It all started with an article in O Magazine. I was fascinated with Paige Williams' story, and felt a kinship that only another divorced, depressed and overweight woman could feel. I admired that she was able to survive an entire 60 days of Bikram Yoga, and a tad bit jealous that she got expert lab analysis from the likes of Dr. Oz. That surely wasn't going to happen in my case; still, I lived vicariously through her experience.
Well, ok, perhaps not vicariously in the strictest sense of the word, considering that I only attempted sporadic yoga classes, none of which were 'hot' or Bikram. Vicariously as I could as I shared cupcakes with my daughter every week, guzzled Diet Dr. Pepper as if it was water and shunned water as if it was spinach salad. I was sluggish, always tired, obviously overweight and (seemingly) perpetually unhappy.
I had all sorts of reasons why I was this way, why I couldn't change. I didn't have the money for yoga classes or a gym membership. I didn't have the time to get to classes consistently. I was raised on Diet Pepsi and Mountain Dew; surely my body treated it like water. None of these statements are untrue (ok, the second part of the last sentence is). I don't have the money. I didn't have the time. I hate drinking water.
Thing is, though, I finally started to hate my current state MORE. I know, I 'm a little slow on the uptake sometimes. I don't even know exactly what it was that made my purchase the Living Social deal for Radiant Yoga; I think that maybe it was because the deal was staring at me, defying each of my legitimate reasons for NOT taking steps to be a better me. It's a new studio only about 10 minutes from my house, and the deal bought me unlimited yoga classes for a full 30 days for the price tag of $29. Seriously, how could I not and still respect myself in the morning?
What's incredible (for me, at least) is that about a week before I went to my first yoga class at Radiant, I also gave up what my oldest had come to refer to as Diet Dr. Crack. It was time. If I couldn't find the money to be healthy, how could I justify the money to feed a habit that didn't even taste good anymore? I won't lie and say I've been perfect, as I've slipped a time or two. But this is the longest time that I can ever remember–and I'm talking back to middle school days here–that I've gone weeks without a 32 ounce fountain drink glued to my hand.
I don't want to get ahead of myself, because it's been just a couple of weeks that I've been trying to practice this new, healthy lifestyle. I won't lie and say I'm teeming with energy, that I bound out of bed raring to take on the day, or that I don't feel like I'd sell my soul for a Diet Dr. Crack sometimes. But, I'm learning.
Lesson #1: Sweat is good. It doesn't matter if I look like a tomato by the time we're 15 minutes into class, provided I warn the instructor so she doesn't feel the need to intervene and administer CPR. I explain it as the redhead curse, but secretly hope that when I'm stronger and more agile, the flush will fade. I'm glad I'm doing hot yoga as opposed to Bikram; the instructors at Radiant are encouraging while they challenge. It's a great balance for me.
Lesson #2: I need sleep. If we talk inverse relationships, my lack of sleep was directly proportionate to my love of Diet Dr. Crack. Here's what I've noticed, though: when I am tired and sleep less than I need to, THAT'S when I crave soda. That's when I'd kill for a donut. That's when I slog through the day, not able to focus.
Lesson #3: Quiet is good. Meditation is better. I think I've said before that I've never been a fan of quiet. I turn on the TV, the radio and listen to the kids at the same time. Anything for background noise so I don't have to hear my own thoughts. Lying in savasana, though, means that I am alone with only the quiet. The thoughts come, and I'm (slowly) learning to gently let them go. This, I think, is the hardest part for me. Well, this and chair pose. That kills me. Which leads me to …
Lesson #4: I'm stronger than I think I am. What I love about yoga is that success comes when the body and mind are one; if I think I'm going to wobble during half moon, then I wobble. If I fix my gaze, breathe, and believe in myself, I'm steady. It's a learning curve. It's a challenge. It's good for me.
And, finally, Lesson #5: Water is good. Very, very good.