Archive for May, 2014|Monthly archive page

From Beads to Rivulets: Second (and Third) Bikram Class

So, I’ve been three for three. And since I’m now properly hydrated, the sweat is even more intense.

Something tells me that this is not going to get any easier – just deeper.

I didn’t think my heart could pound that much (says she who taught spinning for years).

And the monkey mind: Why are we here again? Why are we laying in 105 degree heat? Why are we moving in 105 degree heat? Why are we trying to tuck our fingers under our heels and pull our forehead to our shins? Why are we trying to grab our elbows when our arms are slick with sweat and we’re still in a room that’s, oh, 105 degrees?

So, like anything, getting there is the hardest part.

However, unlike┬ámost everything else I’ve ever done, staying (in the room) is a close second. (Did I mention that they call it hot yoga for a reason?)

On day two, I went at the same time, but there was a different teacher. She was heavily tattooed and no nonsense. Very technical. I liked her and I probably got more out of it because of her astounding attention to detail.

One day three (today), I went at 7:00 a.m., which means I got up at 5:00 to have half of a smoothie (and about a quart of water, more or less) before I left. Same teacher. The room was more crowded.

The 7:00 a.m. class, as I feared, was more hard core than the 9:00 a.m. class. Much more partial nudity. Many more men. And a lot of people who could actually do the poses in their “full expression.”

Me, I continue to struggle (and am happy about it).

I made the mistake of wearing a super light cotton top today; never again. I literally considered it whipping it off like everyone else, but I’m not quite ready to go there (at least not yet).

The one interesting thing that I didn’t really think would happen (based on the marketing) has. That you come to love your body (or at least appreciate it).

When I am sitting in the room looking in the mirror – sweating and cheeks flushed, I am actually quite attractive. And when I sit with my back straight and my shoulders back, I look quite regal. And I have lovely shoulders.

Yes, it’s also true that I have a knee (the left one) that won’t lock during standing half moon (or whatever it’s called), or standing bow for that matter, but I do have a left knee is that is getting stronger and will eventually lock during these things. So, that’s a start.

Ironically, I ran into my nutritionist – the one who recommended Bikram to me in the first place.

She’s 10 years older than me, was dressed in the tiniest pair of exercise shorts I’ve ever seen, and she’s as flexible as I don’t know what. She’s been practicing for three years. And she was, for lack of a better word, inspiring. Not because of her perfect body (which wasn’t), but by her absolute acceptance of what is.

Namaste.

First Bikram Class

Well, I attended my first Bikram class today.

It wasn’t as bad as I feared, which I suppose isn’t that ringing of an endorsement now that I actually see it on screen.

First things first: I was not the oldest person in the room, nor was I the biggest. I was also not the most overdressed person in the room, nor was I the most underdressed.

In fact, the only -est that could be used to describe me was the least flexible, which is promising.

There are definitely things that I couldn’t do and there were things that I didn’t even try to do (mainly those dealing with knees).

And there was something surprisingly interesting about watching the sweat bead on your skin (still trying to decide if “interesting” is code for fascinating or disgusting, but that’s neither here nor there).

It was hot. It was simultaneously hotter and not as hot as I imagined it would be. It was also easier and harder than I’d ever dreamed.

It’s probably fair to say that I had set my expectations low:

1) don’t throw up

2) don’t pass out

3) don’t fall over

1 & 3, no problem. There was one scary moment though, when I thought 2 was in the bag. I stayed in corpse while everyone else got up and did something knee related until the feeling passed (about 2 minutes).

When I finally got out of the room and peeled off my very technical top (no cotton, ever!), it literally slid out from between my fingers. And it landed with an honest to god “SPLAT”! I’d tell you about the sweat splatter that hit my ankle, but that seems like TMI – even for me.

I felt like a towel that had been wrung out (and potentially run over). And I had to stop on the way home for water.

Ever since I’ve turned 40, I’ve had a take it or leave it relationship with water. It’s pretty fair to say that I am probably chronically dehydrated on most days, weeks, months. Since I left the studio this morning at 10:30, I have had at least 4 quarts of water. Not to mention the 2 quarts I had before walking into the studio and the one that I had while I was there.

I’ve decided that even if the yoga does nothing, the greatest health benefit may come from the unintended consequences of drinking more water.

I’ll let you know how it goes tomorrow.

 

Mind Over Matter

I realized this morning when I stepped on the scale and saw that I was down another pound that what I was feeling wasn’t happiness or joy, but rather surprise and shock.

I took a step back and asked myself: why would it be surprising? You’re eating a lot less calories than you’re burning and you’ve cut out just about everything that makes you retain water (that is, sugar, milk, gluten, etc). So why are you surprised?

Well, I realized that I have been so focused on “How it’s impossible for me to lose weight,” that I had begun to believe it. I had been so sure that “My body doesn’t respond like it’s supposed to when it comes to weight loss,” the idea that I could potentially lose weight seemed about as likely as winning the lottery without buying a ticket (let alone when you’ve actually bought one).

I am a sociologist by trade – a social psychologist, in fact, with a deep abiding love for symbolic interaction.

According to this particular theoretical tradition, our reality is shaped by our thoughts and within interaction with other people. Language, in particular, is powerful, because it shapes our reality. If we don’t have words for something, we can’t do it, see it, feel it, or even conceive it.

When you tell yourself something over and over, it becomes part of your identity, your plan for action. It becomes part of your reality.

So, back to this morning, I realized that I didn’t believe that I could lose weight.

And I also realized that if didn’t believe that I could, then I wouldn’t.

So, this morning, while I was meditating, I focused on the following thought: With ease and grace, I allow my body to return to its natural state easily and effortlessly.

And as the morning progressed, and the old thoughts began to crowd their way into my consciousness (particularly those about how long it was going to take, it’s just water weight, it’s not going to last, etc.), I took a deep breath and repeated, as a mantra, as a prayer, as a wish, as a plan….

With Grace and Ease, I Allow My Body to Return to its Natural State Easily and Effortlessly.

Because, why not? Even though I’ve never been one to allow things to be easy (or to appreciate them if they were) what would it cost for me to let this happen with ease and grace? What would I have to lose – other than that which I would desperately love to let go of, forever?

 

Week One (of starting over)

So, last Saturday, I started over. (I also got my butt chewed by my long time diet and exercise partner, who read my last post and thought I was 1) being too hard on myself and 2) trying too many things at once.)

After assuring her that it really wasn’t seven distinct changes and that I hadn’t been planning on implementing them all at once, I proceeded to engage in one week of counting calories and limiting my calories to whatever my LoseIt.App says will result in a 1.5 weight loss per week.

My goal: to hit that number, regardless of exercise.

So no more kidding myself about “net calories.” (Notably when my endocrinologist told me that the idea of “net” calories was bogus, I was really pissed off, but I am beginning to see his point.)

So, how was it, you ask?

It was surprisingly not bad, though today I was starving.

I exercised 5 of the 6 days (and I will again tomorrow). And I hit the calorie mark that I was shooting for: 1,378.

And last time I checked, I was indeed down a pound and a half.

It really wasn’t bad. And, in fact, it felt pretty good. Because in addition to cutting calories, I also got really clear on why stopping by the office candy bowl is always a bad idea. I also started counting my almonds again. And I cut some meat out of my diet.

The upside: I feel better in my body. I have more energy. And it just feels like there’s more room in my system to process stuff – be it food, events, situations, challenges, or even emotions.

Now, as my exercise buddy/guru has pointed out, my desire to change just about everything to do with my routine coincides with a big change in my job – classes end next week.

This means that I can finally breathe again. And, as she so astutely pointed out, when I am breathing, I am actually pretty healthy. It’s just that over the last (well, year really) 20+ weeks, I really wasn’t breathing all that much. I had certainly stopped paying to attention to what I was eating and how I was feeling.

Now that the first week has been pretty much put to bed, the next thing on the list was the yoga.

I’ve got the clothes (which is what started all this to begin with), the microfiber super absorbent towel is on the way, and I am free in the evenings as of Thursday. So, trepidation aside, Bikram Yoga, here I come.

I figure three or so days of cardio in the morning and yoga almost every evening should do it.

Eventually the weights (free weights, that is) need to come back in, for the twin purposes of toning and refurbishing my deleted testosterone. But that can wait.

And, until then….

So far so good.

And She’s Back

It’s been a hellish year.

Bouts of insomnia. Unhelpful doctors, nutritionists, and dietitians. Just relax, you say? Right.

So here I am again. I hate to see how many times I’ve “started over” since I began this blog.

But I am back at the number that makes me cringe: 175.

Standing in front of the mirrors in Sam’s Outfitters trying on short yoga pants, and watching – with disgust – as my fat stomach rolled over the tops. Did I mention that these are X-Large yoga pants. Not surprising, since my new – relatively stable size – is 12.

How did this happen? And how did it happen so quickly?

Did I just stop paying attention? Apparently.

Did I just get lazy? Obviously.

So, yesterday, sitting in a trendy raw food restaurant in Brattleboro, VT, as I was waiting for my smoothie to arrive, I looked at my husband who was doing nothing but beaming love and support and I thought: I don’t want to be in this body anymore if I’m this fat.

Wow.

It’s not the first time that I’ve had that thought, but I had hoped that the time before last was the last time. Apparently I was overly optimistic.

Because despite what the tag line of this blog is, I have not learned shit about loving myself.

So, let’s begin again, shall we?

I looked back through my blog and I tracked down a number of things that had worked for me in the past, as regarding weight loss, not about loving.

Calorie counting (not in vogue, I realize)

Cardio, and lots of it (also not in vogue)

Less meat (also not in vogue, depending on with whom you talk)

And more raw (which may or may not still be “cool”, but is contraindicated for thyroid).

After looking at my diet, exercise, blood pressure (105:56), cholesterol panel (as perfect as you can get), and resting heart rate (56), my dietician only had two pieces of advice: 1) lower my calories to 1,200, which, she realizes, is not sustainable, and 2) try Bikram Yoga.

What?

The idea of counting calories is repulsive to me. I hate it already, which probably means that I should do it.

I hate the idea of taking a yoga class even more – especially one in a room heated to 105 degrees with a bunch of scantily class yogis.

To tell you the truth, I really can’t even believe that I am even considering, let alone buying new yoga pants (the last ones I had were size small), a sweat absorbing towel, mat cleaner, and a gym bag.

Despite that I live in the middle of nowhere, there is – believe it or not – a Bikram yoga studio not that far from my house. I logged on to check it out. Two things surprised me. 1) They want/expect you to practice 6 to 7 times a week during the first month, and 2) the letter to “New Students.”

i would like to believe that something as simple – or as difficult – as a yoga practice could change my life. I need a change. I cannot stand this place where I find myself when my thoughts run dark and dangerous. Importantly I know – at a deep level – that the negative stories, the recriminating talk, and the vicious narratives are just that.

I know it’s not true. I know that I really don’t hate my body. But it’s hard to remember, sometimes, in the day to day. In the crush of moments and deadlines and commitments….

Yet, when I went for a walk this morning, I watched the birds play in the field: red winged black birds bullying the robins and wood peckers pecking on anything from trees, to barns, and even painted metal mail boxes. I felt the cool morning breeze on my skin and I squinted against the golden sun. I smelled the lingering scent of fresh new grass, still damp from the morning dew.

All of that beauty – only available through my body.

I love my body and everything that it (she) allows me to experience when I take the time to appreciate it.

I don’t like the way she looks, however; nor do I appreciate how she feels as we trudge up and down the hills, out of breath for the first time in a long time.

So, today, I am starting over.

Again.