Tuesday, February 23, 2010
I did not mean to make a series of posts about what I am gleaning from yoga but I did want to talk a little about one other thing I feel is important – and that is Loving Your Body.
I bet I’m not alone when I speak of those hurtful moments when I’ve hated some part of my body – looked at a stomach and despised it; turned my eyes away from a mirror that reflected back puffy cheeks; sighed at a profile view in the full length mirror and then lumbered away with slumped shoulders. I know I have heard other women bemoan or even insult their hips, their thighs, their bellies in terms that breaks my heart – especially when they’re a loved friend of family member.
Happily I have gotten away from real self loathing – time has a way of doing that, plus knowing I have value in other areas besides my ornamental properties. Self dissatisfaction? Yes. There has been some of that – but only the healthy type that got me here as a sparker.
As I’ve said – if you’re going to do yoga you really need to tune in to your body, including all its bits and pieces and it’s really difficult to dislike something you’re paying attention to – examining what it’s doing, noting how it is moving, holding you, surrounding you. The other day as I was stepping out of the shower I really fell in love with my feet. A glance down at my belly and I feel this warm affection for something that is me. This is not a narcissistic focus all tied up with competitive comparisons to others and my place in the beauty hierarchy (are her hips bigger than mine? Is my stomach rounder than hers?). This is a deep and wondering enchantment with the glorious bodies we’ve been given, from within which we act out our lives.
I can’t remember when, if ever, I have felt the rush of love I feel for my pets while contemplating my toes! But concentrating on what those feet are doing in mountain pose has given me a new appreciation for what those toes do for me all day long – how they get me here and there, over hurdles, through city streets and across my own farm fields. Yes. Yoga has taught me to love my feet. And the world can always use a little more love.
Sunday, February 21, 2010
Actually, I've been doing yoga a little longer than that but on Friday, which I believe actually was day 21, I had the most wonderful sensation of my feet being rooted to the earth and having the power to lift me up from one of the more challenging positions. It was a fleeting sensation and I haven't really been able to repeat it but I'm confident that will come with time.
but have I told you how much I love yoga? lovelovelove it?
(Of course I have - I never shut up about anything that ignites my passion)
But what else have I learned from my three week love affair?
1. How much of my day I spend hunched over things - shoulders forward, chest pushing down towards my hips - like that lab assistant, Igor! Wow.
2. How if I press the tailbone down it makes my stomach flatter! woo woo
3. How that lifts my lower ribcage and takes pressure off the lower spine - hey nice!
4. That it's not about thrusting shoulders back like a West Point plebe - it's about pulling the muscles away from the sternum both vertically and laterally and when you do that your shoulders just automatically line up and your arms swing freely.
5. How relaxing it is when you line your head up over your shoulders - ahhhhh
6. That if I do a body check in each pose - Feet firmly planted? Calves hugging my leg, thigh muscles lifting my knee cap, tailbone down, pelvis lined up, sternum well stretched, shoulder blades hugging the spine, ears lined up with the spine, face relaxed - not only will I move to the next pose more easily and hold it longer BUT
7. throughout the day my body, that I've once again gotten to know and listen to and feel, will often tell me what it needs nutritionally. It will say "Hey - I'm thirsty" or "Man I could do with some green things." or "I need to rebuild myself. give me some protein".
And that is the thing I want most in my life. A body I listen to and nurture. I don't mind - no - I am deeply grateful for all the information that the experts can give me about good health - but more than anything else I want my body to tell me what it needs. Or rather - I want to hear my body speak and respond to its needs with what it asks for.
I feel like that will put an end to the craving thing, the fear of food and foodie situations, and the state of mindless denial that, over time, packed those pounds on this body. I truly believe there is an Optimal Body for Bess up ahead and I want to step into it and live there for the rest of my life.
May you all get to go live in your Optimal Body!
Friday, February 19, 2010
I come from a soft fluffy fat family of short-waisted women who mostly look like soft pillows for grandchildren to cuddle up to. I don't believe there is a long boned body among all 40 of my cousins! That's why I have that silly photo of the fashion model Imam, with my cartoon head on her shoulders. Because my goodness - it would be fun to be that long and that lean.
It will never happen, but still, for 20 odd years, from my late teens to my early 40's I managed to maintain a healthy weight. It fluctuated, but always within a healthy BMI. I began to pile it on somewhere around in the mid-1990's. If you were to see a graph of me from then to today it would look like the Appalachian mountains. From about 150 lbs. I gradually rose to a peak of about 200 (by then I would have died rather than get on a scale) At that airy height I had my first Moment of Truth when a dear friend saw my photograph in the local paper.
"You looked like a proper dowager", this courtly oldfashioned gentleman said. When my mouth dropped in horror and my eyes teared up he tried to recover with "Oh I meant you looked like one of those women of influence ....." but the damage was done.
And the good. With great effort I scaled down that mountain to about 165 and a size 14. (wonder why I can't fit into a 14 now that I am back at 165?) Alas. I could not stay there. Bad habits and bad eating dragged me back up the mountain side till I was once again in the high 180's. One day I had on my skinny sweater (you know - the one where you can wear when you're at the bottom of your weight range) and so I let my husband take my photo. He brought it back from the one hour photo place and showed it to me. I gasped in horror - I looked like a purple beach ball!!! I said in a dreadful whisper "I don't really look like that, do I?" and ... with all the love in the world beaming from his blue eyes he said "Yes! that's exactly what you look like"
I began to cry and he stuttered "But... but HONEY! Look at your MOTHER!"
And that's when I knew ... he should die.
No. teasing there. That's when I knew I had gotten beyond acceptable. I confiscated the picture and showed it to my best friend a little later. "Do I really look like that?" I asked in still shocked tones - and she, being my best friend, said "No sugar, of course not" but I saw in her eyes that I really DID look like that photo.
I joined WW the next week and took of 37 lbs.
At 150, with a BMI of 25 at last, I was surprised at the many things I could do now - like ... wearing dangling earrings. At 187 my face was too round to look good with things swinging beside it. Even jewels! And my feet no longer hurt and I could wear heels again. And it wasn't too hard to keep the lbs. off for a while - but then a deep family tragedy followed swiftly by my parents' drastic needs and some health issues and BAMMO - the weight began to creep back up.
I've been dancing between 175 and 165 now for 3 years. I was beginning to think this was my body's natural weight - no I was playing with the idea of claiming that this was my body's natural weight. But you know? I just couldn't give up the image in my mind of a lithe streamlined healthy body. And I hate taking so many pills. I will, of course. I'd far rather take them than die without them! but what if?
What if I could really change?
What if I could believe "The only thing I inherited from my family was the skeleton. What I put on that skeleton is my choice."
Happily a friend put me on to Spark People and I am certainly enjoying myself on the journey - especially this blogging stuff. I am SUCH a talker anyway but writing about things has turned out to be a particular help in finding the underlying reasons for things - in this case - things to do with why I am the way I am. Often when I start my daily blog I have no idea where I'm going or why, but always by the end I've revealed what I was looking for.
With this long post I realize i was trying to find out why I derail my heroic efforts and I believe there are two reasons.
1. Crisis - I tend to cope with a crisis by dancing with Mr.IceCreamBox and his friends Baron Butter and Sir Sugar. Each time I gained substantial weight was preceded by a huge life crisis.
2. I rather prefer the journey to the destination. Once I lost weight it was hard for me to stay there because it wasn't fun, I wasn't doing it with friends. There were no mileposts or rewards or celebrations for ... for just staying where I was - even if where I was was such a great place.
Well. I know there will be other crises in the future and I hope to find a way to live at a healthy weight for the rest of my life. It behooves me to think about how I will deal with those two issues before hand.
Ahh but not today. Today it's enough that I've identified the issues.
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
It’s true. I love lent. While the grand climax at the end of the Lenten season is a triumphant victory over death, these 40 days to prepare for something wonderful have always filled me with the knowledge that I, too, have a role to play – if only in coming to understand what the meaning of sacrifice is.
In the past I have given up sodas (twice, because the first time I was such a nasty crabby thing that though I fulfilled the deed, I did not fulfill the spirit), chocolate, criticizing my husband, gossip – a score of different things. From time to time I also/instead add something to my life. It just depends on where I feel I need the most work.
This year Lent caught me by surprise and I had to scramble to find something I can give up and/or add to my life. I’m doing a lot of little things already as I work towards better health and I didn’t want to be so ambitious I failed either in a Lenten sacrifice or in my healthy SP life. And then I hit on something that is both a subtraction and an addition and I’m excited about it.
I have a besetting sin of grousing to myself about Bad Things. I don’t do it all the time – there might be whole days when I go through life seeing only the bright side of things. But I have my dark gloomy grouchy complaining moments and if I used them to make positive changes in my life they might be good for me. All too often, though, they just decay into rants and ugly mutterings that leave me feeling sorry for myself and blaming Other People.
And so, for the next 40 days I am going to wear a little rubber band on my left wrist. The moment I catch myself grumbling and muttering and grousing about something in my life that I hate I will snap that rubber band – lightly - but snap it enough to notice and from that moment on I have 1 hour to find a piece of paper and pen and to spend 10 minutes listing all the ways that I can actively change whatever is bothering me for the better. The snap of the band is to get me to STOP grousing. The hour is because I may not be at a point where I can grab a pencil and paper but I am sure I can within an hour. The 10 minute limit is because I just want to flood my brain with possibilities, positives, solutions and choices. I don’t have to actually DO any of these things but I have to discover them, think about them and admit that there ARE choices in every situation.
This year I have a subtraction and an addition - for I plan to subtract the minutes I spend muttering and grumbling and add lots of good choices. And this is why I really, really love Lent.
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