a backache. I sit at a desk all day long. I stare at a screen work, for my hobbies (this blog), for reading news, and even when I’m learning something new. When my back aches, I add in an extended triangle pose to my routine.In the pose, your inner thighs should be pulling towards each other. Stretch your arm towards the ceiling and look past your thumb. Stretch your arm parallel to the floor by your ear (keeping your shoulder down) for an extra stretch. Stay in the pose for 5 deep breaths.

Tune in later for 5 more ailments – including yoga for stress and yoga for tummyaches. It’ll be good; I promise.

What yoga do you do to feel better? What’s your favorite pose?

Friday Fix: I’m out of here!

I’m so glad you all liked my education links yesterday! I didn’t realize they would generate such interest. I guess learning is cool after you get out of school.

Today I guest posted at my longtime friend’s blog, I Swim For Oceans. Melissa writes a book blog and she’s always giving me good ideas. I have known her since I was in middle school and we’ve reconnected via blogging – I did get to see her at my reunion back in November though. I also won her contest a while back and got a signed book from a local author (Brooklyn). So go check out the guest post called Friday Fix.

That’s all for today… just wanted to stop in and link to my guest post! Have a great wonderful amazing weekend. I’m off to K-town with Bobby for some banchan and bibimbap.

Non-Food: Free Online Education & A Cruise

This morning I got up early accidentally and didn’t feel like doing the shred… so I decided to get in a nice walk. I listened to Heather Small (the singer of the Biggest Loser theme song) and then Frou Frou when Heather’s album was over. I got in 4 miles while I thought and pondered and started to decompress from the week.

Speaking of the shred and Biggest Loser and Jillian Michaels, Jillian is hosting a Wellness Cruise this fall. Oh my. I am so tempted. Anyone else? Sixthman is coordinating it – that’s the same company that organized that John Mayer/Guster/OAR cruise I went on last year. And it’s going out of Miami (Bobby’s hometown).

Going back to the work topic, my job revolves around a lot of online education clients. This week I got an email with some great resources for free online learning and I thought I’d share.

Free Online Courses and Lectures:

  • iTunes U: Free educational media – lectures, lessons, labs, audiobooks, tours – all available through iTunes. You do have to get an iTunes account to use iTunes U, but the account is free. I’m looking at a bunch of different lectures I want to listen to now – “Health Eating Habits” from Clemson University; “Sex in the Ancient World” from University of Warwick; courses from Harvard Business School… Definitely need to check this out.
  • MIT OpenCourseWare: Back in high school one of my dream colleges was MIT. I didn’t go there, but I will definitely try their free courses. They have everything from linguistics to anthropology to math to engineering to bio. This course looks particularly interesting: The Supernatural in Music, Literature, and Culture.
  • Open Yale Courses: a bunch of intro classes from Yale professors. Free Ivy education? I’m in. I think I’m going to check out this Italian course on Dante.
  • Connexions (Rice University): This is a king of open source courseware. It’s a place to share scholarly content online – anyone can add content and anyone can access it. You can search for just about anything. I searched “brain” and found this class: Music, Biological Evolution, and the Brain. Awesome.

I’m glad I was on that email chain!

Have you tried any of these? Do you like school and learning? I didn’t realize how much I loved taking classes until after I was out of college. It’s never too late to go back though.