Yoga love, my yoga love

Yes, I’m singing “Baby love” by The Supremes while typing this, and YES, I know. Another post about my love for yoga? Yep. Because last night in yoga, well, it was amazing. A-maz-ing.

No one else in class could hear me silently cheering for myself as I did not one, not two, but three things I had never been able to do before. I wanted to stop the class and say “Look what I can do!!”. And I was in Savasana, I was already taking mental notes for this blog post. And thinking about how things in my life have changed so much in the past 2 and a half years since I began this journey that I never ever ever thought I would.

This practice has taken me from overweight to fit, from insecure to confident, from anxiety to (mostly) calm. Oh I still worry about stuff I can’t control, and have moments of complete freak out, but I also don’t stay in that space for long. I’ve learned to control what I can and let go of what I can’t.

I know a lot of non-yoga people get sooooooo sick of hearing yoga people talk about how great it is. But has anyone stopped to realize they’re singing yogas praises for a good reason?? It’s a body, mind and soul transformation. Not a lot of things can claim all three. I have a few runner friends who feel that way about running. I tried running. I know I can run, which is something I never thought I’d say either. But I had too many injuries and not a deep-in-my-soul love for it. So I get runner love. I hope they can appreciate my yoga love.

And in an effort to remain honest about my practice, yes I almost did fall over last night in a pose I’ve done a hundred thousand times. And I also know why. Because in that moment, that second, my mind drifted and I wasn’t focused. Of course I laughed with Julie because, well, hello? I almost fell over! But after I regained my balance and was realizing what I did wrong, it occurred to me that so many things in our lives are just like that pose and potential fall.

How many times have you lost focus in what you are doing? Things are going well, maybe you start to feel like you can coast a little instead of furiously pedaling, and then you start to swerve. Your resolve starts to waiver and you quickly get jolted back to what can happen if you lose that concentration. Hopefully you can correct your thinking and start again toward your goal. Unfortunately, sometimes it takes a hard fall to see that you’ve totally lost your previous determination and it takes a scraped knee or elbow to see how far you fell.

This could be with anything: exercise, diet, anger, dating, addiction, career, kids, spouse, anything. Anything you are trying to change about yourself to make you a better you. Change isn’t easy. There is resistance, sometimes from others who don’t want to see you change, but most of the time, the resistance is right between your own ears. We think things of ourselves that we would never say outloud or to another person. We allow our bad thinking to take over and self sabotage our progress. “I’ll never lose that much weight” or “I’ll never get that promotion” or “I’ll never find someone who will treat me better. I deserve what I’m getting” or “I can have just one (or two or five) and no one will know.” We SAY these things to ourselves!! ACK!

What yoga has taught me is that what happens outside of my mat has nothing to do with me and if I focus on myself and what I can do, nothing can stop me. I can look inside and praise my little victories, even if no one else does. It’s MY victory after all. I can look at how far I’ve come and not be bogged down by how much further I have to go. I can control my mind, my actions, my day by how I respond to my own thinking. Basically, I can get out of my own way.

And by getting out of my own way, I’ve empowered myself. Even if I have a swerve. Or I lose concentration for a second. The more I practice, the stronger I am. The more you have people around you, supporting you, understanding what you’re doing and going through, the easier it is to acknowledge the slip and get right back up. And LEARN from it. Isn’t that what life is all about anyway?

yoga love

Yoga – The Life Changer

I have written about my no-longer-new love of yoga before. But every once in awhile, I have a class where certain things fall into place. I just love when that happens and how something I did to change my outside has transformed my inside.

I can’t tell you the date of my very first class. It isn’t engraved on some healing stone sitting on my bedside table. I’m positive I could ask my Yogi to look it up for me and I could have some sort of anniversary date. I could get it tattooed on my inner wrist to remind myself of the day I took back my life. All I can tell you is that the strides I have made are pretty remarkable when I think back to that first class.

I’ve shared some of this before; I couldn’t even touch my toes, the warm-up was as much “exercise” as I had done in years and I was preeeeeetty sure I was going to pass out within the first 20 minutes. I was sweating from head to toe, and I thought, there is simply NO WAY I was going to be able to do this for an hour.

Guess what? I did it for an hour. It wasn’t pretty, graceful or even in the ball park of proper form. But I stuck it out. And the best part of all? I. Came. Back.

So here we are, now, today, and I have been blessed in so many other ways than just going to a class. I have made friends. I could call them 24/7 if I needed something and I know they would be there for me. I have deepened my friendship with the one who got me there in the first place. She will forever and ever hold a place in my heart and I credit her for giving me the push I needed. I’m pretty sure we would all get kicked out of any other yoga class, as we lay there in savasana and laugh and talk.

Which brings me to the point of this blog post and the thought that occured to me during savasana during our last class. (yes, everything that preceded this paragraph was just the warm up. Sit back, grab your coffee and keep reading.)

As we go through our sun salutations (which by the way, are not so killer anymore and I WOW do I look forward to starting them. Yo has been changing them up some and it’s AWESOME!) she will instruct us to “step forward in to a forward fold”. As we keep going through them, she will say “step or hop to the front in to a forward fold”. I always step. Always. Through all of our sun salutations, always step. So I decided, what the hell. Let’s try to hop. So when we progressed from stepping to step or hop, I hopped. I didn’t come crashing down and the Earth didn’t stop revolving. I simply hopped forward. Hands on the ground, both legs off the ground. Hop. And then I did it again. And again. Through the entire class, each time Yo said to step or hop, I hopped.

Now, I know it doesn’t sound like a big deal. So what? You hopped forward 2-3 feet. Really? This is worthy of a blog post? Yes. Yes it is. Because 80 pounds ago, there was NO WAY these feet would be leaving the ground at the same time. Are you kidding? My arms would’ve crumbled from the sheer weight. But that’s not even the point. My point is that no matter what, you can continue to grow and learn as you push yourself and try to do something you didn’t think you could do. Step OUT of your comfort zone. Step OUT of your own mind that is holding you back.

The second incident is what else happened. We tried a new pose and guess what happened? I fell. On. My. Ass. Fell down.

We started in chair, lowered even further and raised up on to our tip toes. Ok, as if that isn’t challenging enough, we then twisted so left elbow was across right knee. Um yea. Anyone who knows me knows my knees suck. They pop, crack and generally have caused me annoyance for most of my life. I remember being at mass at St. Paul and I would kneel down and my knees would pop so loudly that they echoed through the church.

So there were, on our tip toes, crouched down AND twisted and next thing I know, I’m on the ground. Which goes back to my previous point…..step out of your comfort zone. Try something you don’t think you could do. Because one of two things will happen: You will do it and overcome or you will fall on your ass. Which just means you try again. You gather your courage, take a deep breath in and kick your ego to the door. And you try it. Maybe you have to try 50 times. It might take trying 51 to get it.

So keep trying. Step. Have the courage to try. And keep trying. Because you’re worth it, your life is worth it.

Namaste.

Om-Tattoo-On-Wrist

Overwhelmingly Overwhelmed?

Have you ever just had a day, where you feel the weight of everyone else’s world on your shoulders? Where you don’t know where to look or who to help or what to do, so the easiest thing to do is close the curtains and pretend you aren’t home? Uh huh. You know you have.

And the thing is, it’s not one or two big things. It’s more a culmination of many many many MANY little things. Sprinkle in a few big bombshells and BOOM, that crushing feeling is upon you. Divorces, family members not speaking to other family members, (some family members just fine with never speaking to a certain other family member again), affairs, lost loves, bankruptcy, cancer, alcoholism, recovery, friends struggling with friends, friends struggling with family, lost friendships, lost spouses, lost pets, children sick, weight loss, weight gain, kids struggling in school, with friends, with peers, with boyfriends or girlfriends…..OMG, I could seriously go on longer and that’s just in the past week!!!!!

This is the overwhelming part for me. And I have cried on enough shoulders and vented enough to my family and friends that I owe them my shoulder in their time of need. At least my shoulder. A few of them need me to call the divorce lawyer and pack up that spouse and kick them out. A few need me to get a shovel and a rural (unfrozen) parcel of land and start digging, if ya know what I mean. The fixer in me wants to wave my magic wand, sprinkle some fairy dust and make those impossibly difficult, narcissistic, egomaniac, selfish people into decent normal human beings. But I can’t do that and watching them struggle with this idiotic spouse/friend/person can be overwhelming.

High school kids are hard enough to deal with on good days. When they get mean for the sake of being mean, and hurtful for the sake of being hurtful, what can you do as parent? Most of the time they don’t want you involved anyway. So it gets tricky sometimes. But when the meanness causes your child to weep, do you step in? When and how do friends become enemies? It’s sad and overwhelming.

No matter how hard you try to be optimistic, or looking for the silver lining, what do you do when it’s hard to find? For the parent who finds their child suffering, suggesting they look on the bright side seems callous. What bright side? But do you allow it to make you become withdrawn? Bitter? Angry at the world? Or do you try to be a friend and walk a tightrope of not knowing what to say? A friend found out her daughter has cancer. How do you comfort them, especially when she wants to push everyone away? I don’t know how to help. It’s heartbreaking and overwhelming.

So how do you handle it? No really, I’d love to know. For me, I’m thankful today is a barre day, because even thought my triceps are still sore from Tuesday, I’m gonna work the hell out of them today! It’s gonna be a “sweat dripping off my nose” kind of work out. I know that I can’t be the fix it person to anyone but me. I can lend an ear, a shoulder, support. But I can’t fix it. Great lesson learned in Al Anon is that I can only be in charge of me and my behavior. No one can change someone else. You can try, but then you’re just manipulating. You don’t want to do that, do you? Cuz that’s just not nice. So I’m going to try to focus on me and what I need (this is the year is ME, right?) and I’m going to go work out. And I’m going to remember this:

Just try to be a good person. That’s enough. ~~ The Dalai Lama

Namaste

Load

Relapse or Slip?

These terms could fit a myriad of issues. And for good reason. They are interchangable with what we all struggle with. All of us. Don’t think you have a problem? Ha! I bet if asked, people could come up with at least “Fault”. I use fault in quotations because obviously not all struggles are exactly equal in scope and size, but at the same time, let’s not diminish any type of internal wrestling with right and wrong.

As some of my most loyal blog followers know, I had to have surgery on my back, again, for a melanoma that thankfully my doctor caught early. Surgery is a general term. She calls it surgery. I’m sure billed like a surgery. But it’s not in a hospital, its outpatient in her office surgical room. (Plus, as a side note, since it’s the beginning of the year and no deductible has been met yet, I’m sure this bill is going knock me off my feet. Sigh…..) So as a result of this “procedure”, I’ve had to miss a few yoga classes and a few barre classes. Throw in the Super Bowl and lots of not-so-good-for-me snacks, and well, you can probably see where this is going. I stepped on the scale this morning and was horrified and saddened to see I’ve gained 1 and 1/2 pounds since last week.

I’ve held my 70 lb weight loss to the pound since I hit that goal. Even though it was frustrating to not continue to lose more when nothing had changed. Maybe my body needed some time to recalibrate. I don’t know. But I went into a quick inventory of what I’ve been doing, what I’ve slacked off doing and how and when I need to refocus my efforts.

Do you know someone who struggles with an issue of trying to change and they have the tools, they know what to do, and yet……even after much success something switches in their mind and they give up all the progress they made? I think we all know someone (at least one) who has gone through this. The alcoholic who is sober for days, weeks, months, and in a moment, has the bottle? No thought about about what is being thrown away. What about the drug user who is out of rehab, made changes and suddenly an opportunity is there and they take it without a second thought. Until it’s too late.

So I’ve been thinking about this relapse or slip terminology. I’ve talked to some very knowledgable people in my Al Anon group as well as some in AA. The difference seems to be what happens after the fall. Do you continue on a shame-spiral and think “Screw it. I messed up. I have to start all over. I can’t do it. It’s too hard. I don’t even want to try anymore. This is who I am, if you don’t like it, YOU leave.”

OR

Can you pick yourself up, dust yourself off and realize how much you’ve learned since your last Day 1? Can you start Day 1 with renewed determination and focus? Can you call someone who is helping you along your journey and honestly ask for help?

This is the difference between a slip and relapse. It’s not that you have to start over (because you do) it’s that you start over with serious gusto. You add more tools to your toolkit so that it doesn’t happen again.

I’m choosing to look at myself as the latter. I’m going to go barre Thursday and do what I can. I’m going to drink more water, because I know I’ve been seriously slacking in that department. I’m going to confess to my trainer that I had more than a few bites of ooey gooey yummy homemade soft pretzels Sundays, and yes, one or more may have fell into some cheese dip and then stumbled into my mouth. Mmmmmmmmm.

But I can tell you what I won’t do. I won’t allow it to derail me. I think about people who have lost significant weight by going on a fad diet or one of those pre-packaged meal deals like Jenny Craig or Nurtisystem. Those people all lose weight. I did when I was on Jenny Craig decades ago. But it doesn’t really teach you to keep it off. It teaches you how to use the microwave. Long lasting change isn’t easy, or fast, or without trials. But it’s soooooo worth it.

So even if your “slip” is falling away from your New Years Resolution, or you’ve fallen off the diet/alcohol/drug/sex/gambling/whatever wagon that you’ve been trying to stay on, fear not! Today is a new day. And today is a great day to call Day One.

Namaste

dont give up

Baking during the holidays

I’m actually taking a break from baking right now to write this. More for my peace of mind than anything else. You see……I love to bake. Love it. It’s therapeutic, it makes people happy (usually happy, because most of the time it turns out well!) and during the holidays it’s a given to make cookies and fudge and bark and balls and cakes and rolls and……

The great thing about cooking is that my husband does 99.5% of it. He likes it for the exact reasons I mentioned above. I know it’s crazy that he is the one who goes to work, and then comes home and HE cooks. But he prefers it that way. He cooks, I clean. That’s the deal we made over 20 years ago. He does stress out about it sometimes. And sometimes he makes such a mess that I would swear he tried to dirty every pot, pan and dish in the kitchen just to make me clean it. If I could only get him to ask me to cook on the days he doesn’t feel like it, I would be more than happy to oblige. I have roughly 8 million recipes in my Pinterest folder. I’m sure I could find one that I could actually make if he gave me notice. But I’m getting off track. (As usual!)

I was making a new recipe for cookies again today for my church cookie exchange this coming weekend. I’m making 6 different types cookies that I have never made before. I figured this was a great opportunity to try new things and then give them away and keep them out of my house! I got a recipe from a friend for cookies that everyone has “had” to taste to check it out and now I’ve had to hide the rest of them because they don’t want them given away. SELFISH! I saved them HALF the recipe! But I haven’t had one. Not even a lick of the beater.

Then I made some bark. I was going to give that away to the women who are actually manning the cookie exchange table so they had something to nibble on. I gave a large baggie of it to Ryan’s girlfriend for her to share with her friends. It was a hodge podge of sweet, salty and chocolately. Mmmmmmmmmmmmm. But I didn’t have any. (Ok, I might have snuck a few pretzels, but not the finished product! So it doesn’t count, right?)

But then today. Today I was making a dough that has to be refrigerated for at least 24 hours after making but before baking. I’m not sure why, but the author specifically said they don’t turn out as well if not refrigerated for that period of time. If anyone has insight to that, let me know. I get chilling the dough, but a minimum of 24 hours? Never heard such a thing. So I started whipping up the dough this morning so it could sit for the required time. I had to transfer to a bowl from my KitchenAid mixer (so I could use it for other cookies!) and there it was. A mixture of sugar, chocolate covered pomegranates, pistachios, chocolate chips and I thought, well, maybe I should taste what is sticking to this beater, ya know, just to see what this swirl of odd ingredients tasted like. It tasted pretty super fantastic! So another little scrap from the bowl (cuz there’s ALWAYS a little stuck to the bowl, right?) and as I stood in front of my kitchen sink, spatula in hand, a wave of extreme distress came over me.

WHAT WAS I DOING??????

Was a few licks of raw cookie dough what I should be doing? Hello?? I have barre class today! Would it kill me or derail my progress, I would say no. It wouldn’t. But what was I doing? WHY was I doing it? I haven’t licked a beater or bowl in months. And I bake all the time! So why today? Nothing happened? It’s not like something had happened. So I did what anyone doing something they shouldn’t be doing does. I STOPPED!!! Stopped and refocused. And I’m confessing and keeping myself honest. Not just honest to myself (which let’s face it, is the most important thing.) but honest with all of you. Because in community, having others holding you accountable and being honest and responsible helps get through a tough day of craving something you know you shouldn’t have. Being with others who know EXACTLY how you feel, no matter how you are feeling, is one of the best supports a person can have.

So I’m confessing, as well as removing myself from the temptation. Redirect! And the feeling, the impulse, has passed. If you can just hold on for a minute, an hour, a day……the feeling subsides. Then you can be proud of the fact day by day, you’re reaching your goal. YOUR goal. Whatever that goal is. Keep it front and center. Be mindful of it. TALK about it. Be willing to be held accountable for it. Be ever conscience about it. Because when you let your guard down, even for a moment, that temptation (a sugary, chocolately one) is going to be there, telling you it’s ok this once. And before you know it, the whole thing has been thrown out the window. And you have chocolate breath.

cookie dough beater

Another goal….accomplished!

So this morning I hit another milestone in my weight loss journey. I had hit a dreaded plateau where I was stuck for a few weeks. I hadn’t altered my diet, and in fact, I had added my twice weekly barre class thinking I would see even faster results. Instead, I was just maintaining. It was frustrating but I persevered.

This morning I jumped on the scale and there it was! I have officially lost 60 pounds! (60.5 to be exact!) Wooo hoooo!!!!I was so excited I wanted to shout it from the rooftops and tell everyone I saw! Instead, I enjoyed the moment to myself. I slipped on my workout clothes and headed to barre with determination and a little extra joy in my heart.

Doing barre this morning was KILLER! I was a sweaty, shaky, oh-my-God-I-don’t-think-I-can-do-one-more-rep mess. My face was red. My muscles were quivering uncontrollably. There wasn’t enough water my Venti size Starbucks water glass by a long shot. Thank God they provide towels or I might have had to use toilet paper to sop up the streams running down my face. But I did it!!

Now, the old me would seriously consider celebrating this moment with food. I know. Sabotage and counter-productive, but I still would’ve done it. A nice plate of nachos anyone? At the very least some chocolate. I was thinking about that as I was drip drying on my drive home. And how it honestly, honestly, HONESTLY just doesn’t even sound appealing to me in the least. I’ve come to that place in my journey where food doesn’t have to be the comforter, the consoler, the celebration, the momentary fix. I have become hyper-aware of what I put in my body. I log EVERYTHING! One M&M gets logged. Really. It keeps me focused and accountable to no one but myself.

And that, I think, is one of the biggest lessons learned and I believe I’ve blogged about it before, is that this is for ME! No one would know if I did eat a candy bar. But **I** would know. And as the pounds came on, I could lie to myself very easily. My family still loved me, my friends still loved me, my kids, my dog, it didn’t matter what the scale said. But I didn’t love me enough to see what I was doing to myself. Not to anyone else. I wasn’t hurting anyone with my extra large Blizzard. But I was hurting ME. I didn’t like being the fat friend, the fat wife, the fat mom. Call me what you will. But I didn’t like it. And who could fix that? No one but me.

So with the help, encouragement, support and endless praise, that same husband, children, friends and my dog (hee hee!) I was able to start this process. And look where I am today! Woooo flipping hoooooo!!!!! I have gone from “obese” to “normal” on the BMI chart. Well into normal. (Me?? Normal?? Never!!) I know a lot can be said about all those charts and graphs, both positive and negative, but it was still nice to see.

So what did I do instead of coming home to food? I cut the grass in the sweltering midday heat. I drank more water. I showered. And now, I’m going to plot out my next set of goals and have a homemade recovery smoothie. Because THAT, I deserve!

weightloss scale

Let’s Get Physical

Today was the day of the dreaded physical. I am NOT a fan. My doctors office actually called me to schedule this and let me know I was past due for just about every test known to the medical profession and I needed to come in. MIchael was due also and she would be happy to schedule us together. Then she reminded us that we could have nothing after midnight, and no deodorant for me for the mammogram.

So today was the day. No coffee when I get up at 5:30 is excruciating and cruel. I mean honestly. They need to develop a test that can be taken with coffee (including the requisite pink packets and a shot of creamer) without skewing the results. I mean, we can cure polio but we can’t develop a blood test to be taken after coffee?? WHERE ARE THE PRIORITIES PEOPLE?????

And no deodorant. What’s up with that? I feel bad for those nurses dealing with patients towards the end of the day. I mean….whew!!!!

So when we arrived on time and cranky and yawning, they actually put us in the same room. When she said she would schedule us together, I didn’t think she meant “together”. We sat there in the same room looking at each other, kinda shrugging our shoulders like, well, THIS is weird! Good thing is, my blood pressure is way better than his and so is my pulse. HA! Take THAT! Our blood oxygen was a tie, so even though I shouldn’t claim victory, I am. Since i won the other 2, it really goes without saying that it gives me the edge on the 3rd category, so I win all three. I spend a few seconds feeling like I should jump up and say “In your FACE buddy!” but I didn’t think the nurse would appreciate my misplaced sense of superiority. 

After the doc comes in and he gives me a little once over, listens to my heart, lungs, blah, blah, blah, he says, well, we need to see your weight come down a bit more. Flashes of a million things go through my mind, but I just stare at him. I want to say “No kidding!?”. I want to say “I know, but it’s COLD outside Doc, and you know with my thyroid PLUS the general strong dislike I have for winter weather, some things aren’t going to get done.” I want to say, “But I’ve been eating salad and not pizza! I’ve been eating organic and not as much processed!!” (I can’t claim NO processed because you don’t want to lie to your doctor!!) But I just sit there staring at him. I want to list off the exercise I am getting, my devotion to my yoga class, my weights, my running the stairs, my new exercise ball!!!! But I didn’t. I just sat and stared.

He throws me a bone to tell me he’s glad I lost so much weight in the past few years, and to keep it up!! Then he glances at me and says “Do you have a treadmill at home?” I shake my head no. We used to have one til it broke. “Well, a treadmill is a great investment and you and Michael can both use it on cold or rainy days. And this is a great time of year to find a deal on one.” I half expect him to pull a brochure for Dick’s Sporting Goods with the latest treadmill circled in pink highlighter for me.

I can just sit and stare. I think I sighed. I seem to remember hearing an audible sigh escaping my lips. I’m screaming in my head…”Tell him about your yoga class!! Tell him how hard you work and how much you sweat!! Tell him that you’ve gotten better, even if marginally so! Tell him you’re trying!” But I don’t. Cuz I know he’s right.

I have come a long way, but I need to do better. I can do better. And if anyone has a treadmill they’re using as a coatrack, I have a swap I’ll be happy to make with you.