Numbers that Matter

How much weight have you lost?  That’s a question I hear rather frequently.  I often answer with “I don’t know” or “I don’t focus on that because it messes with my mind”, but the truth is I do know, but I don’t want you to know because that’s not the number that matters.

The number on the scale does not define who I am.  Not to me. And it shouldn’t to you.

But there are numbers that do matter–the numbers that measure progress, that measure health.  These aren’t even clothing sizes.  Don’t get me wrong: the day I realized I could wear a size 16 top from Coldwater Creek I felt as though I had won the lottery.  A size 16 top, well that’s darn near normal, and I can still recall the giddiness the day I bought that bright yellow tank top.

Last weekend, after my not-so-sweet cat Alien, bit me on the hand, leaving me with a nasty infection, I discovered I had reached a number that represents real progress–a number that DOES matter.

Two days after the bite, completely stressed out with a swollen hand that felt hot to the touch, I knew I needed to go to the doctor, so off I went.  I don’t particularly care for going to the doctor.  Plus, I figured with the stress I’d been under my blood pressure would sure be off the charts and the doctor would want me to go on medication.  That’s how my mind works.

Imagine my surprise and delight when the tech took my blood pressure and it measured 120/74!  “That can’t be,” I thought to myself.  I asked the tech to check it again, and the reading was the same. I don’t recall ever having had such a “normal” blood pressure, especially under “abnormal” circumstances.

In that moment I knew, I knew: that’s the number that matters–that’s the number that means my body wants to live, wants to thrive, wants me to continue working at coming fully alive.

So, you still wanna know how much weight I’ve lost?  I won’t tell you.  But I’ll be happy to show you a pic or two and tell you my most recent blood pressure reading.

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The Path Less Traveled

Just steps from my apartment I have access to miles of trails, some of which lie on Native-American land.  There’s one trail I’ve always had a hankering to explore but haven’t had the time, the energy, or the physical stamina.  But I decided today would be different.

Buoyed by a jolt of energy from having started my blog yesterday, I set out on my mini-adventure.  As I approached the bottom of THE trail, another path started to mesmerize me, so, without hesitation, I changed course.  After all, isn’t that what life is all about–living in the moment and not staying stuck or fixated on a particular destination?

This new path, the one less traveled, wound around a hill, and, if I made it all the way to the top a hidden treasure would no doubt be revealed. I climbed the path with giddy anticipation and when I reached the other side the vista did not disappoint, for I could see much of Simi Valley: homes, hills, a water reservoir and so much more.

But all of that paled in comparison to the real gift: for in making it to the top I strengthened my fortitude and determination to keep making my life happen my way, and I know when I return to this same area and take the other path, I’ll uncover another piece of myself when I reach that peak.

Photo # 1: partway to the path

Photo #2: partway up the path

Photo #3: me at the top of the path with Thousand Oaks in the background

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New Discoveries

Almost a month ago I walked into my first-ever Bikram yoga class.  In the 17+ years I’ve been practicing yoga I never imagined myself going to a Bikram yoga class. What could possibly be gained by practicing yoga in an over-heated sweaty room?  Surely there really can’t be any useful benefits other than feeling completely miserable…………..

But I’ve been stuck in a rut for almost a year now and searching for a way out, because there always is a way out, so I decided to give it a try.  What’s the worst that could happen? I’d die? Pass-out? Throw-up?  A class lasts 90 minutes, and I could always walk out.

One Monday morning I drove 37 miles (yes, that’s a long way, but I was going with a friend to a studio and a teacher she recommended) to Marina Del Rey to take Loren’s class.  When I walked into the yoga room I could feel the heat lambaste my body and I thought to myself “what doesn’t kill me had better make me stronger!” I quickly put my mat, towel, and water down and exited the room, determined not enter until the class started.

For the next 90 minutes I proceeded to sweat from every pore in my body, including the ones I didn’t know I had, but I had a certain determination, a drive, to do my best.  I wanted to take my body and mind into uncharted territory, to go deeper, to feel the freedom that comes with new discoveries.

At the end of the class, I felt higher, freer, stronger than I’d ever imagined. I’ve gone back several times a week since that first class, and Bikram will become a regular part of my practice.  Why?

It’s not about the physical. Over the course of the past few weeks, while sweating my life away, I’ve come to realize that I will no longer be contained by others’ perceptions of me or by my perceptions of myself. This is what I’ve learned in Bikram yoga: it’s not about the heat, it’s about my willingness to go further than I ever thought I could.

Me and Loren, my amazingly awesome, sweet and inspiring Bikram Yoga instructor!

Me and Loren, my amazingly awesome, sweet and inspiring Bikram Yoga instructor!