What Triggers YOU?

A couple of days ago, my brother faced a serious health crisis, the nature of still lies undetermined. He suffers from obesity and has for most of his adult life. He also enjoys drinking. A few years ago, looking for an answer to the toll weight took from his life, he had lap band surgery. His wife had gastric bypass. For awhile, the lap band surgery worked. He lost weight and became a spokesperson for the lap band surgery center.

But this story isn’t about him as much as it is about understanding the nature of addiction. The lap band surgery didn’t work for him. Because he never dealt with the triggers, the reasons for the weight gain. Most people don’t. That’s why the statistics are staggering for people who lose weight and don’t keep it off.

I’m working at a healthier life slowly because I want to seek and understand my triggers. What makes me want to overeat? What makes me want to eat unhealthy foods? What makes me want to buy a chocolate bar every time I’m in the checkout line at the grocery store? What makes me want to eat and eat and eat? What makes me feel less than? What makes me feel like I’m not pretty? Not beautiful?

Do you see the point? I need to look at these questions in order to understand why I have certain behaviors so that I can change them.

Changing those behaviors is key to successful recovery. To successfully stop negative behaviors and transmute them into healthier habits that help me create the kind of life I deserve.

Introspection is never easy. Self-reflection can feel raw, can cause pain, but it’s better to feel that angst than to dull it with food. Sometimes I feel an emptiness I can’t explain. I don’t expect others to fill it. I used to think they could. I used to think if this person did that, if that person did this it would make all the difference, it would make me feel better. But that’s allowing someone else’s behavior to determine my outlook, my mood.

Sometimes I want to overeat because that’s love. That’s where I used to find my life-preserver. Saved by a pack of oreos, the double-stuffed ones. They taste better anyways.

I understand. I have an awareness of the triggers that cause me to crave oreos or chocolate cake with buttercream frosting, or loads of French fries, and the list goes on………. Understanding doesn’t always breed success, but it helps.

I’m learning that yoga, that hiking, that watching stupid movies, that going to the movies, I’m learning that all those and more feel better. The key to creating a better life is understanding what makes you want to engage in negative behaviors and replacing them with life-affirming, with joyful activities.
Some days it’s like the Texas two-step: two steps forward, one step back, but the key is to keep moving forward. One moment at a time.

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More on Numbers that Matter

If you’ve been with me for awhile, then you know I don’t like it when people ask me how much weight I’ve lost. So many judgments and so much other “yuckiness” follows that answer. I’m more than a number. Always have been. Always will be.

Some numbers do matter though. Some numbers tell a greater story than a number on a scale ever can. Last week I went in for a yearly physical. It’s been more than a year because that’s one of things I put off in the aftermath of my father’s death. I just didn’t want to deal.

I rose out of that slump though, at least for the moment! After my physical I went and had labs taken, and today I received the results—serendipitous timing.

I woke up this morning and asked for a sign. I asked for a clear and unmistakeable sign that my life was headed in the right direction. I’ve been making more changes lately and haven’t quite been sure of some of them. I’m working at taking life more slowly. I have been known to take on too much to prove a point to others, to prove a point to myself. I am, after all, the woman who once did four Bikram classes in one day and did not sit out one posture.

I’ve decided I don’t need to prove a point anymore, not to others and not to myself. I’ve been working at taking life more slowly, stopping to smell the proverbial rose. Taking time to just be.

This transformation is a process, like all transformations, so I have moments of insecurity, moments of “am I making the right choices?” Sometimes I forget a decision I make today can be undone tomorrow. Life is malleable.

I wanted reassurance from the universe that the choices I’m making are the right choices in this moment. So, when I went to my mailbox and saw that the lab had “mistakenly” sent my lab results to me instead of my doctor I knew the universe had given me an answer.

With a sense of urgency I opened the envelope and that’s when I saw EVERY SINGLE NUMBER, EVERY SINGLE TEST, fell well within the range of normal, of healthy. Not one number fell out of range. Line after line revealed healthy blood.

Those are numbers that matter. Blood doesn’t lie. Those numbers reflect efforts made in the hot room, on the hiking trails, and meditating, and healthier eating, and working on a healthier mindset.

Those numbers reflect hard work—health that I work for, that I fight for. Fight for yourself. Find some activity you love. Exercise will work for you if you love what you do. And don’t’ depend on others to do it with you. Do it for yourself and allow others to follow if it’s meant to be.

Follow your heart and your heart will lead you in the right direction.


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Happy Two-Year Bikram Yoga-versary to me!

Two Years Ago

April 29th, 2013: the first day I walked into a Bikram yoga class. The first day I met Loren Jay Cherrstrom, teacher extraordinaire. I walked into that class one thing and walked out another. My life has changed so much in the past two years. I could talk about the physical, about the amazing backbends, about so much of that, but I’ve done that before.

Today I’d like to tell you how much courage and bravery and strength I’ve gained. I’m not sure I can ever adequately express it in words, but I’m actually coming to a point of more strength than I ever imagined. I used to care more about what other people thought of me. I used to worry more about how others perceived my actions. I would actually make choices based on how I anticipatedimage others would react. As a consequence I lost part of myself.

Don’t get me wrong here. I’ve never been a shy weak individual. But I would spend hours worrying about whether or not others accepted me. I don’t do that so much anymore. I feel freer and happier than I can remember. Words can not, by their very nature, convey the feeling of flying free, knowing the universe will catch me, yet, conversely, knowing I will never fall.

I’ve been co-dependent too in some of my relationships, even the one I have with food. I’m learning to let go of that as well. I’m becoming the free agent I always envisioned myself to be. To make it clear, the only thing every holding me back was me. I blame no one else. I accept responsibility.

That means I don’t scope out my past for judgment of how others may or may not have treated me. Going through the trash just gets one dirtier and dirtier. I don’t need that. I don’t need the blame game.

I’m free you see. One moment at a time. That’s the other thing. I spend too much time in the future and/or the past. I’m much more in the moment now than I was two years ago.

This moment. This now. That inspires me. That allows breath to flow through me.

They say hot yoga sweats the toxins out of you. People seem to focus on physical toxins. My experience involves emotional toxins. With all the sweat that has fallen off my skin in the past two years, I’ve shed a lot of baggage. A lot.

When I started out, I practiced more obsessively. Granted at the time my father was ill, and then he died. I sought and looked for some emotional hold and am just now realizing I had it right inside me all along. All along. I just didn’t want to see it because I wanted fulfillment from the outside. Outer fulfillment never lasts. Never. So says the woman who used to find love in a chocolate chip cookie or, more likely, a dozen chocolate chip cookies.

I practice more in moderation now. I’m in this for life, one moment at a time creating the life I’m meant to live. Moderation feels nice. It feels like the self-love everyone talks about. I get this now. Moderation in all areas feels nice. Just nice.

I’m much more forgiving of myself too. Self-judgment just keeps me from moving forward. I’ve moved backwards enough. I might move forward slowly now, but, in this moment I feel calmer, kinder, stronger, and the list goes on. I feel more like me.

That’s the gift I’ve been given these past two years. The gift I’ve given myself, one drop of sweat at a time.

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Facing Fears

Ever since I can remember going to the doctor, particularly the gynecologist, has been accompanied by the phrase “being overweight comes with a heightened risk for all sorts of cancers”; consequently, I haven’t felt too fondly when it came time for yearly exams.

One of my dear friends, Sharon Magruder, died of all sorts of cancers just shy of her fifty-eighth birthday. She was morbidly obese for most of her adult life, but did that cause her cancer? Did that contribute to it? It made her treatment more difficult. It made her bone cancer more difficult to detect. There is no denying that. But did the weight cause her cancer? Her biological mother had breast cancer and it did run in her family.

I’m digressing though. This entry is about fear. It’s about how I’ve allowed fear to engulf my life since my dad died. I’ve had an increasing sense of my own mortality. I went for my yearly gynecological exam last year but skipped the mammogram. I didn’t want to deal, and I kept hearing that voice in my head, the voice of my gynecologist “being overweight increases the risk of…….” I know all that.

I know all that and more. That’s why I work hard at being healthy. Could I work harder? Sure. Hearing fear driven messages doesn’t help. It really doesn’t. I get that being heavy contributes to diseases. I also get that losing weight quickly doesn’t work. Just look at the statistics on people who lose weight quickly—they gain it back.

But this is really about FEAR. I’ve felt a lot of FEAR this past year. Fear of cancer. Fear of ill health. Fear of disappointing people if I made choices that hurt them. FEAR. Mostly fear of cancer. I allowed that voice of my doctor to take hold in my head. I don’t blame her though. I am conditioned to FEAR. I am conditioned to WORRY. I understand that about myself. AND, I seek to change that.

I made an appointment for my mammogram. I actually got in fairly quickly. See? In the moment the way to overcome fear is to look it head on and face it. In the few nights before the mammogram I couldn’t sleep much. Fear took over me. It had no reason to. I have no family history. I felt nothing in my self-exam. There’s even debate over the necessity of yearly mammograms for those under 50.

And I’m telling you this is about fear. And it’s about self-worth. I find that people shy away from moments where I talk about self-worth, but building self-worth—that’s an art, and it involves listening just to myself. Just to my own intuition.

My mammogram came out fine, by the way. So all that worry? For naught. In my heart I knew that from the start. I knew. I know. I have to change the conditioning to move from worry to calmness. I have to keep working at stillness.

That’s why I meditate. EVERY DAY. That’s also why I work at taking the time to do NOTHING. In stillness comes energy. Healthy energy. Calm energy. That’s why I’m working at being less obsessive about all aspects of my life: food, working-out, yoga, laundry, cleaing, whatever and etc. Slow and steady wins the race. That’s moral of the tortoise and the hare.

So my question for all of you: Do you want to be the tortoise or the hare? I know the answer for me. What’s the answer for you?

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How I Feel NOW

As I sit here on my red couch I look over at the empty box of debrox on the floor and wonder why I haven’t picked it up. I bought it last week when my right ear felt a bit clogged. It turns out that I have allergies, probably for the first time in my life. I’ve always been a bit persnickety about my ears, for years ago I had a serious ear infection that took months to clear up. All summer to be exact—that meant no swimming!

One of my friends shared a blog this morning (https://cannebodyhearme.wordpress.com/2015/04/13/the-after-myth/) and it made me stop and think about the now, about my now. At my heaviest, people would tell me “you have such a pretty face” with the implication being that something was wrong with the rest of me. Nowadays people will tell me “you’ve come so far” in reference to my body.

I don’t know how to say this, how to say any of it. I find it profoundly difficult to live a struggle everyone can see. Even if I didn’t share it here, people would still see it. And feel free to judge it. Pretty face before. Prettier face now. To be clear I share my story, I share my journey because I want everyone to know that healing from the inside out is possible. Not easy, but possible.

Yes, I’ve come a long way. Yes, I have a long way to go, but I’m not sure of the truth of either of these statements. All I have is the now. In this now, I wish I had the classic beauty of air-brushed models. I used to not like aspects of my hair, but I have a lot of hair, and I appreciate that.

I’m not sure entirely what I set out to express this morning, but learning to love one’s self in the NOW feels so difficult sometimes. I used to spend time going through the trash of the past, but do you want to know a secret? That doesn’t really help me—it just creates more trash.

In this now, I wish I wasn’t fat, but I am. I’m grateful I have the ability to move. I wish I was a size 12, but I’m not, not right now. I wish I wish I wish, so many externals weren’t so frustrating.

I’m grateful there weren’t any offensive fat jokes in Paul Blart 2. I appreciated that.

I’d be much better off if my head would stop spinning, but I’m working on that. I’m working on self-love too. Self-love in the now. That’s what I need to work on. I don’t need to think about tomorrow or yesterday. I don’t need to think how things would be different if I had more external validation. I’ve spent time seeking external validation from people who weren’t capable of providing it to me. That’s like trying to get blood from the proverbial rock.

For today, for this moment, I can berate my body for being what it is, my body for moving how it moves—that’s easy enough. I’ve done it for the longest time. Or, as soon as I finish this blog, I can remove myself from the couch and take long shower (shhhhh, I know we are having a drought, but I’m a vegetarian, so I’m saving water by not eating meat) and shave (because I’m a girl and sometimes shaving feels better) and then start grading some essays because that’s my job and I’m lucky to be able to do that from home.

I have a portion of my website, dedicated to life at any size, because no matter what you might as well life in the now because life is short enough as it is, so you might as well live it!


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Let’s talk about Poop

If you are at all squeamish, you might not wish to read this. If you’ve been following me you know I’ve had a lifelong issue with weight. I’ve tried just about every plan in existence. I spent years thinking that low-fat or fat-free meant those foods would help me lose weight. I figured even if I ate an entire box of fat-free cookies I’d still be okay. After all, one box only had about 600 calories. I’m thinking of the Devil’s Food Snackwell cookies, which I haven’t eaten in years.

Signs existed all around me that indicated fat-free did not sit well with my body. This is where poop comes in. Healthy poop has a certain look to it. Click on the link below for detailed visualizations of healthy to unhealthy poop:


I can tell you from experience that binge eating or eating a box of Snackwell cookies results in unhealthy and sometimes uncomfortable poop. I could describe it to you, but I think it suffices to say unhealthy poops do not come out clean. Sometimes they’re pasty; sometimes they’re painful; sometimes there’s a lot coming out. You get the point.

Talking about poop makes some people uncomfortable, yet it tells us so much about ourselves. My yoga compatriots speak freely of poop. They openly acknowledge that it’s better to evacuate the bowels before class. Think about it. They’re right. The next time you have to poop, wait a second and try some squats while holding in your abdomen—not so easy!!!!!

I don’t remember the name of it but for several years there was this “diet” product on the market that literally said in the instructions that you should carry an extra pair of underwear with you in case of “anal leakage”. Seriously, my friends, any weight loss product that causes “anal leakage” won’t help you in the long run. Anal leakage does not equal healthy poop.

I don’t profess to be a perfect eater. I’m far from it, but I’m healthier than I used to be. And I can tell you this for sure: on days where my eating comes close to “perfect” my poop comes out clean and easy. There’s something to be said for that. Don’t’ be embarrassed to talk about this natural bodily function. Perhaps it’s not dinner conversation. Well maybe it is for proctologists. I don’t know any proctologists though.

The point is this: have no shame. Have no trepidation. Everyone Poops. I know this because it’s the title of kids’ book that I own. KCET solid it in their KCET Stores of Knowledge and you can still find it on Amazon. Everyone Pees too, but that’s another story, for another entry!


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Portrait of a Family

Today I found myself going through some family pictures. I couldn’t stop myself from wondering what purpose these pictures served. I enjoy looking at them, but I have no children to hand them down to and no close family members to leave them to at some point, yet I found myself with an urge to share them and the stories that go along with them. I believe sharing their stories will help me, in some ways, heal my own story, and that’s really what I’m here to do: heal. Understanding others breeds compassion, and I need to feel more compassion for others and, more especially, for myself.

Each of the people in the stories contributed to who I am today, even the ones I never met. Their interactions with people affected others who affected me! In that sense, their stories are my story, so I created a page on my website where I will, periodically, add family pictures: http://www.confessionsofayogaprincess.com/#!portrait-of-a-family/c1ufv

I’ve started by adding two pictures of my maternal Granddaddy. Every memory of him brings love to my heart. He always called me his princess. Everywhere we went he’d tell people “she’s my princess.” We’d have dates every once in awhile and he’d tell them to the server, to the hostess, to whomever.

He loved me like no other and I feel him in my heart still.

He lived a life of love for all. During the depression he worked as a manager at Newberry Department stores. When people needed products but didn’t have money he would take trade. He always wanted to give to people, to help people, to love people.

Somewhere along the line he switched from working for others to working for himself and he opened up an office supply company, which he ran for many years until Alzheimer’s started to take its toll. I remember the last two years of his life more clearly than I wish, but I try to focus on the good, on the happy. I have far more of those moments. Happiness matters. Where I focus my attention matters, so I choose happiness and love and memories that inspire happiness. Love and happiness heal.

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