The Numbers Game

April 15th, 2019 — 1:06pm

Someone asked me recently how much weight I lost. Enough, I said. She wasn’t satisfied. She wanted a number. I didn’t give it.

I’m not being coy or modest. Playing the numbers game doesn’t work for me. It’s a way of measuring success, or beauty, or worthiness that depends entirely on an outside source of validation. This feels like a prison cell to me. Why would I give that power to anyone, or anything?

First, a disclaimer: I don’t talk about weight much anymore. Having gone on my journey, I am grateful for the freedom that living in a less weighty body gives. I’m grateful for my body’s strength and grace. I’m grateful NOT to think about it that much. But I notice how people get stuck on numbers, and how fixating on numbers can cause pain. When is enough enough? What happens if you gain weight? Will you be any less happy because of it? Perfection is the enemy of the good, or good enough.

I get that stepping on the scale can be useful, and I’m not immune to checking in occasionally. It can be a source of information, but it’s not the answer to bodily happiness or health. The scale can never takes the place of developing your internal barometer of hunger and satiety, and that can be an interesting and rich journey. Learning to listen, and learning to pay attention is a powerful gift you can give yourself. Your happiness is not based on a number, it’s based on your relationship to your own body.

I’ve lost enough weight now that I can move more freely and lightly through the world. I’ve lost enough weight that my blood sugar and cholesterol levels have dropped considerably. I’ve lost enough weight that I can joyfully practice and teach Pilates.

We’re all embodied in a certain way. I’m curvy, even still, with my weight loss. Hallelujah!

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Mushroom Barley Soup

February 4th, 2019 — 3:35pm

Here’s the recipe for my FB Post on mushroom barley soup:

Mushroom Barley Soup, adapted from “Jewish Cooking in America” by Joan Nathan

2Tbs dried mushrooms (I use mixture of shitake, maitake, and sometimes reishi for its healing properties), soaked in hot water for ½ hour
3 TBS butter
1 large onion diced
2 celery ribs diced
2 carrots peed and sliced
½ cup fresh parsley
3 cloves garlic chopped
1 pound fresh mushrooms (I mix shitake with crimini)
1 TBS Flour
2 quarts broth or water (I use vegetable broth but chicken or beef stock is fine too)
1 cup whole barley
Salt and pepper to taste

Strain mushroom, retain broth
Chop mushrooms
Melt butter in stockpot
Add onion, celery, ½ parsley, carrot, garlic and fresh mushrooms. Saute until soft
Lower heat, add flour for a few minutes, making sure to stir so it doesn’t stick
Add broth or water, turn heat up
Add reserved barley, dried mushrooms and mushroom water
Simmer covered for about an hour or until barley is reasonably tender
Add additional parsley, mix, and serve!

Serves 6 – 8

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Quiet (er)

January 15th, 2019 — 1:14pm

I was interviewed last week by the wonderful Emily Francis of The full interview is here. We discussed Ravenous, which was published 7-1/2 years ago. I’m so proud of that book! I wrote it true. And the journey has continued.

Speaking with Emily reminded me how much quieter this weight journey has become, all that noise and chatter about should and shouldn’t, all those disappointments I used to carry about my weight. Truth is, I don’t think about weight that much anymore, and I don’t talk about it either. Through living my life and taking what I’ve learnedfrom Ravenous, I’ve lost and kept off a lot of pounds and several sizes. So though there’s not much more of a weight journey, there is a life journey. My life. And it’s precious, just like yours.

Here are a few things I’ve learned, in no particular order:

Say something kind to your body everyday. No matter what. Your body is the vessel which takes you through the world and it is precious. It is to be honored. And thanked. I found losing weight was easier when I was kind to myself.

Weight is not a war, it’s a conversation. The mind is not the General doling out commands. Body, mind and spirit are three equal partners at the table with each spoke of the triad guiding you to what is next. I found it possible only to shed weight when all three aspects of my life were given equal time and respect.

To decrease weight, decrease stress. Losing weight takes time and attention. It takes **awareness. And stress can lead you out of awareness into habit.

Other people’s judgements about your weight are judgements about themselves. Judging others makes them feel better. I recently had a relative tell me how “great I look” but I should lose more weight. This person is so hard on herself. When she was a size 6 she felt big. This statement was about her, not me. I said to her, not unkindly, “Please keep your judgments out of my body. They are not welcome.”

Perfection is the enemy of the good. Your weight is not an ultimate number, it’s how you FEEL embodied, not what you THINK about your body.

Develop your internal compass. Do you know what real hunger feels like? (And I say this knowing it’s a privileged question to ask because it assumes there is a choice, which is not always true.) I was always running away from hunger, and the fear of future hunger. But when I allowed myself to feel it, I learned it wasn’t going to kill me. This was a useful tool (and interesting to write about) because i began to discern the difference between real hunger and mouth hunger. And when I was truly hungry I ate. This practice helped me develop my own internal compass around hunger and eating, which ultimately is what you will need to develop in order to keep weight off over a long period of time.

Yep, eat your veggies. And drink your water. Eat real food when you can, no matter what else you are eating. The journey is not only about what you leave out but also what you add in. I recommend dancing as well.

Keep moving. Whatever brings you joy! Walking, dancing, gardening, the body is meant to move!

Take the long view. Weight is not measured in 24 hour increments. Weight arcs over a long period of time. There will be plateaus, your body is getting used to being at a new weight. If and when it’s ready, it will continue. There are healthy weight ranges. Don’t fixate on a number. Take the long view.

When given the opportunity, the body wants to heal.

Acknowledge that weight loss is a loss. You may have deeply negative feelings about your weight but it’s there for a reason and life is still there even after weight comes off.

And finally, did I mention how essential kindness is? I did. And it is worth repeating: Say something kind to your body everyday. No matter what. Your body is what takes you through the world and it is to be honored and thanked. It is precious.

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Going Grey

August 11th, 2017 — 6:02pm

Here’s my piece which was just published in Yoga Journal, about letting my silver hair grow out. The upshot? I’m a happy camper.


Gray Hair, Don’t Care: How to Embrace Your Natural Color
Dayna Macy, Yoga Journal’s director of corporate communications, shares what drove her to do away with dye and her unexpected discovery when she did.
AUG 3, 2017

I was buying plants at my local nursery—dressed in sweaty yoga clothes and eager to get my latest haul into the ground—when I caught the man in line behind me staring at my hair. My messy, silver hair.

“Your hair is beautiful,” he said. I turned crimson, then thanked him.

I am seriously vain about my hair. Twenty years ago, I found the hairdresser of my dreams, who kept my medium-length shag just rocker-edgy enough for me to avoid sliding into middle-age frump. (My personal nightmare: The image of a 50-something me with a neat bob and wearing elastic pants.)

Ten years ago, when my gray starting coming in unapologetically, my stylist began dyeing my hair a lovely, dark chestnut with coppery highlights that showed off my layers. At first, I dyed my hair every four months. Then every two months. Then every month. Then every two weeks: That became the deal breaker.

My scalp itched. I popped antihistamines and kept my personal pain private, continuing to color my hair until one day I literally could not drag myself to the hairdresser even one more time. My inner rebel roared to life and made an executive decision. I was done with dye.

See also 15 Anti-Aging Health Benefits of Yoga That Will Make You Want to Start Practicing Now

I started to let my hair grow out, pulling it down into bangs. I rediscovered my love for hats. I artfully hid my gray for three months, until there was no denying it anymore.

So, I didn’t.

A few months in, I realized my hair wasn’t just gray. It was silver-white in the front with silver-and-dark streaks in the back. And it looked, well, awesome. I had expected to simply make peace with my gray hair. But the more my hair grew out, the more I fell in love with it. I felt a little subversive and downright sexy—whether men at the plant shop were checking me out or not.

As I’ve fully embraced my gray, I now feel the kind of freedom I’ve long felt on my yoga mat. Freedom not only in my body, but also in my mind and spirit. Freedom to be who I am, with complete faith that that’s enough.

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Joint Statement from California Legislative Leaders on Result of Presidential Election

November 16th, 2016 — 2:05pm

Senator Kevin de León

Wednesday, November 09, 2016
SACRAMENTO – California Senate President pro Tempore Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles) and California Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Paramount) released the following statement on the results of the President election:

Today, we woke up feeling like strangers in a foreign land, because yesterday Americans expressed their views on a pluralistic and democratic society that are clearly inconsistent with the values of the people of California.

We have never been more proud to be Californians.

By a margin in the millions, Californians overwhelmingly rejected politics fueled by resentment, bigotry, and misogyny.

The largest state of the union and the strongest driver of our nation’s economy has shown it has its surest conscience as well.

California is – and must always be – a refuge of justice and opportunity for people of all walks, talks, ages and aspirations – regardless of how you look, where you live, what language you speak, or who you love.

California has long set an example for other states to follow. And California will defend its people and our progress. We are not going to allow one election to reverse generations of progress at the height of our historic diversity, scientific advancement, economic output, and sense of global responsibility.

We will be reaching out to federal, state and local officials to evaluate how a Trump Presidency will potentially impact federal funding of ongoing state programs, job-creating investments reliant on foreign trade, and federal enforcement of laws affecting the rights of people living in our state. We will maximize the time during the presidential transition to defend our accomplishments using every tool at our disposal.

While Donald Trump may have won the presidency, he hasn’t changed our values. America is greater than any one man or party. We will not be dragged back into the past. We will lead the resistance to any effort that would shred our social fabric or our Constitution.

California was not a part of this nation when its history began, but we are clearly now the keeper of its future.


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A Poem for These Times

November 12th, 2016 — 5:48pm

The breeze at dawn

Has secrets to tell you

Don’t go back to sleep

You must ask

For what you really want

Don’t go back to sleep

People are going back and forth

Across the doorsill

Where the two worlds touch

The door is round and open

Do not go back to sleep


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Food Memoir Panel at Litquake!

September 16th, 2016 — 7:36pm

Delighted to be on a food memoir panel for Litquake SF!
Sunday, October 9, 2:15 at 777 Valencia Street in SF. So if you’re in the neighborhood, come on by!

Culinary Memoirs: Why We Write about Food, moderated by Margo True (Sunset Magazine), with Georgeanne Brennan, Jessica Fector, Dayna Macy, and Alex Prud’homme


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“Ravenous” Five Years Later

May 23rd, 2016 — 9:37am

When I published Ravenous five years ago, I wanted to document my journey of losing weight and making peace with my body. I examined the difference between real and processed food, I visited farms,I cooked with a Zen chef. I did a 4 a.m. yoga practice given to me by an Ayurvedic practitioner and yoga teacher. I was trying to figure out why the simple notion of “eat when you’re hungry, stop when you’re satisfied”, was so difficult.

I’ve learned through experience the truth of the neuroscience behind why diets fail. In a recent New York Times article, neuroscientist Sandra Aamot writes that everyone of us has a set point of a certain weight range. If you go below it, your body burns fewer calories, increases the production of hunger hormones, and finds eating more rewarding, and leads to long term weight gain. “The brain’s weight-regulation system considers your set point to be the correct weight for you, whether or not your doctor agrees.”

It’s true. I now comfortably weigh 25 pounds less than when I began writing Ravenous. I am healthier, my knees no longer hurt, I feel lighter inside and out. I’ve learned through observation which behaviors make it more likely I will stay in my set point range, and which won’t. Eating real food (especially lots of veggies), ditching processed food, drinking enough water, moving my body, spending time in nature — all these help keep my weight in my set range. Eating sugar doesn’t. It throws my hunger cues off wack.

And never underestimate the power of gratitude. I give thanks for the body I have, which is a great thing because it’s the only one I’ve got. No more waiting to reach a perfect weight in order to live an imagined perfect life. As the saying goes, “Be here now.” In fact, it’s through trying to stay present that I’ve managed to keep my weight in a reasonable range. What helps me do this is yoga and meditation. Which is what Aamot discovered in the course of her research: “[We need to] relearn how to eat only as much as the brain’s weight-regulation system commands. Relative to chronic dieters, people who eat when they’re hungry and stop when they’re full are less likely to become overweight, maintain more stable weights over time and spend less time thinking about food. Mindful eating also helps people with eating disorders like binge eating learn to eat normally.”

“Depending on the individual’s set point, mindful eating may reduce weight or it may not. Either way, it’s a powerful tool to maintain weight stability, without deprivation. I finally gave up dieting six years ago, and I’m much happier. I redirected the energy I used to spend on dieting to establishing daily habits of exercise and meditation. I also enjoy food more while worrying about it less, now that it no longer comes with a side order of shame.”

Amen to that. A healthier body matters because you need vitality to live a good life — one that is beyond obsession with food, a size, or a number. Life is bigger than that. Time time to live it.

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Still laughing, Still Crying, Still Living…

February 25th, 2016 — 11:55am

…was my answer when a friend asked me how I was.

I’m 55, and this is an incredible time of life. Taking care of the generation behind us and before us. I see doors opening, and closing and I try to see them with a clear eyed kindness as best as I can. I don’t always succeed.

My mantra for this time of life is, “Let it go.” My G-d, i just quoted a Disney song. And yet maybe its appeal lies in its truth. The more we shed what isn’t essential, the more room we have for what is. And that’s a song worth singing.

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This is water…this is water…

August 17th, 2015 — 9:58am

Thinking about my boys going to college in two years, thinking about what I hope for them. This, from David Foster Wallace’s commencement speech at Kenyon College in 2005, is my hope:

“The really important kind of freedom involves attention and awareness and discipline, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them over and over in myriad petty, unsexy ways every day.

That is real freedom. That is being educated, and understanding how to think. The alternative is unconsciousness, the default setting, the rat race, the constant gnawing sense of having had, and lost, some infinite thing….

It is about the real value of a real education, which has almost nothing to do with knowledge, and everything to do with simple awareness; awareness of what is so real and essential, so hidden in plain sight all around us, all the time, that we have to keep reminding ourselves over and over:

‘This is water.’

‘This is water.'”

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