Thick Chick at a Yoga Workshop

I remember my first time taking a yoga class. I had never heard of ‘yoga’ before but my friend said it was “stretching but relaxing at the same time”. I was probably a freshman in high school and the class was held at the local nature center in town. I enjoyed it but never really got into the practice. Throughout college I dabbled now and then, but again, never too serious. About two years ago I started going once a week on Sunday mornings, and I loved it. I looked forward to it all week. The class was large, the instructor was fantastic, and the class was for beginners. For two solid months I went every Sunday and I can honestly say I had never felt better. Somewhere after the two month mark my personal life took a nose dive and I stopped going to the gym altogether and I completely forgot about yoga. My poor mat sat in its bag for two years.

Two months ago I decided I wanted to try again, but I was up significantly in weight and I felt intimidated to go to even my basic class. So I waited for the Yoga 101 workshop my gym held every two months to start.

This past Saturday I attended the workshop. I was excited to go, especially since my wrist feels tremendously better lately and I knew I could at least attend and not worry my wrist would give out. I found out there were only seven of us signed for the workshop. Nice and intimate! I eagerly arrived, slipped off my shoes and socks (meanwhile trying not to think about possible foot fungus on the floor) and walked into the room. I was immediately smacked with a dry heat. I was confused for a second that I was possibly there at the wrong time and a hot yoga class was about to start. Nope, I was in the right place.

If you spend time with me then you know I don’t handle the heat well. I do not do saunas, hot tubs, afternoon sun in the middle of summer…just no.

Apparently the description for the class changed, which I was not aware of, and mentioned an introduction to hot yoga as well. The temperature of the room made me feel slightly like I was suffocating and I was super uncomfortable and almost wanted to leave. Forget hot yoga, I don’t understand how people get through a Bikram class without passing out! Thankfully the instructor came in soon after and stated she turned on the AC for the room and it would cool off momentarily. I sought out a spot under a vent and planted it.

As I sat on my mat and soaked in the room, and it’s ::ahem:: temperature, I was extremely aware of the mirrors at the front of the room since the curtains weren’t pulled. Just like any other woman who carries weight in her mid-section, when you sit down then the tire protrudes even more and you don’t want to catch a glimpse at all, which I did by accident when the instructor came to ask me a question. I was startled. I knew I had gained some weight back but holy shit, when did my stomach get so big?! I blinked back tears as I signed my name to the sign-in sheet and handed it to the instructor. Thankfully the lights were down low in the room.

I wanted to grab my mat and run.

I didn’t want to stay.

Just like any attempt to find clothes that fit well or look halfway decent, my self-confidence took a nose dive to the point of instant depression when I saw myself in the mirror and I wanted to hide. I swear there was a slight out-of-body experience that happened. I stood up, rolled up my mat quickly, apologized that I didn’t feel good all of a sudden and fled the room. But instead I sat there, legs semi-crossed, palms resting on my knees, and eyes closed. My eyes were closed so no one would see the tears about to trickle down my cheeks. If I felt like a tear would fall, I would do a slow neck roll, open my eyes and look up at the ceiling for a moment, ::blink blink:: close them again and roll my head back around until I was facing forward. Also, for the first time in a long time, I had a mental pep talk to get my shit together, to stop feeling sorry for myself, control my emotions, and just roll with it.

Thankfully it worked.

And then the workshop instructor led us through an hour-long yoga session. I didn’t think I was going to make it. At one point my right wrist was absolutely done from all the sun salutations that I stopped, sat semi-cross legged for a bit, and massaged my wrist and forearm. I didn’t care if I was with the class. Now why couldn’t I have felt that way about how I looked on the mat? Why do I care so much? Maybe it was shock. Or maybe it was shame. I don’t know, probably a little of both. But I wondered why we were going through a full yoga class when this was supposed to be a workshop to learn about yoga, it was Yoga 101 after all. If I wanted a basic yoga class, which is what we were working through, then I would have waited to attend the (included in my membership) class on Sunday morning at 11:45am!

sunsalutationfinal

The hardest part for me was the inability to do most poses correctly. My stomach got in the way for child’s pose (not part of the sun salutation) and lunge (6 & 9). Due to my stomach I couldn’t lean forward and touch the ground with my hands down by my feet and leave one foot in between my hands. Instead I’d have to adjust and thus the movement wasn’t fluid and I felt so….fat. I may not be as flexible as I used to be, but it doesn’t matter at the moment, when your body rolls get in the way there’s not a lot you can do. Lowering into knee-chest-chin (6) takes strength and instead of easing up into cobra, I quickly swing from plank (5) through to cobra (7) due to lack of strength to hover above the floor. If you look at knee-chest-chin (6) I like to call it the ‘tiny plank’, even though your butt should be a little up in the air. Doesn’t that look like a ‘tiny plank’ to you? Even at the beginning of class when I was sitting on my mat with my legs “crossed”, it was really a semi-cross because my legs are too thick to even cross them…forget about the lotus pose!

corpse pose (savasana)

About an hour into the workshop we finally laid on our mats for the corpse pose (savasana). Of course it’s the last pose of the class but it’s glorious. After twisting, bending, turning, and struggling through poses it’s very relaxing to just melt into the floor. I love it.

This is where more prep at the beginning of the workshop would have been appreciated. Covering the basics of a yoga class, what to expect, etiquette, that is what I expected in a workshop. But none of that was mentioned. After some time on the floor in savasana suddenly the instructor came over and scrubbed her hands together next to my left ear (A signal she was present?) and started massaging my head, scalp and temple. Um, okayyyy. I know in yoga that instructors will come and adjust students to help with form, but this was a little surprising. The hand scrubbing startled me and I opened one eye and looked up. Thankfully she was looking over at another student so it wasn’t an awkward eye-to-eye, “Oh, hello, why are you touching me that way?” situation.

Once she covered all seven of us with her hand scrubbing massage routine she then asked us all to sit up and sit in a circle so we could discuss the workshop. One part that was very helpful was discussing the other classes available at the gym. Yes, there are descriptions for each class but her recommendations for each of us based on need/experience was beyond what you can get from a generic class description on the roster, so that was very helpful. Several people had questions about what yoga does for the body, how it changes the body, how often you should practice, and it was all helpful. I didn’t have any questions. Well, I did, but the one question I had was about modifications for a thicker gal such as myself, and there was no way in hell I was asking in the group. I was the only one there who was obese and I was too embarrassed to speak up. Again, not usually a trait of mine to remain quiet so it was a bizarre situation I found myself in.

In all I was pleased with the workshop because of how it made me feel. I would have greatly appreciated a sun salutation worksheet so I could take it home to follow. I did pay extra for this “workshop” and all. The instructor welcomed emails with questions, comments, suggestions so I’m going to come up with some constructive comments and maybe a few suggestions that I know I would have found helpful.

I walked out of the gym feeling lighter on my feet, enriched even, and it was nice! A pleasant reminder that I need to find my way to a yoga class again on a regular basis, or even practice at home. The intimidation part I need to work on but I know I’m pressing that upon myself and it’s not imposed by others.

Do you practice yoga? Do you struggle with some of the more simple poses due to your body?

A Thankful Tuesday

If you read along here much then you know that I have plantar fasciitis, in both feet. If you’ve ever had foot pain or also suffer from PF then you know my predicament when it comes to exercise and the stress it causes the feet.

Over the weekend I used up my last session with a trainer I had outstanding from the end of 2013. I know, three months later? Yes, three months later. My feet have just been in awful shape. After the race on New Year’s Day, which I still pat myself on the back about, I’ve avoided pounding on the treadmill or even a long walk in the neighborhood. It just hurts too darn much. So you can imagine come Saturday afternoon how I was a bit nervous to meet up for the session. I wondered if I would be able to walk the rest of the day.

Overall, the session was just what I needed. I haven’t picked up a dumbbell since late November and I haven’t done any cardio since early January. After 45 minutes I went through a full-body workout that left me feeling energized but somewhat exhausted at the same time. How does that even work? I didn’t feel like I was going to puke, I didn’t feel light-headed, but I knew for a fact I would be sore the next day. I don’t know about you, but I kinda like that bit of soreness the day after. It’s a nice reminder that I found muscles that needed a beating and that I moved my body and made a difference.

I also knew on my way home that I would hobble into the house because my feet were already killing me. Stationary side lunges with one foot up on a Bosu will do that I guess, otherwise nothing else really should have effected my feet like that. But I did what I should and stretched my feet throughout the session, did more at home, iced the crap out of my feet several times that night, and took it easy.

Ever since Saturday I’ve been better at stretching and icing. Speaking of stretching, where is that yoga strap I used to just move from closet to closet thinking I didn’t need it? I can’t find it now and would be perfect for stretching! Spring cleaning time apparently.

Then the heavens opened and the clouds parted…

Yesterday evening I was laying on the bed for about 20 minutes reading a magazine and went to get up to go help with dinner. Like any other injury on the body, when you expect to feel pain you brace for it with hesitation. I placed my feet on the floor and stood up, expecting the typical pain….and nothing. No tightness, no heel pain, no pulling along the bottom of my foot. I was in disbelief! So I took another step. Nothing. And another step…nothing. Ya’ll I was so excited I almost cried!

So far so good today. Apparently the stretching and icing help, just like the doctor asked me to do and I’ve neglected to follow on the regular.

I’m such a stubborn ass.

Here’s to more improvement and less pain….and following Dr.’s orders to the letter. ::ahem::

Are you stubborn?

2014 Jillian Michaels Maximize Your Life Tour: Inspiring

 

On a “school night” my husband (le chauffeur) and I took off work early to make it through some crappy weather so I wouldn’t miss Jillian Michaels’ Maximize Your Life tour up in Denver. The day before it was 73*, the day after the show 54*, the day of the show…22*! Blowing snow and sleet, icy roads in spots, accidents everywhere on parts of the Interstate-it was that bad. But we made it! With the weather conditions and then rush hour in Denver (OMG, I don’t know how people deal with that everyday!) it took us two hours. My husband dropped me off and was left to entertain himself for the next three hours while I was at the show. I met up with my mom early so we could grab a quick bite across the street at a cute little market place. When my eyes landed on a piece of cheesecake I quickly pictured Jillian giving me the eyeball. I didn’t buy it.

The show was held at the Paramount Theater in Denver’s downtown. I’d never been to the Paramount before but it was a quaint, artsy, and a little old but still an awesome venue for an intimate show like we were about to attend. Before the show I stood in line for a shirt and magnet because I wasn’t leaving there without some JM merch. The shirt is awesome, and even though it’s a full size bigger on the tag than I normally wear, I still can’t wear it (stupid sizing differences) and I’m okay with that. I’m going to fit into it.

purchases

The Show

jm stage

The view from my seat – front and center

Jillian covered three main topics: Science (diet), Sweat (fitness), and Self (finding my why and facing fear)

Now I’ve done my fair share of reading fitness magazines/online articles/books and listening to Jillian’s podcasts every week…I’m well versed. I figured I wouldn’t hear anything new in terms of diet and fitness. But I did mostly because of the WAY she presented the information. She was freakin’ hilarious! And little did I know, the woman has a bit of a sailors tongue–and it was awesome! There was a reason it said 18+ is advised ::ahem::

Of course Jillian spoke about The Biggest Loser, why she’s been successful at helping people drop 100+ pounds, but that she also gets what it’s like to be overweight–she’s been there. If you didn’t know, at only 5’3″ she was once around 175 pounds as a young teen. Jillian has been in the shoes of those who battle with weight, unlike some out there. I knew Jillian was overweight at a young age but to hear her say she was miserable, depressed about her health, and definitely not what she wanted for her life to look like. That was refreshing!

Side Note: I highly suggest bringing a notepad and taking notes—you’ll kick yourself if you don’t! I forgot mine and had to text myself throughout the show since I had nothing to write on. Resourceful.
 

JM on stage

Blurry photo and it’s one of only two I got of her on stage <–regret

I know you can’t tell here due to the blurriness, but in person, holy crap is Jillian fit…like F-I-T. Not a shocker but it’s still surprising to see in person. And yeah, she is tiny, like 5’3″ tiny. Her stature doesn’t let you forget that she’s a powerhouse. I remembered from her podcasts of recent how she’s been working with a trainer she lovingly calls “Ass Man”–to perk up her supposed flat booty–and yeah, she looked great!

1:  Science

Overall, for living a healthy life, she said it was super complicated (sarcasm): Eat less….Move more. Done. Boom. Show’s over. It’s true, you need both of those or your weight loss will suffer and maintaining a healthy body will very difficult. But onto the specifics…

JM 10 Additives to Avoid

One: Good, clean food! If the ingredient list is long and hairy and you can’t pronounce half the shit on there, ditch it!

Two: Rate your foods! On a scale of 1-10 to determine how healthy and nutritious they’re for you to consume. So Oreos would not be a “1″, that’s a “10″, I know, sad news. Organic fruits/veggies and meats are a “1″, as you work up towards “5″ (which she doesn’t want you to go over a “5″ for the most part), you’ll find processed foods, yet made with organic ingredients but still not in it’s pure state, those are all “5′s”. So what’s over a “5″? The Oreos, like I mentioned, but soda, artificial ingredients, processed foods and also HFCS…those all land closer to or directly on a “10″.

Third: Follow the 80/20 rule! If you don’t know, 80/20 is 80% of the time you eat healthy, clean, veggies, and good for you foods. The other 20% of the time is when you have that scoop of ice cream, that piece of birthday cake, or you get the slice of pizza. I LOVE that and when I’m on top of what my diet looks like that is also how I eat and it works! Jillian said the reason she likes this lifestyle is because you can eat balanced and feel fulfilled all the time, instead of a super strict diet all week and the weekend comes and “hibernation is over and you act like a bear about to eat your own face off”!  I’ve been there. It’s intense and scary and the feeling of loss, the loss of control, is overwhelming.

A nice last tip she gave, don’t worry about the green foods…as Jillian put it, “Not like you’ll grow a bigger ass or see it in your thighs if you overeat your greens!” So eat the greens until you’re blew in the face. The worst thing that will happen, you’ll have gas!  That last part is mine, classy writing right there folks.

All about the organics… Jillian touched on this and laid it out—follow the Dirty Dozen and Clean 15. She suggested printing off a list to keep in your purse. I personally keep the image saved in my “favorite images” folder on my phone and reference it so I don’t forget…plus it saves a wee tree to not print it off and lose later! So what is Jillian’s opinion on organic veggies/fruits? If we can buy the Dirty Dozen as organic we’ll avoid all the pesticides, GMOs, toxins, etc. and the Clean 15 are fine and dandy to eat non-organic if you wish; however, if you can swing all organic that’s awesome but she understands that not all budgets can accommodate a completely organic fridge.

Jillian’s biggest worry due to antibiotics and hormones, dairy, and organic, grass-fed, meat vs hormone pumped meats. Jillian asked that we spend $20 a week on our clean meats because this is where we’ll get the most bang for our buck health wise. This is part of the show I didn’t entirely agree with. Not about why we should eat grass-fed, no antibiotics/hormone filled meat, but the cost. I’ve bought organic/cage-free chicken and it cost $12 for two pounds of boneless, skinless, chicken thighs. That would cover two meals and it’s just my husband and me! I don’t know what a better cost suggestion would be here but I think $20 is undercutting it a little. During this time she showed a great photo showing the difference between grass-fed beef vs grain-fed, wild caught salmon vs farm raised, and cage-free vs caged chickens. The grass-fed/free-range/wild caught animals looked normal and in good health, not excessive in size due to the additives/lifestyle they were raised to make more meat/flesh for slaughter. Plus, the actual meat looked better and were a normal size to consume for an individual instead of extremely large; when you think about it that’s a good thing when it comes to food we consume, a single chicken breast shouldn’t feed two grown adults!

How about an intermission?

Photos from Paramount Theatre

And back to the show!

(more…)

Last Night…

Paramount Theatre - Denver, Colorado

It’s been over a month since I put in a word around here. I should have kept with it, even if not all the news was positive, so I need to come back and play catch up.

But last night, I got to see Jillian Michael’s for her Maximize Your Life Tour…and I also got to meet her! The meet and greet was over in a blink of an eye, but that small little moment meant so much to me.

And I can’t wait to share with you all about my experience!