Saturday, January 25, 2014

On quitting smoking (again)

I started smoking shortly before I turned 16 years old. In my bedroom, leaning out the window, by I could learn how to do it right & would look cool later on.

In the 6 weeks prior to that moment, I was on a Jewish youth group trip across the country. The cool girls smoked.

Fast forward 25 years. I've quit & started more times than I can count. More than once (I think?), for YEARS at a time. But here I am again.

Last June, I went to a wedding with some friends. There was much drinking & dancing. And there were cigarettes. I had 3 that night. Somehow, I didn't slip into my cigarette downward spiral (described below). I didn't smoke again.

Until November. I had 1 cigarette with a friend in Harrisburg. A week later I had 3 more cigarettes with other friends. Within the next week, I had more cigarettes with another friend. And so began my downward spiral.

This is what I do. I bum cigarettes off of friends. I buy a pack of cigarettes (American Spirits--no animal testing, no byproducts--that's how I rationalize it). I smoke a few. Alone. On my balcony. Then I get mad at myself & throw them away. Then I get mad at myself & dig them out of the trash & smoke a few more. Then I get mad at myself & break them. Then I get mad at myself & tape them back together & smoke a few more. Then I get mad at myself & throw them away again. For real this time. A day or 2 goes by. I buy a pack of cigarettes. It begins again.

I was actually laughing at myself as a wrote the above paragraph, but in the moment, I was so overcome with shame. Addiction is fucking ugly. You have no idea how much self-loathing I go through, how ashamed of myself I get when I'm in this. (Please don't tweet or comment to me how disgusting & stinky & cancer-causing cigarette smoking is, I already know. To admit this online when smokers are always so vilified is actually terrifying. But you can't make me feel any shittier than I make myself feel, so there's that.)

I haven't had a cigarette in a week. I added it to my Day Zero list (again), but this time I made it more concrete: "quit smoking for 1 week (to get started)." I can mark that goal complete, but I'm adding a new one: "quit smoking for 1 month (to keep going)." One step at a time. I can do this. Maybe, just maybe, this time it'll be forever.

Friday, January 24, 2014

On finding balance.

Tonight at Flywheel, Utley gave my blog a shout-out at the end of class, so I figured, I should probably write's been a week, sorry!

I've been finding my way back to the mat. Through Bikram. Wow. I used to really hate Bikram. I'd read about it & hated everything I read. I went to one class 7 years ago & walked out halfway through it & the teacher screamed at me. I hated that teacher. And I would tell anyone who would listen just how much I hated Bikram Yoga. I was never going back.

But after months of my sister-in-law gently persuading me to give it another try, I added it to my Day Zero list, & went to my first Bikram class almost 3 weeks ago. The sequence of asanas, even the heat, I love it all! Yes! I fell in love with yoga all over again.

I've been practicing yoga for 16 years. Most of the classes I've taken & taught over those past 16 years, like most of the classes offered in most studios, were vinyasa based. Though the classes weren't always exactly the same, they were often structured quite similarly. I got bored.

I find it fascinating that even though Bikram is the exact same 26 poses in the exact same sequence every time, it's not even a little bit boring. I love knowing exactly what's coming & not being surprised with a pose I don't love. I love that not only are there no vinyasas, but there's not even any downward dogs! No weight on my shoulders ever! And I LOVE that because they are the exact same 26 poses in the exact same sequence every time, I can measure my progress in concrete ways!

Yes. There's the connection. That is why Bikram is such a perfect complement to Flywheel for me. The results are measurable...not quite like a Flywheel spreadsheet, but still measurable. Also, looks like I've inspired some FLYfam to join me on the mat, which makes it even better! I love working out with my friends!

I'm getting my bendy back & with it, I'm getting my balance back! Life is good.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Street Harassment & Constructive Conversations

I tweeted about this incident right after it happened this morning, but I want to share more than 140 characters.

I was street harassed today. Pretty much just like any other day. But now, with the help of organizations like Hollaback Philly and Pussy Division, & hashtags to follow like #endSH,  I now have the tools to communicate effectively with street harassers. I can calmly, without fear, educate these men who objectify women on the street.

Here's how it went down:

SH: How you doin', pretty?

LJ: You don't know me, I'm more than just a pretty object.

SH: I want to know you, what's your name?

LJ: I'm not telling you my name. A random guy I don't know on the street calling me "pretty" translates to "I approve of the way you look...I'd fuck you."

SH: It was a compliment.

LJ: No. No it wasn't. You were objectifying me. Women don't like to be talked to like this, it makes us uncomfortable & some of us very scared.

SH: No. Really?! It was a compliment.

LJ: Would you talk to another man the way you just spoke to me?

SH: Hahaha, no.

LJ: Of course not. You need to think of women as peers, not objects. Would you want your mom or sister to be spoken to the way you just spoke to me?

SH: No, of course not, but that's just part of life.

LJ: So why don't you work toward making it NOT "just part of life." Why don't you be a better man?

SH: I never thought of it that way. Thank you.

LJ: I'm LJ. (held out my hand)

SH: I'm John. (shook my hand & walked away)

And that was that. I feel so empowered, I feel like I diffused a situation, & I feel like John could quite possibly be a better man now & maybe, just maybe, educate his friends. I hope.

For more information on how to handle street harassment safely, definitely check out Hollaback PhillyPussy Division, & #endSH. Change begins with education.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The No Gossip Challenge: 24 hours in

I found this great image of the THINK acronym this morning from a teacher site:
It's now my desktop wallpaper. I think it's a  really important reminder during a gossip challenge & well, pretty much always.

Last night, I was out with a couple of friends. One of them asked me something about a mutual friend. I could have gone on & on, sharing my opinion on her situation, basically making up stories in my head, but instead I just stuck to the facts. And it was easy. Super proud of myself.

10 of my friends, some from facebook & some from twitter, have joined me in this challenge. It's great to be able to help each other, & it's great to know we're not alone in thinking this is a problem we can all work on.

Self improvement is a constant work in progress, & a week without gossip feels like a really positive step. I think my goal for 2014 is simply to be the best LJ I can be. I'm on my way.

Monday, January 13, 2014

On gossip

I stopped for a moment and listened to myself yesterday.

Actually, no, it was more like this:

I had a panic attack in bed last night about things I said yesterday which then spiraled out of control to things I said last week & last month until I was freaking out & my heart was racing & I was in tears. I turned on the lights & journaled. Once I wrote, I had some perspective...what I said wasn't nearly as bad as what it was in my head, but it was still a problem.

I am really gossipy. I do not like this part of myself. I am challenging myself to stop talking about people for 1 week. I'm not even going to tweet about my fighting neighbors!

We all know that Eleanor Roosevelt quote: "Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people." I am not a small mind, dammit!

Please let me know if you'd like to join me on this challenge via comment or tweet. This is something new that I think would be great to do with others, so we can support each other & spend quality time discussing ideas!

Friday, January 10, 2014

Come Fly With Me WINNER!!!

I know 11 of you are eagerly awaiting the winner of 5 Flywheel credits in my Come Fly With Me Giveaway!

I used the random number generator site,, to choose the lucky winner...and the winner is:
Commenter #2! Pam Selle!
Congratulations to Pam! I'll put you in touch with Emily from Flywheel who will credit your account with your winnings. Let's plan on flying together as soon as possible! YAY!

Thankful Thursday

I started writing this yesterday, but then life & work happened, so here is my Thankful Thursday, better late than never!

I'm in the midst of some big life-changing decisions. As soon as I decided on one thing, something else appeared in my life to improve another thing. I'm thankful for my friends & family for all of the support I'm getting, & I'm thankful that no matter what I decide, it's going to be a win for me. And I'm thankful that my readers are OK with me being deliberately vague on this one.

I'm also thankful to be back on the yoga mat. My sister-in-law has been trying to get me to go to Bikram for a long time, & I finally gave in. What a shock that I really enjoy it! (I walked stormed out of a Bikram class 7 years ago, this is a really big deal.) I'm thankful for Nikki for being persistent in making me try something new, & I'm thankful that I've been able to fall in love with yoga again.

Life is good. It's really good. I have a great feeling about 2014. Coming from a place of gratitude is always a great start.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Come Fly with Me!

Admit it. You've read all my Flywheel posts & you want to try it. You're thinking, "LJ is a known workout-hater, but she loves this Flywheel & she looks great & she says she feels great too, so there must be something to it!"

But something has been stopping you. Maybe you're like me & trying new things scares you a little. Maybe you're already paying a membership at some other gym.
It's a new year! It's the time to try something new! (If I can go to a Bikram class this weekend, you can come with me to Flywheel!) And, if it's the money, here's your chance to Win 5 Free Credits at Flywheel Philly (Bryn Mawr or Center City)!

Here's how to enter:
  • Like Flywheel Philadelphia on Facebook and/or follow @FlywheelPhilly on Twitter.
  • Comment below, tell me something new you want to try this year, & especially why you want to Try Fly
Winner will be determined by random drawing on Friday, January 10 @ 12noon, eastern time. 

"Come fly with me, let's fly, let's fly away!"

Thursday, January 2, 2014

On Thankful Thursdays, Resolutions, & Vision Boards

On December 31st, I tweeted:

But then, late that night, I DID reflect in my journal, & here's the thing. 2013 DID have highs & lows, but the highs seemed really high (my friendships, my relationships with [most of] my family, Flywheel, my birthday party) & the lows seemed really low (scary violent ex, layoffs at work, money issues). But then, the more I thought about it...all of those lows could have been so. much. worse. But they weren't! So you know what, 2013 wasn't that bad a year. Hmm. Glad I reflected. I'm pretty fucking thankful, actually.

I don't really make resolutions. I'm so into the Day Zero Project, that I'm in a constant state of making & achieving resolutions & goals. But it's the beginning of a year. And a new moon. And for both of these reasons, it's a great time to take stock of life & set some intentions & quit some bad habits & create some good habits. I am feeling incredibly thankful for my lady friends, for spending time with me on New Year's Day making vision boards. That was awesome. You're awesome.
Vision Boarding. Photo credit: Kristin Horst
So I'm not going to list my resolutions or goals or whatever. But I'm journaling more. And I edited my old Day Zero list (ending March 22nd) for some short term goals. And I transferred/added more long term goals to my new Day Zero list (beginning March 23rd). And I made a vision board that I can look at every day. And all is right in my world.

Reflections on My Flywheel Philly Ride All the Bikes Challenge

I was walking home from Flywheel with my brother in the beginning of October. "I want to ride all of the bikes. In order," I said. "That's a good idea. You should do that," he replied.

So, on October 9, 2013, I rode bike 49, & began my 2+ month quest to ride all the bikes. Now that I'm finished, I noticed something...all the bikes are different but also the same. Yeah, umm, OK, that made sense. Just hear me out. It's mid-December, I have this spreadsheet with my favorite bikes from my challenge highlighted, I choose one, go to class, & get a low score. My big realization from this experience--it just doesn't matter.

I had this plan to interview Adrian for this post--he's the rad Flywheel tech guy--he calibrates the bikes--but with that above realization, it became unnecessary. If a bike is WAY off, tell them at the front desk & it will get recalibrated & back on point with the rest of the bikes. But other than that, it just doesn't matter. Because the bike isn't the only factor--how much sleep did I I have a headache, cramps, a cold, stress...who's teaching...what's on the playlist? My own body & mind are as much a factor as the bike.

But wait...yes, the numbers actually DO matter. They help me track my progress, & I love being able to see concretely, on a color-coded spreadsheet, that I am, indeed, getting stronger & gaining endurance. That being said, the numbers are not the end all be all of your workout. And if you're on a tight bike, you're going to work harder & still get a great workout, so there's no reason to throw a tantrum (true story--I've seen this happen). But still, I do download my statistics after every class, & I really value having them.

So here's the lowdown on my favorite & least favorite bikes:
  • I love being toward the right side of the room because I like being able to see the 2-minute warning on the computer screen. If I'm close to 300 or close to a PB, I like knowing exactly how much time I have left! (Except that my current favorite bike, #14, doesn't have a view of the screen.)
  • I don't love being in the back rows on the sides of the room. It's fine in a packed class, but a little lonely for me, otherwise. (My brother does, though--his current favorite bike, #44, is in a back corner.) 
Hahaha. Sorry, were you expecting big Flywheel secrets?

Riding all of the bikes was overall a really fun experience. Took me a while to post about it, but here it is. It was something to do, I got to know a lot of cool people because of it, & I achieved a goal that I'm proud of.