24 Dec 2014. A REFLECTION ON THE YEAR

Standard

Weight: 125lbs (8st. 13lbs)

This week my Mum said to me, “you’ve got a lot of energy at the moment haven’t you? It must be your good diet”. I hadn’t really been thinking too hard about it but you know what? I DO feel good at the moment. I’m breezing through the days, getting up at 6:30am for yoga, getting all of my workouts done, going to work and earning my keep at home with what sometimes feels like continual loads of laundry, dishes and cooking meals. I’m constantly on the go and although most of the time I’m thinking that if I don’t keep DOING then I’ll probably just crash (!), I am really enjoying all the busy-ness. What’s more, the dizzy spells and general anxiety I was struggling with over the summer seem to have disappeared.

It’s been a trial and error approach to finding a sustainable way to manage my health and well-being but I think I’ve finally cracked it, at least for now (I expect that my needs are likely to change over time but I’m ready to just roll with the punches). I’m thrilled to finally feel like I have a lifestyle that makes me feel good about myself AND wont burn me out after 3 (unhealthy diet, over exercising) weeks..! Here are the key changes I think have contributed to my success:

1. Focusing on forming new habits:

Rather than thinking of change in the form of rigid planning and sticking to a program for a set amount of time only, I have been trying to build a daily yoga practice into my mornings without the pressure of a set length, style or time. Some mornings are harder than others, and on the really challenging days it’s all I can do to coax myself into a gentle round of sun salutations, but I intend that over time it will become second nature for me just to roll out of bed and hit the mat. On that note…

2. Daily yoga:

The physical stretching and twisting to start the day is of course a great way to set my body up, especially considering the ridiculous amount of tweaks and twinges my body suffers for one so young (!). However, the most significant benefits have been mental: taking the practice of grounding myself in the present moment ‘off the mat’ and into my day-to-day has been the biggest contributing factor to reducing my anxiety. By not letting myself get worked up about future tasks and events and just letting things happen as they happen, I have been enjoying every activity more as well as further reducing my physical tension and probably a lot of my digestive issues.

3. The right amount of exercise:

This summer (in cycles 2 and 3), I think I went to heavy on the training. I was focusing hard on an ultimate goal (to run a half marathon in 1hr 30min) and my program was based around that. It wasn’t a sustainable level of effort for the long-term: despite enjoying seeing how quickly my speed and fitness progressed, I eventually psyched myself out and burnt out physically and mentally. I began struggling with anxiety attacks in the form of nausea and unexplained waves of almost paralyzing fatigue which no amount of dietary changes or yoga practice seemed to fix. In contrast, stepping back my weekly training to 6 days of ONE hour max. intense work and morning yoga seems to be working- it’s enough for me to see improvement but its not so much at I can’t sustain it week on week. GROUP CLASSES have also helped- I don’t have the opportunity to procrastinate and get worked up, I just have to get myself there, at the correct time and get it done.

4. A more relaxed approach to sugar:

I was previously trying to cut out sugar almost completely- even cutting back on fruit except for on hard training days. Although I would still like to wean myself off the sweet stuff eventually, I am trying to learn to relax on my previously ‘all-or-nothing’ attitude. It’s possible that some of my fatigue and nausea symptoms may have been linked to the detox effect of my body trying to shed a huge amount of toxins, as well as handling the increased stress of an intense training regimen. It was just too much. I’m still quite picky about my diet: no wheat, no meat except fish, keeping away from onions and garlic, and currently BARELY any dairy products except whole milk in my tea. I’m also trying to avoid pulses as far as possible. I make sure to get a good balance of nutrients and sufficient calorie intake each day (see my NUTRITION page for a breakdown of my usual daily meal plan) but I’m also allowing myself a bit of chocolate on most days (preferably dark: 75% cocoa solids….although the Roses and Quality Streets have been sneaking in there now Christmas has rolled around..!).

And there we have it,  4 reasons I’m feeling awesome this Christmas. I’m remaining optimistic for the actual festive day itself. It wont be an easy one for me- it never is- but I’m feeling well prepared and with every intention of entering 2015 riding high on a wave of energy and love of life.

Thanks to http://www.naturaltherapypages.com.au/article/Detox_Symptoms

http://www.rawfoodexplained.com/symptoms-during-dietary-transition/some-unpleasant-symptoms-and-their-causes.html

http://www.livestrong.com/article/177471-symptoms-of-a-whole-body-detox/

for helping me understand at least a little of what I’ve been experiencing..!

9 Dec 2014. MAKE THE HABIT

Standard

This week I have been embarking on a mission to FORM habits, as opposed to focusing on those bad ones I am trying to break.

Here are my works in progress:

Happy Habit #1: yoga before breakfast.

Life is so bloody busy at the moment- fitting in work shifts, exercise, social time and arty-crafty time, not to mention dreaded life admin, that unless I practice before breakfast, it doesn’t get done until near lunchtime as I’m TERRIBLE for post-meal faffing around online and before I know it it’s time to leave for a group classes and I have to choose between the two.

My habit forming process is attempting to be gentle, no pressure: even if I only do 10 minutes of gentle stretching and no strenuous poses, its all about creating a new natural routine, not guilt tripping and psyching myself out.

Happy Habit #2: no snacking.

Definitely more of a challenge- I had been swearing by snacks as an essential way of fueling my increased exercise schedule. Unfortunately, when my exercise is less, I still feel the need to snack and has resulted in some serious ‘snack-attacks’. Instead of bulking up meals with rice cakes, I am allowing myself protein packed smoothies if I’m really feeling the low blood sugar, but as a general rule, once my plate is empty, that’s it until the next meal time. I’ve actually managed A WHOLE BLOODY WEEK (!) of this and feel great for it. I think the secret is never to have my cup of tea WITH my meal, but to save it until “dessert” and do all the washing up while I wait for the kettle to boil- sometimes I amaze myself in my ability to trick my brain with these little distraction tactics!

So far so good, although it has become harder to get the yoga in now the parents are home and dad invites me to a share of the french press every morning before I’ve even rolled out of bed. Tomorrow I shall have to set my alarm earlier…

22 Sep 2014. IDOL(S) OF THE DAY

Standard

Today I would like to share with you my love for the two wonderful ladies of YouTube who FINALLY got me into yoga.

It has taken a long, LONG time for me to finally find my yoga love. I have tried and tried for at least 10 years- always knowing its much-praised benefits and envying the radiant and healthy (and tiny) yoga girls with their perfect bodies and seemingly perfect mind-body balance.

I went to classes, I bought books, I used DVDs from the library: Nothing. I lived 2 years in Whistler, one of those parts of the world with an obscenely high number of yoga schools per head, where all-ages of locals swore by it as the best way to keep skiing well into your senior years and 5 FREE classes available every week. Nothing. Unbelievable. I had given up my yoga dreams; clearly, it just wasn’t my thing.

Then one day, like a ray of light through my dark and dusty closet of yoga paraphernalia, came Yoga with Adriene. her YouTube channel offers a variety of session lengths and themes, and I immediately warmed to her adorable and unpretentious style. Here was a yoga girl who brought a passion for yoga but most importantly (for me), a sense of personality that had been missing from my experience of yoga so far. It changed everything.

As my practice grew more frequent, I started feeling the need to branch out- one YouTube instructor can only suffice for so long until the craving for a new challenge overcomes loyalty, and I was not (and still am not) ready to freestyle..! Enter Lesley Fightmaster. A true yoga goddess of the internet, her classes are VERY challenging but my steady improvement and slow perfecting of the poses and movement has been incredibly rewarding. Her style is calm and relaxed and she has one of those kind voices; I always imagine her as someone very internally and spiritually content and I never fail to feel nurtured after one of her videos. The sheer volume of full classes on offer has so far kept my loyalty- not to mention that many of the poses she teaches are still slightly out of my grasp. It is here that I have come to find my now DAILY (who’d have thought it?) yoga home.

So I thank you both- the best yoga ladies on the internet- for being the glorious proof I needed that yoga is so much more than smug, dairy-free skinnies in lulus. I’m a thrilled convert, and it was totally worth the wait 🙂

Image courtesy of Paul Gooddy at freedigitalphotos.net