Category Archives: Health

Pulling Through

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This morning was one of those days when I had to pull myself through.

My first alarm went off, and I figured out not only how to shut it off, but how to completely disable it without waking up. I spent the next half of an hour in a grumpy slumber, trying to convince myself that I really wanted to follow through with my promise to myself to cycle on Wednesday mornings. And then my second alarm went off. And I snoozed it.

Eventually, I dragged my carcass out of bed and to the gym, running a few minutes late, but still hitting the warm-up phase of the class. I had a piss-poor attitude about the cold, about the idea of sweating, and about cycling.

Then about 20 minutes in, I actually started to enjoy myself. And a few seconds later, I started counting down the time until I could reasonably leave. I had promised myself 30 minutes. I got 35. On my way out, I did a weight check, and I was continuing my downward trend, so that was smile-worthy.

When I got home, it was as though I was struggling through molasses to get myself put together for the day. I was sweaty, I needed coffee and breakfast, and I was trying to help my fourth grader finish the rest of her math homework – without having her cry.

I was only five minutes late to work – or so. No one was beating down the door to get to me, so I counted it as a win.

Probably the best thing that happened all morning was a great conversation with my bestie while I was insanely productive at work.

I stole a couple of minutes to type up my monthly menu – my attempt to get on top of grocery spending, ensure reduced food spoilage, intelligently use resources, and plan healthy meals for my entire family that DO NOT require me cooking a separate meal for me and for them. We are on day 3 of the menu, and the first two nights went better than expected. Of course my kids knew I was systematically trying to poison them, but they gave in and ate… reluctantly.

Monday was pork tenderloin, butternut squash, and broccoli. Fortunately, it made enough that I have lunches for me covered for the week. Last night was turkey “steak,” Asian-inspired cabbage slaw, shredded carrots, and cucumber slices. Tonight should be oven-baked chicken with bacon-wrapped asparagus bundles. Thursday nights are my nights to rebel against cooking, so I put “Breakfast for Dinner” on the menu, hoping someone will step up and do the honors. Or the horrors.

The really good part about today was how my body felt. I felt energetic, and my stomach wasn’t bloated or rumbly. Last night I caved and made these “no added sugar” cookies. It was almost cheating because they contained bananas, applesauce, cranberries, and chocolate chips. You want to talk sugar? But at least it didn’t call for a cup of sugar or honey or any other added sweetener. Anyhow, I kind of went crazy eating these wonderful warm gooey bits of heaven, and I probably need to (a) not make them again unless I have people with whom to share them (b) reduce the recipe to have fewer cookies. But, oh, they were good, and my body didn’t rebel against them. In fact, it was quiet and calm and allowed a friendly weigh-in this morning.

The weather has changed. It went from warm and sunny to gray and ominous. The weather wasn’t supposed to deteriorate until tomorrow, but it’s here. Just in time for a work meeting that everyone knows will have BAD NEWS. We just don’t know how bad… yet.  And that’s killing my tenuous resolve to go to the gym tonight.

Hopefully I can pull through and make it to yoga. I need it after the workout I’ve given my knee today.

Test results!

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Wow! That was fast! Only yesterday I went to have my blood drawn for allergy tests. Today I get the call that they came back NEGATIVE. That is reason for rejoicing because I do NOT have food allergies!

On the other hand, what is happening to my body? Why am I experiencing reactions to certain foods?

What is the next step?

The reason I’m asking is that I seriously think some foods are BAD for my body, but I want to be able to prove it scientifically rather than circumstantially.

I want to know I am not just making this up.

However, I can continue to eat clean and take care of my body doing what I know is effective. It just is a letdown that I have no proof to show anyone that certain foods are my nemesis.

On that note, I am down nearly five pounds since the weirdly explosive, pain-filled day. That’s still up from where I was before I indulged in the evil cake of doom, but it’s approaching what I consider my “starting weight.” I hope to get back there this week.

Here’s my current theory about what I should do:

  • Reduce sugar consumption – that means reducing fruit intake. And I love me some fruit.
  • Increase water intake – and not just coffee *pout* – but actual water.
  • Continue to work on lifting/muscle-building exercises – my theory is that building muscle early on might not affect weight now, but should pay dividends later.
  • Continue to do targeted cardio – cycling, eliptical, things that work my legs – I really would like to reduce the real estate of my back side.
  • Continue to do yoga – the flexibility and mental health benefits of yoga are my payoffs.
  • Continue to “eat clean.” – I’m currently not plugged into any particular regimen, but I think I’m going to stick mostly to the Whole30 with some allowances for alcohol, butter, and some chemical-saturated water flavorings (which I’ve been avoiding, but might use to encourage myself to actually drink enough water.)
  • Buy some gas-relief medication such as Gas-X or Beano to help manage the symptoms of intestinal distress.

On the realistic side, the part wherein I admit to my human failings, I went to the gym this morning to catch the barbell class, but the regular teacher wasn’t there. I put away all the equipment I’d gotten out and decided to go do my own thing instead. I did the elliptical for a five minute warm-up, did legs, shoulders, chest, back, and arms, and I found a “new” machine that works calves. I really pressed myself to increase weight and do reps until my muscles tired. I only spent 35 minutes working out instead of 45, but I think I covered my bases. I just feel a little guilty about not going to a class where I didn’t know the instructor. At least I didn’t go home!

Day 2 Progress

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It’s sad but good to say that on only the second day, I feel 100% better.

Yesterday I was still miserable. I felt fevered, sore, lethargic, and basically sick through and through. I left work “early” – which is on-time – got fuel and actually felt hungry. I allowed myself a packet of sunflower seeds from the gas station.

I got home on a mission – go to bed. First, I knew I was running basically dehydrated, but the idea of water left me (literally) cold. So instead I made a “green” smoothie, though mine turned out a really awful puce color. Banana, apple, spinach, a couple raspberries, a couple blackberries, and almond milk.

And then bed.

I crashed from 5-7, and it was one of the best decisions of 2015.

I awoke to an empty house and went to make dinner: ground beef, grilled onions, cabbage, and celery. I settled down with a cup of hot tea and a good book about the time everyone got back. I was still feeling pretty punk, so I ate on the sofa in approved “Mommy is sick” formation.

We opened some leftover Christmas presents (yes, it’s the middle of January, and we still had a stack of presents – mostly books – left to open) and then scooted everyone off to their respective beds by 8:30. Snuggled under the heating blanket, we watched the rest of our movie and collapsed into slumber by 10pm.

And then this morning? Oh my goodness! This morning, I felt like myself again! I was energetic! I was excited about making breakfast for people! I was ready to go to work! Granted, I did skip my yoga class for extra shut-eye, but I rationalized it that the sleep was what my body needed MOST.

And today I have felt capable. I have felt able to be on my game and do what needs doing. I have been cheerful and responsive and quick-thinking. I have been motivated and a problem-solver.

This is the me I expect to see, not the person who steals a nap over lunch, not the person who hibernates at her desk, hiding from work.

I’ve got to see this through and see what happens. I am (again) keeping a food journal, but this time I’ve added a new column – Body Check – to it to see how my body is feeling at any given time in response to food and drink.

Now my next goal is to convince myself to start drinking straight water again. I fell off the bandwagon with that one when simply drinking water made me cold inside. I started helping myself out by making pitchers of that lime-infused water again, and the bonus is that my older daughter also was cheerfully drinking from that.

(I’ve gotta brag – I’ve almost entirely eliminated sodas, sweet tea, sugary drinks, and juices from my kids’ daily diet. Yes, if we are at a restaurant or going out to eat, they usually choose sodas, but I’m not purchasing them for the house, and we’re not making pitchers of sweet tea. Milk, water, and hot tea – with the occasional hot chocolate – are the most common beverages for the girls now, and I have no problem with that at all!)

Must Have Testing

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Ouch. Looking at my last post just lets me know how far off the reservation I strayed in the past five months.

Today, I am writing from a place of being in pain, in physical discomfort, as I try to figure out what I did to poison myself. Yes, poison. Something I ingested has brought me pain, inflammation, lethargy, fatigue, gas, bloating, and possibly even this low-grade fever I can’t knock.

So I decided to do something completely out of the mold for me – I called the doctor and conferred with my insurance and got set up for an appointment to possibly be followed by food allergy testing. I simply cannot tolerate this pain and discomfort any more.

Now, if I’m eating clean, if I’m taking care of myself and NOT eating inflammatory foods, I actually feel pretty great.

Last night, I re-committed to it. I promised myself no cheating, no “just-a-bite” of anything, no weakness. This is my battle, and I must fight it daily. Because the alternative is pain.

I will conquer this. It’s only willpower, so I just have to *want* it. And I want not being in pain.

On 1-15-15, I committed to it.

I just want to eat clean, track how I feel now, and wait and see until I get results from any allergy testing I have done.

Good Food and Wacky, Wacky Machines

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I’ll get to the machines, but first: PICTURES OF FOOD! 

 Breakfast looked like this: two eggs, a banana, and a handful of blueberries. The coffee mug is, in fact, full of coffee. The LAST cup of caffeinated coffee in the house.

Two eggs, a banana, and blueberries

Two eggs, a banana, and blueberries

Then I was hungry on the way to the gym, so I had some mixed nuts – almonds, cashews, Brazil nuts, pecans, and maybe hazelnuts.

Emerald Energy Smoothie from Lifetime Cafe

Emerald Energy Smoothie from Lifetime Cafe

It was Try-It Tuesday, so they offered $1 off the price of the smoothies. Since I figured it was smart to refuel right after working out, I didn’t mind trying something new. This was super-yummy. The weird thing was that I got completely full on half the glass. I just drank water afterwards and stowed the rest in the fridge for a snack later.

When I got home, I had a handful of banana chips while I made lunch: reheated baked chicken breast, fresh green cabbage cooked in coconut oil with sea salt and crushed red pepper, and a slice of sweet potato.

Half chicken breast, cabbage cooked in coconut oil, and a slice of sweet potato

Half chicken breast, cabbage cooked in coconut oil with crushed red pepper, and a slice of sweet potato

Dessert was watermelon, but this time I monitored my intake so that I didn’t overindulge or just simply eat too much. I’ll confess I also wound up eating another slice of sweet potato the same size because no one else was going to, and it was super-yum.

Today was also weigh-in day. Yes, actually. Yes, yes, I know I weighed in yesterday, but Tuesday is the magical day for the 90DC.

Now, I had planned to go to yoga this morning, but Everything Conspired Against It. To the point that I got in the car, was about to pull out of the housing development, looked at the time, and realized that there was no way I would be on time to my yoga class. 

Eventually, after two more abortive attempts to leave to go to the gym, I got there (wearing shoes!). I decided to “Lift All the Things,” which is what my friend Amie calls weight training. Today I worked my chest and back, taking the advice to set the weights to something I couldn’t lift many times. I actually surprised myself with how heavy I needed to set the weights to make myself strain a bit. I thought I would have lost most of my strength and tone from not doing much over the past month, but I was able set the weights at or above where I’d had them before.

After lifting, I went to weigh in, and the numbers shocked me.

Either my body is super-responsive to slight changes in diet and exercise inside of a 24 hour period (which is entirely possible knowing my history for being able to gain and shed weight), or the computers are calibrated differently at the two different Lifetime Fitness Gyms I went to, which is equally possible.

So, the results were Total Body Weight 153 lbs (down 3.3 lbs) and Percentage Body Fat of 19.2% (down 3.6, which is a 15.78% change). Yeah, I don’t get it either.

All I can think is that I need to just keep up the good fight, keep plugging away doing what I know to be good for me, and add in anything that sounds like a good idea.

I’m really not looking forward to a shift in the opposite direction.

I am looking forward to getting back to my home gym and weighing consistently there because then I won’t have any of the worries that it’s the machine and not me making the change.

Oh, I almost forgot to mention that being a transformation winner at the national level could win $10,000 plus a free membership for a year. I mean, not that I’m motivated by money or anything, but… well, there are probably some people who are investing a lot of time and money into this just to net that win. But it would still be cool, ya know?

At Odds With Myself

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I feel at odds with myself lately.

Last night, it was awful. I didn’t feel like the right size in my own head. The ground felt uneven, curved and broken. I felt like the parts of myself were strung together on a piece of Scotch tape.

This was after a weekend of slight craziness. It was as though nothing was the way it was supposed to be, and yet everything that was supposed to happen actually did – it just didn’t match up to my feelings of expectation. We went to the beach on Galveston island, but it was overcast and therefore cold.

Lately I just don’t tolerate cold very well. I don’t like being cold. I don’t like strong air conditioning. I have taken to eating outside at restaurants, drinking hot coffee, or just craving hot food to keep me feeling warm inside. I mentioned this to a friend last night, and since he works in an ER and has some medical knowledge, he immediately thought of medical reasons, asking if I was anemic.

Anemic? 

I shouldn’t think so. I mean, don’t I tend to eat a variety of healthy foods anyway? So then I looked up the iron-rich foods that should be good for anemia, and I realized that I had almost systematically eliminated most of them from my diet.

The People Who Want Your Blood Recommend You Eat This Stuff – Vampire’s Guide to Iron-Rich Blood

Basically, the only foods I had recently been consuming that were high in iron were eggs, chicken and figs, and, to a more sporadic degree spinach, sweet potatoes, broccoli, strawberries, and watermelon. The animal sources of iron are more easily absorbed than the plant sources, the “heme” iron versus the “non-heme” iron, and combining the two increases the absorption rate for “non-heme” iron. Lastly, if you eat anything with Vitamin C, it increases the iron absorption rate.

So now it gives me some ammunition for menu-planning. It’s not enough to just eat foods on a list, but I need to really plan around specific nutrients and their interactions together.

Oh, and the part I left out is that if you have caffeine or calcium rich foods in conjunction with your iron, you block your iron absorption. This was the least happy news of all to a coffee junkie.

As a matter of fact, I felt that was a personal insult.

I guess I’ll live.

Then I got worried looking at the list of foods because I have been eating a lot of cabbage lately as an inexpensive vegetable of choice that holds up well in the refrigerator over several days. Some vegetables are overly tempermental and need to be used immediately; cabbage is one that you can cut a hunk of it off to eat, wrap the rest up for a few days and then come back to it.

So I did a little digging just now and found a pro-cabbage propaganda page that made me happy:

Crazy Cabbage Lovers’ Page of Rationalizing Their Brassica-Inspired Lust

Okay. So I wasn’t completely bonkers crazy for eating cabbage. Neither am I the Witch of The Nutrition Psychos for wanting more variety in my vegetable choices. Because it looks like not only do you need to plan intelligently, but you need to hit a broad spectrum to get the nutrition you need. And apparently, when I’ve been craving certain foods back in my diet (sweet potatoes), there’s a good reason.

But it looks like there are some “Super Foods” that I need to continue to have as staples:

  • Spinach
  • Broccoli
  • Almonds
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Strawberries
  • Salmon

And I need to introduce Kale. Because kale is the new kick-ass vegetable on the block. 

Now, it’s pretty easy to plan a healthy breakfast that hits the major groups because all I need to do is pre-make little breakfast frittatas in muffin pans with eggs and either spinach or broccoli.

More later. I’ve gotta run.

****Later****

Okay, so breakfast frittatas are easy, because you can make a dozen of them Monday morning and have them to quickly warm up the rest of the week. Pair that with a slice of pre-cooked sweet potato and some berries, and voila! Breakfast!

Lunches are more difficult for me. I need to either have a plan and make ahead several lunches or just make extra at dinner the night before and plan to take the rest as lunch the next day.

And dinners are just plain work. It’s different when I haven’t been running all day, but when I have, the last thing I want to do is spend an hour in the kitchen. I just flat out don’t have the time to do it, nor do I want the clean-up afterwards.  

I suppose I’ll spend the next few months exploring hits and misses with my meals, and I really want to invest some time in planning nutrient-based meals.

90 Day Challenge

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I’m participating in this thing called a “90 Day Challenge” through my gym, Lifetime.

First, let me get a few things straight:

  • I’m not doing this for my wedding.
  • I’m not doing this for anyone else.
  • I’m not doing this “to lose weight.”

Yes, as a side effect, I will look a lot better in my wedding dress, but that’s next year. I still have a lot of room to screw up between now and then. Besides, the dress is stretchy anyways.

Okay, and yes, my fiancé might enjoy seeing me slimmer and more toned. And that could be a lot of fun.

Yes, I would enjoy “losing weight” because I would like to see that scale number dip a bit lower. But then there’s always the argument that people don’t believe they are thin enough, toned enough, whatever enough to be happy. I used to think I would be happy if I could just get to the weight I am now. Now that I’m here and have stayed in this weight range reliably for 6 months, I know that it is not the specific weight that matters, but how you feel – and most importantly, how you feel about yourself.

Why am I doing it?

I am doing it to feel in control of my body. I’m doing it to reach for my potential. I’m doing it to fit into clothes I want to wear. I’m doing it to tone and transform.

This week, I was thinking about all the things people say when you tell them you’re going to work out.

You don’t need to.

Thank you. It’s a choice, though. I want to work out. It makes me feel good in my mind and my body. It keeps my trick knee from killing me. It releases endorphins and I feel more at peace with my life. I am a better worker, parent, and person when I get my chosen work outs. Also, the doctor told me I need a steady regime to keep off blood pressure medication.

But you’re already great at…

Thanks! I’m flattered that you think so. I know I can do some things well, but I also know where I am striving to improve. I’ve seen the things some other people can do. If I keep with my routine – and change it up a little for maximum benefit – I might reach my personal goals of being able to do different things. I couldn’t always do a handstand. I only got that through consistent practice, and I have so much more I want to be able to do.

Surely skipping one day won’t hurt.

True. Sometimes it’s even good to skip a day, or at least an afternoon to rest. You can approach the next work out with more energy. However, I’ve got to do something, or I’ll lose some of my hard-earned flexibility. I might even re-injure my knee if I don’t keep it in use. The next time I try to do something I know I can do, I might injure myself because I might be stiff or sore or inflexible. You don’t hear my joints pop and creak when I’ve missed a day. You don’t feel the stiffness in my knee when I haven’t taken the time to work it carefully, slowly, thoughtfully. You don’t feel the tightness in my shoulders or my legs when I try to go into a posture. On the same note, only I know how it feels to sink straight into what I want to do because I’ve already put the work in and I’m maintaining. Only I know how it feels to me when I realize I’m the only one in class with the flexibility to get the posture I want. It’s a heady feeling, and it immediately humbles me to think of how far I still have to go.

Why do you spend so much time at the gym?

First, I like the people at the gym. I feel welcome, so it feeds my soul to go and be around my gym friends. They want nothing out of me. All I need to do is work out, be myself, and kibitz. I don’t owe them work; I don’t need to volunteer to help run something; and I don’t need to make my life pretty for them. I can just be. Also, I know myself. Sure, I could work out at home or just go bike riding with my kids. Does that push me? Does that make me put out my full effort? No. I always hold back. I’m riding rear guard to make sure I’m there if someone crashes or falls behind. I get interrupted at home. I’m not challenged enough by myself. I see other people, I not only get inspired, I also have a streak of competitiveness that drives me to see if I can do something at least as well (if not better) than the people around me. It takes an hour for a class, plus fifteen minutes around it for transit time. Add in a shower at any point, and I’ve dedicated about one and a half to two hours for one work out. And I really need about two each day to get where I need to be.

You’re not fat.

Thank you. In my head, I am the fat chick. I self-identify with the fat chicks. I look at the skinny, lean, beautiful women, and I put myself outside of their group. I even look at the yoga teachers in all their grace and muscles and feminine curves and strength and beauty, and I can only admire them. Even though a number of people recently have told me that I should be a yoga teacher, in my head, I’m not good enough yet – and not just in needing to develop and hone skills, but also in looking like someone who treats her own body as a temple. (The super funny thing about this comment was I even got that last night. A guy was talking about how he likes skinny chicks – like size 2 skinny – and he was trying to make a point that “Big Beautiful Women” think they deserve “Fabios.” As he was talking, he’s was like, “Not girls like you – you’re not fat.” And I’m wondering how I must look to him with my current wonderful little muffin top rolling over my gym shorts.)

What do you do with your kids?

Thanks for asking. Are you volunteering to babysit for me? Honestly, I pay for child care at the gym, and I try to arrange some of my work outs to coincide with fun kids’ activities at the gym so that they get something out of going, too. I’ve begun experimenting with allowing my daughters increasing levels of responsibility, staying at home by themselves while I’m at the gym. I constantly juggle day care, gym child care, play dates, and self-reliance. Occasionally, I’ll even take them with me to a class. The thing is, most of the time when people ask this question, they don’t really want to know what you do; they’re horrified that you are doing something without your children and want to shame you into their concept of appropriate behavior. These are frequently the women who don’t work outside the home and cannot conceive of not having time to work out while their kids are at school. These women also are usually married, so they can leave the kids with their husband and have no worries.

Here are some things people could do to be supportive:

  • Positive remarks on my progress. If you see that I can do something I couldn’t do before or you see a change in my attitude or physical being, say something nice.
  • Share a recipe with me for something that looks healthy. I don’t care if I can eat it or not based on my meal plan. It’s the thought that counts. Really.
  • Talk to me about what you’re doing. Tell me about the stuff you’re trying to reach your own goals. It doesn’t have to be health or fitness related – I am genuinely interested in your progress because I want to be your cheering section, too.
  • Offer to come with me to a class or have me join you in one of your favorite classes. There are few things more motivating to me than working out with a friend.
  • Talk me up when I want to quit. If I’ve had a rough day, remind me how much better I’ll feel after I go to the gym. Don’t be too kind to me. I probably just want to curl up in a cave and drink alcohol and eat myself into a carb coma. Encourage me to get out there are reach my goals. I’ll feel better when I have done something toward my goal.
  • Invite me to go do something fun or exciting – or just to have a cup of coffee. Whatever you’ve got going on that lights a fire in you, invite me along. I’m a pretty social little butterfly, but I don’t get out much, and I have fewer going out friends than you might think.
  • Ask about my progress. Show interest in the little gains I make. I know they might mean nothing to you, really, but fake it just a little. You know a fake orgasm is only fake for the person faking it. 

Anyhow, Monday is my weigh-in day. I really start my challenge August 11, after I get back from seeing my BFF. 

My goal is to make a measurable difference in my body fat percentage, increase my strength and stamina, tone my core and thighs, and see more definition in my shoulders and back. Food-wise, I want to be more consistent with water intake, reduce toxins in my system, and find a meal plan that is tenable for the long haul.

Moo

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Lesson learned: don’t do nekkid pushups.

Okay, okay, okay, so whywould anyone do them in the first place? 

Well, if you happen to be just about to take a shower, and you happen to have removed all of your clothes in preparation for said shower, and your daughter happens to be showing you her pushups in the bathroom, and you happen to realize that your daughter has no idea that the body is supposed to be in a plank position for the duration of the pushup, and you happen to decide that you might as well demonstrate the proper form of a pushup at that time, then you might find yourself in the position where it is completely reasonableto do a nekkid pushup.

Just don’t do it.

Because, if you happen to have recently lost any amount of weight and you happen to look down your front, you will see something God did not intend for you to see: extra skin. 

Extra skin is not my friend.

Extra skin hangs in a really funky way.  Really funky.  Like cow udders funky. 

Yup.  I looked down and realized I have progressed to cow udder status.

And you have never seen me get out of a pushup faster in my life.

So then, preoccupied as I am with the horrible concept of ever seeing myself in a nekkid pushup again, I decided to check today on the ramifications of extra skin.  It appears that lots of people have discovered this teensy problem and have suggested that people lose weight s-l-o-w-l-y so that the extra skin – I don’t know – dissolves? fades away? is eaten by alien flesh-eating bacteria?  Anyhow, they say, “Lose 1-2 pounds a week.”  Well, yeah, that’s my first problem.  If it was that slow, I just wouldn’t do it.  I’d get too discouraged.  Besides, it’s now mostly academic – and mostly in the past. 

So, what to do?

Well, it appears that drinking a lot of water will help the skin remain elastic and that’s good.  Also, eating fruits and vegetables (again with the lots of water thing) is good.  The funny part is that just working out doesn’t do it.  You have to have a combined approach with resistance training and cardio.  And still the extra skin may just… hang… around.  Yay. 

On the other hand, it’s better than having size 18’s be tight on me.  It’s better than pushing 200 pounds.  It’s just… cow udders?  Really?

Strength of Success

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Last night, I enjoyed a personal triumph.  I was able to hold my body up off the ground for at least two seconds in a crow position hand stand.  Basically, it’s where you put your hands flat on the floor shoulder distance apart and rest your knees on your triceps, gradually shifting your weight off of your toes until you’re completely airborne with only your hands on the floor.  It’s called an inversion in yoga, because you’re inverting your body to be upside-down.  Before last night, I was not able to do it.  I didn’t understand the mechanics of it, I didn’t think I was strong enough, and I didn’t see how this much of me could possibly be up in the air.

Last night, it clicked. 

Something about the way the instructor told us to position our hands and feet helped me, but also a determination to keep trying.  I had gone back to reading my pocket Buddhist text, and it just does something to my mind that allows me to be more comfortable in who I am.  It really advocates embracing yourself and all your feelings and being fully present in the moment. 

That was my “intention” last night – to be fully present for the entire class.  I wasn’t 100% successful with that, my mind occasionally straying, but I was able to really listen to what the instructor said, getting into the flow of the vinyasa and anticipating the next move, which is key to moving as fast as this chick takes us.  I finally let go of “not being able” of “not knowing what I’m doing” and just paid attention to what was going on around me and with my body. 

Now, was I perfect?  Did I do every move?  Did I have perfect timing?  No, no, and no.  But I did feel more empowered.  And I think that really helped me get up in the air.

I felt so good about it, that I had to share with my husband when I got home.  His response was guardedly supportive.  In that, “That’s wonderful!  But what do you mean?” sort of way.  So I had to show him what I meant.  And then he *was* impressed. 

Today, I feel it in my muscles, the tinge of pain, the reminder that I pushed the envelope.  It hurts just a little, but more than anything, it makes me feel as though I have strength.  It has helped me feel capable and positive all day long, even with the levels of crazy that get thrown at me. 

In a way, I’m glad that I don’t have a yoga class tonight.  I know I need some time for my muscles to repair themselves and to rest, but I really want to do it again.  And again.

And part of the cool thing about my impression of the Buddhist stuff is that when you have a personal triumph, when you experience a success, you should share – you should breathe out that sense of accomplishment to make the world around you better.  It kind of makes sense, too.  When you’re around people who are happy for having done something good, your whole outlook is happier.  When you’re around pessimistic people, you feel like it’s a real downer. 

So there is strength in success.

Value Added

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So the other day, I threw a huge pity party.  I didn’t call it that myself, mind you.  It was aptly labeled by my best friend.  I was on a tear about how the world would be so much better simply without me in it.  I was too expensive, I didn’t accomplish anything meaningful, I’d yelled at my kids, I was running late, I was stuck behind a major accident in traffic, I had gotten scratched by my dog because I was yelling at him to get in the crate, my husband’s “car” broke down and it took me nearly an hour to get to help him, it was freezing cold and raining, I hadn’t had a home-cooked healthy breakfast, and I was drinking Whataburger coffee.

I was seriously questioning my whole value of existence, thinking that it would be much better if I somehow suddenly died and my husband and kids could benefit from the life insurance.

And then today happened.

Well, actually, last night happened first.  Last night, I had put the kids to bed, had cleaned up in the kitchen, had put the finishing touches on lunches for today, and had poured myself a glass of wine.  I’d just taken a sip of wine when my oldest comes in for a goodnight kiss.

I kiss her, she stops, looks at me, and asks, “Have you been drinking alcohol?”

I say, “Yes, I have a glass of wine.”

She asks why, so I tell her that it’s because I read that having a glass of wine every night is good for you if you are at high risk of heart attack or stroke, both of which run in my family, and because of the hypertension issues I’ve been experiencing.  She then traipsed off to bed, and I thought nothing more of it.

Come this morning, I drop her off at school, and she is bawling.  She is crying her eyes out.  At first, I think it’s because she thinks her coat got lost, but then she tells me that she cried herself to sleep last night thinking that I was going to have a heart attack or stroke!  I get her inside, cuddle her, and tell her that I am doing everything I can to prevent that happening.  That’s *why* I am working out and losing weight and watching my blood pressure and meditating and taking yoga and, yes, drinking a glass of wine.

So I came out of that experience realizing that, even if I think I’m doing an awful job at being a person and a mom and everything else, there’s one very important person in this world who would be devastated if I wasn’t here.  It’s humbling… and good.  It’s like an anchor to the present.  I’ve got to be here, regardless of how painful or crazy or frustrating it gets.  I’ve got to be here even if I feel as though I’m flubbing it entirely, and I’ve got a reason to hold it together.  I might not add much value to the world, but I am the world to one of the most important people in mine.