6am

Quickly, quietly, and without any lights on, I slip from the bedroom into the office where I quickly shut the door. I’m not sure how well it seals in the sound, but in my head, it’s like I can barely breathe until I’m divided away. I want this time for me but I know he prefers to keep sleeping.

And then, I sit. My socks, that I wear to bed every night, save for the hottest summer evenings, get pulled off gently to allow my feet to stick to the mat. It’s dark when I begin but I know that by the time I end, it won’t be. My corner of the world will wake up with me. Gently and gracefully.

The double window in the office provides a sweeping view of the rest of the neighborhood. Perched at the top of our hill, with the window facing the houses and streets that cascade below, I see everything. Well, not yet. It’s still early. But I will see everything in time.

Without any light, either outside or in, I close my eyes while I sit cross-legged on my mat. My eyes are notoriously terrible in the dark. I was once on a long car ride to Maine with my boyfriend (now husband) and when it got dark, he asked if I’d like him to take the wheel for a while. I agreed and not much longer after that we were streaming along a mountain road. He started to slow and, not seeing anything ahead, I asked why. He said “Seriously? You don’t see that moose in the road?” and I felt red and ashamed that my eyes had failed to spot such a gigantic beast.

In the silent house with my eyes closed in the dark, all that I can hear is my breath and the fan of the heat when it decides the house is too cold and the temperature must be fixed. And I begin what is a practice of muscle strength, concentration, will, balance, and peace. Moving from posture to posture, working out quirks as I go, and coming up with new ways to hold my frame to get the greatest boost.

The sun begins to rise and the dark blue sky shades lighter with pale pink and lilac on the edges and I begin my sun salutations. They raise my heart rate enough that I sweat just a little. It creates heat in my arms and legs as the sun, now hitting the horizon, adds copper and golden tones to the sky.

When I’m finished with my set and standing at the top of my mat, the sun’s rays are now hitting the tree tops and I can see smoke rising from chimneys. Some rooms in the other houses are lit from the inside now with the stirrings of morning.

After a few final postures I finish on the floor, sprawled out in a relaxed position usually relegated to bedtime but brought out at dawn to solidify both body and mind before the day ahead.

And then his alarm goes off at 7am and I know that the rest of the day has been set in motion. The sun is up, I am up, and I am finally, truly awake.

The Prime of My Life

I’ve heard that high school is the prime of my life. I’ve also heard that it was my college years. Even further still, it’s the time between getting married and having children when it’s just a family of two. Depending on any one person’s personal experience in life, you’re likely to hear different things and the global consensus usually is that it’s behind you and your life is all downhill from where you are now.

I refuse to subscribe to this.

If high school was supposed to be the prime of my life, that was a magnificent failure. I had so much anger while growing into an adult that I have a difficult time thinking of positive things during that time frame. All of the positives then are short snippets. Sure, much of this has to do with my own perspective, but it’s still worthy. I had no belief that it was the prime of my life and I still don’t think that it was even close.

College is a bit of a different matter. I formed a lot of myself then and met my husband there so I can’t count out the experience. I’m not really even looking to count out my high school experience, either, but there’s a vast difference between counting it and considering it the prime of my life. I don’t think college was my prime. I think I grew a lot then but I wasn’t in a space where I could think that things were amazing all around.

What plagued me then was always thinking about the future. I was thinking about what’s next rather than right now and naturally that lends itself to not living fully in the moment. Not living in the moment completely removes one’s self from life at the very time that it’s happening.

Inherently, this can not be the prime of my life.

Marriage is still fresh and new and there’s a certain perspective that time can give to these things. I can’t really say that it is the prime of my life only due to marriage and I don’t want to say that it would end if I had children.

I’ve finally got it, though. I have a plan and it’s marvelous (or at the very least, it seems to be marvelous now and in the moment).

I am in the prime of my life. And I will continue to be in the prime of my life every year going forward.

Let’s take a step back for a minute to explore this. In 2010 I was obese and unhappy with how I felt about myself. I’d surely say that it wasn’t the prime of my life yet. I then embarked on my 50 pound weight loss journey. It was profound and transformative, but even then, I wasn’t in the prime of my life.

But now, in 2012, I surely am. It wasn’t only the age and it wasn’t only the weight loss. It wasn’t the 5k that I ran or getting married. It was everything. It was learning to live for today and to be happy today. Happiness stopped being a future goal and it became a now goal. I worked on August Happiness, a project dedicated to learning how to be happy despite any other circumstances. And it worked.

I learned that if I had the right mindset, I could be happy even by doing the smallest things. It might be wearing a cute outfit. It might be giving someone a compliment. It might just be listening to an audiobook on my way to work or singing my guts out to a song. It was hard. I’d never thought that finding happiness would be so hard. It was some days, especially after a long day or if I hadn’t slept.

But I found happiness within myself and I learned that I can make myself better among the worst seeming circumstances.

It has brought me into my prime both mentally and physically. I’m more focused when I run and I’m more focused in my life. I’ve achieved so much of what I wanted to as an individual that it’s completely amazing to me.

So my goal is to keep getting better and to keep paying attention to myself. In theory, I will keep improving on the prime of my life and make it last for months, years, decades, a lifetime.

The prime of my life is now because I’ve decided that it is. When is the prime of your life going to be?

Striving Towards Fitness

In 2011, I lost 50 pounds. It took commitment and hard work. I had set a goal and I ended up achieving it. It was an incredible time.

Now, though, I find myself losing ground. The scale no longer delivers powerful numbers that I haven’t seen in years. I’m not shrinking out of my clothes on a constant basis. I’m not changing in a way that makes me feel like I can conquer Everest. Hell, I’m not sure I could even conquer Mt. Monadnock right now (…fancy a little regional humor?).

The weight loss journey, I’m learning, was about having a goal and working towards it. It was about making changes and seeing their effects. It was having the control over my life enough to change how I treat myself. It was a constant stream of victories. No matter what else was going on, I still had my scale and the ever smaller number it read. And it wasn’t chance or luck or a winning lottery ticket found on the sidewalk. It was a plan. It was actions, thoughtfully carried out over the course of a year, that helped me towards the ever present goal that seemed so many miles away when I started.

And then there’s this. Feeling like I’ve stopped. Feeling like I’m losing ground with every passing day. Feeling like there’s nothing left. Feeling like I gave all I could to my prior pursuit but there isn’t enough power to get over the next hump. In actuality, this is familiar territory. I went through this before I could commit to changing my diet. I had the tools but no follow through and fear of failure. But familiar or not, it’s still a very uncomfortable place to be.

I’ve started and stopped many fitness programs over the years. For me, fitness is the least consistent part of my weight loss story to date. It’s the most difficult. Changing the food I eat is easy. I plan better and I succeed more often because I know what I should and shouldn’t do. But fitness is still yet to be achieved in any successful manner.

I’m partially afraid of failure since that’s all I’ve had lately with my fitness trials. I’m also just trying to make sure that I have enough will and strength mentally to commit to this and really make sure that I don’t quit.

With a new month fast approaching, it is an opportunity to start fresh. I’ve had many of these months before but with any luck, this might be the time that it sticks. So I will eat well, work out often, and stop weighing myself. That’s what I pledge this May. With determination and will, I will come out a more fit person in June and will have renewed confidence to keep pushing further.