Hot Yoga Made Me a Masochist

Fall...?

Fall…?

 

I’m not going to promise to write within any amount of time anymore because it clearly sets me up for failure. That being said, holy shit it’s Autumn. Did anyone else do the stop, turn left, turn right, narrow your eyes, and then slowly turn your head left again? Because I totally did. What I think is probably weirdest is that it’s 50 degrees today and that feels chilly, when in Spring it feels like angels are bathing me in joy and light. Like, why? I really think it’s psychosomatic but who knows for sure. If it’s an excuse to get a cute new jacket I’m totally going to run with it.

So, the rest of this summer has been super eventful. Mia familia went to the West Coast and it was never the same. I think we realized, as a whole, how much we have a tendency to bicker. All families do, sure, but my family is A+ BONUS points good at it. And usually it’s good-naturedly bickering at each other, arguing for the sake of arguing. It was a stressful week – a lot of sitting and driving and looking and going here here here and here; but it was probably one of the cooler vacations I’ve ever been on. We went to Crater Lake, which, everyone needs to see at least once in their lives. We devilschurnstopped in the Redwoods National Park and hugged some really big trees – that actually may have been my favorite part of the entire trip. We hiked probably a total of three miles and it was incredible. I honestly can’t put it into words. Everyone was pretty quiet that entire hike, just looking at the trees. We spent a few days at the beach in Newport, Oregon, which was super freaking cold. But we also stopped at Devil’s Churn, which other than turning into a “let’s all get as close as possible to the death pool” adventure, was massively cool. My poor mother nearly had a heart attack because we kept inching closer and closer.

Safety first, everyone. San Francisco was awesome, though stupid packed. I think it’s the kind of city I’d love to go back to with friends and check out more of the hip and trendy areas as opposed to stereotypical touristy places. On our drive from Newport to San Francisco (oh, yeah, that happened), we stopped in Sonoma for an hour or two to check out some of the big name wineries. I think there’s a special weather that is only right there in Sonoma and Napa Valleys because it was 78 degrees, sunny, and gorgeous the entire time but before and after wine country was chilly and windy. Something’s up with that. I can’t even begin to really fit all of the goings on of that week in a blog post without taking up all of it but my favorite parts were the farm cafe we ate breakfast at with my brother and his wife (they live out there – hence the reason for the trip), Crater Lake, Cards Against Humanity with my family (unreal), the Redwoods National Park, trolling the college town we stayed in with my sister, and the Japanese place we ate at in San Francisco. I think by the end of the week we were all pretty ready for our own beds and Old Bay Seasoning, but it was truly an amazing time and I’m really grateful for the experience. Vacation week very well spent.

There's a little dip in that island. Do you see it? That's the length of a football field. Enjoy perspective.

There’s a little dip in that island. Do you see it? That’s the length of a football field. Enjoy perspective.

So the West Coast was incredible. After we got back, life went pretty back to normal. I received a promotion at work and am really, genuinely enjoying what I do, met a really nice guy who I’ve been seeing for the last two months, and found hot yoga. I can’t begin, I mean really can’t begin, to promote it enough. I love yoga; have the apps on my phone, yoga clothes in my drawer (other than just yoga pants because I’m pretty sure all females between the ages of 14-40 have at least one pair), prerequisite yoga mat and carrier in my backseat, etc. I am a huge fan. I have woken up, intentionally, at 6:30 a.m. to prostrate myself in a room full of other half-awake humans. I say “Namaste” at the end of a class and mean it. I genuinely enjoy sitting and meditating – at least for roughly 20 minutes and then it’s all, “oh my god why is it so quiet,” and “someone turn off the repetitive flute chords.”

I digress. On my birthday, I decided to hit a hot yoga class at a place in my home town with my friend, Taylor. Neither of us had tried it before but I think we both kind of assumed it’d be some asanas in a warm room. A little downward dog, a little corpse, some warriors thrown in for spice…and I have never sweated so much in my entire life. The room was easily near 100 degrees and it was aggressive. I mean, we moved fast. Hard things happened. Buckets of sweat poured from every place in my body sweat can come from. And minus the one gentleman who took “breathe vocally” as “make extremely angry orgasm sounds every time you exhale for an hour”, it was euphoric. Taylor and I turned to each other halfway through, both looking like boiled beets (which don’t sound very appetizing, I might add), and said, “This is freaking awesome.” The rest is pretty much history. Sure, there was a time when getting up from a goddess squat into Warrior II that I got tunnel vision and almost blacked out, but the first time I did a yoga headstand was also in hot yoga. I praise it to everyone.

Back in August, I think, I tried aerial yoga with my friend Vicky up in PA and thought it was the coolest thing I’d ever tried, athletically. It still is super cool and I’m hoping to get back there in the next few weeks. But hot yoga challenges me, pushes me, makes me feel like 5’2″ of rubber and somehow I leave feeling like I can scale buildings. It’s hard. It’s really hard, and it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. But since then, we’ve coerced a few other friends to join us and they’ve liked it just as much. I already loved yoga – the movement, the difficulty, the spiritually, the lightness afterward – but, this kind of yoga brings me to a place I haven’t been able to find elsewhere. I feel home in three places – my actual home, with my support group, and in a yoga studio. I know yoga definitely has a cult following of perky 20-somethings looking for their latest calorie-burning fix but it’s so much more and with the right instructor, it becomes a lot more. I used to do yoga on break at work in the rehab; found empty group rooms and tried not to break my neck in the 30 minutes. But now I find other time, when I can genuinely focus on it and really work. It really hurts, I really push myself, but I love it.

Now all I need to find is a good yoga top that doesn’t chance any Janet Jackson-esque slips while doing Sun Salutations. Lots and lots of back and forth, up and down…can get dangerous fast. And I wanted to tack on the end here that my friend Meara and I are challenging ourselves this month to write for our respective blogs every day. I have a tendency to really only write when I’m going through big changes, usually painful ones. Like break ups. I write when I go through break ups and it makes for a really depressing blog and I’m really not a depressing person so I’m making an effort to change. I’m also concurrently doing a challenge via tumblr called “Happy Healthy Holidays” that’s all about setting your own goals, but strongly encourages clean eating 80% of the time and working out at least 3x a week. I’m incorporating a morning workout into my work days…I really don’t want to but it’s become excruciatingly clear that evening workouts aren’t working because I’m usually too tired or have other important places to be. So, I’ll be up at 6 a.m. tomorrow. I’ll try to at least mention my workouts here, for accountability if nothing else. Now, I have to go prep my lunches for the week because yeah, that happened to. I plan so many things now. My neurosis is so happy.

It’s great to be back!

– a.

Cue Rocky Theme

So, it’s been over six months since my last post. I have no excuses, I just had preoccupations. I thought so regularly about wanting to post, even planned posts, but when it came down to actually sitting down and typing…I found myself not finding the time. Not making the time, really. A lot of things have happened for me since August 2013. I quit smoking (again) in September and have not had a cigarette for almost six months. I really committed to it this time and found a voice I had stuffed away in regards to friends smoking around me. And I quit cold turkey.

Holy crap, you guys. That wasn’t fun. Four days of bargaining, irritation, mood swings, cravings, headaches…awful. But afterward I was pleasantly surprised by how little I ever found myself craving one. And how rarely I even think about it now. It’s great.

I messed up some part of my hip/lower back (still not sure) pretty badly in August. I went to the doctor and he diagnosed it as the ever-feared “tweak of the back” that you’re always terrified of hearing. If you can’t hear my sarcasm, let me show you:

hangovergif Shortly after ‘diagnosing’ me, he made a grotesquely creepy comment about how flexible I am. Needless to say, I am never going back there ever again. Unfortunately, I still deal with almost daily pain and what could possibly be reoccurring hip dislocation…or something. I guess I’ll never know. Then, overcompensating, I pulled a muscle behind my left knee.

Basically, I haven’t been running. Or hiking. But on the plus side, I picked up hooping (yes, hula hooping) and have slowly been making progress with that. I’m still doing yoga, though admittedly, I’ve really fallen off with it recently. I used to hoop outside when the weather was nice or do yoga inside in an empty group room on my breaks at work.

Speaking of work, I no longer work at a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center (!). While I wish I could have left on different terms with a few people, I have never received so much love and well wishes after leaving a job. I’ll miss my co-workers all deeply. The job itself? Not so much. Working so closely for so long in an often times thankless job is extremely draining physically, mentally, and emotionally. It’s funny, I’d searched for a new job for six months while working there, but after I left (without a job set up), it only took me 15 days to have not one, but two job offers. I ended up taking an administrative job at a financial advising firm. Perhaps some things are just supposed to happen.

myjob

My reaction the first time sushi was presented to me for free.

I’m working much closer to home, 8:30-5 M-F, don’t have to worry about my dress clothes getting torn in a restraint, and have yet to have someone yell at me or call me a bitch…so all around positive transition. I’ve been there for almost two months now and I really like it. My co-workers are wonderful, friendly, and competent and hey…they buy me sushi. Big fan. I’m excited to see how this job progresses from here.

I’ve gotten really into meditation, some weeks more than others. But I have to tell you, it really does work wonders. I have one of those minds that runs on overdrive all of the time. As in constantly. I worry and nit pick and over-analyze. I’m super sensitive sometimes. Okay, all the time. But I’m aware of it and taking time to quiet my mind and just focus on being on a regular basis really helps to ground me. If that sounds like you, definitely try it.

Lastly, my love life. For a long time after Manthing, I didn’t see anyone. I didn’t want to, I knew it wouldn’t be healthy for me to try and get involved emotionally…or even physically. Which, if you know me, is a pretty big deal. So I worked on myself, built myself back up, swallowed the bitter pill of rejection (and then pettiness) and moved on with life. I haven’t gone back and read my last few posts yet because I don’t really need to delve back into the mind state I was in/getting through. In November, I (technically) re-met a guy from years before, who I’d known in slightly unconventional way. A while later, we started talking and it became romantic. I don’t think either of us expected it, I know I didn’t, but one day we both just dropped our walls and there the other person stood. He isn’t a Manthing, or Manfriend, or Friend-Who-I-Sleep-With-But-Don’t-Have-Set-Guidelines-With-Regarding-Our-Relationship or any other term from today’s hook up culture. He’s my, as childish as it sounds, boyfriend. Bfriend. My man. Like, whoa boy there’s a commitment there, boyfriend.

It’s not always super easy. He’s going through a lot of transitions in his life (divorce being one…never fun, always sad) and while he has a wonderful support network of friends and (most) of his family, he’s had a lot of bumps in the road. But I see this spark in his eye, this constant unwillingness to give up, and this strength of character that I have rarely seen in someone young. By young, I mean 27. He makes me laugh so hard, tests my patience (necessary), cleans up after me and let’s me clean up after him…like actual cleaning with vacuums, tells me the sweetest things all of the time (not just after we argue), and kisses me like it’s the first time every time. I’m constantly amazed by how steadfast he is, how imperfect (in a good way), how honest. I know that I am a very lucky recipient of him, all of him. And I’m very thankful. And the best part?

I didn’t lose myself. Have you ever fallen for someone (like I have before) and it’s not…really right? But you want it to be so you do everything in your power to make it right? You agree with things you disagree with, you never compromise only give in, you don’t say what’s really on your mind. You just hope that eventually, it’ll be right and you won’t have that nagging feeling that it’s not. I have felt that many times. And I stop doing everything that I love so as to make room for what ‘he’ would want me to love (aka how I feel I should change to be more worthy of someone’s love…not healthy btw!). I never once have felt that way with him.

Somehow this is an accurate depiction of my relationship.

Somehow this is an accurate depiction of my relationship.

When I feel like I need to say something, I say it. Sometimes we disagree. Sometimes we argue. Sometimes he apologizes, sometimes I do, mostly we both do. I still have the solitude I need, time with my friends, hobbies I can do all on my own. And ditto right back to him. The best part? While the future, of course, looks very bright, I don’t feel like I have to focus on it. I can focus on now, today. It’s a wonderful thing.

But one of the main reasons that I found myself writing today, other than purely missing writing, sharing with others, and being a part of the blogging community, is because I fell off of the wagon. So hard. And by wagon, I mean that I’ve gained some weight. I don’t know how much, probably just enough for it to be considered new relationship weight, but I’m not okay with it. It’s not even the weight number itself that bothers me, it’s the fact that I feel out of shape. I miss the way I felt when I was running and using my muscles regularly. I don’t want to be teeny tiny…at all. I want my quads back. So, back on the wagon of healthy food intake, regular exercise output, lots of picking things up and putting them down, and super dee duper accountability I go. This blog’s format won’t change much; I still like talking about things and stuff more so than online calorie counting, but a big part is going to be this transition. Which involves me admitting that I have slacked so very hard. Ice cream all the time. Chips chips chips. Everything must go…into my tummy. Immediately. While I don’t drink alcohol much anymore (byproduct of dating someone who doesn’t drink), which I’m actually a pretty big fan of, I have been consuming astonishing amounts of dairy products. Mostly cheese. And my stomach has been yelling at me so hard.

So tomorrow, I’m weighing myself. And posting it here. And going to the gym that I have been unknowingly paying $30 a month for these last three months when I thought my membership had ended and they just snuck themselves right on into my wallet. So, hello again! I’m excited to be back. Woohoo!

-a.

Boyfriend and me at the bowling alley.

Boyfriend and me at the bowling alley.

Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes

I may have borrowed the title from a WordPress daily prompt. That may be the point. This prompt was actually from a few days ago, but I read it and wanted to comment upon it. A while ago, I had said that I was going to talk about how I quit smoking back in May after almost seven years of smoking. I never got around to it, but today I am.

In an effort to be as cool as possible, I began smoking in 11th grade when I was sixteen. I could ponder on the “why” questions forever but I think it was a combination of curiosity and my ex-boyfriend smoked so I’d be around it and became used to it. Now, I grew up in a non-smoking family, for which I’m thankful. If I hadn’t, I probably would never have been able to quit. The first few times I smoked a cigarette, I did it all sorts of wrong. I didn’t get the point, just that the smell reminded me of my ex and boy did I feel cool (honestly). Then a friend showed me the proper way to smoke and off I went. In high school, it was a few a day. I remember smoking in my car after swim practice. Now, I could shake that person and hit her with a carton of cigarettes. Smoking is probably half the reason I quit the track team my senior year. Now, I had never been on it before, but I joined thinking that I could lose the few last pounds I glared at in high school, but quit after a few weeks. The other 50% of my reasoning was that I was so not a runner. Irony of ironies, that’s my favorite form of exercise now.

In college, I switched to menthol cigarettes and smoking half a pack a day. It became more difficult to only smoke once in a blue moon when I was surrounded by it on campus, at parties, even in front of my dorm. As someone with a history of seriously low self esteem and occasional bouts of overbearing social anxiety, I felt that smokers welcomed me. I had almost a ‘club’. Believe me, I know how this sounds now. But it’s the only way I can describe it.

smoking

Found this on my myspace – don’t ask me how long it took me to find my myspace. Sixteen, so cool

It’s not that I’m damning smoking, at all. Most of my friends still smoke, at least on occasion. But when I was sixteen really learning what a nicotine buzz was (so thaaaat was the point!), I told myself that I would quit by the time I graduated from college. That always stuck with me. I didn’t want to be a lifetime smoker. Deep down, the D.A.R.E. stuff stuck with me; my parents warnings about cardiovascular health when I was eighteen stuck with me. I tried to quit freshman year and didn’t smoke for two months. Actually picked up running then too (on ice, almost died, it was fabulous). But come finals week, I was super stressed and fell back into it. I played it off two different ways for years afterward: 1. I love smoking, I’m not quitting until I don’t like doing it anymore and 2. Oh, I need to quit. It’s just getting around to it that I’m fighting. I never actually admitted that it would probably be hard. I knew that quitting was going to be rough, that I wasn’t sure how to handle being around a lot of my friends. So, I used that fear and fed upon it and just kept on smoking, wasting money. There was one time, my freshman year, that I was completely broke and craving a cigarette so badly I was losing my ability to function as a human being (i.e. yelling at everybody). My boyfriend at the time drove all the way up to Shippensburg to drop off two packs of cigarettes for me. I should have known then, I should have made the change then. But I didn’t.

My last year of college, I quit again for two months in November. But, I damned myself. I liked a guy that smoked and also happened to be a bit of a prick. We had a habit of meeting up after I got out of work and sitting in his car, listening to his iPod and joking around for hours. This guy would tempt me with cigarettes, waving them in my face and trying to convince me to smoke. I remember telling my co-worker Greg about it and he, a smoker himself, screwed his face up and said, “Wow, that’s a dick move. He’s an asshole.” And I denied it! I was so motivated to quit, I’d switched to the electronic cigarette and was only smoking that when I needed it. I was so pro quitting that I practically had balloons following me around with Surgeon General’s facts. But the one thing I didn’t give up was that time with the guy. I’ve said it before, I’ve been hopeless when I have feelings for a guy. Just, don’t even try to convince me that something other than sunshine and joy comes out of his butt.

Needless to say, I ended up smoking. At first, it was only one or two with him, then eventually I just started buying my own packs. Say farewell, lifestyle change! And on it went until graduation.

By graduation last May, I had a serious, begrudging, yet honest talk with myself. I didn’t like smoking anymore. I hadn’t for a very long time. It gave me a headache, I hated the smell, I felt gross when I smoked, it was a waste of money, who knows what I was doing to my body, and who did I have to prove anything to anymore? I remembered that promise that my sixteen-year-old self had made. So, after graduation, I began the process of quitting again. This time, my motivation wasn’t the through the roof, bouncing off the walls, “YAY FOR NOT SMOKING” banners and whistles I’d had before. It was a quiet realization: I had to quit. It was time. I needed to, if not wanted to.

So this is, getting to the crux of the matter, what I did: I cut down to two a day for a week if I wanted them. I bought a “last pack” that would keep me for the end of my smoking days. I blew through most of it during an alcohol-fueled Memorial Day campout at my friend and former roommate’s house. But that was okay, it was almost a last hurrah – which is not something I suggest, it just worked for me. I went to the beach the next morning with another friend that, while she smoked, promoted my quitting. She held on to my pack the night before and the trip. I smoked one cigarette on the six-hour trip down (impressive for me, a notorious car smoker), then only once a day the entire trip. Honestly, it was probably easier because I had things like the beach to distract me (though the alcohol did not!). After coming home, it was cold turkey time. I stopped, no electronic cigarette this time. I’d used that as a crutch, like an addict could use methadone. It didn’t actually help, just perpetuated the need and the habit.

I’m not going to lie, it wasn’t easy. I stayed in a lot, asked friends if we could go to bars or other places that didn’t allow smoking inside – a lot of Shippensburg bars allow it – and let myself walk away when I wanted one. It stunk that I worked in a facility that I had to go out with patients for their smoke breaks, but secondhand smoke has always grossed me out so if anything, it helped me not want to smoke. So I didn’t smoke a single cigarette for over six months afterwards, beating my two month curse.

I’d like to say that I never smoked again, but I have when a few sheets past tipsy. It’s a combination of my lowered inhibitions and others offering me them. Not that I blame them, at all, but it doesn’t help my willpower. Luckily, that’s only happened a few times. I try not to beat myself up over it, remind myself that what’s most important is that next morning, I don’t do it again. And I don’t. The craving is gone. The urge is gone. Even drunk, I’m doing a lot better. It helps that the guy I ‘go out’ with, while he smokes, doesn’t like me smoking. You’d think that would be hypocritical, but I love it. I love when people promote it. My parents are happy, happier than I think they’ll tell me, my family for the most part is proud, my friends (especially the non-smokers!) are excited for me, and I’m proud. I’m proud of myself.

So what does this have to do with the writing prompt? The prompt itself asked how you deal with big changes. To be honest, I’m great at adapting. It’s how I ignore great pain, deal with break ups, and deal with life. I focus on it, look for a solution, and if I can’t find one, I let go of the worry. Don’t get me wrong, I worry a lot. But it’s about different things! Great reasoning, self. I found, that when it comes to me, a little preparation goes a very long way. And that’s how I deal with changes – I’m proactive.

 

 

Food/Exercise

I’m actually waiting for my phone to charge so that I can go running. I have to tell you though, I look fantastic – I’m all mismatched shades of neon yellow and pink. Adorable. I’m going to run at least a mile and a half. I need to start working it up to two miles again soon. I just wish it would get warm out!

Brefiss

This morning for breakfast I toasted a “Nature’s Own” sandwich round (100 calories for the whole shebang!) with a piece of provologne and topped it with scrambled eggs that were three parts egg white, 1 part yolk (seasoned with sea salt, black pepper, basil, and tobasco), arugula, and tomato. I put the other tomato slices on the side for fun. I also had a delicious orange and yogi tea. I’m not sure what I’m having for lunch, but dinner with likely be a lean cuisine. I’ve had this for breakfast a few times now, and I love it. So good, so filling.

I’m going to try my hand at overnight oats tonight. Wish me luck!

What is your favorite breakfast food?

How do you deal with big changes in your life?

 

Happy Thursday!

– a.