Tuesday, February 28, 2012

I thought....

***This is not a feel good post about how much I love yoga and my life. If that is what you are looking for, you might want to move on. This post is a bit more raw than usual. You've been warned, just sayin.' Don't bother judging me, I have that all taken care of.***
I thought when I lost weight all my problems would go away – no really, don’t laugh,  I honestly thought that as the scale went lower and lower, the clouds would gradually part, a beam of light would envelope my body, and a chorus of angels would sing at my very presence. I would walk on fields of lilacs and be surrounded by peace, love, and joy.
Stop laughing
A year ago, my focus was on my weight, every problem that I had I traced back to that number on the scale.
Unhappy with myself? It’s because I was fat.
Frustrated that I don't think I have friends? It’s because I was fat.
Angry at myself? It’s because I was fat.
Thinking that everyone else in the world is better than I am? It's because I was fat.
Guess what, I’m not fat any more, and I still have problems.  How much does that suck? Well, a lot quite frankly. In a way, I was sort of happier a year ago because I could trace (or so I thought) all my problems to a common element – my weight.
Why am I so unsure of myself? I feel deeply inadequate in almost every way to nearly everyone in my life. Everyone is prettier, brighter, funnier, more important than I am.  It's obvious there are a whole lot of left over issues that were covered by the weight. I get that. But now, I'm just sort of stuck in this limbo land with the body of the present but the mind of the past.
It goes without saying this is a self esteem/self image issue. So maybe, its time for a gut check and another question…what do I like about myself that I wouldn’t change for a million dollars?  I mean really, really like. 
List 'em … go …
My eyes. I love their color and I love how they can change depending on what I’m wearing. 
My hair. There’s not much about my hair I don’t like. I like the texture of it, the curl when I choose to wear it curly or how smooth it gets with the flat iron. 
My stubbornness.  I love the fact that I can sink my teeth into an issue and just hold on for dear life. Now I don’t do it all the time, and am pretty choosy as to what it is that I do this with, but when I’m determined, the bull dog is there. And this quality has been vital on this journey.
My ability to express myself. I think I almost take this for granted, because I get way frustrated when the words won't come, but really, yes I love the fact that I can say what I mean and/or write what I mean clearly with a strong vocabulary.
My ability to self-examine.  Socrates said that the unexamined life is not worth living.  Well, I guess my life is worth living then because I do examine it, daily, sometimes almost obsessively.  I’m never satisfied with how I am right now; I want to improve and really, that’s sort of a gift. How many people are happy with going through the motions of life and only thinking about the next party, the next thing to own, the next event to attend?  How many women at 49 would embark on a life-changing journey starting with losing 80 pounds, exercising, dieting, then seeing a therapist, a trainer, taking up yoga, writing, and pretty much tossing their whole life into turmoil, just to finally deal with issues that have been sleeping, resting, percolating their whole lives? 
Honestly, wouldn’t it have just been easier to take the damn pills, sit on the couch, and watch TV? 
Sure it would have been. But I DIDN’T MAKE THAT CHOICE and there has to be respect and deep love for that decision.
My bravery.  Maybe this is what I admire most of all, and it’s related to the point above.
The process I’m involved in has been public, obvious, and without cover. I’ve admitted my old weight, current weight, and planned weight so many times, there is no embarrassment any more, no secrets, no hiding. I am me – at 178 pounds, like it, don’t like it, it’s still me. There are probably people who read that number and think "fat."  There are probably people who think I should keep some of this shit to myself. I shut my mouth my entire adult life, no more. Don't like it? Walk away. It's time for me to figure out what makes me tick and how to be happy for the next 50 years. If this transition is too hard, then don't hang around and watch the process. Don't really blame you either, wish I could check out sometimes.
When the rubber meets the road, the truth is, I did and am doing ‘it.’ I’m revealing the person hidden by the weight - shedding the pounds and the artifice all at one time. The process is not without bumps in the road and not without struggle, but the process pushes forward. At times it is stunningly hard; at times I am deeply embarrassed about my missteps; at times I wish the end were closer. No matter what, I’m grateful for every lesson learned.
Thoughts to take with me today: Little by little, I am becoming. I am being. I am lovely.

Friday, February 24, 2012

loving the yoga kick....

Recently I’ve come to the realization that my yoga practice is very closely tied into what is going on in my life. When I am worked up and anxious, my poses are unstable and tentative. When my mind is racing, I cannot focus on anything I read, much less meditate.  My insane drive for perfectionism feeds my anxiety, leading to poor decisions and ultimately aching body parts. (see post of 2/19/12) :)
Here’s a chew toy for the mind….Does yoga change my life or does life change my yoga?
But what is ‘yoga’?
To me, ‘yoga’ is becoming a way of living and being. It is a way of looking at the world and a way of looking at myself. Honestly, no harsh judgments, lovingly, gracefully, and above all, with kindness. It is a way of nurturing my body, soul, and spirit with asanas, scriptures, breathing, and meditation. It is a gentle hand turning my focus from the negative to the positive, slowly, slowly, slowly. No rushing, no hurrying, no pushing. Breathe in, make a small adjustment, maintain the energy; breathe out, make another adjustment, release any tension.
Only love, only grace, only kindness
But the world is not kind to those of us wanting to improve ourselves. The world wants to hold us back, get us to judge, keep us down in a pit where we can be controlled. I have people I thought were friends who openly discourage me from exercising, criticize my yoga practice, and tell me I am fine the way I am (and here, have some cake/pie/cheesecake.) So maintaining that positive energy and not allowing tension to build is itself a struggle, and one that ends up producing an insane amount of stress.
Crazy isn’t it?
Here I want to be free of the negativity of the past, but even in that desire is a certain amount of striving and straining – an eagerness to shed bad habits and never look back. Those very actions contain the seeds that can and will poison the future.
So, back to the ‘chicken-and-the-egg’ question with an answer.  I think yoga has the potential to change my day-to-day life, but my day-to-day life has the potential to change my yoga practice.
I reflect back to the very, very beginning of my self-actualization phase. Just be. Be in the moment. Be in the present. Be in calm, still voice that rests within. Stop struggling to ‘do’. Stop fighting to shake off. Stop wrestling with the world. The world is going to do what it’s going to do, with or without me. It’s all good. And I mean that. Every experience is only good, because within what may be considered ‘bad’ there is the potential to learn and to become just a bit better than I was the day before.
And through it all, honestly, truly, sincerely, let the light in my heart color everything I do, remembering that what I see in the eyes of others is usually a reflection of what I feel in my heart.
Thoughts to take with me today:  Live yoga. Breathe, smile, love, be.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Practicing yoga

This is not a happy day in my body, not a happy day at all.

Let's rewind...I've mentioned my personal trainer before, she has taken me so far down this path with excellent advice. To my credit, I listen and follow her advice about 95% of the time. It's that 5% deviation that gets me in trouble...and that deviation would explain the litany of pain I'm in today.

There is a yoga move that I badly, oh so badly, want to conquer. I dream about this move -- really, really. As in some mornings I wake up smiling believing that I did this move in my sleep and today, I'll be able to do it in class or in my home practice.   This asana is yoga to me. It represents everything I feel I am not - poised, calm, steady, controlled...just perfection.

Meet my nemesis

Salamba Sirsasana

Oh...you taunt me so....

Of course, there are prep moves to work towards this asana - no one just goes into it, and yes, I've been diligently practicing...this is where I am now

I'm totally able to do step 3 and step 4. Can get my knees up right there and hold them like a champ. 

Remember my trainer? Okay, her advice is with everything (not just yoga) is to,  


Remember that 5% where I do not follow her advice?  Yeah, it comes in here.

It is so maddening to have my knees up, tucked, and know that the asana is right there.  One leg pushes up, but when the second leg tries to meet it, the core strength gets overwhelmed and **BAM** down, with zero control over how the crash happens. So far I've hurt both wrists, two fingers, upper back, mid back, and a knee. 

(Yes, there is also an option to do this up against a wall....that's so cute...)

Today I'm home hurting - everything freaking aches, especially my back. Several massive crashes this weekend working on this asana, and every time I pushed it further than I should have. 

Total yoga fail

in every possible way.

All kidding aside though, this move really illustrates my problem with, well, life. I cannot seem to be happy where I am at this moment -- the limits must be pushed at all times, consequences be damned. 75 minutes of cardio a day?  Add another 60 minutes spin class.  2 mile run? Why not 3? Lose 5 pounds in a month? Try for 10 next time. 

How's that working out for me? Not so good actually, thanks for asking, as I look at the clock to figure if I can take more ibuprofen yet. 

The problem is that I can never just stop, breathe, and be happy where I am RIGHT NOW.

Yoga is life in so many ways. The calm, poise, control that I seek in this asana is never going to come until those qualities start to seep over from my day to day life. Those qualities are not found on the gym floor, or the treadmill, but in the quietness of meditation, reading, and living out what I study amidst a sea of change and challenges.  It's never going to come until I accept reasonable limits to everything and stop letting the ego take over my body and my life. 

Oh, I can probably bully my way into this asana at some point, but it won't feel the way I want it to; I'll know how I got there, and it'll feel like a cheat. Then the internal issues will just continue on and on and on.

So my next challenge? Hold the 'bent knee' part of the headstand for 30 seconds, breathe in and out with control, then let the knees drop.  Then with a smile and an open heart, thank my body for all the hard work and my inner teacher for the patience and instruction.

That is what practicing yoga looks like

Thoughts to take with me today:  Sometimes I think losing the weight is the easy part of this journey. 

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


New weight finally! Yep, at 180 now – which is ah-maz-ing!  Getting closer to my goal!
But what is my REAL weight loss goal? The one I kind of dream about, but don't talk about. And is it realistic?
I can so dream sometimes......
So, we did the Tanita last night and the numbers were stunning, not just the weight, but the body fat. According to the scale I have only 54 pounds of fat on my body – which is about 30% of my total body weight. This is a loss of almost 60 pounds of fat.  This ratio puts me at the upper end of ‘average’ for my age and weight. No longer in the ‘obese’ range, which is a big deal. I’m average. Just average.
I like being average!
Then the other shoe dropped. I have 126 pounds of non-fat mass on my frame. 126 pounds of muscle/bones/organs and 54 pounds of fat. What was my 'secret wish'? To weigh 120.  But last night, the realization set in, that to weigh 120 (and have a shred of healthiness) I would have to lose 23  pounds of muscle along with 37 pounds of fat. Or a few body parts. Or a whole LOT of body parts.

Was I okay with this new fact? No, I was not okay. Not even a little.  I wanted to cry, complain, argue, moan, or any other thing that might get me my way. To my credit, instead of all that, I kind of sat back, breathed a bit, and just told myself, "it'll be fine, relax, don't get in the car to go get ice cream, you've gotten beyond that." 

But I can mope, moping I can do!
But then, it comes time for my reading and meditation. My new favorite yoga book is The Heart of Yoga  by Desikachar.  The chapter of the night was entitled "Things that Darken the Heart." Besides the obvious issues of negativity, things that we all know are wrong, there is also the idea of having unrealistic expectations - like an uber goal. The author says it's normal to set up a goal and work towards it. But sometimes we can work towards that goal with an intensity to the exclusion of the rest of life.  The goal ends up being a burden. 
(Things that make you go hmmmm.....)
The important concept is that goals are fine, but we must be flexible and recognize that goals can change and that maybe they SHOULD.
One of the Niyamas (the 'do's' of yoga) is isvira-pranidhana (ish-vir'-ah Prah-ni-dah'-na) – surrender to the divinity within me and live to serve the divinity within others. Surrender, let go of the need to control every outcome, and as I read last night….
“Paying more attention to the spirit in which we act and looking less to the results our actions may bring us..”
If I am really surrendering control and my actions are being directed by God, then the results are His and under His influence. How can those results be questioned?
How does this apply to weight loss? Well, if I do what I know is right and use the advice of those placed in my path,  the results will be what they should be, not what I think they ought to be.
What will I eventually weigh? I don’t know at this point, but it's not going to be 120!  Looks like it's time for some new goals, realistic ones. Goals based on feeding my body in the correct way, exercising it reasonably, continuing to nourish my spirit and soul, and working with what is already here.  Then whatever I weigh will be exactly right.  
 I will be very, very okay with that.

Thoughts to take with me today: Do what is wonderful at this moment, with a sweet spirit; the results can only be perfect. 

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Contentment vs. Happiness

Wonderful sutra this morning – contentment is not about being happy, it is about being comfortable in the moment – neither looking ahead nor looking behind, but looking within and acknowledging that whatever is happening RIGHT NOW, I am peaceful and accepting of that.
A song popped into mind during meditation  – “When peace like a river attends my way, or sorrow like sea billows roll. Whatever my lot, thou has taught me to say, ‘It is well with my soul.” And that is where I want to be, content knowing that no matter what happens, my soul is protected and that there is a certain amount of peace that I can always have there, deep inside me.
There were times (even recently) that discovering a truth like that would have upset me. "I’m 50 years old – shouldn’t I have figured all of this out years ago?" the arrogant part of me would have demanded.   "Shouldn't I be some sort of  'life guru' by now? I mean...when do I get 'there'?"   I think my problem is I've always thought deep inside there was/is a finish line, that there will be a time that I receive a ‘trophy’ for becoming a full fledged adult. But, as I've very gradually let go of the expectation of perfection in myself, I've discovered to my absolute delight the journey and process of life. Every day there is something new to learn - how wonderful, truly. 
May I never stop learning and feeling this joy that in every experience, even the mundane, ordinary ones,  I can discover another truth. My heart does not need to stop growing - its potential is infinite. 

So now, I don't want to get 'there,' 'there' would be boring.
Thoughts to take with me today: Feel the contentment, reflect on how your heart wraps around it, let it soak into your core.
Let yesterday rest. Let tomorrow wait. Love today. Namaste.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

I've been dreading this day...

Schools were closed today for weather.

Unlike  most people in the world, I'm not a fan of snow days. Nope, not at all. Don't get me wrong, I USED to love them. Not now.


The same reason I'm not overly crazy about weekends. I hate the loss of my schedule.

Nothing to do, too much pent up energy, watching the clock waiting until I at least have a fitness class to go to. Or something. Yes, I've already been to the gym for elliptical and ab work. But that was hours ago.

This is the side affect of the exercise program I choose to do - I absolutely cannot unwind - and it drives me mad.  Sitting and watching TV, reading a book, even poking around on the interwebs - no luck.

Cleaning? sadly, that can be done, but how many times can I sweep and mop the daggone floor?

Cooking? That's a weekend kind of thing. Hate to do it now and leave nothing for Sunday.

Shopping? Nope, no money

Solution? dunno - purely tapped out on that one.

Feels like a three class night coming on - 430 spin, 530 body sculpt, 6:30 spin.

Maybe tomorrow I'll be back on routine....until then, I'm going to need to find an answer before summer rolls around.

Thoughts to take with me today:  At least I can smile at myself for having this type of problem. All will be well, in time.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

What to do? What to do? What to do?

Someone made me very very uncomfortable about my weight loss recently. I wish I knew how to respond in a manner consistent with my developing yogic beliefs, but I'm sort of stuck.

Months ago, my trainer advised me to just respond to comments about my weight loss by saying, "Thank you so much, it's been a lot of work." At the time I will freely admit I was a bit annoyed with her; the ego part of me bristled with "Who is she to tell me how to react/think/respond?" But that tiny part that is trying to shed the bad mental habits of the past said "Chill....try it, maybe you will find that you don't know everything." (I used to hate that little voice).

So that's what I've done about 90% of the time - and it works because what she was trying to teach me was the yogic way of accepting the ups and the downs with equal levels of calm and love. If you get all excited about every pound that drops off, well it stands to reason you'll be equally depressed about every pound that adds or doesn't drop off - and quite frankly most people don't really want to know the process. They just want to acknowledge the change, tell you they are happy for you, and move on to the next issue at hand.

In, out, done.

Yoga in action....


Last week, someone cornered me in a VERY public place, surrounded by several people I know and respect, but don't see all that often, GUSHING about the changes over the last several months. Now she was TRYING to be nice, I get that, but how the hell do I respond to statements like:

"I remember going to lunch with you and being so worried about your heatlh when you would eat twice what I did"

"Do you have any of your old pants left? I bet you can fit two of you in them!"

"Oh my goodness! Your belly used to look like you were 8 months pregnant! Now look at it!"

"Can I get you to talk to my sister? She's really, really heavy like you used to be and maybe you can inspire her to change. Can I give you her number?"

"I'm going to send your story into a magazine or something! I can't believe you've changed so much at your age! 


The thing is, this person really IS a friend, someone that has been cheering me on for months from a distance. We just don't run into each other in person very often. I love her deeply and if she knew how much she hurt me, she'd be crushed.

So what to do? How do I get out of this type of conversation? This isn't the first time by any means, just the worst time.  I try to give mono-syllabic answers, and desperately hope the person will breathe long enough for me to get in a comment to change the subject (which is what eventually happens), but the pounding is intense.

The thing is, I don't look at myself as an inspiration in the least. No one has any idea of the mental gymnastics I've put myself through over the last 8 months, an exercise I wouldn't recommend to my worst enemy. (The people closest to knowing are my Eva, my daughter, and my trainer, and even then...). Some of the things I've said to myself under the guise of inspiration were cruel and sadistic. I'm more an example of "Don't do this to yourself" than anything else.

But these questions and conversations and people thinking they know me so well that they can pull out every factoid about me to other people that I am really, really not comfortable knowing this stuff? How in the world do I move a conversation away from that? Is my feeling uncomfortable even a bad thing? Should I just take the pounding to my ego to tamp it down more? Should I engage in the conversation and just admit, "Yeah, I was pretty damn fat, let's talk about me some more?" (oh please God no....don't let that be the answer")

Whatever the answer is, I have a feeling it will occur to me when I stop moving, stop fretting, and start listening that that tiny voice that has gotten to be much, much bigger.

In so many ways, I wish I could back up the calendar just a year and start over with love. Obviously I can't, but I can continue with love now...and I do.

Accept the ups and downs with equal levels of calm and acceptance. In other words, it's all good.

Thoughts to take with me today: Whatever the question is, the answer is probably going to be found inside of me. So listen. Namaste.

Friday, February 3, 2012

yoga = life

So this morning, I'm reading a Yoga Sutra about discerning between the permanent and the impermanent and it kind of hit me - whatever my weight is, at the moment, in the past, or in the future, that is part of the impermanent. What is permanent is my relationship with God and the respect for the gifts He has given.

I feed and exercise my body, which is a glorious gift, out of  love and the weight it goes to reflects where it should be, not an artificial number I've plucked out of thin air. The tools are actually pretty simple, and they all go back to common sense. Nothing fancy, no tricks - carbs, proteins, fats, strength, and cardio - all in proper and right proportions. (Messages my trainer has been trying to get me to understand for months!) My weight may settle to 160, 150, 140, 130, whatever - and that number will be the right one that if I truly follow what I've been studying, I will accept and love with all my heart.

When I stop and count the blessings I've been graciously given, quite frankly, it's an embarrassment of riches. Then I want to go and be pissy because 2 pounds didn't drop off this week. Really player?

How about acceptance of the entire process? How about looking at the ups and the downs with equal levels of calm?  How about just being?

Just when I think I've figured out how yoga = life, I find another way it fits in, and that makes me smile.

Thoughts to take with me today: Truths are not discovered on the treadmill, but in the silent, quiet times when I just stop....and listen. And that is such a very good thing.