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.

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.

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.