Adventures in Juicing

Please note that as of the end of summer 2014, I will be moving my blog to the following link (until that time all blog posts will be duplicated in both locations): http://confessionsofayogaprincess.wordpress.com

Yoga isn’t just about being in the hot room, not for me anyways. I’m always searching for ways to improve my health, to eat cleaner. For my birthday in April my mom bought me a juicer, an Omega 8005 to be exact. It arrived on my doorstep before my birthday, but stayed within the confines of its box for a month. I’m not exactly sure why I didn’t open it, but I didn’t, until one day in May…….

I decided the time had come. Probably because I started to tire of spending $8 or more on a bottle of fresh pressed juice. Most people would probably look up recipes online or buy a book, but not me! Whole Foods sells a beet juice that tastes out of this world to me. Something about the combo of flavors hits every taste bud, so I looked at the ingredients and did my best to imitate it.

Kale, beets, carrots and green apple: those ingredients comprised my first juicing experiment. I didn’t really know how much to include, so I guesstimated. A couple of medium sized beets, a couple of carrots, one green apple, and a handful of kale.  It equaled absolute yumminess!!!!

I’ve also been craving ginger A LOT, so I decided to add some ginger the next time I made juice and WOW!!!  Just the perfect zing. By the way, a little ginger goes a long way.

I did peel the beets before juicing. Juicing is work, but I’m worth it, and I’d rather do this kind of work than the kind of work it takes to get better when one falls ill.

This past Sunday my mom came over to have her first juice from my juicer. The first question out of her mouth was “will this make me f*rt and sh*t all day?” I love my mom.  The answer to her question is no. But there’s more to this discussion. Since I started juicing about a week ago, I’ve had on average one juice a day and I have experienced side effects—clean side effects. Pardon anyone’s sensibilities, but since I started juicing my movements (if you know what I mean) have been super clean and easy. You can tell so much about health through poop.

That Sunday I also had a hankering to try orange ginger juice, so I made my mom and I a small orange ginger cocktail (no alcohol involved) and it proved to be tasty too!

I’ve heard some people complain that they gained weight when juicing. Well, that may be true, but I imagine it depends on what one consumes overall. How much are you drinking? How much are you consuming? I’m learning to listen to my body. It tells me when I’ve had enough. it’s not always an easy task, but I’m getting there. Sometimes when I’m hungry, it’s more about needing water. Juicing won’t make me gain weight. Emotional dependency on food and relying on its false gratification will.

Oh and cleaning up the juicer=super easy as well. As quick as fast food? Probably not. But the real problem with fast food is that once it enters your body it takes a loooooooonnnnnggggg time to leave it.

I’m looking forward to continuing to play with my juicer and seeing what health adventures it takes me on. Find your health. Find what works for you. Find what your body wants and feed it.

If you have any favorite juicing recipes, please share them! I’d love to hear them!

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Squats Done Right!

Video

Not that long ago in the land of OZ, I posted a squat challenge on facebook and then posted a squat video: https://confessionsofahawaiianprincess.wordpress.com/2014/03/15/squats-away/

My squats in that video, for lack of a better look, reflected how tired my body felt after doing 40 squats. Actually, I wanted to say lazy but realized that’s not a very yogi-like attitude.

At any rate, not too long after my first squat video, my friends at Bikram Yoga Glasgow reposted my squat challenge and nine of them clicked like, so I thought this would be a fun opportunity to work at doing the squats to the best of my current ability.

After I did the first video, some people asked me questions about the curtsy/booty busting squats, so I tried to demonstrate them a little more clearly. At one point in the video I show myself doing the squats from the rear. Ideally the back leg will, at some point, rest horizontally on the ground. I’m not there yet, but will be someday.

In another couple of months I’ll do another squat video and show the two videos side by side, to show the progression of my squat practice. I’m a fan of showing progress in ways that have nothing to do with a number on a scale and different videos are a great way to show how much stronger my body is becoming. I encourage you to find ways to record your strengthening body. Embrace your body in the now, and celebrate as it becomes more of what you’re working for it to become!

More than a Number: the Story of How I Lost ??? Amount of Pounds

Video

When people ask me how much I weigh (and some do ask), I prefer not to answer. When people ask me how much weight I’ve lost (and they ask this as well), I prefer not to answer. Why? Assigning a number to my progress on this path to healing and wellness on all levels (mental, physical and spiritual) places my efforts in a box. Suddenly, all my hard work (and it is hard work) becomes reduced to a number.

The intense work on my emotional healing becomes less significant. My inner growth, which can’t be measured by a number, ceases to matter to the masses. It’s true, mind you, that I’m doing this work for me, but I’d like people to see, through my journey, that when it comes to losing weight, the number on the scale, in so many ways, needs not to have the biggest impact.

When it boils down to it, when it boils down to weight loss, the problem is that all most people want to see is a number. The number overshadows the person, the effort, the time it takes. People see a number, they don’t see a person, and I’ve been invisible long enough. While it may seem an oxymoronic statement, I have indeed been invisible by virtue of my visibility. I’ve lived this for most of my life.

At my heaviest, all most people saw was the outer shell, the fat. They didn’t see me. They saw fat. They felt superior to me.

How do I know this? I’ve had so many verbally abusive encounters it would take volumes of books to detail all of them. As a teenager, I clearly remember walking around the mall and being taunted by children, teenagers, and adults. I can still hear their voices: “You need to do something. You need Richard Simmons.” On one occasion, they followed me around the mall, continuously taunting me. Children teased me all the time. Parents did nothing. Well, okay, sometimes the parents joined in.

Some people would try to help me with my weight, but their lack of sensitivity created more damage, such as when in high school, one of my gym teachers wanted me to walk/run laps during P.E. while the other kids had fun playing tennis and other sports.

Did that help me lose weight? NO! I felt completely ostracized. Being obese, morbidly obese, in high school felt bad enough, but to have an adult set me further apart from my peers made my life much more painful.

Becoming an adult, growing up, didn’t bring much relief from the chronic verbal abuse society felt it had every right to throw at me. People would tell me all the time “You need to do something.” Well, duh! Actually, they were the ones who needed to do something.

Every person who has ever said to an overweight/obese individual that they need help needs to ask themselves if they’re saying something because they legitimately love the person or if they’re saying it because they feel more virtuous because they’re not fat themselves. In the majority of the cases, people feel superior to or better than fat people.

Given the personal history I’ve just revealed, why then am I considering telling you how much weight I’ve lost?

People ask me all the time how much weight I’ve lost, and maybe it’s time I stop hiding behind the question, stop giving it power over me. “A life lived in fear is no life at all.” I have no room in my heart for fear anymore. And I have feared that when people hear the number, they will no longer see me, see my efforts, see that the number doesn’t represent the most important kind of progress.

I also believe that the story I tell you here might help you and others. I have that hope.
People may not realize how they can help, really help, someone struggling with weight loss/food addiction.

Let me tell you by sharing part of my journey. I had to want it first. No matter what others may have said, I had to want it. I had to want to eat healthier, to work out, to look at all the emotional triggers that made me want to overindulge to begin with—that’s where the real work begins. I needed to find that piece of me that desired real change and would work for it.

From the start of my journey three years ago, I knew it had to be an inside job—for this to last it had to come from the inside out. Sure, I wanted a quick fix. I dreamed of instant fixes like we see on television shows like The Biggest Loser.

But more than anything, more than that overnight pill, I wanted permanent, lasting change—I still do. I started walking outside and on the treadmill. I started keeping a regular hatha yoga practice. I started taking a closer look at my food. I worked at counting calories. That worked for me slowly. I introduced healthier foods into my days. I journaled about how I felt on days I ate unhealthy foods. I looked at people, places, situations that made me want to eat emotionally, and I slowly (well not so slowly) changed some of those situations.

It felt like hell sometimes; some days it still feels like hell. Some people supported me. Others didn’t. I’ve changed a lot.

I became my own person. Actually, I still am becoming that woman, maybe for the first time in my life.

I’m learning to sculpt the essence of who I am by incorporating more meditation into my life and learning to appreciate the sheer beauty of silence, my silence.

I lifted weights. I worked my buns at becoming more fit. Then, last April, during a rough spot in my life, I discovered Bikram Yoga and fell in love, really fell in love with sweat and discovered the real meaning of sweating away emotional toxins. I’m finding my inner strength, learning to rely on self, learning to see I’m beautiful just the way I am. And I’m learning to love my body in this moment. I’m making peace with my physical self.

That’s how I came to lose 168 pounds in three years. There I said it.

But that number in no way defines me, defines who I am, defines my soul. My journey will always be defined by more than a number. I’m more than a number. Whatever your number is, you have value just the way you are. What you weigh, how much you want to lose, how much you want to gain—those are numbers. They are not now, nor will they ever be, you.

I know that with continued intense internal and external work, that I’ll achieve my goals: a healthier spirit, mind, and, yes, body. I hope that by sharing this sensitive piece of my journey, you’ll see that you, too, can have the life you want, if you work for it.

Here’s one of my favorite transformational pics:

One of my favorite transformation pics.

One of my favorite transformation pics.

Here’s the link to a Bob Seger song that reflects my thoughts on numbers:

Follow more of my journey on Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/ConfessionsofaYogaPrincess

Squats Away!

Video

It started simply enough. I posted a note on Facebook “If 30 people like this post, I’ll video tape myself doing 30 squats.” I posted this on a Thursday afternoon, figuring I wouldn’t reach 30 people. I have almost 200 friends, but, in Facebook land, who knows how many of those people block me or just don’t happen to be online when my post shows up? Thursdays also happen to be notoriously slow.

As luck would have it, exactly 30 people clicked like! Knowing me, I probably would have completed the squats anyway. That’s my nature. I like to challenge myself to go places I haven’t gone before, to experience new facets of life, to feel my body meld into new spaces, for each time my body maneuvers into unknown territory so does my soul.

I’m finding with each new discovery that my inner strength has become more resilient than I ever imagined it could. That I have far more in front of me yet to be known. I could philosophize forever about newness and the beauty therein, but there’ll be plenty of time for that later.

Know this: if I can do 40 (imperfect) squats today, imagine what I’ll be able to accomplish tomorrow and the next day and the day after that! The possibilites feel rather infinite!!!

BTW, I’m not necessarily happy with the quality of the video, but this body had no desire to redo the squats! Maybe another day! Also, I’m not happy with the camera angle, the way I look, etc. But……. Oh well…… Maybe next time I’ll do 10 perfect squats! Oh and I did two different types of squats, using 2.5 pound weights!

IF you’d like, please feel free to follow my daily journey on facebook via my community fitness page:

https://www.facebook.com/ConfessionsofaHawaiianPrincess

Random Musings on Food, Yoga, Weight Loss, Grief, and Other (Un)related Things

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about food, grief, my relationship with food, and all sorts of other life issues. Food has always been a comfort to me, even more so now. I’m not sure exactly what my intentions are with this entry other than to share random thoughts.

Weight loss is important to me.  It is. So is being healthy. But I’ve been on this road long enough to know that my journey just can’t be about weight loss. You see I want to be healthy physically, mentally, and spiritually.

I have struggled with clean eating since my dad died and if I’m honest since a couple of months before he died. I haven’t been eating horribly by any means, but not clean either. But I want to, and I’m working on it.

Sometime last week I really decided to renew my efforts at looking at my current eating habits, and the results were inevitable. I watched my emotional self rise up. I could feel myself becoming needy. I felt a huge weight on my chest. I didn’t feel like going to yoga on Friday. I didn’t feel like going to yoga today (Monday). I didn’t feel like going to spinning on Sunday.

I could feel the oppressive sadness of my mood. I’ve made so many strides with food, but I need to make more, and I know that requires looking at how I assuage my pain with my eating.

I KNOW I have to do this because this is the only way I’ll succeed on this path. Have you seen the statistics on how many people are NOT successful at losing weight? How many people regain their weight after weight loss surgery? The stats are not good. And I know why they’re not good. If people don’t face their demons, the reasons why they gained weight in the first place, they’ll always go back to the behavior. I know that. I’ve lived that.

Continuing to work at losing weight, continuing to work at being healthy in every way means I have to look at some painful truths. It’s hard for me without my dad. I miss him more today than I imagined. My only other family really is my mom. It’s not that I don’t have other relatives, but I don’t see them. Yes, I’m blessed to have some awesome friends and a wonderful online community, but I still feel a certain loneliness that it’s just my mom and me.

I’ve felt so needy this weekend. But I didn’t really share that with anyone because I knew I needed to feel it. And as bad as I felt, and as much as I wanted to wallow in that state I still got up and went to yoga, went to spinning because I KNEW and I KNOW that to succeed I have to work through it. I can’t go around it, or I’ll never see the other side.

Food, as I’ve expressed before, represents a certain love, a certain escape. Yes, those are certain falsehoods, BUT it’s helped me through some rough times. It’s helping me now. But I’m ready to find a better way.

What does that look like? When I’m really successful at having a healthier relationship with the food I put in my body, it’s so simple. I keep a notebook and write down what I eat every day. No judgment.  Just observations. If I eat this for breakfast, then maybe I won’t eat that for lunch. I’m looking more now at eating whole foods and not processed foods. My body feels so much better when I’m eating natural foods.  Bathroom habits go much more easily, if you know what I mean.

And if I have an emotional reaction I write that down too because I have those ALL THE TIME.  I am an emotional eater. I am a reactor.  Not like I used to be though.

That’s why yoga will always be a part of my life. Even on days when I’d rather wallow in self-pity, throw a temper tantrum, cry huge tears, I’ll always go to yoga because it helps me find a way through the cr*p. And you wanna know a secret? My body is soooo much more toned for doing yoga as much as I do.  You should see how much I can hold in my core now!! It’s kinda cool! Being physically active helps me feel better.  That’s why I went to the spin class on Sunday. That’s why I went for a walk in the rain on Saturday. Any weight loss is a side effect. I LOVE feeling the clarity that comes with being physically active.

I made it through this weekend. In the words of the philosopher Barry Manilow “I made it through the rain / and found myself respected / By the others / who got rained on too”. I’ll make it through this. I am making it through this. One yogic breath at a time. You’ll make it through the rain too. All you have to do is ask. All you have to do is make the effort. There’s an awesome world out there just waiting.  And it’s only one thought away!!!  Choose that thought! I am!!!  Actually, I don’t know any other way to be…….

I meant to end the entry there. Then I started thinking about Ralph Waldo Emerson and his thoughts on self-reliance. I’ve spent most of my life living for others, wanting and needing their approval. I’m learning to trust myself and that’s no easy feat, but it’s worth it. “Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind” — the genius of Emerson speaks loud and clear.  Trust myself. Trust my heart. It’s the only way.

IF you’d like, please feel free to follow my daily journey on facebook via my community fitness page:

https://www.facebook.com/ConfessionsofaHawaiianPrincess

and my personal facebook page:

https://www.facebook.com/IggieSue

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Naked Yoga: I’ve tried it! Have you? (Body Perception Part Three)

Got your attention, eh? If there was a February 29th it would be the 10 month anniversary of the day I started taking Bikram. I’ve chronicled so many of my internal and external changes, many of which have surprised me, but none so much as the personal revelations I experienced the day I tried Naked Yoga. Not the Naked Yoga you might have heard about where you have to send in pictures of yourself to be approved to practice.  They actually only offer Naked Yoga for men, and only fit men at that.

My naked yoga was more personal. A few days ago when I was involved in making a yoga video I decided to film myself, without clothes, doing some yoga poses. I wanted to see what my body looked like, really looked like, without the mask that clothing provides. I didn’t know what I’d see. I didn’t know how I’d feel. I’ve spent so many years having such negative thoughts about my body, and that’s not really surprising given that my body was, for years, too big to do things people take for granted such as sitting in a booth or buying underwear in a regular store.

It’s been so easy to see all that I thought or felt was wrong with my body. If I didn’t hear my own thoughts, I’d hear others snickering around me, pointing at me, whispering, etc. It was hard to find the good in something so many people told me was wrong.  Or if I got a compliment it was “you have a pretty face, but……..”

My thoughts have changed much during this past year. I’ve gone from being semi-covered up in my yoga classes to practicing in bike shorts and a sports bra. And I’m quite comfortable with that mode of dress.

But something in me wanted to see how my body moved. How it really looked. So I closed my blinds, turned on my lights, set my camera to film, took off my clothes and did some yoga.  Naked Yoga.  I went through just a few of the postures I normally do, and after I finished, I got dressed and sat in front of my computer for a viewing.

As I watched the video, I found myself more than pleasantly surprised by my reaction. I didn’t experience a single bit of negativity. I could literally feel myself appreciating how my body moved. I loved seeing that my abdomen, which I don’t much care for, didn’t look as big as sometimes I feel it to be. I loved seeing how freely my body could move. Sure it jiggled and wiggled, but that’s to be expected unless one has had an all over botox job!

Perhaps, most importantly, I felt no shame. I watched. I observed. I appreciated. I expressed gratitude. I liked what I saw. And that I never saw coming. And that I’m grateful for in ways I can’t express. I could see where I’d been. I could visualize where I’m working toward being. And I saw where I am right now. And that’s an image I love.

That’s a feeling I couldn’t imagine having 10 months ago, or even a few months ago. I’ve looked at myself in the mirror without clothes, but seeing myself move—that’s something entirely differently altogether.

If you’re feeling brave enough, I’d recommend at least watching your body move, while you’re not wearing clothes. You never know what you might see, and your experience might just surprise you!  Love yourself! It’s an amazing feeling!

BTW, these videos will NEVER be put online, but they’ll be there for me to see, for me to measure my progress.

IF you’d like, please feel free to follow my daily journey on facebook via my community fitness page:

https://www.facebook.com/ConfessionsofaHawaiianPrincess

and my personal facebook page:

https://www.facebook.com/IggieSue

While I won’t show you those videos, here is an un photoshopped pic of me, sans make-up, with my hair in its natural state!

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Coming from My Core: Intimate Revelations On Nine Months of Sweat, Blood (not really), and Tears

This Wednesday will mark the nine month anniversary of the day I started Bikram. Nine months usually signifies the birth of a some thing. In my case, in this case it’s the realization that I’m capable of making the choice, of taking action to create change and work toward the body I want to have.

I sat down last night to write in my journal thoughts I have about my body in this moment, in this now. I’m tired of feeling my stomach resting on my thighs when I sit down. Mind you it used to be worse when I was heavier, but still…..it’s a feeling I don’t like. I’ve written a bit lately on my facebook page about taking action to change that, but I woke up this morning with the idea that I’d detail my efforts.

By actively and consciously thinking about the movements and efforts I’m undergoing to activate my core and shrink my abdomen, I can track my progress, and that’s one of the best ways of feeling better about myself—seeing ALL KINDS of progress.

I’m focusing here on some of the poses of the standing series in the Bikram sequence. Some day when time allows I’ll do an entry on all the poses. I’ve included pics, but please bear in mind that I’ve used my camera with a 10 second timer so the poses aren’t my full expression. I have attempted in each pic to be consciously activating my core.

Everything comes from the breath.

Pose 1: Standing Deep Breathing

Here I’m making an effort to keep my core activated when I inhale AND exhale. This is something I’ve had to work toward. I didn’t always have the abdominal strength to keep my core activated while exhaling. I know when I first tried it I would hold my breath when I exhaled. Now I BREATHE while keeping my core tightened!

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Pose 2: Half-Moon

It’s one thing to bend sideward. It’s another to activate my core and bend from there. When I first started doing the yoga I’m not sure I fully grasped how to move from my core, but, as hard as it is, I feel stronger for moving from my core.

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Pose 3: Awkward

Oy. It’s my nemesis, this one, BUT when I pull in my core while I squat I can FEEL my abdomen lift off my thighs and that’s a pretty cool feeling!

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Pose 4: Eagle

When I pull in my core here I can bend my standing leg deeper, and I FEEL a greater sense of balance. The more balance I feel on the mat, the more I feel it OFF the mat!

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Pose 5: Standing Forehead to Knee

Another nemesis! Here I’ve discovered a trick: when I activate my core AND lift my abdomen with my hands I can lift my leg higher, which strengthens my leg and trains my abdomen that it’s NOT the boss of THIS BODY!!!

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Pose 6: Standing Bow Pulling Pose

No pic here! And this one I’m having lots of trouble with. I don’t feel like I’m coming from my core. I feel like I’m just doing all I can to stay upright.

Pose 7: Standing Separate Leg Stretch

When I don’t go down with my core here, I’ve noticed I feel it in my lower back and NOT in a good way! I’m finding I do feel like my torso is longer when I go down in this one.  It’s not about how far I go—it’s about moving my body in a healthy manner so it can reach further than where it’s been.

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Pose 8: Triangle

Here’s the thing with triangle. Here’s the thing with my real desire to focus on my core, my alignment. I don’t want to waddle! It’s true! When I was not in shape, when I was not active I WADDLED.  I didn’t like it. It’s one of the main reasons I LOVE yoga so much. The deeper my practice goes, the less I waddle, the more my body is in alignment. When I take pictures these days, for the most part my feet are aligned, instead of torqued!  When I hike, my feet point straight ahead. So when I do triangle, I look to feel that I have engaged my core and that my back is in alignment. I can go deeper into triangle when I’m not in alignment but that defeats the purpose.

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Pose 9: Standing Separate Leg Head-to-knee pose

Same as above basically. It’s easy to bend over. It’s work to move with the breath, but I’m worth IT!!!

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Pose 10: Toe-Stand

I can now work on an adapted version of this pose! This helps me see my progress!  And that’s pretty cool!

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I want a better life. I don’t mean for that to sound sad. It’s not. I feel so so very grateful for all the wonderful people, places, things that are in my life. I’m very lucky in that regard, and I know it. Working out is hard work. Yoga is hard work. I can sit here and whine and bemoan that I don’t like parts of my body, including my abdomen, or I can celebrate where I am and all the hard work I did to get here, because if I can get here, imagine where I’ll be in a few months!

It’s not that I spend every moment of every class consciously thinking about activating my core or thinking that I wish my abdomen was smaller. I don’t. But I do concentrate on getting into a pose to maximize the benefits and once I’m in the pose I allow my self, my body to be, to explore the depths it’s reaching.

But it’s not just my body, it’s my mind. My ability to express my self here is a direct reflection of my mental growth, a direct reflection that I feel less shame about my body than I used to. I accept my self, this body more. And when I look in the mirror, in class or out of class I have different level of appreciation. I’m not saying my thoughts are always positive, but I’m in such a better place than I was last week, last month, last year.

I may not know where I’m going these days, but I know when I get there I’ll stand tall, with my feet, my back, and my heart in alignment with the universe!

As I inserted these pics into this post, I could feel my body go into shock. I can’t explain it. It’s one thing to do yoga. It’s one thing to take pics, but to look at the pics is something else. It’s very difficult for me to be this vulnerable. It cuts to my core (no pun intended), but honesty is and has been a corner stone of this journey I’m on.

There’s nothing wrong with this body. But I can work on making it better in body, mind and soul. That’s what I want. That’s what I deserve. That’s what I’m working toward.

(And when time allows I’m going to take much better pics–with a smile and a tiara!)

Follow more of my journey on Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/ConfessionsofaYogaPrincess