It certainly has been far too long since my last post. I wrote one up but when I went to publish it disappeared. One day, I will rewrite, but until then here are some recent pictures of my progress!
A wonderful read and something for all us yogis to digest….
My eyes popped open at 5:45a this morning and I started mentally preparing myself for the 6:30a Bikram yoga class I had scheduled on my calendar. Oh so gingerly, I slid out of bed and tried to clear my mind enough to feed to dogs and grab my bag. That’s when it hit me. Competition is tomorrow and I’ve pushed it so hard I can barely bend over to open the dog food container! What was I thinking. “But you have to! What about your Challenge?!”
It is so easy to immediately put myself in guilt-mode, especially when I have a specific goal in mind. I have this awful tendency to shove what my body (and mind) really need to the back-burner. How ironic. The whole reason I’m doing this challenge is to take care of my body-mind! Reluctantly, I decided to skip class today and give myself some much needed self-care before I get up on that stage. Epsom salt, lots of water, some basic stretching, but nothing that will push my body so far it has to put up a bigger fight just to be heard.
I think for all of us it is important, though difficult, to recognize and stay tuned-in to what our bodies and minds are telling us. Things don’t always have to be perfect or just as we planned. One of my instructors always says as she leaves the yoga room at the end of class, “Have compassion for yourself and those around you.” Such a simple saying, yet for so many of us (especially my fellow Perfectionists) we quickly forget.
Compassion for myself is not about excusing bad behavior or enabling poor choices. It’s about honoring where I am in the moment, recognizing it, and taking supportive action to make sure I am getting what I need. All of this helps me reach my goals. That same instructor always says, “Choices, choices. We all make choices.”
My choice today? Honor where I am, look it in the eye, and support it.
It has been 34 days since I first started my personal challenge. I have completed 33 Bikram yoga classes in the 34 days and have been relatively faithful to my diet change. My personal challenge shifts and deepens and I have tried to challenge myself within the original parameters I set. On Saturday and Sunday of this week I decided to complete 4 classes which meant that I would have to stay in the yoga room for 3 very hot hours both days. I have completed a Double before, but never have I attempted to do two back-to-back.
I didn’t do a very good job of preparing for Saturday’s classes. I went to bed late, I didn’t take my trace minerals, and I didn’t drink nearly enough water the day before. It is so important that all of these things are done properly when doing this much hot yoga. Nutrition is also a very important part of completing a successful yoga challenge. My instructors say that without proper nutrition not only will the body be unable to heal itself but it will not be able to relax and recover from the classes.
The first class on Saturday went relatively well. By relatively, I mean that although I have performed better in classes my body was putting out what I had put into it the day before. I did get really hot and my muscles fatigued really quickly. Needless to say, I was pretty concerned about what my second class was going to be like.
I was right to be concerned. I moved my mat so that I could be in “hurricane alley” (right by the main door where cool drafts occasionally sneak into the hot room) but even that wasn’t enough. At one point, I looked up into the mirror and my lips had turned gray. Not good. That’s when the lump in my throat turned into a boulder and I started panicking. It is a strange sensation when you begin to lose it in the middle of something you have done so many times. I’m sure that we all go through it at some point in regards to one thing or another, but it was something that took me completely by surprise.
My brilliant instructor took notice and being the wonderful and compassionate person she is, tasked me to go into the hallway and turn on the industrial fan located in the lobby. My favorite part of her instruction? “And Mel, take your time.” After returning to the room, I finished my second class as gracefully as I could. There were five of us who did a Double that day and we all agreed it was the hottest it has been in that room in quite awhile. But we made it! And what a learning experience Saturday was. I went home, hydrated, napped, epsom salt soaked my feet, and pumped my body full of greens and trace minerals.
By Sunday morning, I was ready for my second Double. The room was cooler and the humidity was tolerable. That does not mean that the classes were necessarily easier, but my lips stayed pink and I did not leave the room. Rosemary essential oil helped me maintain a better body temperature during the second class. The instructor I had for my Sunday classes has a different style than the instructor who taught the Saturday classes. They both are incredible individuals and extremely knowledgeable, able to challenge me in different and unique ways. I am actually going to compete in the Colorado Regional Championship and it is their continuous encouragement that has inspired me to take my challenge public. No matter what my score or how I do, the fact that I even compete will be enough for me. Pictures to follow.
All in all, the past month has been wonderful. I feel better prepared for the upcoming months and I consider the first quarter of my challenge a great experience. I have lost about 15 lbs and feel fantastic. Only 87 more classes and days to go!
I have a new love for doubles. Back-to-back yoga classes, that is. Sunday was my second attempt at doing classes back-to-back, and I have to say, it may be my new addiction. It is incredibly exhilarating, draining, and euphoric. I started doing doubles because I wanted to take Mondays off from yoga so my body could recover. Well, now I think I am going to start doing them a couple of times a week. I will keep Mondays as my rest day though.
As far as my progress with my diet and lifestyle change, things have gone really well. I am down exactly 10 lbs since starting this blog and, with some very dedicated instructors, am able to get into and out of poses much easier and with more control. I have reached a point in the diet change where I am either not hungry at inappropriate times or can manage through whatever craving I’m experiencing.
The first four days have been incredible. Being that I am still within the first week of my personal challenge, the adrenaline of doing something new is wonderful. I am sure that there will be days when I will ask myself, Why the hell did I decide to do this?
Getting to yoga everyday has been pretty easy. The anticipation of learning something new about my body and the connection between it and my state of mind is an incredible source of motivation. For example, one of the most difficult poses for me to complete properly is Triangle Pose. This pose is an intense mix of a lateral lunge and spine twist, all done while keeping your arms straight, abdominal muscles engaged, and head turned straight up to the ceiling. Yesterday, I was unable to stay in the pose for the full amount of time. I was holding back because I was very sore. Today, however, I stayed in the pose for the entire time during both sets. I was more willing to commit to each step of the posture and not let my physical pain get in the way of completing a posture to the best of my ability. I was also willing to come back and try again today and not let one posture affect me to the point of giving up. The lesson of being able to maintain focus while remaining compassionate with myself is something I try to apply to situations outside of the yoga room. This lesson is one that I need to be frequently reminded of and practice often.
Maintaining the food part of the challenge has been interesting. As long as I get my meals in on time I am ok. It has been weird to worry about having a big enough salad or enough yogurt in my cooler or refrigerator. I do have to fight the urge to indulge in all the post-Holiday treats that friends, family, and clients leave us. It is pretty brutal but I’ll survive. I really miss cookies. I love cookies. And fudge. And fruit-cake. I am sure it will pass though and as long as I am diligent it will all pay off.
Hungry. That is how I felt most of the day. All part of the process, I suppose, though I do think I’m going to modify my meal plan to include a couple hundred more calories per day. It is not because I can’t live with hunger, but rather because I hate having headaches from not eating enough.
The original meal plan consisted of five meals at three hundred calories a meal. This plan was designed for someone who was relatively sedentary. Though I wouldn’t consider myself an athlete, I probably burn more calories each day than an individual sitting at a desk. I am an owner-operator of a residential cleaning company and clean two to four houses in a day. Today we cleaned two and by the end of it I had a splitting headache. So, more calories per day it is. Instead of 300 calories per meal, I will create a 300/300/425/425/300 plan. That way I’m consuming the majority of my calories during times I burn the most.
Yoga went beautifully today. I was a little concerned with my two meals before class because in the past I have gotten really sick from eating prior to class. For whatever reason, today was not a repeat of the past and I made it through class without nausea. I did get a short-lived headache during class but I believe the two glasses of wine and very little water yesterday contributed to that. Tomorrow there is an evening class I will attend and hopefully the nausea stays away as I will have eaten at least three meals by then.
I was also really pleased with the self-control I was able to exhibit today in class. Friends and family have told me that I push myself too hard and make my life harder by doing so. I fixate. My yoga practice reflects this and I often find myself pushing into a pose without activating the correct muscles, thereby missing out on the incredible benefits of each pose. You can imagine my surprise when today I was able to just focus on each step of each pose; no rushing, no fixating. I hope that tomorrow and the days to follow hold more of the same.