If You’re Happy and Love Yourself, Clap Your Hands!?

I’m not counting days anymore, sorry, I can’t. I am not even back at school yet and life is running away with me and I am having a hard time keeping up with this blog. In part I have been so silent because Greg and I are eagerly planning, or attempting to plan our upcoming wedding, which is so much fun and quite the rabbit hole, if you know what I mean. The wedding planning is part of it, but the real reason is it seems that ugly beast that resides within me telling me I am not good enough has seemed to creep to the surface again.

As I neared and completed my 30-Day Cleanse late last week and earlier this week that inspired this blog in the first place, reality set in, and then the anger. Oh, the anger. I will write exclusively about the cleanse, what it was, and my thoughts on it later this week. But in the meantime, I wanted to share my personal struggles with self-acceptance. I am just going to come out and say it:

  • I hate my body.
  • I hate my stomach.
  • I hate my thighs.
  • I hate my arms.
  • I hate my boobs.
  • I just hate it all.

I have spent the last 6 days pretty much sidelined with a recurring knee injury that just so happens to be my millionth ACL tear [yes, I need surgery AGAIN and no, I do not know when]. Despite my knee and its shortcomings, I have tried hard over the last 9-10 months to not let it effect what I do, how I do it, and my workouts. I have run 3 Spartan Races braced. I limped, hobbled, crawled—did whatever I needed to finish because I wasn’t going to miss out on something I love so dearly. I also ran in the SoCal Ragnar Relay. And I continued to teach yoga and cycling, AND even went back to Crossfit after taking a hiatus. My resolve reminded me that I am a fighter and my knee wasn’t going to hold me back. Unlike a fitness class when I remind people that the mind quits before the body, in my case, my body is in full-fledged rebellion mode—yet again.

I have spent the last couple of days in such agony, they even while resting with the leg propped up, I am gritting my teeth and wincing in pain. The warm, dull, radiating pain washes outward from behind my patella (knee cap) is consuming my thoughts and commandeering my emotions, and all I can muster right now is irritable or more irritable.

As I thought it prudent to scale back on Crossfit for the last week, I still cycled and taught all of classes. My decreased physical fitness level left me with plenty of time to berate myself for my body quitting on me [again] and for the self-hatred to build a not just a home but an offensive mansion in my mind.

I’m not a wallower. Well, I was for a long time in my adult life, but in recent years I have consciously worked to remain positive and active in creating the life I wanted for myself rather than succumbing to circumstance. But over the course of the last few days in looking in the mirror at my cellulite riddled thighs and ass and my soft tummy, I became angry and bitter. The “I work so hard” and “I eat right” and “I hate myself” commentary ran on repeat in my head. I have cried and spent hours trying to figure out how I can possibly avoid wearing a bathing suit on the trip Greg and I are taking next week to Lake George.

“Maybe if I were tanner, it’ll conceal my cellulite.”

“Maybe I can just wear my lululemon shorts with a bathing suit top…? Yeah, that may work.”

So, why do I hate myself? Why can’t I accept who I am? Why can’t I love my body for all that it does for me?

Better yet, how does one learn to love his/her body?

Over the past week, in the last two WOD’s at Crossfit (including today’s), I did well. I would be so bold to even say I did very well. Despite my unrelenting standards and ferocious competitiveness, I ran well, worked hard, and posted great times. Why am I so unable to pat myself on my back and celebrate my own victories? You know why? Because nothing is ever good enough and the same even applies to yoga. My knee has made balancing postures really difficult for me. Actually, it’s very painful so I even avoid demonstrating on my right leg (well now you all know, so the jig is up) and my yoga has taken a major hit due to the instability of the joint. Most days, Vinyasa Yoga, my favorite type of yoga tends to put stress on my joint, triggering pain and discomfort. Much of my personal practice has stagnated and all of those amazing grand ideals of being able to tackle more complex poses have left me feeling deflated and worthless. I mean, how can I be expected to participate in the yoga selfie game and flaunt my asana if my body is shutting down as I am marred by injury after injury? I am being slightly sarcastic here, because I hate the vanity aspect of yoga and the fitness world, but if you want to play in the sandbox sometimes you’ve gotta play by someone else’s rules—it’s just the way it is. Sigh.

I think what is so hard for me to digest about this all is that I feel robbed. I do. I feel like the things I love to do have been prematurely plucked from my grasp and dare I say it—undeservingly so. So the anger sets in. I am frustrated with my body not only for it giving up on me, but despite my workouts, and commitment to nutrition—my body never changes. There I said it, and I feel better for being honest and just putting it all out there.

I try to practice kindness to myself and I try to be patient, but beyond that I do not know how to accept myself. Admittedly, I also don’t know how to love myself. I certainly can help others embrace their bodies and celebrate themselves, but why can’t I do the same for myself? Recently, my dear friend Kat shared something with me while I was venting about my frustrations, “Would I let someone say all those things about my best friend?” The obvious answer is best friend or not—I would never allow someone to say the things I say andthink about myself in my presence about another person I know. So, why am I giving myself permission to hate myself?

Giddy for Gains

Day 11: Thursday, June 19, 2014:

Today was a cleanse day, so like last Thursday no food. However, today was also Day 11 and that meant it was time to take some measurements. Interestingly enough, I am losing from my mid-section, chest, and bust areas first. Hey, I’m not going to complain but normally I lose weight everywhere else first THEN release from the trunk region. All the same, I am excited to report I have lost the following:

  • Chest:            -2 inches
  • Diaphragm:  -2 inches
  • Waist:            -.5 inches
  • Abdomen:     – 1 inch

I would also like to add that I saw an overall loss in other areas too but I felt it wasn’t worth reporting here, as the loss was what I would quantify as negligible.

At this point, I feel fantastic. People are starting to notice the changes in my body saying things like, “You look really good” and “You’re looking really lean.” NOTE when you say these sorts of things to someone who is TRYING really hard to make changes in their life, they feel really, really, really good when they hear these sorts of things so don’t stop doling out praise. Additionally, I am feeling much better overall. I am not napping anymore and haven’t napped since I started the cleanse. As a matter of fact, I am incredibly energized and feeling very rested upon waking in the mornings. What’s also so awesome is I am starting to actually feel more fit, stronger, and leaner. I can feel it and it feels so good.

It is too early to tell whether my results are due to my 30-Day Super Foods Nutritional Cleanse or my increased fitness level. Since starting this cleanse, I used it as an opportunity to reset my life and myself. I used the cleanse to kick-start a healthier me and that meant re-committing myself to MY own fitness for me. So for the past 11 days (and maybe even about a week or so prior), my fitness level has sky rocketed with Crossfit and yoga. So in truth [and it’s still way too early to tell] my gains or shall I say loses, could be a combination of factors. Let’s se how the rest of my time on the cleanse pans out.

Today Can’t Always Change Your Life

Day 8: Monday, June 16, 2014:

 I picked up a new yoga class that’s Monday mornings at 6:30am. And though I have a strong aversion to teaching fitness classes [or doing anything really at that hour aside from sleep] in the morning, I agreed to take it on and see where it goes. What do I have to lose? After class, I came home and napped. I had a solid 1.5 hours to sleep before 10am Crossfit.

9:30am arrives and 9:30 leaves.

I convinced myself that I needed to sleep and opted to skip Crossfit (a decision I regretted all day). I rationalized this extra sleep a few ways but the strongest excuse I devised were that my inflamed traps (trapezious muscles) needed a break. I don’t know, but perhaps there was actually some merit to that.

On Saturday while doing kettlebell swings at Crossfit, when my arms were extended over my head there was an excruciating shooting pain at the base of my neck. It happened immediately during my very first swing too. This was definitely something unusual and foreign to me. Kettlebell swings are my jam—I light them up and take off. What was going on?! Before panic set in, I called the coach over to check my form. Nope, form was on point (this I already knew but it never hurts to have someone check out how you’re moving through an exercise that’s bringing you discomfort). We decided to move forward with the exercise but keeping the kettlebell at eye-level. This brought me some mild relief from the pain but it seems that I am experiencing some sort of spasm in my traps (now I am a doctor, well WebMD makes me feel like I am). Ever since Saturday, my traps have been supremely tender and essentially screaming at me even when not engaged and I am resting, walking, or breathing. I have been using my Yoga Tune Up balls to help release some of the tension but they’re still pretty raw. Fingers crossed tomorrow’s WOD isn’t too heavy on the upper back.

I went for a run today.

I guess you could say I like running. I run races. And from time-to-time run outside but that’s really it. I am not a great runner but I wouldn’t say I am a bad runner either. It’s just one of those things that I do because I have to and it’s fitness related but I don’t really care either way if I considered ‘good’. I will leave the running to the runners and I will stick to what I am good at: yoga, cycling, and lifting heavy things. With that, it was hot outside so I wore shorts. I normally prefer to workout in pants but figured why not?

Two steps into my run: my shorts are riding up.

My thunder thighs are slamming together for the world to see as I try to find a comfortable pace and not trip over myself as I fight a losing battle to pull my shorts down.

My music wasn’t doing it either. I mean, c’mon. I JUST uploaded all of my new favorite songs.

I glance down at my tracker and note that it has only been half a mile. REALLY?!

Now, I’m hungry too. Shit. I knew I shouldn’t have slept and gone to Crossfit. Shit. Shit. Shit.

1 mile in and I decide to head back home.

2 miles later I am home, run the stairs in my complex 10x, do some squats, and call it a day.

Not everyday is going to be a life-changing day in the gym, on the mat, in the box, on the pavement, or wherever you get your workout on–it just can’t be. For me, today was that day. And you know what? I am just fine with that. I am not going to berate myself for surrendering to whatever distractions I had going on today because tomorrow is a new day and I get to start over. And tomorrow starts with Crossfit at 10am no matter what. PLUS, at 8 days in I start tomorrow with 2 inches less on my waist, and down 1 inch across my bust AND diaphragm. So was today a success? I think it’s safe to resoundingly state: YES, YES!

Clarity amidst the Chaos

Day 5: Friday, June 13, 2014:

Friday the 13th.

Full Moon.

Mercury in Retrograde.

I am on a cleanse. 

Basically, we are screwed and it’s the end of the universe. Yeah, yeah. You feel off and you are afraid to admit it, but now you can fully surrender to it knowing it isn’t just you. It is OK to feel a little off right now. BUT what is SO exciting about all this is the new moon signifies a fresh start and opportunity to set intentions free so that they may gestate and manifest. FREE YOURSELF and find yourself!

I am feeling so alive and full of clarity that I am rejuvenated. This cleanse is certainly starting to really kick in. Oddly enough, the morning after the cleanse was a little rocky. I was awake at 5:15am to teach a 6:15am cycle class and struggled to sleep the night before. It was really unusual to lay in bed at 11pm and feel energy surging through my body! I haven’t felt this alive in years. Despite my lack of sleep, I felt strong and powerful during my wee morning hour class and came home to read up on the effects of the cleanse days.

My research turned up some information affirming that others also cited feeling so invigorated that they too couldn’t sleep. Phew! It’s always good to have validation to your crazy (totally kidding here). Additionally, despite the cleanse day I wasn’t starving when I awoke. I expected to run for my shake in the morning foaming at the mouth, but nope. I felt calm, rested, and ready to ride! As a matter of fact, preparing to do damage control, I brought a bunch of snacks to the gym and didn’t eat one of them–even after my class. I was satisfied, sweaty, and happy.

I opted to skip Crossfit after my ride to let my body recover as I still had two more classes to teach, one of which would be pretty taxing as it’s a cardio vinyasa yoga class.

Dinner was a fabulous mish-mosh of mess as I like to create for myself: brown rice, eggs, tomatoes, spinach, avocado, and chicken with some olive oil. Greg ate the same thing minus the rice with 2 corn tortillas instead. Eating whole foods again with the shakes is filling my belly and it kind of feels like it’s sharpening my mind. Does that make sense? All of these super foods are awakening my physical and mental self in ways unimaginable. I can’t wait to see how I feel in 30 days!

Trust the Process

Day Four: Thursday, June 12, 2014: Cleanse Day, that is all I have to say

Remember that movie, Kids? That terribly gross and graphic look at young teens having unprotected sex passing along the AIDS virus? Yes, that one. Well, there is a scene where a man on a skateboard is toting himself around panhandling singing “I have no legs, I have no legs.” Yesterday morning I woke and I literally could only feel my torso. By no means do I mean to mock this poor soul in the film (which I am assuming is a real person) but I am merely trying to draw a comparison. I could barely roll over, let alone lift an arm. I panicked, and exclaimed to my boyfriend, “How am I going to be able to teach yoga today?!?!” I didn’t have a choice, that’s how. Boom.

Sure enough, I was able to teach. As with any muscle soreness once the body gets warm and the blood flowing, the muscles become limber and lubricated and alas, we have movement! However, I will admit my triceps were substantially fatigued, but I felt good enough to take a Pilates class late in the evening.

Today was a cleanse day. That meant no food, zero. As in nothing I could chew–green juices/drinks included. I sipped my prescribed beverages for the day and took my supplements. After class one I was ravenous enough to eat a small child. I checked in with a friend to keep me accountable, stuck to the plan, and pushed on! Sometimes, you just need to let go and embrace the process.

Like so many of us, much of my work with food and fitness is mental. So in recognizing this, I vowed to myself that I would trust the process fully. I must let go and fully relinquish myself to my program, keep an open mind, and house lightness in my heart. For me, that is what it will take to achieve success this time.

What was odd was I didn’t feel tired. I laid down to nap and couldn’t. Hmmmm. I could ALWAYS nap. So I cleaned my house, well sorta.

I taught class two, then took a Pilates class. Came home, downloaded music and made a playlist for my cycling class and it was 10pm and still wasn’t tired. Not only wasn’t I tired but I wasn’t hungry either. Where on Earth did this energy come from?! All I know is I felt alive and invigorated. And folks, I liked it.

Cleanse Day 1 closed and I patted myself on my back for making it. But let’s be real, I knew I could and I knew I would do it because I refuse to let myself fail–not this time.

Commit to Yourself

Day 3: Wednesday, June 11, 2014:

I woke up today and my right arm was numb. I figured it was numb because I had been sleeping on it. So while trying to settle back into sleep, I stretched my arm into full extension and my arm just wasn’t having it. In a sleep fog, I attributed this pain in my arm to it ‘still being asleep’ and I crashed out again.

I woke up shortly thereafter and my arm still hurt. Except this time I realized why it hurt. I am not in pain, I am sore from Crossfit! Ahhhh, it hurts so good.

Slowly, I made my morning drink and shake while moving like the Tin Man before oiling. I glanced at my schedule to see what classes I was teaching or shall I say NOT teaching for the day. Ah, it felt good to not have to teach a million classes. It felt good that I was starting to make sure I had time for me.

Yesterday, I touched upon commitment and wanted to explore it further tonight.

Commitment is honoring oneself. Commitment is saying “NO” to carve out space for YOU. Commitment is doing you so that you can better serve yourself and those around you.

My recent commitments include myself. Yes, that’s right: ME, MYSELF, and I. This commitment to myself includes two things:
1. My 30-Day Super Foods Nutritional Cleanse
2. Daily workouts for ME: Crossfit, yoga, running, etc.

That’s it. So in order for me to make space for me that means attacking my nutrition with intense ferocity and making no excuses. So far, I am doing great and feeling successful with my program. I can feel my body adjusting as my hunger sets in later and I relish how I eat, when I eat, and what I eat.

With respects to my workouts, admittedly I was discouraged yesterday by my progress (or lack thereof) but today I went back for more and performed surprisingly well. There is no quit in me, there can’t be. Bottom line:

“You can have results or excuses, but you cannot have both.”

In order to be the person I want to be inside and out that means I MUST nourish my soul. As a fitness instructor, the best parts of my job are motivating, coaching, inspiring, elevating, and helping others find greatness. But after a while of giving, giving, giving, and giving, I need my cup to be filled, and for me, that replenishment comes from things that fuel my heart and soul: Ass-kicking workouts.

Right now my commitment to myself looks like this: Turning down [some] opportunities to sub classes and maintaining a laser-like focus on my nutrition. What I have also done to ensure I set myself up for success is I have written into my planner when I would like to take fitness classes and/or workout. I think of it as scheduling a daily date with myself. The times on my planner represent sacred time that I simply do not take on classes and that is that–I have committed to myself.

How will you commit to yourself?

It’s Not About What You Can’t Do, It’s About What You Can Do

Day 2: Tuesday, June 10, 2014: Lots of Sweat and Still Hungry

I tossed and turned last night. I think partially it may have had something to do with my nerves of starting up at Crossfit again, but aside from that I felt pretty good this morning.

I choose to blend my shake with ice to make it more substantial and feel like more of a meal. It turned out to be a delicious success! I opted to keep it to plan with ice and water whereas my boyfriend Greg added some berries to his.

I am sitting here writing part of this post when I should be getting ready for Crossfit. God help me.

Let me state the obvious here, Crossfit is hard. It’s probably the hardest thing I have ever done in my life. I went today praying my strong cardiovascular platform as a cycling instructor would carry me: NOPE. It was still as hard as I remember it being.

At the end of the WOD (workout of the day) as I tallied up my numbers for reps and the coach wrote them on the white board, there it was: How I measured up to everyone else, emblazoned for all of the Studio City Crossfit to see. I am not going to lie. I felt like crap. I’m a fitness instructor. Why am I towards the bottom of this list (no, not last, thank you very much)?! Shouldn’t I be higher?! Wait, come to think of it–I know some people cheated! Finally, this dialogue in my head was interrupted by something I recently said in my yoga class:

It’s not about what you can’t do, it’s about what you can do.

Not only did I show up, but I did the best I could after taking months off from Crossfit. My boyfriend killed it and took second in the WOD but he’s just not human and I am not him. Yes, Crossfit is hard. It’s supposed to be. Like anything else in life, the hard is what makes it great. Every day I show up for myself is one day closer to a stronger, better, more fit me.

So am I where I want to be? No.

But if I sat at home thinking about what I couldn’t do verses actually doing it, then I wouldn’t be making any progress–would I?

I became hungrier later today than yesterday, I am thinking that’s a good thing showing that my body is adjusting to the new nutrition program. I housed veggies and humus, some raw almonds and walnuts, drank lots of water, laid in the sun, and then took a yoga flow class. Pre and post class: I WAS STARVING. But then again, I also had 2+ hours of intense physical activity today which certainly contributed to my hunger.

Being mindful of a potentially epic meltdown from not eating, I hustled home after class and immediately made dinner: Chicken, brown rice, black beans, avocado, tomatoes, baby kale with a little olive oil, salt, pepper, and garlic. It was decent and filling. Though I will admit that some froyo would really hit the spot right now, I grabbed a glass of water and sat down to finish writing this. I am making moves and I am committed because it’s not about what I can’t do, it’s about what I can do.

Tomorrow we discuss commitment, oh lala.