Signs of Life Day Three

When I was 15 years old, I was easily 70 lbs. heavier than I am right now. I was unhealthy and insecure, but when I started Rollerblading on the weekends in an attempt to lose weight (hey, it was the 1990s!), I never thought it would lead to a lifetime of enjoying exercise.

Fast forward TWO DECADES and I’m still at it. Though my Rollerblades have long since been retired and replaced with running shoes, a gym membership, and a yoga mat, I still enjoy the mental and physical release exercise gives me. It is for my brain first and my body second.

It’s a curious thing, then, to still struggle with body image, self-esteem, and all that emotional garbage I’ve been carrying around for most of my life. It makes no sense whatsoever, but that is the nature of the beast. It is my lot. But I continue to exercise – and continue to love it – because this is the one body I have. There’s no swapping it out for another.

So today, after my workout was complete, I did the thing that I never do: I snapped a photo of myself at the gym. I felt silly doing it, but in that moment I wanted evidence that I am alive and healthy and able to do many things. 

One day I will not be able to do this. Today is not that day.

Signs of Life is a blog series I’m writing for February 2017. It was born out of desire to replace the negativity and despair that’s been bogging down our friendships, families, and communities after a tumultuous election season. This series won’t solve the world’s problems, but I hope it will create a speck of light and positivity when and where it is needed. 

Favorite Thing: Gaiam Yoga Mat

In early December, I purchased my very first yoga mat. This was after doing a year of yoga on the bedroom or living room carpet watching Yoga with Adriene videos. Not once did I think I needed a mat because 1) why spend the money when 2) the carpet is soft enough.

And then I signed up for a Yoga for Advent class at church and actually needed a mat so I wouldn’t be on the linoleum floor.

With Kohl’s cash and coupons in hand, I perused the modest exercise section of the store and found this beautiful gem:

The original retail price was $35, which is what you’d pay on the Gaiam website. While that isn’t the price I paid in Kohls, I would have no problem paying full price for this mat.

This particular mat, I just learned, is called the Serenity Reversible Yoga Mat and I don’t think I could’ve come up with a better name. As soon as I roll it out, I feel calm, eager to stretch, ready to slow down. Yoga has become a mainstay in my exercise routine and the addition of a yoga mat upped my game.

Honestly, I didn’t realize the grip feature was important, but it is! So much better than carpet! No slipping and sliding, which are counter-productive to proper yoga practice.

Additionally, the extra cushion does a make a difference, particularly as I try new positions and poses, as I attempt new practices that I finally feel confident enough to try.

That mat is reversible, but the chevron pattern isn’t as serene as the peacock feather.

Three things I love:
1. The grip of the mat was a feature I didn’t realize I needed, and not just in comparison to the carpet. As I’ve examined other mats in other stores, I’m glad I bought the Gaiam 5mm mat, as the grip bubbles and cushion depth are high quality.
2. The graphic print is a pleaser. This could be a petty perk, but I enjoy seeing the colorful feather every time I roll out the mat. Every single time.
3. Bringing out the mat readies my mind for the practice. It’s a feeling I didn’t have when I practiced on the carpet, when I’d pull up a video and begin. Now, when I place my bare feet on the mat, with the video set up in front of me, my body is signaled.  I’m in a specific zone. The air is different, and since yoga is a practice I value for not only for my physical health but also for my mental health, the air needs to be different.

 

I’ve joined the club.

These were my doctor’s exact words on Thursday: “I don’t want to use the word extreme, but that’s pretty much what we’re talking about. You now have to go above and beyond.”

It was at my annual appointment, where I whined and complained about how my body seems completely different from what it was just two years ago. She told me the same thing my friend, Meredith, said:  “Welcome to the club.”

After seven years of running half marathons (and one full marathon) and nearly twenty years of eating sensibly, I’ve been told it’s no longer enough. To combat a declining metabolism and the signs of peri-menopause (yes, she’s still using that word, dammit), my workout routine and mostly-clean diet won’t cut it. My doctor told me that all that stuff I’ve been doing for the last decade is now the starting point for making more cuts (in my diet) and increases (in exercise).

When I told her I was weight training again, she said, “That’s great for preventing osteoporosis!” Right, because that was my motivation.

When I told her how little grain I eat, she said, “Well, there’s always the Paleo Diet.” Right, because there’s endless amount of money in the grocery budget for that.

When I told her that I’m frustrated over working so hard and making so little progress, she said, “There’s a little bit of self-acceptance that has to go on too.” Right, because that’s so easy.

On the whole, I’m quite healthy. Actually, we all are since it’s a big focus in our household to be active and eat well. So to be told that now I have to go above and beyond, I’m miffed. I want to argue:

But I don’t eat processed foods. 

But I don’t drink sodas.

But I eat fresh fruits and veggies every single day.

But I eat organic, grass-fed meats.

But I cut back on coffee and wine.

But I exercise five days a week, or more.

But…

I digress.

In going above and beyond, I do have my limits. I’m not going to live life on artificial supplements, meal replacements, and other nonsensical things. I love food, therefore I will eat it. Life is too short for that crap.

The good thing is that Chuck is on board with all of this. He’s always been in fantastic shape, but he’s also always willing to work harder. This means we’re in it together – food, exercise, and all. The other day, I moaned, “I can’t decide if I want to run today or not” and he replied with, “Yes, you do. Go run.”

The only run

He also split a Peep with me yesterday, so there’s that.