Healthy changes don’t happen overnight, just like noticing your unhealthy habits. I began walking down a path, mentally, that I haven’t been down since High School; and that’s a good 8 years for me.
However, the path itself is self-defeating. I’m reminded of the times I stood in front of the mirror and began picking out things I didn’t like about my body, and how it made me feel; it always bounced back and forth, one week I felt too heavy and the next too thin. There’s a lot of pressure to look a certain way, and many women and men have experienced this.
To be completely honest, I thought I was done with wandering down this path; and only became aware of it when a friend asked me, “What happened to you? You used to love your body.” In that moment it hit me like a ton of bricks, I began to cry and think about when this started. My friend was right, I absolutely loved my body for 8 years and didn’t care what others thought; but now I stared in the mirror noticing the extra weight on my hips, belly and back. I didn’t feel like myself anymore, and I began to look at the things that had triggered me to walk down this path. It started back in May; when I tried on the dress for my sister’s upcoming wedding, and found that it was getting tight around my belly or core. It had fit perfectly just a few months before, and I shrugged it off saying ‘I’ve been outside in the heat all day, I must be a little swollen.’ A couple days had gone by and I tried the dress on again, only to find the same thing. It made me feel a little upset, and the people closest to me assured me that I looked good, and that it may not be fitting properly because I’ve put on a lot of muscles from Yoga. In my heart I already knew that wasn’t true, but I chose to believe them and to find ways of toning my core; which is what led to the Plank Challenge and no snacking after 9:00pm. I consistently participated in the challenge, and even had fun with it; but I never stopped to look at the rest of my daily habits. It wasn’t until my sister came up to visit when I became really self-aware. I pretended that I was perfectly happy with my body, until I saw pictures of her and I standing side by side.
I absolutely love the picture of my sister and me, as we don’t have a lot of those; however, I’m not fond of the way I look in those pictures. I can still feel my heart sinking when I think of that moment; I know you shouldn’t compare to those around you, and that’s not what I was doing. My sister has always been tall and thin, where I have been short and a little stockier built; and honestly, I’m perfectly fine with that. It was seeing our bodies side by side, and being able to say to myself, “Your belly used to be toned like that, and you never had that roll on your back before.” As I see it: if you see something you don’t like change it, and if you can’t change it accept it. In my case, I knew and still know that I can change it; but it won’t happen if I don’t do something about it. I started observing my habits; I was drinking more beer than I have before and eating a lot of carbs, and only practicing and teaching yoga. I looked back to my High School days to see what I was doing differently then, only to find that I was working out regularly in a gym class; and I continued to go to the gym when I was in University. I also found that I was running, riding my bike, and hiking a lot; but when I got to University I stopped riding my bike and as time went on I stopped running as I was developing knee and ankle problems. Within the last year I noticed that I haven’t been hiking as much either, and that I hadn’t been to a gym in 5 – 6 years.
It’s one thing to be aware; it’s another to do something about it. I reached out to a friend of mine who is a personal trainer and fitness instructor and asked her about the things I could do. Her response was, “Yoga is great for your body; but you should couple it with more core work and some cardio. You will also want eat a vegetable based diet. I suggest fasting, as it will help you lose a little weight and open your eyes to your habits. However, I feel that you are great just the way you are.” I took her suggestions seriously, and began putting them into practice. I eat a healthy diet, consisting mostly of vegetables; but I have applied a unique rule to my healthy eating habit: If it is healthy for you, you can eat as much as you like. Meaning that if it’s vegetables or fruits I can have as much as I want. I created my own workout plan and schedule; working out at least 3 days a week for about half an hour, as well as adding a cardio and core component to the days I don’t work out. Everyone has their own unique strategies for maintaining a workout plan, however, my go to is signing off on a calendar the days I workout and for how long; this keeps me steady in building my new healthy habits.
My workouts contain: Lunges, Wall Sits, Locust Pose, Side Crunches, Toe Touches, Bicycle Crunches, Plank Leg Lifts, Jumping Jacks, Skipping, Butt Kicks, Renegade Row and more. Fasting is new territory to me, so I stick with a 9 – 12 hour fast where I only drink water; and I make sure I don’t overexert myself physically. I became aware of my eating habits during my first 10 hour fast; and that a lot of my eating was habitual. By habitual I mean sitting down at the end of the day on the couch, after dinner, and still eating chips or snacks while watching a movie or studying. I became aware of when I was actually hungry, and when I just wanted to fill space and time with eating. Would I recommend Fasting? Yes, especially if you want to be aware of your own habits; it’s a great eye opener and has helped me create healthier eating habits.
In just a month of working out regularly and consistently, I am starting to notice changes within my body and myself. I find that I have more energy and that I’m excited to workout; that I can actually hold boat pose without support (YAY!), which means my core strength is improving; my legs are becoming stronger while my thighs are reducing in size; my natural hourglass figure is starting to show again; my bottom is getting toned; the roll on my back has reduced significantly; my belly has reduced in size; and I’m feeling incredible. I actually feel great about the changes I’m making, I feel healthy and full of energy, and I find myself wanting to workout more and more. Everyone asks how I have the time to fit it into my schedule; and the answer is I get up a little earlier and make the time for it. I see working out and taking care of myself, outside of yoga, as an act of self-love. It’s not about fitting it in; it’s about making the time and sticking with it. I have been eating more vegetables, reducing sugars and snacks, as well as limiting my alcohol intake. This is something that I have the power to change, and I am making the necessary changes; is it easy? No. If it were easy everyone would do it; it’s about dedication and loving myself. The power lies within you to make the necessary changes, and to hold yourself accountable.