Have you ever had a recurring thought that you couldn’t swat away?
The other night we were watching TV together when I propped my leg up on the couch. I glanced down at my thigh, and it totally confused me. Whose thigh was that? I wasn’t mine. And yet, it was attached to me. But it wasn’t familiar. After all my thighs are plump and lumpy. The thigh that was propped in front of me–wasn’t. It was smaller and had a defined shape other than a cream-filled eclair.
That was the first time I noticed a change in my physical being. Don’t get me wrong, that thigh was far from anything perfect. But it just didn’t look like my thigh. In the past few weeks, I’ve been surprised by other little changes occurring to my body as I’ve taken control of my sugar addiction.
Since March, I’ve lost just over 30 lbs thanks to giving up soda and making a conscious effort to reduce processed sugar in my diet. For the first couple of months, I was faithful. I went to a few Pilates classes and had private yoga practices. I did yoga during lunch. I even changed my Pandora station to Yoga Workout music. I watched every gram of sugar that went into my mouth. Then I began to hate it all. I felt restricted and deprived. If I heard another song with a sitar again, I was going to scream.
I wanted to be able to eat chocolate occasionally. I wanted to be free to eat whatever I wanted like the old days. I watched people consume processed food, soda, and even dessert without thought. Did they know or care what they were eating? I hated waiting until after 7 pm for Pilates. I hated committing to 8 am yoga on Saturday mornings. I hated having my life so structured. Work is structured enough. I couldn’t handle having my downtime structured too. The reality was that it wasn’t really all that structured, but it felt it. Nobody made me feel this way. My teachers were completely supportive and nothing but encouraging. Instead, I did this to myself.
So I took a break from the physical stuff but stayed on the diet, with fewer restrictions. I allowed myself to have a glass of wine. I ate some peanut M&M’s. I even had a small chocolate milkshake (it took me two nights to finish it). I tried to find my boundries. And I still lost weight. I easily fit into my “skinny clothes.”
This summer I have a busy, busy beaver with canning and freezing. My freezer is full. My pantry is full. If I finish my Tomatopalooza goals, I’ll have to start storing filled jars in our guest bedroom like my sister does. Its been a fabulous summer. I am thrilled with what I’ve accomplished. I’ve tried new canning recipes, and I’ve gained a few new skills. Take today for instance. I have 14-day pickles working, apple butter is in the slow cooker, and I have apples waiting to be made into applesauce. My beloved has a batch of home brewed beer ready for bottling. As Martha would say, “It’s a good thing.”
In the past few weeks, there has been a nagging feeling that I couldn’t swat away. I missed my yoga mat. In July, Balance Yoga began offering new classes. Several times, I nearly committed but changed my mind. I wasn’t ready to get back to my mat. I was eyeball deep into canning tomatoes. I told myself that I didn’t have time. Besides, I had to know for sure what I wanted from yoga this time.
Yoga has never been about weight loss for me. It’s about building a strong and flexible body, to realize my physical potential even if I’m approaching 50 years old. It’s an intense practice, not because of the physical demands, but the mental ones. Granted, the physical aspects are challenging for a middle-aged fat chick with breasts. But to me, yoga is about courage and mind control–reaching beyond what my mind believes what my body can do. Can I touch my toes? My mind says, “heck no!” And yet, during a yoga practice, I can. Can I touch my toes and exhale a breath at the same time? Sometimes.
It seemed that every time I logged onto Facebook, someone was talking about or sharing about yoga. No matter where I put my mat, it was always in the way. I finally put it in the trunk of my car. Then I bought all those cucumbers and three cases of jars when I went home to make pickles with my cousins. What’s the first thing I saw when I opened my trunk? My mat.
My Pilates teacher announced a Pilates Wake class starting in September. The class would start at 6 am on Monday mornings for four weeks. Perfect! Surely Pilates would scratch the itch. So I happily signed up, thinking that I would be content with waiting until after Labor Day, and began looking at apple jam recipes. But it didn’t scratch the itch. The enticement of the approaching apple season couldn’t hold my attention. Yoga was not content to be ignored any longer. Still unsure why, I took drastic measures and signed up for Hot Yoga.
There are a lot of people taking Hot Yoga right now. Hot Yoga, is a practice of 26 poses taught in a 105-degree room. Extreme. A few of my friends are involved in a 26-day challenge, where they attend class six days a week. They would post things to Facebook about it being the best thing they’ve ever done. More than once, I considered them to be off their rockers. Then one friend posted that she now knew why Satan was so fit: hell had hot yoga. I contacted the teacher and explained my situation. I wasn’t sure if I could it, but if I could come sweat out what was going on in my head, then maybe I could finally resolve it. She completely welcomed me. And so did her class. Ironically, I chose the class that started at 7:30 pm.
I arrived to class excited and scared to death. Before I left the house, I lingered on the goodbye kiss to my Beloved in case I never saw him again. I knew that I was going to die from a heart attack. I must have kissed our son four times before he kicked me out of his room. Even the dog got tired of me saying goodbye. So I drove to class. As I walked up the stairs to the studio, I could feel the intense heat and pondered what I was doing. I’ve spent a lifetime avoiding the need to sweat. Didn’t menopause teach me anything? I hated hot flashes. And yet, here was I paying someone to completely ignore energy-efficiency standards. Surely, I had lost my mind.
The teacher, Marcy Snodgrass, and I agreed that my first goal was to stay in the room. I could try the poses, but I wasn’t to push myself, and I wasn’t expected to keep up with the class. (No worries there!) It was unlike anything I have ever done. The heat is completely unlike being outside on a 100-degree day. This was a hot and humid room, like after a hot shower. No sun or bright light, only a floor lamp casting shadows in the early evening twilight.
I could tell from the faces of the other students that they love the practice. Decked out in their yoga gear and cute tank tops, they were eager to get going. I could feel the buzz. Marcy found a spot for me on the back row in the corner, next to the wall. Perfect, I thought. If I fall down, the walls will catch me. I recognized the music from my Pandora station. Thanks to all the sweet smiles and welcoming waves, I knew it was going to be okay. They didn’t look that crazy.
That first night, I achieved my goal. I stayed in the room. I didn’t pass out and I didn’t throw up. I tried about half of the poses. (Okay, 30%). I was wobbly when I got home because I didn’t eat much that day. But my skin felt electrified. I had sweated gallons despite the fact I laid on my back and concentrated on two knots on the wood-paneled ceiling most of the time. I refused to think about what I wanted from yoga or if I was ready to climb back on my mat for good. I simply wanted to live through it.
The second night, I rocked it. I had eaten a small lunch and drunk plenty of water. I didn’t get dizzy. I attempted middle-aged fat-and-lazy chick adaptations of every pose. Although I fought to stand on one foot, I tried. For the first time ever, I used my core muscles to lie down on my mat. (Look Ma, no hands!). I actually did the power sit ups, again like the middle-aged fat chick that I am. When I got home, I felt amazing. My body was tingling, and once again I had sweated buckets. I was thrilled that my t-shirt was soaked. It was like my red badge of courage. That night, I slept better than I had in weeks.
On the third night, I wasn’t mentally prepared when I got to class. Too much stuff had happened during the day, too many things were going on, I had rushed from work to get there on time, I was nervous about making it to the football game–it wasn’t my best effort. I struggled. I couldn’t focus. It happens. If you aren’t focused, you aren’t going to have a good practice. But you try and make the most of it. As I lay on my mat at the end of class, I allowed a single thought to bubble up.
I want more.