Gaining

It’s so easy for me to see what I can’t do. I can’t run a marathon. I can barely run a 5k right now. I can’t do crow pose in yoga class. I can’t do a handstand. I don’t have the stamina I had just a year and a half ago. I feel like I can’t shed these 10 pounds I’d like to lose.

That list is easy to write. I can’t do a lot of things and as easy as it is to write, that must also mean that it’s easy to think and feel and believe those things.

That’s where perspective comes in and becomes so important, and I got some perspective today.

I’ve been getting into yoga. Like, really getting into yoga in a way I’ve never been into it before. In the past I’ve dabbled on and off in yoga since my first yoga class in college. I’ve weaved in and out of it, never adhering to a strict schedule or increasing my intensity much. I even have the same mat that I bought all those years (maybe 8-9 years?) ago.

Recently, I’ve gotten back to yoga and I’ve been trying my hardest to go to class at least twice a week. The studio I go to is extremely convenient, all of the instructors are fantastic, and the classes are even heated, which I would have thought crazy a year ago but now I feel like I can’t get a great practice in without the heat (and it was a nice respite from the frigid winter we had).

I’ve been getting into yoga hard. I started with the beginner classes but eventually graduated to some of the power yoga classes, just increasing the challenge with every class I attend. I go to class, focus on my own body and my own poses, but it’s hard not to notice where others are. I know I shouldn’t compare myself. All of the wonderful instructors tell us not to compare to what another is doing. But I notice and I see how strong they are and how much control they have over their bodies.

And it makes me feel like I can’t do that and maybe I’ll never get there. It feels, sometimes, like I’m not getting better because I’m not that good. I’m not that strong.

Remember when I said I got some perspective? Well, I took a class today that maybe 9 months ago would have been challenging for me. Today, that class felt like a warmup.

I felt strong in my downward facing dog. Really rooted, like you’re supposed to be. I could feel my body doing the work, and my mind quieted, like it knew to shush for a while. Like I’ve gotten better at this. Like now I need it.

The 45 minute class felt great, but it was over so quickly. We were in savasana when I wanted to be dripping sweat on my mat, trying some new pose I’ve never tried. I wanted to work. I was ready to.

And it was done. I felt for the first time in a few months how much better I’ve gotten and all of those “I can’t”s went away.

I can. I do. I will someday. I will get better.

I am getting better. I’m stronger, my balance is better, I’m working on the poses that challenge me. I’m even running again and feeling stronger each time I’m out there.

That perspective shift that I had today, from “I can’t” to “I’m so much stronger” was what I needed to push ahead and keep going. It’s working and all I need to do is keep putting in the time. The rest will come.

Finding Harmony

Changing how I eat has been a great learning experience for me and my stomach. I’ve been able to think about it differently, too, now that I’ve found new foods that I love and are so much healthier for me.

I find that in a lot of ways, with eating especially, people tend to focus on what they’re not having. It’s about restriction and sacrifice in order to meet a goal. Really, isn’t that what most fad diets are? Keto is focused on not having carbs. Low-fat diets are focused on not eating any fat at all. Paleo focuses on eliminating anything a caveman wouldn’t have eaten (processed foods, breads, etc.).

For certain, everyone’s diet is made up of things that they do eat and things that they don’t. It’s just become glowingly apparent to me recently that focusing on what I’m not having isn’t helpful for me. I actually stopped even worrying about what I wasn’t eating a few weeks ago. Menus at restaurants got a little smaller based on what I AM eating and it’s ended up being easier to choose what to order. I’ve been learning so much about what makes me feel good that all I want is to pick those things.

I really think that this is the best thing I’ve learned over my journey so far. It’s not about what I’m not having. It’s all about finding a balance, a harmony, with what really feeds my body and what I enjoy eating.

So what if I’m not really eating dairy? I’m pretty sure it makes me bloated and no one needs that. Plus, I had a yogurt today and it was pretty gross so no thanks.

Sometimes I don’t eat meat at all. I’m cool with it (a meal can be complete without animals, for what it’s worth). I’m not running around and calling myself vegetarian or vegan or anything but I’m fine with not having meat. I haven’t had any today, in fact.

I feel like in this process of elimination, I’ve really been able to discover a plethora of foods that I had been ignoring. Like vegetables and whole grains and fruit smoothies and muffins that are so hippie it hurts. So maybe that’s why I don’t want to focus on the things I’m not eating. I really love what I am eating, and isn’t that the part that matters most?

The Start of my Food Revolution

My stomach has been pretty mad lately. It’s been rumbling and swelling with every meal that I’ve ingested. I’m blaming my bout of salmonella food poisoning last summer for the sudden changes in my digestive tolerance. The research that I’ve read on the digestive system after a significant illness indicates that prolonged stomach sensitivity  is quite common.

While that is possibly comforting psychologically, it doesn’t quite help the fact that I’ve been bloated and uncomfortable and unsure of exactly what I was eating that my stomach could no longer tolerate.

The digestive problems combined with my growing waistline led me to seek some food guidance. Luckily, one of my yoga instructors, Abby Thompson, also doubles as a healthy eating coach so I joined on with her to fix my eating and weed out what is causing my discomfort so I can eat smarter going forward. She provided some guidelines and many recipes to get me started.

I started a mere five days ago on this journey of eliminating dairy, refined sugars, gluten, caffeine, and alcohol.

(Yeah. That’s a lot to eliminate all at once. I know. But I needed something drastic and this was it.)

Five days ago, I weighed 166 pounds and felt bloated and lethargic. But today, I’m at 162 pounds and feeling much happier. My bloat has practically run away screaming from all of the veggies I’ve been eating and my stomach, if it could, would be smiling at me and sending thank you notes.

There was a very difficult hump to get over during the end of Tuesday and all of Wednesday. I’m guessing that it was my withdrawal from refined sugars and included very intense cravings for sugar and bread right along with a headache that just wouldn’t go away.

But with sleep, more veggies, and an amazing chocolate pudding made from coconut milk, dates, cocoa powder, and vanilla, I got over the hump on Thursday and woke up feeling like the me that I remember before my stomach started hating what I was putting into it.

I’m not nearly done yet, since this is a four week journey and I haven’t quite finished week one yet, but I’m excited about the things to come and what I’ll learn about my body. I hope that the improvements I’ve seen and felt in these first five days continue to grow and build to lay the foundation for a healthier lifestyle.