Being Fat and Going to the Doctor

Being fat means going to the doctor is never fun, especially going to the gynecologist. Every time I go I hear a lecture about how being obese makes me a higher risk for cancer. The gynecologist likes to use that term to scare me or to get me paranoid, but guess what? It doesn’t help. I don’t hear those words and feel a motivation to work at being healthier. I just feel fear, and quite frankly I’m tired of it.

Our medical industry thrives on fear, on creating fear. They talk so much about finding “cures” and treating diseases but rarely do they talk about prevention. Prevention doesn’t make big money. Most doctors would rather sell pills than spinach.

I’m mad, but I’m mad at myself for buying into the fear. I felt too much of it this go round. I’ve been working more at lifting weights so my chest muscles are feeling the efforts, particularly in the breast area, so all I kept hearing in my head was my doctor’s voice about being at a higher risk of cancer.

I went into my yearly mammogram with some dread this year. But all turned out well. Except, in a way it didn’t. It didn’t because my stress levels became elevated while I waited. I kept hearing my doctor’s voice.

I have news for all of you. Heart disease runs more rampant in my family. That’s a more likely occurrence, but, really all of this is BS. I’m not going to live the rest of my life feeling fear about some disease I MIGHT get! That’s all a bunch of BULLOCKS!!! And a great portion of the medical industry thrives on fear. That’s part of how they make money.

I’m not suggesting going rogue, but I am going to LIVE and not buy into this garbage. Words matter. Intentions matter. I’d much rather concentrate my energies on being healthy and making spinach apple ginger juice and lemon cheesecake smoothies. That’s the future I want and the now I’ll choose to have.

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Three Years of HOT HOT HOT YOGA!

Today, April 29, 2016 marks my third year Bikramversary! I don’t have any grand comments to make. No profound realizations. I’ve been practicing yoga on and off for twenty years, but I love Bikram/Hot yoga more than the others. Why?

Sometime in the past year I bought a shirt that says “Yoga is Cheaper than Therapy.” That’s true. It’s also true that yoga is more readily and easily available. I can go anytime. Anytime I’m in a mood: sad, happy, depressed, and the list goes on. I know I can go into that hot room and leave lighter in mood than when I walked in. That’s always the case. ALWAYS.

My practice has evolved over the past three years. I used to drive a fair distance to practice yoga, but one day I just couldn’t do that drive anymore, and that’s when I started practicing at http://www.bikramyogaagourahills.com/

I can drive to that studio in 10 to 12 minutes, so it really is there when I need it. From the first time I stepped foot in that studio I felt at home. Bikram/Hot yogis form the most amazing connective communities.

I have had to do some hard thinking these past few months, and if you’ve followed me here you’ve seen some of that. I’ve really wanted other people to care for me and treat me the way I’ve always deserved, but the truth is this: I’m the one who needs to take care of me.

And that’s why I keep going back to Bikram/Hot yoga. When I’m there I’m taking care of me in every way I’ve ever deserved. Find what makes you feel taken care of and then take care of yourself. The most amazing doors will open that way.

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Therapy

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Hot Tips for a Happy Hot/Bikram Yoga Class

Безымянный-4

Here’s a #tbt entry for you. I first wrote this 2 years ago.

I’ve absolutely positively fallen in love with Bikram Yoga and the many blessings it has brought to my life in the 11 months I’ve been practicing. I thought it might be fun to share some of my thoughts about how to have a happy and successful Bikram experience. These are my thoughts only. I’m sure I’ve left something out, so please feel free to add in the comment section and please feel free to share with others if you feel my thoughts might be of help.

BEFORE CLASS:

1)      TIMELINESS: Show up early. Actually, show up at least fifteen minutes before the start of class. This will give sufficient time to place your belongings away, situate your mat, and use the lavatory. Showing up late (and someone almost always does) disrupts the class.

2)      CLOTHING (for the girls): What to wear: less is more. An acceptable amount of less, that is. About five months into my Bikram Yoga practice, I lost my inhibitions and started practicing in my bike shorts and sports bra, making my practice so much more enjoyable and the heat more bearable. I also wear cotton as it allows my skin to breathe more freely.

CLOTHING (for the guys): For the guys: less is more too! Speedo type yoga outfits give you much more coverage than regular shorts. They hold more in when you’re doing poses like standing bow, locust, etc.

3)      SCENTS: Avoid wearing perfume and/or lotion. Wearing perfume will make it difficult for others to breathe. If you wear lotion, it’ll be so much more difficult to hold your leg during standing bow or your feet during floor bow.  Think of how little grip anyone would have with sweaty, greasy skin!

4)      CELL PHONES: Leave them outside the door.  They’re distracting to you and to your fellow practitioners. Besides, do you really want stinky smelly sweat flung on your adored electronic device?

5)      WATCH WHERE YOU WALK: When walking into the yoga room, do your best not to step on others’ yoga mats. It’s polite AND sanitary!

6)      MENTAL ATTITUDE: Leave ALL your “stuff” outside the door. If you’re not in the moment, the moment won’t be in you!

7)      HAIR: If you have long hair, you’ll want to put it up. If you forget hair ties/scrunchies, the studio usually has some. I prefer colorful scrunchies, but have discovered they start to stink after a while, so if you’re a fan of scrunchies, then you’ll want to make sure you can wash them! If you choose to leave your long hair down, you run the risk of flinging more sweat than you already do and of having sweat drenched hair fall in places that cause distraction and/or discomfort.

8)      HYDRATION: Hydration does not happen during class!  Hydrate the day before and the day of! Hydrate with water, with fruit, and with veggies!  Always hydrate!  Hydrate after class, too!  During class, water breaks wet your whistle; they don’t function as your hydration source. A well-hydrated body has more energy in the hot room!

DURING CLASS:

9)      HYDRATION PART TWO: Bring water to class. BUT, don’t drink until the instructor calls for the first water break, after eagle!  Following eagle, some instructors set water breaks; others allow you to drink as needed.  In the latter instance, wait until the class is between poses to dip for that water bottle. Drinking during a pose disrupts the flow of others’ poses.

10)   WIPING THAT SWEAT: Don’t wipe. Yes, the room feels hot—it’s 105 degrees!  But the very second you wipe, even if it’s just to temporarily keep a drip of sweat off your face, you’ll just end up making yourself hotter. Think of it as the evaporative cooling effect. It might feel better for a second, but you WILL feel hotter. Also, unnecessary wiping of sweat disrupts the meditative stillness of the room.

11)   MORE ON SWEAT: You’ll sweat; others will sweat; if you’re a sweat fountain, bring an extra towel and wipe up your sweat between poses and after class.

12)   EVEN MORE ON SWEAT: If sweat bothers you in general. If you find yourself obsessing over where the sweat of your fellow practitioners’ falls, you’ll get over it once your practice becomes more regular. In the hot room you just can’t escape sweat.

13)   WHERE TO PRACTICE: Practice in the front of the room just once. You never know what you might see! The front row is usually reserved for seasoned practitioners, so make sure you’re having an “on” day when you try this!

14)   WHERE TO PRACTICE, PART TWO: Looking to place your mat in a cool spot in the room? Place it near a door or a window with a draft, but, generally, the room’s hot. You can’t escape that.  Being near the door might give you teasing, momentary relief.

15)   WHERE TO PRACTICE IN THE ROOM, PART THREE: Wherever you put your mat down, someone will put theirs near you, unless it’s a small class. All you need is the space on your mat. Trust me on this one. If you really want to go to a small class, pay for a private or try a middle of the day class in the middle of the week.

16)   APPEARANCE IN THE ROOM: Don’t worry about how you look doing poses. If anyone is watching you, they’re not in their moment, in their practice. Be in your practice.  That’s all that matters, anyway. I have felt so much happier and peaceful since the day I stopped worrying so much about the way my body looked in the hot room.

17)   BATHROOM/KLEENEX BREAKS: Not happening (unless you’re pregnant). Sure, nobody is going to lock the door, but seasoned practitioners know what “bathroom/kleenex breaks” are really about—they’re about getting yourself a few minutes relief from the heat. Fight through the urge to escape.  Your body will thank you and so will your fellow practitioners. Besides, the heat allows your body to go more deeply into poses, and leaving the room for cold air counteracts that benefit. Oh, and if you need a Kleenex, there’s usually some in the room or bring a few if you’re prone to sneezing fits.

18)   LISTEN TO YOUR BODY: If a pose hurts a portion of your body, before you decide to sit it out see if you can find a way to modify the pose do it doesn’t hurt. If you have a pre-existing injury, tell your instructor before class so s/he can offer suggestion. If a pose bothers/hurts you during class ask the instructor after class to see if they can offer an adjustment that will help.

19)   FEELING LIGHTHEADED AND/DIZZY: if you feel light-headed and/or dizzy and need to stop, just stand and breathe (or stay on the floor and breathe if you’re doing the floor series). If, while breathing, you start to reach for water or a towel, take that energy and put it into your pose. If you have the energy to reach for that water/towel, you have the energy to do your yoga. Your breath gives you all you need.

AFTER CLASS:

20)   LOCKER ROOM ETIQUETTE, PART ONE : Lose your inhibitions in the dressing room. You’ll be happier just throwing off your sweaty clothes after class and not worrying about what others may think of your body. All of us have the same body parts—they just don’t look the same! I learned fairly quickly that my body felt better the sooner I removed the sweat-drenched clothes from my skin. Most studios have too many students to have individual dressing rooms. Some people, I’ve noticed, like to use the bathrooms as changing rooms, but this results in unnecessary and sometimes painful delays for those who really need a lavatory!

21)   LOCKER ROOM ETIQUETTE, PART TWO: Take short showers, three minutes or less. This isn’t your home. Don’t shave your legs, your pits; don’t exfoliate your entire body; don’t give yourself that homemade facial that takes fifteen minutes! Get in the shower; wash the sweat off; give your hair a quick wash and get out! People are waiting!!!! FYI: not all studios have showers, so call ahead to make sure if you’re a person who needs a shower.

22)   BLOW DRYERS: If you really need to dry your hair, bring your own or call ahead, but, generally, a yoga studio changing room doesn’t have tons of space for primping (some do though!).

GENERAL TIPS:

23)   HEAT: The room will be hot. You will survive. Just remember to breathe and do your best to stay in the room. Just staying in the room the first couple of times will give you a yoga high unlike anything you’ve ever experienced.

24)   MAT: If you like hot/Bikram Yoga, really like it, invest in a good mat, or, at the very least, a good yoga mat towel, such as Yogitoes or eQua.  A solid mat/towel will provide you with so much more stability and will be more effective at soaking up sweat. A few weeks ago, after practicing 6-7 times a week for ten months, I decided to invest in a Manduka Pro-lite.  Not cheap by any means ($78), but worth the money. I feel more stability in my poses, and it doesn’t absorb odor.  Prior to the Manduka, I’d been using regular mats, which felt squishy, and they would retain the odor, requiring frequent washings.

25)   MORE ON MATS: If you use an inexpensive mat, buy a new one every year.  No amount of washing will completely remove the stench of a year’s worth of sweat.

26)   MAT TOWELS: See above. Buy new ones after a year.  Your nose and everyone else’s will thank you.

27)   GYM/YOGA BAG: Buy one that breathes and/or clean out the one you have with vinegar or some other cleaning solution.  Otherwise your car and your house will find themselves housing sweaty odors, and you’ll notice people not wanting to hang around you in your environment.

28)   WATER BOTTLE: Invest in a good water bottle.  It will pay for itself in time. I have a water bottle that keeps water cool, with the extra added benefit of unleashing a cool back draft onto my face after I take a sip. http://www.hydroflask.com/

29)   EATING: Consume lighter foods. Heavier foods make it more difficult to practice effectively, bogging down your body, mind, and spirit. Also, if you’ve ever found yourself having a difficult time in class, ask yourself what foods/drinks you ate the day before or the day of. Heavier foods/processed foods/sugary foods can be the cause of nausea and/or dizziness during class. Try not to eat two hours before class. You and your stomach will be happier. But show up no matter what!!  That counts more than anything!

30)   DRINKING (as in alcohol): alcohol dehydrates, so if you drink booze, don’t be a bozo, drink more water before and after class!

31)   GET OUT OF YOUR OWN WAY: When Bikram says “kill yourself” he means diminish all the little and not so little doubts that tell you can’t do a pose, you can’t be all you want, you can’t, you can’t, you can’t, you can’t……….YOU CAN!!!!  Just show up and do IT!

32)   SMILE: Smiling makes every moment easier, happier, lighter, etc. Besides, have you noticed how unhappy people look when they don’t smile? I’m not advocating hiding pain, but smiling through pain can make it more bearable!

33)   LAUNDRY: You’ll be doing a lot of laundry. When you see your favorite detergent on sale, buy it in bulk. If you waited too long to wash your sweat-drenched clothes, add a drop of vinegar to your washing machine—it’ll take care of the added bacteria and odor. If you really wait too long you’ll want to buy new clothes.

34) WAXING: For the ladies and gents who wax. Don’t Don’t Don’t wax before you got to a Bikram class unless you are a glutton for punishment. I had my eyebrows waxed once before I went to a class and the pain felt excruciating, and that’s putting it mildly.

35)   SHARE GRATITUDE: Marcel Proust once said, “Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.”  When you leave the studio, smile and say thank you to your instructor.  If they said something particularly helpful during class, tell them. If they adjusted you during class, thank them. Being a Bikram instructor takes a great deal of time and effort, more than you will ever see in the class. It’s a true labor of love that consumes more of their lives than the 90 minutes they just spent making you sweat more than you ever thought you would. Fill your karma bank account and theirs by showing them your appreciation and love.

 

FINAL THOUGHTS: A regular Bikram yoga practice will change your life from the inside out. Much has been said about the sweating away of toxins. In the short time (11 months) that I’ve practiced, I can attest that I’m happier than I’ve ever been. I may not know exactly where I’m going, but I’m so much stronger for the time I spend in the hot room. It’s become my safe place, a place that allows me to dig deep within and pull from the reservoir of strength hiding within my soul. If you haven’t tried Bikram Yoga, give it a shot. You never know what you’ll find. And what you find might just be your Self. Namaste.

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Random Thoughts on Beauty

I do not consider myself beautiful. I also don’t consider myself ugly. My thoughts on beauty formed at an early age, no doubt framed by traditional concepts of beauty as portrayed in the media. Beauty is thin. Beauty is perfect skin. Beauty is smooth thick hair. Beauty is brains, and the list goes on.

I had this flashpoint realization a few weeks ago. I have beauty all wrong. I’m working on a project, heading it actually, and one of the main players happens to be woman who fits the bill of a classic beauty: shapely, in-shape, flawless skin, long flowing hair, perfect body (did I mention that yet?), brains (I won’t identify her profession in case she’s reading this), a litany of artistic hobbies. By all accounts, she has it all. And I CHOSE HER for this project—basically the universe put her in my life to teach me a lesson.

Doing a search for articles will turn up any number of discussion on how we treat women who wear make-up better than those who don’t. Here’s on in the New York Times that tells us to wear some make-up if we want to move up higher on the career ladder: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/13/fashion/makeup-makes-women-appear-more-competent-study.html?_r=0

The message: to have more of what we want in life, then we need to conform to pre-conceived notions of beauty.

I can’t change society. I can’t change others, but I can look at how I contribute to the problem. And it is a problem to hold women to unrealistic standards of beauty.

How do I explain this? Occasionally, I wear make-up, but not always. Sometimes I do my hair fancy, but not every day. Normally, I coordinate my clothing, but not all the time. As I write this, I’m looking at a picture of me and my dad. My hair’s a bit wispy. I’m not wearing make-up. My earrings match my dress. It’s also the most beautiful picture I have. Why? I’m smiling, and next to me is my dad. He’s smiling too. It’s the last picture I ever took with him. And it’s beautiful.

I have to change my standards of beauty and appreciate that true beauty resides within. True beauty comes from a smile untouched by outer circumstances. True beauty makes the soul feel like it can float effortlessly a thousand miles above the sky.

I don’t hide my body in yoga. I used to. But the beauty of Bikram yoga is the heat that makes me let go of my inhibitions. I don’t always like what I see in the mirror, but I have a deep appreciation for my ability to be in that hot room. That’s beauty. The beauty of movement.

I’m still thinking about all this. About beauty. About how my conceptualization of it is changing. I hope everyone wakes up in the morning and they realize their own beauty just as they are. That’s how we can change beauty. That’s how we can better our lives—realize the beauty of being.

There’s true freedom in not molding ourselves to meet others expectations. We really don’t even want to meet our own. That’s the beauty of being. Just being. Not trying to be something else. From that sea of being, happiness can be found and from that unfettered well of happiness all things are possible.

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With My Dad

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The Art of Showing Up

Imagine waking up at 7:00a.m. on a Sunday morning to the sound of a shrill alarm going off and realizing the horror or your choice the last evening to place your phone far out of reach so you can’t just rollover and turn it off. That’s just the situation I found myself in less than four hours ago when I heard the screeching of the alarm.

In just a few days I begin another turn around the sun and I’m determined to make time count, to make this year count. I had an amazing realization a few days ago–I have allowed myself to be a victim when I no long am one and haven’t been in ages except for circumstances where I HAVE ALLOWED MYSELF TO BE A VICTIM BY ALLOWING PEOPLE, PLACES, AND SITUATIONS to take up rent in my head. They didn’t pay me rent, but I paid a price. I paid rent where I didn’t need to.

I paid rent every time I reacted to a person, place, or situation. Every time I felt anger, every time I felt my blood boil, every time (well almost every time) I cried, every time I didn’t live in the moment I paid rent. I paid rent by not living MY LIFE. I don’t know whose life I was living but it wasn’t mine.

A few years ago one of my friends told me about the possibility of growing through joy and I never really grasped what he meant. I teach literature at the University level and I can tell you from experience that most literature happens to have depressing overtones and undertones. So, naturally, I’d think the only way to learn and to grow involves suffering.

But does it really? Does growth require sadness and pain or is that the default we learn through our environment? Maybe growth through joy has possibilities. Maybe we don’t see those possibilities because we have become so conditioned to thinking we need to feel pain.

How do we then transmute the source of our learning moments from ones of pain and suffering to ones of joy? The answer is simple really. Quite simple. We create those moments where we learn from joy. We take action that brings joy to ourselves. And then we share that joy with others.

This takes work and effort. Sometimes creating that joy means removing yourself from a person, place, or situation and then moving toward that which makes you want to laugh, really laugh, laugh so hard you think you’ll never stop. It also means knowing, really knowing that no decision you make is permanent.

By centering yourself in joy, you’ll find that the way you see things changes. Another friend said to me years ago that “we’re all bozos on this bus.” He was right then and he’s still right today.

I’m a bozo on this bus, but I’m determined to be a happy joyful one. I can make that choice every moment–that choice to be happy and to laugh. I know situations will arise that might bring me pain, BUT I also know I don’t have to react in the moment. I can step back. Take a moment. Take a day. Take a few days. Allow the answer to come. Sometimes the universe will resolve it for me, and sometimes it will give me the answer I need to resolve it myself.

When I woke up this morning and heard the alarm I knew I had a choice to make: get up and go to yoga or lay around in bed and go later. I’ve had enough days where I’d go later, so, at the very last minute I got up and went to yoga. I made a choice for me. And it was the best choice I could have made.

Make the best choice for you. Make the choice that will make you smile from a place so deep inside that no one and nothing can erase it. That’s how to learn and grow from joy.

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Someone to Save Me

Someone to Save Me
I went to yoga Saturday and I went to yoga this morning looking for someone to save me. Searching for the one who could give me everything I ever needed. And I knew I’d find that person there. 
I’d like to tell you it really stinks to have an eating disorder. The world “sees” my issues or they think they do, but that’s the least of what bothers me. I have a hole inside my heart, a hole that’s been there for as long as I can remember. I’m not sure I ever remember it not being there actually. It’s a piece of me. 

I KNOW how to eat healthy. I’ve done it. And when I do it I feel better, but I also feel a sense of loss. Unhealthy foods have quite a pull. Sure it can be the type of additives they use or the insanely addictive nature of sugar, but it’s also emotional. And that’s true for most people with eating disorders. If they tell you otherwise, then they are in denial.  

I’m looking for love–and not the type you find at match.com. And not the type you find from another person. Because that love is conditional and comes with expectations, which almost never turn out well. NEVER. 

It’s the type of love that shines from within. That allows me to spend time alone and be okay with that. I’m not always okay with that now as evidenced by the amount of time I spend on social media. But I’m working on that. It’s they type of love that allows me to settle in on my couch for an afternoon and read a book undisturbed. It’s the type of love that allows for me to be enough just the way I am. 

I have wonderful friends. Sweet kind and supportive friends. People who listen to me. Reading this now–YOU ARE LISTENING TO ME. 

I’ve also been involved in co-dependent friendships, which are unhealthy for all involved. And NOT FUN!! 

So I went to yoga looking for that someone to save me, knowing I’d find her. And find her I did–staring right back at me in the mirror, right there all along. 

Now the work is to keep believing and to keep picking away at the dirt so the diamond within shines even brighter every step of the way. 

  

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I have NOTHING TO PROVE

The other day I found myself looking for an inspirational song to play. I came across Jill Sobule’s “Nothing to Prove.” Several years ago my friend Kathy recommended it, and I bought it on itunes and listened to it for awhile, but not in a few months. Yesterday as the lyrics filtered through my brain waves I had some realizations.

Namely, I really do have nothing to prove. I have nothing to prove in the yoga room. I have nothing to prove outside the yoga room or anywhere else. This really isn’t about yoga. I’m just using it as an example. I can be my own worst enemy in the yoga room if I feel bad because my forehead can’t touch my knee. Heck maybe my forehead never will be able to touch my knee.

For me, that’s not the point of the pose. The point of the pose is to align my body as though my forehead could touch my knee without contorting my body.

Having nothing to prove also means that I’m okay just the way I am. Sure I wish I was skinnier, but, for today, I am the way I am. I clocked over 10,000 steps on my fitbit, but that’s not really important either. I went faster on the treadmill than I have in a very long time, and that’s what’s important there! I feel good about that.

Still, I have nothing to prove. Not to me. Not to you. Not to anybody. And neither do you.

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