Monday, March 3, 2008

Day 203


Today, I wanted to respond to this reader's comment:

"I was wondering how can you be so skinny when you eat cookies? I must lose about 15 - 20 lbs and I must not eat cookies or cake or pizza... I am doing the primary series too, and even though I love it, it's hard. I am not doing it as good as you, with binding and all. Starting the practise every day, for me, often I don't want to do it, but must force myself, and sometimes I just don't do it (average I do per week between 4 to 6 times, but my goal is 6 times a week). I was surprised to read you sometimes don't want to do it either, I thought for you this never happens. I was hoping to lose weight doing this, but I lost only a few pounds, and not more. I do this 7 month now and should have lost all. I like your blog, and I admire your being so organized and getting up so early and always doing the practise!" - Anonymous

I hope no one out there thinks that I started the Primary Series and magically dropped 40 pounds. It didn't happen that way. I'm the first to acknowledge that my weight loss has been primary diet-based. I started out (last April) by eliminating processed foods and ALL sugar from my diet. This was difficult, but necessary. I was a chocolate-bar-a-day kinda girl who loved muffins, cookies, pastries. I had made a hobby out of my sweet tooth.

I radically overhauled my diet, cutting back significantly on my calorie consumption (it's still very low). Being of Italian descent, pasta was a major food group - I eliminated that completely and cut back on rice and bread. I upped my consumption of vegetables and low-fat proteins. I gradually and selectively added sugar and calorically dense foods back into my diet with careful attention to portion control.

I do eat cookies; I eat a cookie every day - a small one with my afternoon coffee. A few times a week, I have a fine Belgium chocolate for dessert - just one. I enjoy Hagen Daas Vanilla Ice Cream in small portions as well. Every so often, I go off the deep end and binge on something - usually cookies. I accept it and move on - usually eating a bit less over the next few days to re-establish my equilibrium.

As a full-time yoga teacher and car-less city dweller, I'm already very active. But last May, started walking to the park for an hour every single day (I didn't skip a single day all summer, even into November). I bought a new bicycle in June and to my surprise, discovered that I loved cycling. Everywhere! I started biking to destinations that had seemed completely ludicrous to me just months before.

I started doing Ashtanga to supplement all of this and to build strength as I lost the weight (it's common during weight loss to lose some muscle tone). But to be honest, the greater motivation behind my 365 Days of the Primary Series project was to revitalise my lagging personal yoga practice and advance my skills in key areas - including inversions and backbends. Ashtanga has done all of this for me, plus I've found myself plugged into a wonderfully supportive and dynamic online community of practitioners, which is a wonderful bonus.

No, I don't always feel like doing my practice. Sometimes I have to drag myself to the mat kicking and screaming. ;-) I do it anyway. Sometimes I cry as I do it. Sometimes I feel angry. Often I feel very distracted. But I do it because, for many reasons far beyond 'exercise' or 'weight' it's important to me.

These past few days, I would describe my practice as 'utilitarian' . I get on my mat and Just Practice. Today was like that. I didn't practice upon first waking because my body felt like lead (in fact, I slept in a bit). I finished some work in the morning then hopped on the mat closer to lunchtime. I had a good, focused practice.

I'm taking a different approach to my handstands these days. When I can't hop into the handstand, I sit back on my ankles and take three breaths before I try again. This does a lot to reduce my level of frustration and keep me calm. I had to do this several times for each handstand this morning, but I did eventually get up (the first one was pretty good, the second was all steps!).

Backbends felt good. I rocked back and forth to open up the shoulders and chest and tried to go deeper in backbend #3.

Musical Sirsasana was 'These Apples' by the Barenaked Ladies, continuing with the CanCon theme this week (CanCon = Canadian Content).

I'm having a better day than yesterday. The sun has peeked out a bit and I may even go for a walk after lunch.


rand(om) bites said...

Brilliant post hon! Thanks for sharing this because I think you really help a lot of people, including me. I hear you about the diet related stuff. We can have our cake and eat it too but just not all the time - it's all about balance. Yoga teaches us that too :-)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for answering my questions. I know one needs to change ones diet in order to lose weight, but I thought the hard work of this yoga system should help, too. Raised heart rate, all those push-ups, and all the sweating. But I guess it's not enough. What you did for yourself is amazing, and inspiring.