With Hands Wide Open

I’ve been thinking lately about how I hold my hands—sounds odd? Well maybe not! I’ve lived a good part of my life thinking I’m the type of person who is open to change, but the reality doesn’t feel that way to me. In my mind, in my heart I feel resistant to change. I’m not sure why. I’m not sure if it scares me or just what the case is. To many it seems like I’ve changed a lot, but I still feel like I’m holding onto something, exactly what I’m not sure. Maybe it’s the idea of being safer stuck in the past. It’s easier to deal with the devil you know rather than the devil you don’t.

What does all this have to do with my hands? A couple of months ago, in yoga, my instructor told me how much I clenched my hands. I hadn’t really thought about it before, but sure enough I started to observe myself and realized how very much I keep my hands curled up: in savasana, when I’m talking with someone, when I’m sleeping……etc…..

So I started behaving differently. I took stock of my hands. Every time I caught/catch myself with my hands tensed in any way I release them and I say to myself: “I am open to all possibilities in this amazing life. I don’t know what’s coming my way, but I’m open to any and every opportunity.” It happens more often than I can care to think about, but I’ve noticed something along the way these past couple of months.

I feel better inside. I feel more hope. I know so many amazing things are coming my way. And those aren’t just words. I feel that truth inside me in a way I can’t describe. I’m lighting my own flame. I’m letting go of how I think my life should be, so I can embrace the life that awaits me. That’s a paraphrase of Joseph Campbell’s quote.

The point being, the more I let go of tension, the more I allow, the more I stop getting in my own way. So many amazing things have happened, including this interview with the author of Yes, Yoga Has Curves.  Yoga isn’t just a practice—it’s teaching me to embrace and be open the vast and endless treasures the universe has to offer me.

Stop getting in your own way. You’ll be amazed at what happens! 

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Posted in Bikram Yoga, Transformation | 2 Comments

Ramblings on Self-Love and Apple Cider Vinegar Tea

Ramblings on Self-Love and Apple Cider Vinegar Tea

I’ve thought about writing this post for a week now, but somehow every time I sit down to write it, the words never come out. I’ve come to realize I spend a lot of time looking to others for approval. It’s as though I need someone else to love me before I can love myself, but that’s not the way it’s supposed to work. I’m supposed to learn to love myself so that others can love me.

But somehow, somewhere along the line I’ve gotten into this trap. This pattern of behavior where I’m not okay unless I’m loved and/or approved of by others. Circumstances as of late have given me a real window into my—how do I say this—into my obsessive need to be found worthy by people and things outside myself.

I’m not sure I’m explaining myself well here, but what I really seek to do is get at the heart of my addiction. It’s not just food I’m addicted to. I’m addicted to the feeling of feeling less than, of feeling like a victim, but I’m not really comfortable feeling that way now.

That’ s the gift of this moment. I recognize that I’m placing too much value outside myself. Actually it’s too much value and focus on the wrong things. And when I place that value where it doesn’t belong I give myself an excuse to overeat or eat unhealthy foods. Then I get caught in a vicious cycle.

I’m beginning to think this emotional cycle is why most people have a difficult time recovering from an eating disorder. It’s so much easier to find companionship in food, but that doesn’t bring me joy. Not like it used to.

I find joy in yoga. I love that hot room like no other. I just do.  That brings me joy. The kind of joy that comes from within. It’s not always perfect. Sometimes it helps me see parts of myself that I seek to improve. Parts of myself that I want to shed. I’m not referring to weight here. I seek to shed that part of me that needs someone else to love me before I can love myself.

That’s my job now. Loving myself. It’s not easy. But I’m doing it. I’m sitting here writing this drinking some hot apple cider tea. I made it with a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar, a splash of Vietnamese cinnamon, and two tiny scoops of stevia. That’s self-love. That’s taking care of myself. I’ve had two cups now. Maybe I’ll have a third. Why? Because it’s a healthier choice. And on a day where I felt so tempted to go to the grocery store and buy something I shouldn’t, this is a victory of self-love, of self-acceptance, of self-approval from within!

This life is about taking chances and finding happiness where it can be found, and I know I’ll find more of that happiness when I start by nurturing health of this soul!   

Apple Cider Vinegar Tea

 

Posted in Bikram Yoga, Food Cravings | 1 Comment

I Remember Everything: Ruminations on a Year of Grief

I remember everything about that day. I remember where I stood. I remember exactly what I was doing. I can feel the breath I inhaled when father took his last breath. I remember everything.

I wasn’t near him. He was in Thousand Oaks, at his house, sitting in his wheelchair at his desk. I was in downtown Los Angeles getting ready to yoga. Physically we were 42 miles apart but love linked our hearts.

As he took his last breath, I remember exactly where I was standing and who I was talking with. The exact details don’t matter, but the memory remains etched within.

After the yoga class, I took my usually shower and then opened the locker containing my belongings. I saw several messages from mom, and then I knew before I even listened to her words. My father was dead. He heart ceased to beat.

I remember everything about that day. I remember t hat I’d parked a few blocks away at hotel where my friends were staying. I didn’t know how I’d manage to walk there. And I had to get there. I had to get home while my father’s body was still in the house. I didn’t want to have to go see it in a cold mortuary.

I had to get home and fast. I remember running outside in my bare feet to find a friend. Loren drove me to the Bonaventure. Julie, Brenda, and Suzanne met me there and walked me to my car. I felt in such a daze. I had no idea how I would make it home.

It was around 1p.m. but I was in Los Angeles and traffic was everywhere, and all I wanted to do was to get home. But that desire didn’t make traffic lessen.

I’m so grateful for cell phones and cars that come with Bluetooth. I called my friend Kara in Scottsdale and she talked to me the whole drive home. About nothing and everything. I’m so grateful for that hour, that conversation, those words. They kept me sane. They still do.

I felt such terror the whole drive home. Every nerve ending inside and outside of my body felt the utter pain and terror that I wouldn’t make it home in time to be with him. But time was on my side that day. I didn’t know it at the time but the mortuary had run into some unavoidable delays and would be several hours late.

When I arrived at the house I ran inside and instantly stopped. There my father sat, dead but not. He was at his desk with his head tilted back and his mouth slightly open, looking as though he was taking a long nap. He liked to do that. Take short naps at his desk.

I walked over to him, pulled up a chair, placed my head against his chest right against his heart. I placed my hand in his and could feel how relaxed his hand was. For so long it had been constricted and crippled because of Parkinson’s but not anymore. He was free.

For two hours I sat there with my head against his chest. Two of the most blissful hours. When I close my eyes, I can still feel the softness of his chest, of his heart. I can still feel him with me. I am so grateful for those moments. That’s the best gift the universe could have given me. Such precious moments.

In so many ways, this has been one of the most gut-wrenching and painful years of my life. Without my father I don’t know where I belong anymore. I just don’t.

It’s also been a year where I’ve come to realize that I have some amazing wonderful people in my life, people who have listened to me cry, who have been there for me. I’ve also learned and still am learning that I need to love the people who love me and not put energy toward those who don’t. That’s a beautifully painful lesson.

My father loved me to the very best of his ability and that’s a very beautiful gift to have. The last words I heard from him were “I love you” and that’s another beautiful gift to have. He entrusted me with so much at the end. Last summer was the best summer of my life—the hours I spent just watching him breathe touch my heart more deeply than words can explain.

 I’ve cried so many tears, and I’ll probably cry many more today, but I also know this: my father wanted me to be happy more than anything, so, on this day tinged with sadness and grief, I’ll go forward and celebrate life, my life, my happiness, and in doing so I’ll be taking him with me in my heart, and he wouldn’t want it any other way. Neither would I.

The Last Picture of Me with My Dad

The Last Picture of Me with My Dad

The Very First Picture I Took with My Very First Iphone

The Very First Picture I Took with My Very First Iphone

My Dad

Posted in grief | 4 Comments

The True Cost of Health

How much does a healthy meal truly cost? I have heard on the news and from friends that eating fresh healthy foods costs much more than processed “fast” foods. I’ve also thought this myself, so the other day I had the idea to calculate the cost of one of my favorite meals: Shine On Be.U.tiful’s Lemon Cheesecake Smoothie: http://shineonbeutiful.com/2014/05/06/lemon-cheesecake-smoothie/

This most delicious and filling smoothie has four ingredients. I made sure I bought organic items where I could. Here’s the cost breakdown:

½ banana                                             .13

3 organic mejdool dates                                1.14

1 c. almond milk                                .37

3 TBSP raw cashews                        .75

1 large lemon                                     .79

Total Cost: $3.18

Cheaper than a latte at Starbucks. Cheaper than a hamburger and fries at McDonalds (I’m a vegetarian so I’m just using that example for comparison purposes). Cheaper than a Jamba Juice. Cheaper than so many “fast” meals.  But what is fast anyways? It takes me 5 minutes max to make this smoothie in my Vitamix and clean up takes maybe another minute.

I could likely make the lemon cheesecake smoothie for less if I didn’t buy organic produce or if I had a friend with a lemon tree!  Also, dates at the Farmer’s Market cost less, but I didn’t have a chance to make it there last week.

Not only is this meal cheaper than so many processed meals, it’s far healthier and leaves me with a bounce in my step! I challenge you to calculate the cost of some of your favorite meals—if they turn out to be costlier than you like, save them for a special treat! Healthy foods don’t have to be cost prohibitive—it’s quite possible to treat your body well while on a budget!

Check out more of ShineOnBeUtiful’s awesome recipes:

http://shineonbeutiful.com/

Me Drinking a Lemon Cheesecake Smoothie!

Me Drinking a Lemon Cheesecake Smoothie!

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Posted in Food Cravings, Healthy Meals/Foods | 1 Comment

Being Me

It’s hard to explain. I’ve spent my whole life being somebody else. Anybody else but me. How do I express that? That’s how I got to be well over 400 pounds. I never thought it was enough to be me. I had to be what others expected me to be. Or. Or. Or. Or I wouldn’t be loved.

But what exactly does that mean. It means I didn’t love myself. It means I put myself last. It means that if I had just eaten lunch and someone called me up and said let’s do lunch, I’d say “okay” and then go eat again. Because I didn’t have it in me to say no. To say I’d just eaten. Why did I do that? I felt so desperate to be loved that I feared the consequences of saying no. I literally felt like I wouldn’t be loved if I said no.

That’s a simple story. Other examples are more complex. And defy explanation. I did so many things I didn’t want to do because I felt I wouldn’t be loved. If I saw a movie with someone and they didn’t like the movie but I did, I’d say I didn’t like it because I didn’t want to disagree about something so simple because I didn’t feel like my opinion had validity. It’s nuts when I think about it, think about my behavior.

But look at it this way: there’s a reason why obesity is an epidemic. Those reasons are mostly emotional. Mine are. They just are. People who lose weight gain it back because they don’t look at the WHY!

I don’t mind looking at why. It’s the only way out. I’m afraid that if I don’t do what people want they won’t love me. Sadly, sometimes that turns out to be truthful. I clearly remember when I first started working on my weight some people would tell me I wasn’t fun anymore because I started being more particular about the food I’d eat and the restaurants I’d be willing to eat at.

There seems to be so much in my head about this. It’s a battle I fight on a daily basis. How do I be me in  a world that, at times, doesn’t seem to want that? It means that sometimes I have to make choices that might and probably will disappoint some.

The thing is my desire to feel loved outweighs (yes, I’m using the present tense) all else. That’s why it’s a constant battle. Most days I still don’t feel loved.

BUT that’s a part of my growth process, this growth process. I always took refuge in food. That’s where I felt/feel love, so it’s natural that I experience sadness and loneliness as I transform my life into a healthier existence.

Do you know why I love Bikram Yoga? It’s not easy. It’s d*mn hard in fact. But when I’m there, in that hot room I feel happy. Some people have told me that they think it’s a bit much, but some of these same people offer me food with processed sugars, and that’s much more harmful. Why? Let’s say I’ve had a few days away from processed sugar and someone says to me “Here, have this cookie (or whatever).” And I say “no”. Then they say,” but it’s only one.”  Well let me tell you what will happen—I’ll have that cookie and then want to buy a whole package on the way home and eating a whole package of cookies is way more dangerous than doing Bikram Yoga.

I wish I could explain it more or better. The good news is that there is a way out of the mess that’s in my mind and heart. And I’m finding it one day at a time. One moment at a time I’m seeing the wondrous beauty that’s around me. And I’m learning to delight in me. 

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Workout Clothing: Not Just for Skinny People

Over the course of the past few months people have asked me where I buy my clothes, more specifically they ask where I purchase my workout gear. There’s more to the question than a simple answer. At my heaviest, deciding what to wear while working out meant that I had to find clothes that would fit my body. Fortunately, companies exist that sell clothes I could wear.

Back in the day I would buy bike shorts from Roaman’s/Lane Bryant/Woman Within/Making It Big Online and a few others. I usually get a 5x, I think, as my stomach has always been the biggest part of my body and I need to accommodate that. I don’t remember if I ever ordered a 6x but it’s possible.  I’d normally order the tops from Making It Big online because they would cover my belly, and I HAD to hide that!

That was my gym/yoga wear. While walking/hiking, then and now, I’d wear whatever. I’ve gone hiking in fancy cocktail wear. As long as my legs can move in it, I can go for a walk in it. To say anything else is an excuse.

Lifting weights, working on gym machines, doing squats—now that’s another story! As I started to lose weight, I found it difficult to find clothing that would last and make me feel good while working out. (As a side note the bike shorts from Lane Bryant/Roaman’s aren’t the greatest quality.) Feeling good while working out—that’s important!  Exercise clothes matter. Clothes that look good on me, that fit me, help me feel more confident and strong and inspire me to workout harder, longer and with more gusto.

A few months ago I decided to make an investment in myself and buy some outfits from Junonia, an online company that specializes in plus size active wear. They sell bike shorts and sports bras in bright and colorful clothing: pink, bright blue, etc. As an aside, I don’t care for pants or leggings because I think they accentuate my stomach and I can’t stand that. I ordered a 1x in the bike shorts and an XL in the sports bra. It’s turned out to be one of the best investments I’ve made.

Their bike shorts FIT my body. They way they are made accommodates the variations in my stomach and legs. When I wear these bike shorts they hold me in so that I can see and feel my body, my core at work. Plus I feel more confident in my self, so I work harder.

Their sports bras also fit well and hold me in. This helps me to see my sides as I flex them. Most importantly, I feel pretty in the clothing I buy from Junonia. Because my top is significantly smaller than my body, I’ve also been able to buy sports bras at regular stores. I’ve gotten some nice quality Champion sports bras. I’ve had to try on more than a few styles because some just don’t provide a level of coverage I prefer.

There’s more to my workout wardrobe than bike shorts and a sports bra! That’s all I wear in a Bikram yoga class, but when I’m in a place where  I need more coverage I prefer to wear tank tops over my sports bra and I buy those at………………………………….DISNEYLAND!!!!! I have a couple of pretty princess shirts.  It’s one of the greatest pleasures of my life to be able to by workout wear at my happy place. It makes me happy to be one with Mickey!

So that’s a little bit about me and workout clothes. The real moral of the story: wear clothing that puts a spring in your step. You’ll work harder and YOU’RE WORTH IT!!!

Here’s a pic of me in my favorite outfit from Junonia:

Nancy Does the Camel!

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Posted in Bikram Yoga, Body Image, Transformation, Weight Loss | 1 Comment

More on Entrances and Exits: More on My Real Yoga Body and My Real Yoga Practice

Since I wrote the blog several days ago on entrances and exits in the yoga room, I’ve been thinking about my practice as a whole and how it’s changed me. I have so many hopes and dreams, so many aspirations, more than I can list here, more than you want to know!

I used to spend a lot of time wishing, hoping, praying but not creating much movement. I never changed much, if at all.

I’m not sure where I’m really going with this entry. I seem to be having random, non-linear thoughts. I suppose I want to share with the world that I have this passion for yoga because every time I’m in the room I’m working for what I want. Every time I’m in the room I’m living life. I’m creating change. And that’s scary to a huge degree. I’ve never coped well with change: positive or negative change.

I seek to change that though and, indeed, have been changing that. Part of changing my body is accepting where it is right now. That’s what I want to share with all of you—yoga really is for EVERY BODY. When I hear people tell me that they can’t do yoga because they’re not flexible, it’s not their body that’s not flexible, it’s their mind.

This body, my body, does yoga now. It did yoga when it was much heavier. It’ll keep doing it as it becomes skinnier and stronger.  Strength takes work and practice!

That leads me to my original premise with this entry. Entrances and Exits and My Real Yoga Body. I decided to spend some time Saturday morning making a video of me going through the postures in Bikram’s Standing Series. In this video, I emphasize keeping a calm effort when entering and exiting each posture. I don’t claim to have perfect form. I’m working with the form I have. But I’ve realized lately that the calmer I am during class, the more that translates into maintaining inner calmness 24/7.

Achieving that calmness takes practice. It actually helps me to work on entrances and exits to postures outside of class. I’ve found it allows me to have greater awareness during class without having to think too much.

I also encourage you to share this video with anyone who thinks they can’t do yoga. If this body can do it……………………if someone can breathe they can do yoga………………..

P.S. In the video a couple of the poses are out of sequence! Oops! 

Here’s the link to the YouTube video of MY Real Yoga Body doing Bikram’s Standing Series: 

http://youtu.be/HcOTDXssrd4

Here’s the link to my original blog on entrances and exits: 

http://confessionsofayogaprincess.wordpress.com/2014/07/17/entrances-and-exits-anatomy-of-a-life-altering-practic/

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Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment