wellness

The Thing About Depression – A True Story

| On Living Well

Who even cares about food?

I thought this. Me. Jazmine—lover of pasta and cheese and peanut butter. She, who can eat more popcorn in one sitting than a small movie theater. She, who eats hummus with a spoon, because… yum. The very same who loves breakfast more than any meal of the day, could suddenly get all the way to 1pm on coffee alone.

I would put my kiddo down for a nap and think, I better eat something. By then I was despondent and faint. I recognized that I was starving, but somehow I was okay with it, because the feeling seemed to match my mood. I mean, who even cares about food? (more…)

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Stop Trying to Live a Balanced Life – Why Balance is Bullshit

| On Living Well

Balance is Bullshit

 

I’m not the first one to declare such a thing. Others have said it before me. But if you’re like me, you probably ignore them thinking, Well, that’s fine for everyone else. But I can totally live a balanced life. Watch me!

And then you go about running yourself down to threads saying yes to every exciting new project, scrubbing your home lemon fresh, preparing wholesome meals (from organic local farms only, of course), keeping your resolution to treadmill your way to glory, while celebrating each and every birthday, job promotion, engagement, and new baby.

We all think we can do it. I want you to know that you can’t. (more…)

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How to Ditch Your Yoga Practice

| On Yoga

Ditching Yoga

 

In the past year I have effectively ditched my yoga practice. I know what you’re thinking. How on Earth did you do that? I tell you, it wasn’t easy. It was a slow progression. It took a lot of excuses. A LOT. And then one day, I couldn’t even remember when I last practiced yoga.

Sure, there were a few times when I fell off the wagon and practiced yoga. Propelled by guilt, stress, or a visit from my sister-in-law, the superstar yogi, I found myself on the mat a handful of times in the past year. And let me tell you, the mat can be an enchanting place. You roll out your mat and suddenly your hopes and dreams seem only a vinyasa away.

Don’t be fooled. The most productive among us know that in order to get things done, we should stay as far away from the yoga mat as possible. Truly.

So, here it is, my fool-proof guide for ditching your yoga practice. (more…)

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Yoga Strong

| On Yoga

Girl got hips
Girl got hips

Show me a woman and I’ll show you an eating disorder. In some way, shape, or form I guarantee she’s got one.

Body image is something that I’ve struggled with since 5th grade when Barbie stepped onto her Barbie scale and the weight read, 110 pounds–six pounds more than my 5th grade body weighed. It is still something I struggle with.  Yep, pro-woman, yogi, college educated, Women’s Studies minor ME still struggles with body image.

My body image issue usually lays dormant. But about two and a half years ago I was trying to figure out some health issues and restricted my diet.  Not in an unhealthy way; I was simply cutting some things from my diet to figure out what was triggering symptoms.  This new diet, combined with a new found love for running resulted in weight loss.

I dropped 2 pants sizes.  But there was this weird disconnect.  I held up my new jeans and they looked so tiny.  I couldn’t believe that I fit into them.  Then I’d put them on and wish that the itty bitty pinch of flesh that hung over the waistband would disappear.

One day I overheard a gal pal tell my boyfriend how “smokin'” I was looking.  His response (God bless him!), “She’s losing her ass.  It’s no good.”

Well, there’s a quandary.

One of my closest confidants was singing praises to my new figure (Ladies, let’s be honest, we are more hell-bent on impressing other women than we are men–even men we care about). On the flip side, my guy was wishing he had a little more somethin-somethin to grab when reaching for my behind.

As a yogi, my priority is my health.  So while I entertained these thoughts, wellness won.  I figured out the culprit and slowly began to integrate wine, yogurt, sugar, and whole wheat back into my diet–in moderation.

Poof!  Booty came back!

And let me add, so did my periods, which had mysteriously disappeared.  Marvelous!  Irregular periods, just another way for mother nature to let you know something’s not right. AND just another excuse for insurance providers to deny you coverage.  Sorry, that’s another post.

Since then, no–since 5th grade, this is something I struggle with. What my intellectual self and my emotional self understand are two different things.  It’s a constant conversation. So when I see things affirming what I know is true (intellectual self) I have to stop and take note.

Not too long ago a blog post caught my eye as friend after friend shared it, liked it, and cried hallelujah in appreciation of it.  “Strong is the New Skinny,” a gal named Sophie says.  Masses of strong women stand behind her.

I was reminded of this post today after a series of events.

1. Facebook post by friend, Anna Brown: “Awesome moment of today: I was working out at work (GO JAG GYM!) and a group of little girls, had to be 8, came over and were mimicking my movements on the balance beam (V-sit on beam while shoulder pressing dumbbells). I notice them out of the corner of my eye and had them grab smaller weight (2pders) and had a mini work out demo. LOVE LOVE LOVE! I will be a positive change in the world of child fitness… you have been warned!”

2.  At home yoga practice: a few warm up vinyasas, a few standing balances, forearm stand with variations.

3.  Passed by the mirror and wondered how my hips got so wide…

What?!?

Yes, despite my support of the strong women I know and my appreciation for a practice that allows me to view the world upside down, I still measure the value of my physical self by the standards set by our culture.

Forearm Stand
Balancing those hips

I love being a yoga instructor and being part of a movement that promotes wellness and strength.  Some of the most rockin’ yogis I know sport swimmer’s arms, round tushies, and quads that could squeeze the life out of you.  I admire these women.  Furthermore, I am not so blind as to discount the waifs of steel that can hold their own in a sea of inversions.  We are all born with different bodies.  Therefore, “strong” is going to look different on each and every one of us.

Skinny is one of those words that can be a compliment or an insult depending on how it is said.

“Ay, you look so skiiiiiny!” (said by my auntie handing me a plate of carbs) or “Damn girl, look at that skinny little thing!” (said by the man on the street)

Regardless, I’d like to replace skinny with strong.  Piggy backing off of what Sophie so eloquently said, strong is the new skinny.  But let’s keep in mind that strong is going to look different on different women. That may mean curvy calves, broad shoulders, or an expansive belly.  It also may mean wide hips.

At the end of the day, I bow my head and smile to my practice and to my body, as I acknowledge how strong I am despite all the squishy, jiggly, and wide parts of me.  Let my insecurities give me insight.  Let my weakness give me compassion.  And let my body give me strength.

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Four things I just learned about meditation

| On Living Well

While somewhat a newbie when it comes to meditation, I thought I understood the basic principles.  Did I still have something to learn?  Sure, I would have agreed to that.  But the basic principles were locked in.  Yep, I got it, thought I.  Meditation:  sit your tushy down, close your eyes, and empty your head.  Maybe a little pranayama.  Maybe a mantra.  But that’s about it.  Simple.

 

Do this everyday and enlightenment will come…someday…like, sometime before you die…right?

Well, sort of.

Recently, I had the fortunate opportunity to study meditation with Dr. Lorin Roche, a meditation expert and scholar.  And as it happens, I have a lot to learn about the subject.

Meditation is the new yoga.  It’s the new-agey thing that everyone wants to try. Little by little people are opening up to the idea, maybe even giving it a test run.

It’s a little less of a useless, hippie pastime since Dr. Oz began promoting the practice in his book, on national television, and during health conferences.  He declared that transcendental mediation effects and reduces mortality, heart disease, and stroke by 47%.  That got some folks to pay attention.  (Check out his lecture here.)

For a long time meditation was what I did at the beginning of yoga and then again at the end during savasana.  About six months ago I decided, without the guidance of a guru or an expert in the field that I would explore this thing called meditation a bit further.  I added it to my morning routine: wake up, go potty, scrape tongue, brush teeth, drink 8 ounces of water with lemon and cayenne pepper, then meditate.  I set my trusty iPhone timer for 15 minutes and then off I went.

Where?  I liked to imagine the White Cliffs of Dover.  I’ve never been there but they sound nice.

While I found it calming, it always seemed very serious.  It became part of a daily ritual that I did without much consideration.  It was, by no means, fun.  Goodness, no!  Peaceful, yes…well, only when my mind cooperated.  But fun?  No.  If I wanted to have fun, I’d practice cartwheels at the park.

An evening with Lorin Roche taught me that I’ve been a bit misguided on a few key points.  I learned that:

Meditation is informal.

It’s like meeting your best friend for a happy hour cocktail.  No pretense.  No need to prove anything.  Just you and yourself chilling out, connecting, and getting’ groovy on life.  As Dr. Roche puts it, “Meditation is being intimate with yourself.”  So, sit your tushy down, yes.  And then say, “Hello, Old Friend!”

Trying to “empty your head” is a waste of time.

I don’t know where this notion of clearing your mind of all thought came from but I held on to it like it was my rope to safety.  Actually, according to Dr. Roche all that chatter is your brain clearing away the clutter.  Kinda like organizing the stacks of paper on your desk.  Your brain needs to work though all that nonsense in order to get to the good stuff.  Dr. Roche guided our small group through meditation and yep, my brain tossed around all kinds of useless thoughts: Would Jeremy be landing at LAX on time?  Do we have enough cat food to get through tomorrow?  I have to call my mother back…  But after a few moments the chatter hushed.  It was still there but it was as if someone turned down the volume and my psyche could open up to what was significant at the moment.  I saw my brother, clear as day, someone I love dearly and very much look forward to reconnecting with in a month.  I was filled with joy, as if he was standing right in front of me with his arms open wide.  It was a beautiful moment but my brain had to clear the pathway before I could arrive there.  When I was done, all the thoughts that taunted me at the beginning were inconsequential.

No two meditation sessions are alike.

When the meditation newbie stumbles upon the magic stuff that is deeper meditation, the experience can be exhilarating, intoxicating, even addicting.  We want more.  We want it to happen again the very next time we sit down.  But while we may have similar experiences from time to time, each meditation is unique.  We can’t duplicate the time before.  That’s what makes it so exciting!  You never know what you’re going to get.  You’ll surprise yourself—perhaps, for the better.

Mediation is fun!

OK, maybe it’s not Space Mountain…but wait a minute, why can’t it be?  In a place where you can kick off your shoes, toast an old friend, and allow your subconscious to play a little bit, what else can be had but fun?  Sure, sometimes even with the dearest of friends the conversation can take a twisted turn but isn’t that just like life?  I’ll say it again—you never know what you’re going to get.  But without a doubt, we end up on the other side with more experience and just a tiny bit wiser.

And that makes the journey worth it every time.

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