The Big Picture – What Was the Draw?

Today, we have a guest blogger, Poppy Wortman.  She is from New Zealand but now lives in India, and studies yoga and ayurveda. 

Ask a studio of yogis – be they first class, a year in or long term Sun Saluters – what was their pull to first go to yoga, and the answers will be manifold.

“My doctor recommended it for my tight shoulders”; “I needed some ME time”; “I wanted to get more flexible”; “I had Lululemon tights and wanted to wear them somewhere other than out for coffee.”

My call to the mat and doing a downward dog?

Quiet – and at times, not so quiet – desperation.

From the age of eight-years-old, disordered eating thoughts, patterns and ways of being started creeping up on my psyche, progressively consuming me. By the time I turned 19, my entire being was swamped and entrenched in an eating disorder. This is not the time nor space to delve deeper into that aspect – I sometimes enlighten on my personal blog, www.popyarns.com, should you maybe feel the pull to read into it a bit more.

Years of on-and-off counselling, psychiatry and even an attempt at hypno-therapy proved minimal, if any, recovery. I look back and have no idea how I got through those years; perhaps the perfectionist, high achieving tendencies that often come in partnership with bulimia-cum-anorexia-cum-obsessive-orthorexia got me through (I somehow managed to be awarded dux all three years, which absolutely astounds me when I recall my mind frame). But with assignments and exams and early-20-year-old worries on top of constant calorie counting and obsessive exercising, my mind was a very busy – and never winding down – place.

Upon graduation I moved to Australia to blow off steam. Living in Brisbane with a group of gal-pals, there was a lot of drinking, late night (well, early morning) stumbling back to our flat and irregular eating. Although my consumption remained very limited to a handful of edible options, the alcoholic ingestion and its subsequent binge out on “no-no” foods had me put on a few kilos.

I was in absolute despair.

I moved home to New Zealand – a new boyfriend in tow – and we decided to go travel around South East Asia. The whole trip I would get up at 6am to go running for a few hours and spend the days obsessing over what I was eating, determined to shed back to my “ideal” size. A big divide started to chasm out between us, and after a few months back at home after our trip, we decided to separate. (I think the moment was decided when he asked, “Would you rather be skinny, or be with me?” and I hesitated).

My inner reaction on us parting ways? Good. I can lose more weight without him in my life.

I was irritable and angry all the time. I was starving my body, then ramming it full of food when the cravings took control. Though my outside life was seemingly “perfect” (what even is that?), my head was in disarray. I was deciding whether I should move up to the city and take a journalism job, when one night I had this intense impulse that I wanted – no, I needed – to go to India.

Once the idea was in my mind, I didn’t waver once (well, at the airport as I was leaving I must admit I did have a moment where I considered going back home again). I started researching my forthcoming solo sojourn, looking at the standard touristy places to go and making a list: Varanasi, The Taj, a week on the beach in Goa. Then the idea came to me to maybe spend a few days engaging in a yoga retreat; It’ll be good for clearing my head, I thought.

I looked into a few options, and saw the price for a fortnight of “blissful restoration and rejuvenation” equalled that of a month-long teacher training course. As someone who is somewhat infatuated with the idea of adding more qualifications after her name (again, that high achiever-ness), I decided it was the way for me. I booked one that “felt right”, and come the end of July 2015, I was in the colourful chaos of Rishikesh, Northern India, with my bright pink Nike tights and a what-the-hell-am-I-doing-here panic.

Having only ever participated in two yoga classes in my life (I grew up always playing more combat sports like netball, basketball, athletics and water-skiing) I had no clue what I was up to. The other females in my course had been practicing the ancient science for a fair few years, already familiar with the Sanskrit terminology and what-angle-your-foot-goes-at-in-trikonasana. I wasn’t in tune with myself in any way whatsoever; when told to keep hips square or catch my left foot, I was so out of whack with where I even was. After a few initial days of anxiety and considering leaving, I somehow found my zone. By the time four weeks was up, I was utterly transformed.

To say yoga saved me sounds so proclamational and nonsensical. But I believe it truly did. By the end of my 30 days, I had somehow learnt to love my limbs, recognising them for so much more than just their size. I had learnt to applaud my body when it did me proud, looking at it with affection and not hatred. And when it did let me down (nailing a headstand took a fair few attempts), I learnt to give it care, not criticism.

That’s not to say I was “cured” – not by any means. But my head found some clarity as I contorted and meditated and chanted, and upon return home (after a flit up the Everest Base Camp, another transformational experience) I signed up for clinical rehab and only semi reluctantly received treatment. I was able to timidly admit that I was sick, rather than vigorously assert I was as I was as a result of veganism and a swift metabolism.

And here we are two years later, me back in India having redone my 200-hour Hatha Yoga teacher training (at Rishikesh Yog Dham, the school I came across in my first trip that I vowed I would return to) and currently in the midst of my 300-hour Vinyasa teacher training. At 10kg heavier, my body is far stronger and capable of achieving postures I once would never have been able to try.

I still have those awful eating-disordered thoughts each and every day, but I’m recovering, one moment at a time. And I firmly give that credit to yoga; it gave me the motivation and tools my mental state required to willingly save my life.

Yoga also puts me in my place. I physically cannot be the best; my left knee turns out, meaning any balance is fleeting. I have slight scoliosis, so my back has a little hunch that only semi straightens. But rather than frustrate me as it did in the beginning, I have come to accept these ailments and just look forward to the backbends.

There are many draws to the mat; health, the trend, a bid for self-love or even purely as a form of exercise. But regardless of what made you pick up the pencil and sketch that first stroke, yoga can be extremely beneficial – and sometimes even life changing – to all.

I shudder to think where I would be if I hadn’t found my freedom.

That’s the big picture of what drew me into being a yoga teacher. And what continues to keep me picking up the crayon of taking classes. If someone asks me what got me into it, of course I don’t share this extremely personal spiel; my usual response is something like, “I just decided to try it one day”.

There’s that whole “Keep Calm and Do Yoga” mantra that you often see emblazoned across social media. But I always think it should be flipped about; “Do Yoga and Keep Calm”. And balanced. And at peace. And able to find your inner strength. And your physical. Plus your shortcomings, your ailments and your abilities. Find yourself in general, really.

I know I did, And continue to do so every time I get on my mat.

Namaste.

Yoga Teacher Training In India

Poppy Guest 1[1072]

I Am Proud Of Me!

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This is a big moment for me.  This is how proud I am of myself.  Yesterday, I bought a new bathing suit. I haven’t bought one in about 10 years and the last time I wore one was about 5 years ago.  I would never like showing a photo of myself in one.  Of course, it would be a one piece with the ‘skirt like’ bottom.

Yesterday, I bought a two piece. Ok, it isn’t a bikini and it has the ‘skirt like’ bottom.  But, today, I am baring my soul because I took a photo, (actually to show my mom on Sunday), and compared it to the old me.  I know I still have more to lose, but I am proud of myself that I did lose 75 lbs and went down 5 pant sizes.  I am proud of me.

With Inspiration And Determination You Can Get Results

15940461_10154478448933853_3879399576321855286_nHello everyone!  As you can see, this is a blog from me, Christine, Dave’s wife.  I know you have been reading about Dave’s journey into his health, fitness and taking up running.  I promise, he will be getting back to writing.

It’s been about a year since I wrote about my  journey.  I have struggled with my weight since my teenage years.  I have tried everything.  Some worked but as soon as you stop having a focus, guess what, the weight slowly starts creeping up again.  Sure, people always saw me as ‘the life of the party’ as I was always an extrovert.  But, deep down inside I knew what I really looked like.  I mean, I would hate to look at myself in the mirror.  I would wear baggy clothes.  Heck, when you are a size 26-28, I think all clothes are made baggy.

My inspiration, always first to God, is my wonderful loving husband, Dave.  You know his story.  He took up running, watched what he ate and was able to lose a lot of weight, get fit and be off his diabetes medication!

I saw how focus and determined he was.  And he kept sticking to it.  I first joined My Fitness Pal in June 2015 and started logging everything I ate and drank and the exercise I did.  Hey, walking counts!  I realized, it is about portion control.  You can eat almost what you like, as long as you don’t go over the calories they say you should have daily.  (You would think that because I have been a vegetarian for 25 years that I would weigh 100 lbs!  No, that isn’t the case!)  Then, in mid July 2015, we joined Planet Fitness.  Guess what?  I fell ‘in love’ with the weight strengthening machines.  At that Planet Fitness, I worked out on 16 machines.  We joined a new PF where we moved to and I do 18 machines.  I started with being able to do 20-25 lbs on the machines and now, I average 150 lbs!!  I also have a love/hate relationship with the darn Elliptical machine.

I do try to walk whenever I can.  In the winter, when it is too cold to go out, you will find me jogging in place watching a TV show or dancing around.  I hope no one is watching me through the windows!

It has been a struggle during the last 1 1/2 years.  Sure, frustration kicks in when you are staying at the same weight, or you might fluctuate between 2-3 lbs like a yo-yo.  Then, Dave took my photo last week, (the one on the right), and I actually really liked how I looked!  I realized the frustrations are all well worth it!

Sometimes, I still look at myself in the mirror and I guess I might see a glimpse of who I was.  I remind myself, that the only thing that changed is me on the outside.  I am still the nice and extroverted person on the inside.

The photo on the left is from Oct 2005.  The one on the right was from last week.  That’s 75 lbs lost, numerous inches, and a total of 5 -6 pant sizes down!!  And I lost 60 lbs and 4 pant sizes just in the last 1 1/2 years.  It took a lot of determination, sweat, patience and my husband Dave, who was my inspiration!

It doesn’t matter how old you are to finally do something and stick to it!  (Can you believe I just turned 49!  I feel like I am 29 years old.)  I am still on my journey.  I want to inspire others, especially women who struggle with their weight.  Lets do this and get healthy!

My Home Workout Routine

I thought I’d share my home workout routine.

I start with this one.  I don’t know what to call it so I’ll share the video the idea came from.  It’s the very first exercise.  I can testify you really feel it in your abdominal area.  I do 10 of them.

Then I do 10 leg raises, where you lie flat on your back and raise your legs, then lower them so your feet are just off the floor.

Then still lying flat on my back I lift the weights straight up and slowly lower them.  Again I do ten of these.

Still lying on my back  I lift the weights and stretch my arms behind me, before slowly lifting them back up and down to my side.  For the last one I also lift my feet off the floor slightly for a count of ten seconds.  Another set of ten.

I do five sets of each of those routines.

I then move off my back for the next round.  On all fours I stretch my left leg back out so it’s straight out behind me and back down for a count of ten then do the same with my right.  This works on your glutes and thighs.

Then a 50 second plank.  I’m working up to doing a minute plank.

Then ten push ups.

Again, five sets of this section.

For the final round I’m upright.  I do ten squats (although I’m going to increase the number.)

Ten bicep curls.

I lift the weights from my side straight outwards and back down.  Ten of these.

Then what I call my stretch and bend.  Where I lift the weights straight up above my head then bend to touch the weights to the floor.  You guessed it, I do ten!

Then it’s twenty Jumping Jacks.

Then I run up and down the stairs ten times.

Once more I do these in five sets.

The whole routine takes me one hour.

I finish with a delicious protein shake.

This is especially good when I can’t get to the gym or go for a run.

Pushing Limits

I have just smashed my personal best. I’m getting more serious about running. I’m even following some blogs about running. I just went for my workout in our local park. I walked the first two laps. Then I ran four laps in a row without slowing. I wanted to do five as five laps in that park is one mile. But I just didn’t have the legs. So I slowed to a walk and walked the next four laps. Then I just went for it. I managed to run the full five laps. That last lap was the hardest ever but I made it. I ran almost two miles. My new personal best!

They say “no pain, no gain.”  Well that last lap was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.  My legs just wanted to stop.  But I pushed through the pain barrier.  That feeling of accomplishment is worth all the discomfort.  And knowing I’m doing this for the sake of my health just makes it all the better.   I’m taking running more seriously now.  I want to push my comfort level and see just what I can achieve.

My fasting sugar this morning was 83.  I had oatmeal and toast for breakfast.  I went for my run two hours after eating.  When I came back my sugar was 88.  My sugar levels are so much better now that I’m active.  For anyone who is diabetic any activity is better than nothing.  From my personal experience the more active you can be the better your sugar levels will respond.  Getting active is one of the best decisions I have ever made.

Getting Serious About Fitness

A body in motion stays in motion.

This saying is never more true than when you adopt a new healthy lifestyle.  The more you move the more you want to move.  I go for a long walk and a run every day pretty much.  If I don’t have time to go for my walk then I run up the stairs for ten to fifteen minutes.  Either way I have to move.  I’ve incorporated sit ups and stomach crunches now as well as a routine with free weights.  I always feel so much better after a workout.

After any workout I enjoy a delicious Pro Flex protein shake.  This one is classic vanilla flavour and it’s delicious.  I also take Peak Performance supplements from our Wellness company. These supplements are largely responsible for giving me energy to fuel my running.

Talking of running, yesterday I achieved a personal best.

For the past month or so I’ve been walking and running more or less daily in our local park. I’d upped my session from 12 laps to 15 laps and I’d gone from running 1 lap to 4 laps in total, but never consecutively.

Until yesterday.

I ran the first lap, as usual. Then I walked 3 laps and ran the next lap. Then I walked the next three laps. Then I just went for it. I ran the 9th lap and didn’t stop until I’d run the 10th lap. Yep, for the first time I’ve run two laps consecutively.

But wait, there’s more!

I did it again, running the last two laps in a row. Oh, and I added an extra lap, running the 15th and 16th lap. I’d found out that five laps equal one mile, so I’ve walked over three miles and run over a mile in total! My personal best workout.  My goal is to increase my fitness until I can run all the laps.  It will take time but I know I will get there.

The one thing I do know is this new regime is my life now.  I have a goal to lose another ten pounds.  Once I get there I will work my butt off to make sure I don’t gain that weight back.

Fitness, it’s a lifestyle, not a fad.