You got good days on the mat….and then, not so good days.

Last night was a rough one at hot yoga.  I woke up tired from a Tylenol PM that I had taken the night before due to an overly ambitious step class Monday night.  I tried some more advanced moves in that class and my knee still doth protest.

All day, I was in a medicine haze.  I must have slept fitfully because I wasn’t just hazy, I was exhausted ALL DAY.

You know when you are so tired, you start bargaining with yourself about a workout?  I was doing that at lunch, hours before my yoga class.

But I dragged myself there anyway and set up.  The room was crowded and I felt like I could just close my eyes and pass out.  The instructor had on some different music this time that was more rockish and it wasn’t relaxing me.  I think this was supposed to be an energizing class.

We began and I just couldn’t get my groove going.  I was distracted, tired, and feeling a little crabby that I couldn’t focus.

You got good days on the mat….and then, not so good days.   This was clearly turning out to be one of those not so good days.

I grumbled my way through about 45 minutes of class.  It was hot, I felt fat in my workout gear, and the guy next to me was breathing hard.  I was in a mood!

Finally, we got to the floor work and I was relieved.  At this point, the instructor informed us that the room was at 108.

We took a short break on our backs and I laid there, confused as to what was going on.  We started going into some back exercises and I winced.  Oh, my poor back.  I didn’t want to have a jacked up knee AND back.  God help me.  I was mentally checked out.

I literally didn’t think I had anything else left in me.  Everyone was doing their bridges and I was just laying there.  Finally, I said to myself, for crying out loud, you need to accomplish something today that challenges you.  Let’s trust yourself to be strong enough to gather up some energy and move.

Then, something strange happened.  I was laying there, with one hand on my stomach and the other over my heart and I felt like I had this amazing rush of energy forming in my stomach.  I put my hands up by my ears, lifting my elbows up, and willed that ball of energy into my aching back.  I literally sprung up into bridge, surprising myself with my strength.  This is not a pose I normally do. My wrists are very problematic and this frankly is a pose that scares me.

But I was up, chest bowed up and open to the world.  I felt so liberated and peaceful.  Of course, then I started to realize what I had just done, freaked myself out and started back down again to my mat.  I was panting, cursing myself for breaking my concentration and energy in the pose.

But then I calmed my breathing and turned inward.  I thanked my body for showing me what it was capable of.  I accepted that it was just one of those days on the mat.  I listed to my hair dripping on the mat next to my ear.  drip. drip.

When I woke up this morning, I felt limber and happy.  Whatever happened last night must have worked out something, because I feel amazing today.  My knee still hurts, but my back is soft and I am at peace.

Just goes to show that a bad day on the mat does a body good.

Food experiment of the week: Green goop

Remember how I said that I was going to try a new recipe every week?  Well, I tried it last night and it was quasi-successful.  I’m not doing so hot with my track record- two weeks in a row of meh recipes.

This week, I wanted to try some green juice recipes but I don’t have a juicer.  This recipe probably would have been better with a juicer.  You will see why in a second.

So here it goes.  The ingredients.

  • Handful of kale
  • Handful of parsley
  • Juice of a lemon
  • A nub of fresh ginger (what is the proper way to “peel” this stuff?)
  • One green apple
  • Two stalks of celery
  • A cup of coconut milk from the failed recipe from last week

I blended it up and it looked pretty good.  It basically looked like this:

drink (2)

 

As you can see, it is very bright and definitely has some texture to it.  It was delicious, but really chewy.  I guess kale doesn’t really pulverize.

Time to get a juicer!

Listen, we all have drama…but….

This month, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about happiness.  I think it’s something that crosses our minds at the beginning of the new year.  How can I be fitter, healthier, happier, etc. But you know how I feel about resolutions.

One of the things I’ve noticed during yoga this month is my constant desire to be less stressed out.  I’m going in this hot room, begging the gods quietly for an hour of stress-free bliss.  Then, I repeat it again the next time I come in.  And the time after that.

I have a laundry list of reasons I should be stressed out.  I work full time, teach three classes (which is one class from being full time), care for an aging parent with specific needs, maintain a home (barely), and try to be a good friend and wife.  I try not to dwell on all of that because it really sends me into a tailspin if I think about it too long.  I know you probably feel the same way too.

It’s normal to have responsibilities, but for crying out loud, can we get a week without some drama?!

I was reading a blog and the author said something that rang true with me: “I often get lost in my to-do list, complain about too many commitments, and align myself with people who give me more headaches than joy”.

Whoa.  That is me.

I’ve really started to feel selfish this month because of it.  I’m cleaning my mental house and disposing of the clutter that stresses me out.  Okay, maybe I’m not feeling so selfish after all.

Granted, you can dispose of all of the drama, but there is a fair amount of drama that enters our worlds for which we have the ability to control.  I’m making a conscious effort to stay away from negative people or drama people around me.  This includes acquaintances, co-workers, and anyone else that I generally feel has a cloud of drama hanging around.  

I’ve started to ask myself, “does this make me happy? does this person make me happy?  can I avoid either of these things and not suffer repercussions at work or in my personal life?”.

These questions have helped me to really start reevaluating my world in the past 28 days.  

And what I’ve found is this:  I’ve been asking for stress relief less and less during my yoga sessions.  This is a major shift for me.

At first, this was difficult to imagine.  You mean I have a choice about the drama in my life?  I’ve been so far gone into the habit of saying yes to everyone, putting up with people because that’s “just the way they are”, or doing things even though it causes me grief that it was hard to start saying no at first.  No to the whole lot of it.

It’s been liberating.  With a few small changes, I’ve found some more happiness in my world.  This alone has helped me to manage my normal drama-filled world more effectively.

So this is my plan for the rest of the year.  Be choosy.  

Be choosy about what I allow to enter my physical and mental space.  If it doesn’t benefit me in some way, I’m going to start doing my best to let it pass me by.  I need to stop trying to fix things, people, and situations around me.  Knowing we are all imperfect creatures is one thing, but choosing to immerse yourself in imperfection is another.  By doing this consciously, I hope to be a more peaceful person this year.

Because I deserve it, right?

Stop thinking about it, for crying out loud!

As planned, I attended my second hot yoga class of the week last night. Again, happy to report that I am not suffering any ill effects of frequent practice. I was concerned that I would be overstretching, but no, in fact I feel fabulous. My back, which has been crunched up all week into a ridiculous mess of knots, is starting to loosen up as of yesterday. Today I feel pretty good. It’s not crunching at all.

Class last night was with a different instructor that I normally see. Cheryl is a pixie of a lady with tattoos all over and a sassy attitude. She is definitely different than my beloved Sandra, who reminds me not to judge and to send the rays of my heart forward. When I practiced at this studio before, I would alternate between the two. I like Cheryl because she makes physical corrections to poses and is a stickler for alignment. I welcome her appearing out of nowhere when I am in a pose to poke at my back, move my heel, or gently encourage me to twist even further than I thought was physically possible. It’s a Type A dream.

Anyway, when I arrived at class last night, Cheryl had decided that we would all face our mats into the center of the room, rather than facing the mirrors. She decided that this would be good for us to stop looking at ourselves in the mirror. Only problem is that we were now facing each other. It truly forced us all to focus on something besides a face. I picked a guy’s tattooed shoulder to focus on across from me.

The room was amazingly hot (such a relief after being in the cold all day in my office) and I decided that I REALLY needed to wash my Yoga Toes mat towel. I’ve been slacking on that and of course, as soon as I walked in the room, set up, and sat, I started to think about laundry. But I digress.

We chanted and set our intentions, then got straight to it. Cheryl is a flow instructor and you really have to pay attention to what she is saying. We did several down dogs, planks, back and forth- which was a good warmup from the normal sun salutations. Then, things started to get pretty sweaty. Thankful for my new yellow headband, I followed along and surprised myself by some good hip loosening. My left hip is still really tight in some poses. I’m sure time will fix that, but I tell you what- it REALLY hurt in some of the triangle poses when I creased or leaned forward. I would stop, rub my hip, and reset. I was determined.

Then, shit got real. She started doing some binding poses with balance options at the end. I love a good binding pose, but those balancing poses are still in my ‘Uhhhh, are you sure about that” status. I started going into the pose, when listened while she explained how to do the bind. I went into the bind with ease. Then, she said, step forward on your leg. I just sat there. I literally thought, there is no way in hell I can do this. I’m not strong enough. I’m too accident prone. This woman has so many tattoos, the ink is seeping into her brain and we get the resulting crazy.

As I sat/squatted/hovered in my bind, she lurked up behind me and whispered, “stop thinking about it, for crying out loud!”. I blinked. She stood in front of me and said, stop. thinking. just. do.

So I did. I stopped. I whispered, I trust you. And I very, very, very slowly picked one leg up and shifted my weight. I started back down, and she appeared again. Stop thinking about it and stay there. Okay, okay. I leaned forward, picked my little toes up and hovered, sweating, binded up with my arms all over, shoulders pulling my chest open to the sky, and waited. I didn’t fall. I just hovered, foot low to the ground. I stopped thinking about it, for crying out loud. I got over myself and just did it. Granted, I wasn’t spectacular like the shoulder tattoo guy across from me who had somehow figured out how to grab his big toe during this whole pretzel fest and was doing something I had never seen before, but I was doing it. Doing something. Doing more.

As we ended the class, Cheryl led us in a final chant and at the end, exclaimed “jaya!”. That means victory in Sanskrit. And at that moment, I felt victorious. Victory, indeed.

At some point, you have to trust yourself.

I’m happy to report that hot yoga went very well last night.  I was so pleased when I seemed to slip back into the old routine of the hot yoga classes.  They are different, at least at the studio I go to, compared to the warm classes.  The warm classes are definitely for beginners and as a result, the poses are not as challenging.

When I was waiting for class to start (because I have to get everywhere 20 minutes ahead of time or I panic), a young woman came in to sign up for an introductory week of classes. I overheard her explaining to the receptionist that she has bad joints, can’t run, doctors don’t know why she kept hurting herself, etc.  Believe me, it took everything in me not to run up to her and say, yes, yes, you can do this.  Just try it, I promise.

She came and sat on the bench next to me and looked absolutely terrified.  The receptionist had told her that she should try a warm class first but she had made up her mind and was coming to the hot class.  I smiled at her and asked if it was her first class and she nodded.  I asked if she wanted some first-timer advice and she was grateful for the input.  I proceeded to give her the rundown of the room, what would happen before and after class, how she should have something to hold her wispy hair back, etc.  Then, I admitted that I had overheard her speaking about her physical challenges and offered up my own story.  She seemed to be relieved by this and asked if she could set up her mat next to me in class.

When we got into the room, she set up and started to whisper that she was nervous and scared that she would hurt herself.  I reassured her that she would be guided safely into poses and that she just needed to do what she was comfortable with to the best of her ability.

Class started and I had to admit, I was a little scared myself.  Was I making a mistake by jumping back into hot yoga so soon?  Was I just hopeful that three years off would not make any difference?

As the class progressed, I concentrated on my poses and cleared my mind of the list of things to do at home.  That’s part of why I like hot yoga in particular.  With regular yoga, I can’t ever clear my mind.  But with hot yoga, all I can think about is how hot it is, so it’s very distracting for me.  It’s the best 60-90 minutes of therapy I’ve found for shutting my brain down.

Anyway, class started to get intense with the poses about halfway through.  I noticed my balance was off, and indeed, I had most certainly regressed with my strength since three years ago.  We started to do poses where one leg supports the body and I really got sketched out.  The girl next to me was struggling, but then she would get the pose, smile at me, and then whisper that she couldn’t believe that she was actually doing it.  She mouthed, all I can do is try.

I was falling over, resetting, falling over, and getting back to center on some challenging poses.  The instructor was saying, stop thinking about it, just do it.   I was trying to figure out in my head why I couldn’t do these poses that I remembered doing before.

And that’s when it happened.  The epiphany.  I realized that I didn’t trust my body.

On the mat, I sat in child’s pose, crying because I realized that I didn’t trust my own body.  And at that moment, I realized that because I didn’t trust my body, my body doesn’t trust me either.  I felt terrible, like I was violating myself because I couldn’t trust my own body to function in a way that was perfectly reasonable.  Our bodies are amazing things- they function without us asking them to, taking in breath, pumping blood, moving us from place to place, and adapt without our realization.  Our bodies are smarter than computers in many ways, but I am living in this state of uncertainty by not trusting mine.

And by doing this, I had the great realization that I was sending a message out that my body couldn’t trust me.

I know this sounds very hippy-ish, but this realization was so powerful.  I reset myself again on my mat, tears running down my face, and silently started a dialog with myself as I went into the next pose.

Body, I trust you.  I’m sorry I have blamed you for the past two years of my misery.  I know you can do this, you just don’t remember how.  I will protect you and be kind with you.  Trust me to treat you well and know you can be safe.

I was so focused at this point, I was repeating this over and over again.  I’m sorry, know you are safe.  I’m sorry, know you are safe.  I trust you.  Trust me.

All of a sudden, something clicked.  I started going into poses with more ease, didn’t fall apart when they became challenging, and felt an overwhelming sense of empowerment from within me.

At the beginning of each practice, yoga practitioners are encouraged to dedicate their time on the mat to a thought, action, or person.  My devotions are usually centered around calming myself or being strong.  I think now, my devotions will be to evoke a sense of trust between myself and my body.

This is the full epiphany I had during class: At some point, you have to trust your body.  You have to trust that it can support you and take care of you.  It’s more powerful than you think it is.  Then, you need to let your body know that it can trust you so that it can relax.  You gain trust through action.  It’s a process that I know I need to start with my body and move towards a point where there is no question on either end that full trust exists and my body can be strong and peaceful.

I have decided to go back to hot yoga again tomorrow, only this time when I unroll my mat, it will be with the intention of trust.

New habits and an update

Just checking in to let you all know how it’s going with my January goals.

Still going good with the avocados every day.  I haven’t gained weight, so I’m a little skeptical of people saying that one a day isn’t good.  Sometimes, I’ve been eating more than that and it’s been okay.  In fact, two people emailed me some recent studies about avocados in the last week, both had positive findings regarding the frequent consumption of avocados and the absorption of vitamins in other foods and cardiovascular health.

The mysterious swelling in my legs and hips went down last week after I took a few days off.  I must have just been overwhelming my body.  I’ve been having a hard time getting up in the morning to exercise, so either I need to go to bed earlier, which is damn near impossible or I need to just suck it up and do it.  I don’t know about you, but I’m such a hibernator in the winter.  In the summer, I have no problem getting up (I’m a morning person usually), but when it’s dark all the time in the winter, I just zzzzzzzz.

I’ve been doing well with my step classes two days a week (Sunday and Monday).  Hot yoga once a week has been good too.  Actually, it’s been warm yoga, but I start back up with the hot yoga tonight.  I need the hot room, I’ve discovered.  It’s not hot enough in the warm room for my hips to stretch and I’m not getting the relief I was hoping for in that muscle release.  Tonight, I have my first hot yoga class, so that will be the test.  I had to buy a new yoga headband because I can’t find my old purple one that I loved.  This time, I got a happy yellow one.  I figure it will give me something to focus on in poses while my eyes fill up with sweat!

Set a new goal this week to try one new recipe a week.  My friend, Cori, themes her actions for the year and this year she chose Discover as her theme.  That inspired me to look at my complacent life and routines.  One thing that I can do differently is to be more curious about food and how I prepare my meals.  To that end, I’ve decided to try one new recipe a week.

This week, I decided to try a crock pot recipe with coconut milk, mangos, and chicken.  It looked delicious on the blog when I read about it.  It’s basically a can of coconut milk, a pound of chicken, a couple mangos, and a tablespoon of chipotle flakes.  I had a carton of coconut milk so I used that and red pepper flakes instead.  I cubed the chicken and let it go for about 4 and a half hours in the crock pot.

The verdict?  It’s okay.  Not as sweet as I had hoped for.  I think that I should have used the full fat canned coconut milk that is a little thicker than the boxed variety.  I think the consistency of the milk would have helped too with the final outcome.  Mine was pretty watery, rather than milky looking like the photo online.  I may have also used some less ripened mangos, just because mine were ripe and I think not as stable.

All in all though, it’s got the makings for a good recipe and I’ll eat it for lunch this week.

My task is now to start researching for recipe for next week.

There is a great website I’ve found called Punchfork.  It’s almost like FoodGawker, but on Punchfork, you can sort by if you are vegetarian or Paleo, gluten free, etc.  I like being able to sort because then I don’t get tempted by other recipes.

I’m leaning towards making a stew or soup next week for my lunches.  I need to start freezing things like that again.

Back to the hot yoga, I’m planning on going two times a week now for the next couple of weeks.  I have some plans for February- more on that soon!

Making new habits

Hi everyone!

I wanted to pop in real quick and update you on the avocado deal.  It’s actually going really well!

In fact, I had a day last week where I ran out of avocados and used cheese in my omelette.  Within a couple of hours, I had a raging headache.  Coincidence?

Anyway, I’ve discovered that avocados are great for my hungries.  I can eat my omelette in the morning at 8am and I’m usually not hungry until 11:30 for lunch.  Then, I’ve been eating the other half of the avocado around 3pm with a couple of small oranges.  Delicious!

This week, I took my new habits a step further and I’m incorporating the no dairy thing at lunch.  However, I’m also including no grains.  

Why no grains?  Well, I’m allergic to gluten and to bakers yeast.  I know.  It’s not Epi-pen allergic like the cows milk (never had to use the thing though), but it’s bad enough that they both popped on a blood allergy test.  I’ve been doing some reading about avoiding gluten and processed grains and what I’m finding is that people are doing better when they cut out all grains (oats, rice, quinoa, etc.).  So I’m giving that a shot.

Disclaimer:  I WILL eat things when I want, where I want.  This is a choice, not a medical emergency, people.  If I’m out with my peeps and there are nachos to be had, I’m having the damn nachos.  I don’t eat like that all of the time, so if I’m doing this 95% of the time and then enjoying myself the other 5%, then I’m okay with that.  

Getting back to this no grains business.  I decided to baby step my way into this.  I’m forcing Kevin, poor guy, to do this too.  For him, it’s actually sort of necessary since he has an autoimmune disorder and I’ve seen over and over again how processed grains are no bueno for people like him.  Really for me too, since I have Hashimoto’s, but for him even more.

This week, we chose to prepare a crock pot meal for our lunches that is dairy and grain free.  Let’s hear it for mexican pulled chicken!  So delicious and very filling.  I’ve had about a cup and a half to two cups of that at lunch this week and so far so good.  

We are still working on our dinner situation at home, since we have a lot of frozen and stockpiled meals.  As a result, we’ve been eating up things and preparing our kitchen for a different food clientele, if you will.  I’m researching using coconut and almond flour for baking.  This is definitely a shift for both of us.  

This month also marks the first month of working out in my new format and schedule.  I had a couple of days where my knee really hurt and I was like, great, now I have to call Cori and tell her I messed up and hurt myself again. But, I just took a couple days off and it seemed to resolve itself.  I turned my weak ankle once in step class and didn’t hurt myself, so I must be getting stronger.  I have been to three WARM yoga classes and plan to do one more before I transition to hot yoga.  I think I really need the extreme heat to loosen up my poor hip and leg muscles because the warm isn’t doing it for me.  My body pump classes got rescheduled to 4-5pm start times, so I can’t do those now.  I’m going to rethink how I am going to do my weights.  I may do some arm things in the morning and then do legs in the evening at the gym.  Not sure on that yet.

I’ve felt for the past week that I’m swollen.  I think my body isn’t used to such an active schedule. My pants feel tight and I’m sure it’s from not giving my body a break for almost two weeks straight.  I may start doing some dead sea salt baths and see if that helps with the swelling.  If not, I’ll reconsider doing my dry body brushing to see if that will help my lymph system empty.  I enjoy the dry brushing but I’m usually so tired in the morning and night that I slack and don’t do it.  Maybe I need to start doing it when I get home before I change into my jammies.