Category Archives: Yoga

Return of the Blog

I haven’t blogged since August of 2016. I’m still not sure where to start, what I’m trying to say here, or if I’ll get back to blogging regularly anytime soon.

But here I am. I’m here to…collect my thoughts. Lay out my intentions. Try to tease out the thread that leads me back to what matters most for me. The best way for me to start, I think, is with the highlights of where I’ve been.

Since August, I had a full hysterectomy. I spent some time recovering, as I needed to, but in there somewhere I lost my mojo. My hormones are still not 100% settled, so I consistently struggle with being too tired and too emotional in one way or another. I’m working on it.

In January, prompted I’m sure by the New Year’s Resolution idea, I started thinking hard about getting back to the things that make me feel balanced. I set some non-specific goals:

2017
Camp Gladiator for my body.
Yoga for my soul.
Healthy food for my energy levels.
Daily writing for my spirit.
Reading for my mind.
Weekly walks for my heart.
Snuggles for my joy.
Activism for my piece of mind.

Around the same time, thanks to the husband’s awesome gift of annual Disney passes, I wanted to write a blog about what I felt like Disney was giving me.

How Disney Gave Me Back Myself
Out of shape, out of touch, feeling sad. Not enough time with family.

Lots of Joy, tons of walking, lots of smiles and laughter. Remembered movement can be fun, what my body is capable of. Love being outside. It’s cool to be joyous, be a kid.

I never did get around to writing that blog. Every time I sat down to try to write it, I felt like I was faking. I wasn’t making progress. I wasn’t making healthier choices. I loved being at Disney, I love it every time we go. But despite all the joy it brings me, it isn’t carrying over to the rest of my life. So I never wrote the blog, because what could I say? Hey, I found a place that fills me with joy and it still didn’t give me a reason to get healthy?

So a few weeks went by. I did nothing. I barely went to my previously beloved bootcamp. And then…

I’m at my heaviest weight ever. Probably about 250, but I don’t know for sure and I don’t want to know. I do a really good job of pretending it doesn’t bother me, but it does. But that’s another story for another time. I’m actually writing about something more practical. Last night I was stretching and felt a sting on my lower belly, where my belly fat roll meets my torso underneath, right at the fold. Now it’s stinging and seems to be seeping a little blood. I think it’s just a skin tear, and doesn’t hurt a ton or smell bad or itch or anything…but this has never happened to me before. I’m crying in the work bathroom. This is making me feel like shit. In one day I’ve gone from feeling hopeful to feeling disgusting. Intellectually I know it’s the wrong way to feel, but here I am.

I felt so…embarrassed? Ashamed? I hate this feeling.

It’s brutal. My husband, who I only get to see on the weekends, is like “hey baby” and I’m all, “excuse me, my fat roll is bleeding.” I just…ugh.

In some ways, the worst part of this whole fucking thing is feeling like I can’t talk about it. I’ve made such a big damned deal out of accepting my body and being fine with whatever size, and now I feel trapped…like if I say something negative about my fat body, I’m somehow going back on those things (that I truly believe to be true). If I’m miserable with my fat roll, I can’t say that without sounding like I think fat is bad. I feel stuck and so dark right now, and I’m extra upset about it because I had this great, hopeful, motivated blog post planned. I was outlining it in my head yesterday, and then this happened last night and I’m so derailed. And of course, I’ve eaten SO much better today, but it’s out of shame.

That was the end of January, and I decided February would be different. Because it needed to be. And…it wasn’t. I barely exercised except for our awesome Disney weekends. I ate terribly, brutally, with intention to harm. I made myself sick from food for the first time in a very long time.

Now it’s March. I want to say that everything will be different, that this is the month I’ll turn things around. That I’ll find the time to do Couch to 5K with my kid and get back to 3x/wk bootcamps and start eating foods that make me happy and balanced and healthy. That I’ll get back to daily (or atleast weekly) yoga and meditation. But the truth? I just don’t know, and I’m scared to even try to commit to something.

So that’s where I’m at right now. There it is. I don’t know what to do with it, but I needed to get it out.

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Practice, Presence, Peace

Last weekend I walked twelve miles with joy. I watched stories of human ingenuity, triumph over struggle, and fulfillment of lifelong dreams. I saw how stars are born and thought about how very big and very small we all are.

I stressed about wearing shorts, wore them anyway, and then didn’t realize until the end of the day that I DIDN’T spend the day worrying about my legs; in fact, I never thought of them at all.

And then I watched my little girl. I saw her very much she still adores herself, how she embraces her body and brain as one fantastic package. I watched her check herself out in a mirror, and declare that she knew she looked cute because she’d seen a picture I took.

I thought about myself. About how far away I am from that kind of love. And about how much I stand to gain from shifting my mindset…how much closer I could be to living a shining life if I could make the jump.

So what happened? I promised myself that for just ONE day, I’d try to love myself just as I am, in all my glory, with absolute acceptance. That day became two, and then three. I slept more. I worked out more. I ate more vegetables. I felt calmer, slept better, and spent more time coloring. I drew an adorable donut in my bullet journal. Things felt manageable again for the first time in a long time.

I still went to work, came home, picked up the kid, went to swim lessons…everything in my life was functionally the same, but it began to feel ever-so-slightly different. Moment by moment, the layers of stress and fatigue and sadness began to lift, to peel, to crack and flake away in the light of genuine self-love. I’m not quite out of the woods here, but at the midpoint of day 3, I started feeling more at peace than I’ve felt in months. I went back to my beloved Camp Gladiator twice last week, and then again yesterday (woohoo – holiday workout) and am feeling more and more like I can get this done.

It’s a conscious effort every day, sometimes every moment, not to let this mindset slip. I start to fidget, to chafe under the feather-light touch of unaccustomed ease. I spiral out into worry – how will I keep this up, when will it end, what will I do? And then I make the conscious choice to stop, to breathe, to write or color or just close my eyes, and the feeling begins to pass.

The gentle joy ebbs and flows, sometimes barely whispering at the edges of my awareness and other times entirely overtaking me for a moment – a quick, breathless moment of bliss uninterrupted.

I’d like to hang on to that. And so I move forward, spending moments where I need them. Taking little breaks to sketch out a cute coffee cup or try out an alphabet in a new handwriting style. Disappearing for a moment to read a few paragraphs or do some under-the-radar office yoga. Allowing a “no” when a default, because-I-should “yes” is on the tip of my tongue. Saying YES when it feels right.

I’m signed up for (and starting today) a gorgeous 8-week challenge that will simultaneously get me back to a regular yoga practice and help me come back to a place of intuitive eating and movement. Join me if you’d like. The more support we all have, the better we do.

It’s such a gentle process, so unlike the full on, semi-hostile takeovers of past attempts at change. It fills me with a warm anticipation of things to come and makes me smile.

This. Life could be like this.

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The Cake is A Lie

the_cake_is_a_lie_515The cake is a lie. It isn’t even cake. It’s a vehicle to further solidify the truth I have created for myself right now, which is that I’m beyond saving. I’m too far gone. I’ve lost all of my motivation, slipped far from my health and fitness goals, and so now this is what I deserve. I deserve to eat a huge piece of cake, not because I’ll enjoy it but because the sugar will make me sluggish, and I’m not even that hungry, and it’s there so I might as well eat some, since that’s what I do.

And so I go to bed. Another day with too much sugar and not enough movement. Another night I’ve pushed myself to exhaustion before collapsing into bed to lie awake.

It’s become clear that my own well-being isn’t enough to motivate me out of this place. Not right now. And so instead, I’ll do it for her. Because I want to keep letting her spend one night a week in my bed, letting her believe it’s an indulgence for her when it’s just as much a treat for me. Because I want to feel alive and exhilarated and strong through every moment I get to spend with this fantastic kid. Because I want to have the energy to give her the attention she deserves in the precious few hours I get with her during the week. Because I want to keep up with her, challenge her, and teach her to own her own power.

20160523_174544For her, I’ll sleep more. I’ll hydrate more, move more, stretch more. I’ll do more yoga and meditation. I’ll stop mindlessly eating for punishment, for guilt, for boredom and sadness and stress and frustration and social ease. I’ll be mindful, purposeful, and honoring of this one body I have, that I get to share with the most amazing soul to ever walk this earth.

For her, I’ll recommit to my yoga practice, which does my heart and soul so much good.

For her, I’ll go back to Camp Gladiator in June, as planned. I’m scared to go back, terrified of the heat and the difficulty and returning after two months off. I’m worried I won’t be able to do it, that I’m so unfit that I won’t be able to finish the first workout, that the frustration will keep me from going back more than once, that I won’t go back at all. But I will. I promised her I’d go back, and so I’ll go. Because it makes me happier, healthier, better prepared to face the world with m very best.

It won’t be easy. I’m in such a rough spot that it’s going to take near-constant recommitting to my goals. I need to be prepared for gentleness, for patience, and for extra focus on being aware and in the moment as much as possible. But I have to remember I haven’t completely run out of sparks. I did do a half-marathon on an exercise bike to earn my first Hogwarts Running Club medal. (It’s awesome.)

It’s time. Summer is coming. My incredible kid is GRADUATING FROM FIRST GRADE. We’ve got a busy, fun summer ahead of us before starting a whole new school year. We’re looking at maybe moving, in the same area, but to somewhere a little closer to her school or a little closer to my office while still in the school district. My career is really shaping up beautifully, with a job I enjoy and work I am proud of. It’s time.

So help me out. Tell me how you climb out of a funk, what you do to get back on track, and how you handle setbacks in that process.

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FitBloggin15 Recap – Part 1

Another year gone, and now I’m settled back and home and trying to make sense of everything I did, everything I felt, and everyone I hugged. For now, a more functional recap will have to suffice.

 

What I Did

I ate wonderful food. I drank great local beers. I saw beautiful street art.

I did hours of yoga, walked 10 miles, did Zumba, did strength training.

I sat in sessions where I cried with pain or hope or joy. I felt proud and scared and inspired.

I hugged people who are painfully precious to me, even when I only see them once a year. I hugged people I didn’t know yet, people who I was only just beginning to make connections with, and who I’ll stay connected to as the year goes on.

I laughed so hard I cried, so hard my abs hurt. I cried so hard I hiccupped.

I WALKED IN A FASHION SHOW, as my tribe clapped and cheered. The generous sponsorship from Soybu meant I got to wear (and keep!) gorgeous, CRAZY comfortable clothes.

I had my butt slapped more than once, by several different people.

I had my picture taken in nothing but capris and my favorite ENELL bra, standing arm-in-arm with several other ambassadors, proud to represent the brand and our own spirits.

I wandered off-site for a yoga class and a sound healing session, both of which left me rejuvenated.

I went to bed early, stayed up late, got up early, and ate a lot of bacon.

I sang along to other people’s lip sync performances until I nearly lost my voice.

I danced so much that I was sore the next day.

What I Learned

I’m stronger than I give myself credit for.

By just being me and seeking my own joy, I’m helping other people to do the same.

I should spend more time on my blog, for my own sake and for the support and love of this awesome community.

I definitely deal with some very real anxiety issues, and need to be better aware of them so that I can ask for help.

The friendships I have forged (and continue to make) as I attend these conferences are life-changing, and stay with me even when I see these people only once a year.

Denver beer is amazing. Really amazing.

Yoga lights up my soul. It’s not a new lesson, but apparently one that needed reaffirming.

—–

The thing about FitBloggin? Somehow, every year, it meets me exactly where I need to be met. I talk to the people I need most, do the things that most need doing, learn the lessons that most need to be learned.

So if you’re on the same journey, looking for the ways and paths and people that can support your growth? Join us. You won’t regret it.

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My Secret

Hi fitbloggers –
image[1]
This is me.

I can do this:

and this:
image_2[1]

and this:
11334588_112665289070904_1339148121_n

I made this!
image_1[1]

I’ve been to FitBloggin every year but one, and I’ve loved every single one. I’m already planning what to pack and who to hug this year, because I know I’ll be surrounded by unconditional, judgement-free love and support.

But…
I’m terrified.

Because this is also me:
image

It’s not something I’m supposed to know because it tends to drive me to unhealthy places, but after months and months off the scale, I got curious. And it’s….the biggest number I’ve ever seen.

I don’t think I’m okay.
image_2[1]

And it’s not about the weight entirely. It’s also about always, always feeling anxious these days. I don’t sleep enough.

I was meditating this morning, which I’m also being uncharacteristically inconsistent about, and I was prompted to think of my biggest current stressor. And the thing is, its still not my weight. Its job pressure or mom guilt, or a number of other passing stress issues.

So then I was prompted to imagine myself doing something where I felt free from stress, and it’s on my yoga mat. When I’m there, I don’t feel it or think about it or care. Which led to a torrential cry.

The thing is, I’m scared. I’m scared of how I’ll be perceived, or that I’ll spend the weekend feeling uncomfortable in my own skin.

And then? I think about this, and I know everything is going to be just fine:

And if you’re looking for a hug? I’m your girl. I’ll likely be fangirling over some of you, and also bacon.

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How it began…

It all started with this Note From the Universe:

Straight from the fabled Akashic Records, Heather (Shhhhhhh):

Time and Space is where you chase things you pretend you don’t have – love, friends, and abundance – while worrying about things you pretend you do have – problems, challenges, and issues. Until one day, you happen to notice the prophetic powers of pretending.

In case that helps any.

Tallyho,
The Universe

I don’t know what it was about that particular note that hit me just so, but it did and it sort of stuck with me. I was in a particular mood, feeling incredibly busy at work, and just feeling a little stuck. Something about this beautiful note from the Universe caught me up in a little forward momentum.

On that same day, I was looking for something other than my normal Pandora station to keep my focus going while getting work done. I stumbled onto a YouTube TED talk, and it led me down an incredible rabbit hole of talks that seemed to be exactly what I needed to hear, and reinforced ongoing themes in my journey to a better connection to myself.

Then came this video, which gave me this:

With every passing year, your job is to be better and better at being who you already are.

There are times when you come to a bifurcation on the path and you sense that the potential for opportunity is heightened. You know that if you make that change, the speed of your life will change. Most of these intervals are catastrophic, because MOST OF US WOULD RATHER SLEEPWALK until something happens to wake us up. But when it happens catastrophically, you’re vulnerable and weak. Why wouldn’t you ask yourself those questions when you’re in a position of strength? When you’re in a job, when you’re loved? That’s when it is most useful.

Dial in to the personal pronoun. The speed of your life will get quicker, the substance of it will get richer, and you will never feel superfluous again.

I mean…right? We’d rather sleepwalk through life than take a risk? We wait until we’re hurting and scared to make major life choices instead of taking action from a place of power? I want to dial in. I want to live every moment of my life.

And it just got bigger from there. Next I found this video, which gave me this:

You are creating the definitions that define you. People don’t think to change the story, they think they need to change themselves.

It was that punctuated understanding that I was infinitely powerful enough to just change the narrative of my life. Greatness comes from rebuking the stories that others try to impose onto us.

This is so reminiscent of the things Karen talks about a lot in her work. It’s not about the facts of the world around me, but about what I’m making them mean, how I’m processing them, and how I’m letting that processing impact my life. That last line, though… Man…

This same video came with some enlightenment about yoga that made me that much more sure that it’s the path for me.

Yoga means ‘to yoke’ in Sanskrit. Yoga is the process of yoking the higher awareness to any form of habit, impulse, or non-thinking.

Inner awareness was so deeply different from the numbing of habits. I couldn’t lie about what I was experiencing anymore. It’s that recognition of oneself at the deepest level as divine.

People keep doing yoga because they recognize something new or usually inaccessible within themselves.

YES! So much. Yoga is what gave me a window into who I am. It taught me to love my body for where it’s at right now. Yoga is even helping me to work through my food issues and allow me to pay better attention to the nutritional needs of my body instead of to my need to eat for emotional relief. Yoga gives me a place to be still, to reconnect with the parts of myself that get severed in the process of everyday life.

Ready for more? Next came this video:

Spend time thinking about what matters most to you. Changes in the universe need time, space, and risk. Think about what matters, what makes you come alive, and what’s happening in the world. Then think critically and deeply about how you want to dive in.

You see it? Tune in. Dial in. Be present. Dive in. Changes need time. Think about what matters. Come alive. The messages are all there, all coming together. I clearly need to spend more time in meditation and in practice. On my mat, things get clearer than they can ever get elsewhere. It’s time to suss out this message that keeps pushing its way toward me.

>> I wrote all of that more than two weeks ago, and it sat in my documents file waiting for a moment to be published, paid attention to, remembered. And then work hit me like a ton of bricks. And then on Sunday Evi spiked an awful fever. It lasted into Monday. This morning brought an early break in the fever, to be followed up by hours of throwing up, sweating, and sleeping. By this evening, she managed to settle down, but she still can’t go to school until she’s been healthy for 24 hours. Still, since she seems to be doing alright, I finally have a moment to relax.

I’m in a very different headspace than I was when I started this blog post. Instead of being filled with inspiration about my potential and living my dreams, I’m caught up in exhaustion and just trying to survive. I haven’t been doing yoga or strength training. I haven’t been taking walks or eating well. I’ve barely been sleeping. So this week is about my own self-care, which means gentleness, patience, and quiet. I’m not setting goals or making plans. I’m resting when I can and leaning on the love and support of others to get me through.

Maybe next week is for acting on plans. <<

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The Year of the Body

I’m tired. Tired of not sleeping well, of too many stomach aches, of not enough energy.

But you know what else I’m tired of? I’m tired of looking at this body of mine with hate or anger or disappointment or, on the worst days, disgust.

This body. It does headstands and upward bow and lizard pose. It takes me where I want to go every day, carried me 13.1 miles without giving up, and it gave me my awesome kid.

It’s squishy and jiggly and huggable. It’s strong in places and weak in others. It’s bigger than many, smaller than lots, rounder than some, straighter than others. It more flexible than most.

This is the year I let this body come into its own. I gave up the diets and the weigh-ins and the focus on weight loss. I focused more on movement I love. And I made huge progress, but only now do I feel like I’m coming out of the fog of more than twenty years of feeling too big and knowing a diet was the answer, of feeling shame and fear and hurt when my willpower gave out, when I failed, when I wasn’t enough.

Turns out it takes a while to find your way out of that forest. I’m lucky to have found some pretty incredible guides along the way. I have Erin Motz and Anna Guest-Jelley to teach me the power of yoga in terms of knowing my own strength and remembering that I love my body. I have Ragen Chastain and my Fit Fatty friends to remind me that my body is worthy of love and respect, and that moving it in ways I adore is well worth my time. Tess Munster’s Eff Your Beauty Standards helped me remember that size is not a determination of beauty, and Weightless gave me anchors to help keep my self-love journey going.

So this is the year I make room for this body to be heard, to take up the space it needs without shame, to move with joy and abandon, to slough off the expectations of others. This is the year I explore some of the deep stuff yoga has brought up lately. For starters, I was doing flamingo pose today. Even in flamingo, which felt nice on my lower back, binds are not my friend. I’m wondering where to start working through that, and if there isn’t some deep reflection in there about why my body is so willing to bend and flex but resists binds at every turn.

Exercise is still linked to weight loss in my head. I’ve spent nearly two years now moving purposefully away from weight loss as a goal, and it’s done wonderful things for my head and heart. And yet here I sit at 230#, nearly the heaviest I’ve ever been, and I don’t know what that means for me. I don’t feel comfortable in my body, but I didn’t when I was smaller either.

Some days I believe my size doesn’t matter if my habits are healthy, and other days I get scared that every ache or issue is a sign of how bad my weight is for me. Lately I’ve been having what I’m fairly certain is sciatic nerve pain, and I worried and wondered about whether it was because of my weight, which just made me feel guilty and awful.

It’s impossible to get an objective answer. There’s sound science backing both sides, smart people in both camps. I try to leave it all by the wayside and just do the things that make me feel good…but food is still an issue, and I still hate to exercise.

I stress eat. I watch tv to unwind. I walk, meditate, do yoga. Sometimes I manage some strength training.

I want to feel good in my body and proud of my choices. And the thing is that sometimes I really do. Other times I journal at midnight because I feel guilty for skipping yoga and eating cookies. I’ve come to the late night conclusion that I can’t fix anything by focusing only my weight. It’s proven to be unhealthy for my mental state, and nothing is worth that.

So let’s say the sciatica is because of my weight? Is getting on the scale and tracking my calories and beating myself up going to help? Past experience would suggest I’d, if anything, gain…so if weight is aggravating or causing the pain I’d just be making it worse. Instead I’ll keep focusing on what I know is good for me, the food and movement that makes me feel awesome, and I’ll remember to be gentle with my mind, body, and soul.

It’s time to be my own best friend again, and to allow the fragility that’s settled over me lately to just be, without poking at it or pushing it away.

Nothing changes without me (a poem for open, terrified hearts)

A poem from Danielle LaPorte

Sometimes, my heart is so open
I can’t tell
if it is a gaping wound
or a portal
for everything
that ever was and ever will be.
I’ve learned to love the beautiful terror of eternity,
and scenario planning how shattered I could be
if the dark things got tall
and if I fell backwards in my forgetting of the Light.
But you can’t fall backwards in Space,
You can only only only ever unfurl.
More than anything,
I’ve wed the certainty that nothing changes without me –
not coal becoming diamonds
not fertilizing eggs
or migration patterns
or medicine dreams.
And what I thought was a net cast to me from a higher God
is actually
strands of truth and filaments of desire
that I have
strung together with my own hands.
In precious encounters,
I tie what I know & want to you,
so we can ride the winds of wonder.

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Walking & Medals & Bras, Oh My!

Oh hai. I’m sad today. It’s just a sad-iversary, and I’ll be just fine. In the meantime, I wanted to talk a bit about how my half marathon walk training is going, mostly because I actually think it’s going pretty well. Here’s a screenshot from the Training Peaks site I’m using, and the training is the Hal Higdon program.

TrainingSo that’s where I’m at. I’ve moved around some workouts and changed the order of things, but I’ve done every workout so far. The two red ones are ones where I was off the mark significantly for distance or time. The first was when I did 5 miles instead of 3, and the second was last night’s terrible, no good, very bad, super horrible training walk. I wrote this on Facebook after the walk:

Went out for the first fast training walk on the schedule today. I couldn’t come ANYWHERE NEAR the time suggested (10min/mi). Already frustrated, I decided instead to aim for the significantly slower minimum pace for my December race (16min/mi). I managed that for about .75mi before my shin pain flared big time. No way I can maintain that pace for 13.1 miles. Can’t find a half in FL with no time limit. It’s my own fault for registering for a time limited race, I guess.

feeling defeated.

Fortunately, my incredible friends rallied. I got advice, support, love, understanding. I began to understand that walking a 10 minute mile was ridiculous, and that whatever I could do was enough. I looked back at my calendar and realized I’d stuck with three weeks of training, and even added in my own other exercise on top of that. It’s the most consistently I’ve moved my body in a while, and it felt awesome. So now I’m planning to keep up with the training, and thanks to my awesome local friend Jenny I’ve gotten into contact with the race director, who says they’ll be able to accommodate me starting WAY early to finish on time, or finishing late. Either way, they’ll see that I finish, and that’s what matters to me.

I’m loving the walks themselves, as long as I don’t push for a particular pace, because they’re a chance to clear my head. I can think straight and things make sense. Stress goes away. I get up from my desk, which happens woefully seldom otherwise. I get to watch the turtles in the lake. If the time and light are right, I take the dog and the kid and the husband when he’s around, and we make it a family affair. Having a schedule to walk with has been super helpful because it makes me feel like I’m accomplishing something versus sort of blindly trying to figure out what I ought to be doing…which was totally my plan when I first signed up for this race. Plus I’ll have the added benefit of earning my beautiful JOST medals along the way, which makes training that much more fun. The Octoberfest medals are AWESOME.

I’ve also been incredibly fortunate to have ENELL supporting me too (see what I did there?). I’ve worn an ENELL bra on every training walk, to every class, and even wore the pink HOPE bra all by itself on the kayak when the kid was cold. Hey, a mom sacrifices her tank top when needed… In short, I’m SO thankful to be involved with such an incredible company. The bras are incomparable – lovely and comfortable and hella supportive – and the company itself couldn’t be run by better people. I’ve never had this kind of open communication as an ambassador. I’m super proud to be one for ENELL. (Go buy a bra. I make no money from it, but your boobs will be happier, and that makes me happy.)

So what about those other workouts? A lot of yoga of course, but there seems to be a repeating pattern of something else on that calendar if you look. But how I got into, and then continued with, Barre classes (of all things) is another story for another time….

 

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MPH@GW: Why #YogaMatters To Me

Sponsored by MPH@GW Public Health

GW’s Public Health blog reached out to ask how yoga has improved my health. Where to even begin? Regularly practicing yoga, which began in 10-15 minute intervals just a few times a week, has given me back so much. I started doing yoga seriously when I was medically directed to stop running thanks to compartment syndrome. At the same time, I stopped tracking calories and food because it was causing me mental stress and, frankly, making me neurotic about food, eating, and social activities. I took up yoga in the hopes of finding a new way to exercise.

What I found instead was so much more. I found peace. I found stillness in my always too busy head. I found a way to appreciate the incredible things my body could already do. I smiled at pictures of myself. I felt proud of my body again. despite all it might not do.

Yoga also had concrete physical benefits for me. With my very special auto-immune version of colitis, yoga gave me twisting and cleansing postures that helped ease the worst of the pains and even helped me cut off symptoms before they flared too badly. Yoga taught me that my issues with food, the size of my jeans, or what I thought I saw in the mirror didn’t matter, and then it went on to help me develop significant strength. Now I can hold a plank, do a pushup, and kickup into a forearm stand all because of yoga (and a little help from my ENELL bra…).

When I practice consistently, I’m calmer. Yoga breathing mediates stress from commuting, helps me get through hard days at work, and helps me recenter when it’s time to slough off the work day and spend time with my gorgeous family. Yoga has also given me an incredible special chance to bond with my daughter, who practices with me more often than not. She loves it when I let her call the poses, and she teaches me so much about patience and bravery and listening to my body when I’m practicing. When I practice beside her, I lose all sense of competition or reaching for that one white whale of a pose, because practicing with a five year old is all about laughter and joy, about silly poses and movement for it’s own sake, about mimicry and love.

Yoga has brought me a clearer understanding of how I want to define beauty, of what strength means to me, and how those things play out in my own body, mind, and life. It’s helped me see the importance of pursuing health instead of a particular aesthetic. Yoga has helped me dig up my own sense of awesome, renewed my confidence, and given me the chance to show off just how much I can do when I put my mind to it. It’s taught me about perseverance in practice, about living outside of my comfort zone and how important the difference is between that and pain. Thanks to yoga, and to the many inspiring yogis I follow online and through Instagram, I’ve made a habit of daily practice that serves as my meditation when all else fails. Also, I can do this:

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How I Get What I Want

What do I really want?
1. To go to FitBloggin in Denver
2. To work from home at least one day per week
3. To become a yoga teacher
4. To compete in one strength competition, ideally the Disney Fit Challenge

How do I get those things?
1. Save money. This means I have to stop spending money on toys, incidentals, eating out, and unnecessary clothing purchases. Time to tighten the purse strings big time.
2. Work hard all the time. Meet or exceed deadlines. Take more initiative when it comes to learning more about the company. Come up with ideas and share them more often.
3. See #1, but also get back to regular daily practice as a priority. My time on the mat is necessary to being in the right mental and physical space for teacher training.
4. Keep up with my NF training. It will also help with yoga!

This weekend someone I care about spent several hours in the ER and, in fact, is still in the hospital. The person in question is alright, and wasn’t there for something anyone could ever claim was brought on by bad choices or unhealthy living or any such thing. Still, as I waited out that first night, my stomach a mess from a combination of stress and bad food choices, I couldn’t help but think about choices, health, the passage of time, and about all I want from this life. There are no guarantees, not ever, but maybe there is power in choices. Power to say you’ve done all you could. Power to put out into the universe the right energy to attract what you desire. Power to make a difference, however small or temporary, in the quality of your own life.

I’m caught up in thoughts about the importance of really listening, of making a connection with my true needs and honoring them above all else. It’s a path I’m already on, though one I stray from more often than not. So this week, I’m scrapping the big specific goals in favor of one single goal. This week, I will strive to live the life I deserve. I will do this by making choices that bring me genuine, lasting joy. I will listen to my body every chance I get, and I will remember that one moment or day or week of choices out of line with this path is simply another chance to learn more about how to more fully align.

I’m also working hard to align myself with things that matter, and that get me closer to the goals I have of aligning better with real joy. In part, this means forging relationships with some companies that are pretty dear to me in one way or another. I’ve been incredibly lucky to have found a few things that help make living actively more enjoyable for me, and one of them is finding the right gear. Two years ago now I finally bit the bullet and spent real money on a real sports bra, instead of wearing 2-3 of the ones I found at Target or Walmart. The bra? An ENELL. Now I’ve been lucky enough to be chosen as an ambassador for the bras, and I can’t say enough. They’re the only ones that have ever worked for me. They’re super supportive, incredibly comfortable, and the only reason I can do a shoulder stand without suffocating.  More than that, it’s a company out there saying that just because I have a body that doesn’t fit a particular mold, it doesn’t mean I shouldn’t have the chance to successfully and comfortably move in a way that really, truly brings me joy. THAT’s something I can really get behind. The more I thought about the ways I love to move, the ways that make my body truly happy, the more I realized how much of it was possible thanks to the support of this sports bra. Walking, yoga, strength training…it’s all so much easier with something that’s made for MY body, with the added bonus of doing less laundry since I’m not wearing 2-3 bras for every workout.

In the spirit of reaching out and moving more, I also reached out to be a blogger for Jost Running. I haven’t heard back on their decision yet, but I’m excited because it means extra motivation to get up and moving several times a month. Jost hosts virtual races every month, offering beautiful medals and donating proceeds to a different charity every month. I’ve signed up for their races before, and loved the bling and the donation. Now I’ve applied to blog for them for a few months, which means extra chances to encourage others to get up and moving, and great motivation to get me off the couch/office chair as well. And that should be perfect timing because…I’m probably walking a half marathon in December.

I haven’t signed up for the race yet. I want the idea to percolate for a while first, because I have a tendency to jump into these big plans without thinking them through well enough. I did look into a walking half training plan though, and even found a fellow ENELL ambassador who’s fairly local and might be able to meet me for the occasional training walk! I’ve always wanted to complete a half, and when running was no longer an option for me, I figured I would never be able to do it. When I found a local holiday-themed half that accepted walkers, it got me thinking again about finishing a half. If I decide to do it, my training plan would start in early September. I’m thinking I’ll stick to my 2-3 strength training workouts a week, alongside the 4-5 walking workouts for the half training, and scale my yoga back to shorter sessions on a more consistent basis instead of getting in 60-90 minutes but only once or twice a week.

I’ve also been sort of tracking my food lately. I haven’t tracked any amounts or anything, but instead have just been recording what I ate, when, and what thoughts or feelings were part of the choice. I found very quickly that my stress levels and boredom are the two biggest triggers for bad food choices, but that the other key was access. I won’t go buy bad food if I’m at work. I won’t leave the house to go get something bad for me. If, however, it’s already there…I’ll probably consume the entire bag/box/package. So as long as I’m a little more careful about what I keep nearby, I should have an easier time (particularly at work) with controlling emotion-fueled food intake.

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