Depending on the scale I was around 220lbs (give or take 5) when I started on June 12, 2010. I was looking for a way to lose weight and find myself. I was pushing a size 18, my jeans were a 48 inch waist and I was really overflowing them. Muffin topping at both sides of the waist band which we all must agree is not really a pretty sight. My blood pressure was moderately controlled by 3 drugs and still hitting 170/98 on a regular basis. My blood pressure had always been below normal, you know, the kind of numbers that the nurse laughs and says your must be dead, or I wish mine was that low.
I could blame it on the stress of my job which at the time was way too much for any normal person to take on. The stress of my personal life as things had not been all rosy and happy for years. I could have even blamed it on the color of the living room wall but really – it is only my fault, I let those stresses get to me. In fact I let all the stressors of the world, stress me out and I hid in food and sloth.
Even worse: I teach others not to do this, but yet I couldn’t stop myself from becoming overwhelmed. After beating myself up as a failure I did what I would advise any one of my clients to do as if I was sitting in the chair in my office. It was past time to take control of the situation and get off my ass and do something before it was too late.
Taking into account of everything I know about the body, and suggestions from many people I started to think that the gym and the martial arts classes that I had used in the past were not going to work this time. I needed something new, something different, something that I could do while shutting off my mind of all distractions. This something needed to be very difficult and challenging so I would not get board or feel like I had completed it. Yet, it had to be yielding and a lifelong goal with just the right amount of encouragement that could keep me going. I knew now that I was over 40 I needed about one hour a day of exercise a day to lose weight and that it was only safe to take off about 1 to 2 pounds a week to keep from rebounding and having to deal with skin that would become too loose.
I call Bikram yoga class an hour and a half of ‘things I just can’t do’….yet. I love it, I hate it. In the beginning I had to rename all of the poses/asanas in my head just to get through the class. I had a whole non-approved “dialog” running in my head as the instructor spouted off the official dialog. The names were rude and the dialog was as sarcastic as I could make it, but it worked to keep me going through the tough times in class when I just wanted to quit. I have laughed and cried my way through classes and yeah, I am still scared at times, but it is good.
Within 8 weeks I started to notice changes in my body, some feelings of muscles, some shifting of weight. It was also about that point when the pain and exhaustion of physically working out turned into more energy and joy. At that point Bikram started to become addictive to me, I needed my class. I was traveling a lot during this year, and I made sure to get to studios wherever I went. During the first 19 weeks missed only 6 days. I still have managed to keep up an average of about 5 classes a week.
My mantra during the first year was 50 lbs and a cup size. By the six month mark I had let go of 25 of those pounds and lost that cup size. I was able to remove one of my blood pressure meds and cut way back on the other two. Within the following six months I have weaned myself off of all blood pressure medication. My average BP is now lives in the neighborhood of 118/82 and that is just fine with me.
As for my goal of 50lbs in the first year, well my life has changed so drastically that I have no idea if I have made that goal or not, as I no longer own a scale. However, I have learned that neither that machine, nor the number it gives is really is important. My clothes tell me everything I need to know and I feel better. I am wearing loose 12s now. I have gone from that 48 inch waist to 37 inches. Perhaps by the end of year two I will get back my old 28 inch waist, how I gained 20 inches in 6 years is beyond me. Lack of control I guess, with no one to help me with that and no real ability to do that myself until I was ready.
Within the last two months more shifts have been happening. My final two ‘spare tires’ are merging into one just fat tummy. There is actually a hint of an hourglass when I look straight on into the mirror. There is space developing between my calves and lately even between my thighs, I can see light through them when bending over for hands to feet. My arms are shaping up, they are no longer ‘loose and hanging’ but starting to have defined cuts. All over the musculature is starting to peak out from under the fat. My spider veins are lessening. I can even feel the bones of my pelvic girdle and ribs as I lay on the floor.
One of the hardest things now is that people are starting to notice and comment, complementing me on my weight loss and even calling me skinny. I am not yet able to take that in or digest it as there are still some mental hurdles to deal with. I think this is the hardest part as many of us put on pounds to protect ourselves from something, or to keep others away, even if we are not sure why. It is like a shield or a coat of armor and it takes a lot of work to remove all those layers of protection and still feel safe without them.
I teach that safety is an illusion at best, yet I am reminded at this time how much fear that brings up and how tough you have to be to succeed. To look at it in another way where else can we really be safe but in our own bodies?!? Maybe they/we were not safe in them during younger year in our life’s, but now, older and in control, they are our temples; our refuge; our sanctuaries. Overriding that fear is part of the letting go. The body is there to hold me and protect me and truth is it can protect me better if it is fit and ready for the challenges of fight of flight.
I will keep these thoughts in my head as I move forward through this second year of Bikram yoga and maybe just maybe, I will learn to conquer the monsters in my head or at least control them over this issue of body image.