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I love that yoga is called a practice. The word practice implies ongoing work. It implies working toward something and every time I get on my mat I know that I have work to do. I am not being judged or timed. I am not even trying for perfection. I am listening to my body as it is on that day on my mat and deciding what my practice is going to look like. It looks different every time. What I get out of yoga is internal and external strength, mind and body connection, awareness and skills to bring off my mat.

Team sports are so very different. There is practice toward achieving some kind of perfect—a dismount, swing, lay up, or play on the field or court. There is judgment, quality control and comparisons. But this weekend I saw some life lessons learned from a swimmer that aligned a lot with yoga.

My son’s district swim meet was Sunday. Having only raced this year, he was nervous about a big event with many teams competing and many parents watching. Since the season’s September start, coach Christine said she would transform him from a recreational swimmer into a racer and the change is notable. Each swimmer was assigned three races with the choice to make changes. Two of the three events were races that my son felt comfortable with but the third event left him in a panic. With the choice of a challenging longer distance or another race in his comfort zone, my husband and I were pleasantly surprised that he chose the harder and more demanding event.

For the entire week preceding race day, I saw an inner fire begin to build, a desire to improve and practice harder than ever and pure fear troubling his mind. With some great motivational speeches given by his dad (and a pre-race viewing of Rocky), my son started to tackle his fear replacing thoughts of doubt with affirmations of success, creating visual reminders to psych himself up for the task at hand and music to clear his mind of negative thoughts. Come race day, he was still scared but ready to take on this meet.

It is easy as a parent to see your child suffering and want to remove that pain. According to Buddha, life is suffering. To remove the pain or suffering is ultimately a disservice to our children. Teaching our children how to manage suffering and how to overcome suffering equips them with the power to find ultimate happiness.

At the end of the day, my son was walking taller. He even had a bit of a swagger. He took on his fear and squashed it. He found calm and strength through the fright and doubt. He found inner strength through the physical act of swimming, he found the mind/body connection, he found skills that he will use through out his life and he found a way to happiness.

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Photo by Judy Baxter

Food is full of so much more than nutrients or lack there of. It has become a hot topic, a confusing topic and a very big deal. This week I sat on a panel to discuss food in schools and at home. I was on the panel as a parent advocate for better food in schools in my district. Last year I became passionate about real food after being exposed to our nation’s industrial food growing ways while watching Food Inc. and even more enraged after viewing the documentary Two Angry Moms which highlights two mother’s crusade against school cafeteria food.

Here are a few of my recent insights:

  • I don’t hold all of the answers. I think that Michael Pollan’s book “Food Rules” does.
  • The balance between eating well and enjoying life is a difficult one to gauge at times.
  • Packing lunch everyday is as boring as eating that packed lunch everyday. (Yes, this one is for the kids.)
  • A highlight for me from the panel discussion was when a local pediatrician discussed the school menu. Dr. Weinberg said that while most people talk about the long term effects of processed food, she could show the daily effects cafeteria food has on kids and began to point out different menu items declaring what ailments your child might come home with later that day after consuming that days main entree—from asthma from the shrimp poppers and tater tots to migraines from the french toast sticks with ham.
  • My pediatrician once told me not to stock ice cream in the freezer. I can attest to the true treat it was to actually take the kids out for a special ice cream dessert tonight. It was more than a treat. It was an outing. It was family time and I think most importantly, it turned eating into a mindful and enjoyable act. I did notice that the adult menu’s sundae serving size was 3 scoops and the milkshake contained 5 scoops.
  • Restaurants need to become accountable. My pediatrician once told me that eating out should be limited to once a MONTH. I think that is almost impossible to uphold. However, until restaurants begin reducing portion sizes back to true portions, we must help our children make good choices and we must follow suite. Take half the meal in a container to go before it is served, split entrees between family members, avoid the bread basket and explain the menu to your children—what does breaded mean, why the kid’s menu should be bypassed, how a healthy salad can be turned into a disaster if ordered with the dressing premixed.
  • The hardest part about packing lunches everyday is that those lunches must be cold. Yes I have thermoses. No they don’t seem to hold heat. If you have a thermos that actually keeps soup hot enough to see the steam please give a shout out!
  • Organic isn’t just about the lack of commercial pesticides or hormones or antibiotics. It is also an issue of eating food with higher nutrients from animals that have been treated more humanely.

These are just a few of the thoughts on my mind about food. There are so many more to contemplate. Here is a list of great food resources. Bon appetit!

A local journalist writes with insight in her blog Spoonfed about raising children to think about the food they eat.

J.M. Hirsch, the Associated Press food editor and author of my newest favorite cookbook High Flavor Low Labor, also writes a blog called Lunch Box Blues. Hirsch writes about his son’s bento box lunches. I am a huge fan of the the bento styled lunch boxes but could not get my son to buy into the cool concept. Too bad.

The rest of these links are being shared from the panel discussion. Educate, share and eat!

Blogs (many of these are also linked to a web site):

www.thelunchtray.com

www.theyummymummy.blogspot.com/

www.fooducate.com/blog

www.theslowcook.com

www.foodwithkidappeal.blogspot.com

www.fedupwithschoollunch.blogspot.com

www.whatscookingwithkids.com

www.foodpolitics.com

www.itsnotaboutnutrition.squarespace.com

www.littlelocavores.blogspot.com

www.foodietots.com

Lunch/wellness sites:

www.betterschoolfood.com

www.healthylunches.org

www.jamieoliver.com

www.meatlessmonday.com

www.vegmondays.com

www.farmtoschool.cce.cornell.edu

www.schoolwellnesspolicies.org

www.foodpsychology.cornell.edu

www.cspi.org

Current Classes:

MIDTOWN ATHLETIC CLUB

Mondays:
6-7:15am Power Vinyasa (H)

Thursdays:
6-7am Power Vinyasa

Story Time Yoga
1-1:45pm

Sundays:
5-7 year olds
9:45-10:30am
8-11 year olds
10:45-11:30am

STUDIO MOVE!

Wednesdays:
10:30-11:30 Power Vinyasa

Fridays:
Yoga for Athletes
9-10am

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