Sunday, March 18, 2012

Food, Panic Attacks, and Aiming True.

This is a heavy blog post. To deflect that a little bit, I will be interspersing it with photos of food I have been enjoying as of late. Who doesn't love food? 

Here I go. The typical "wow, it's been awhile, soooo much has been going on, blah blah blah, this and that and something else, now I'm going to blog again on the regular because clearly everyone has missed my updates in this little corner of the internet OH so much" post.

Except it's not.
Ezekiel bread w/ raw almond butter is my go-to breakfast.
Coconut water keeps me from cramping in yoga.

See, if you read my blog even semi-regularly, you know that I started 2012 with this little idea to take all of Kathryn Budig's YogaGlo classes and write about them. I said it wasn't a New Year's resolution. It wasn't. And I think that's key, because even though I haven't been doing Kathryn Budig's practices regularly and writing about them (or writing much at all in this blog), I haven't been failing. In fact, I've been succeeding, and in a huge way. It's BECAUSE of my Aim True challenge. I'd be remiss to not document it, if for no one else than myself. (But what I secretly hope about blogging, and especially about somewhat PAINFULLY HONEST blogging like this, is that someone out there will read it and feel just a little bit less alone in the world. I'll be honest - it scares me to put this out for public consumption. But again - here I go).

If I have more time, I <3 poached eggs! With spinach!
I called it the Aim True challenge because that is Kathryn's brand, but more importantly, it's her philosophy. At least in as much as what I can claim to know about her based on what I've read online and what I've learned taking her classes. At the time I was feeling horribly out of shape, and knew that her athletic vinyasa flow classes would help start getting me back to where I wanted to be physically. But it wasn't just about feeling out of shape (and feeling like a fraudulent yoga teacher, because really, doesn't everyone expect their yoga teacher to be perfect, especially in matters of health and wellness? Oh the PRESSURE). I knew I needed to do SOMETHING, I needed to do it IMMEDIATELY, because what I ultimately needed was CHANGE. But back in January, the amount of change I needed to make was so much that it felt overwhelming and insurmountable to even think about. So I just picked one thing to do, and I did it. Yoga. With Kathryn. Because I dig her a lot.

Mmm, hummus. Mmm, avocado. Mmm, Lunch.
Things didn't go according to the imaginary script that I had secretly already written before I even began. I sort of thought that I would just do class after class, day after day, and start getting super strong and lose a bunch of weight and start doing this whole life thing pretty much perfectly and by this point I'd have finished 40+ KB YogaGlo classes and be writing about profound insights and life-changing moments. Oh, and I'd probably have my own column in Yoga Journal and be writing for all the major yoga blogs like MindBodyGreen and Elephant Journal, and actually, Kathryn Budig herself would have probably hired me to be her personal yoga teaching assistant to travel to Bali with her to conduct transformational workshops. I'd be the "Reality Yogi" doing ToeSox ads involving clothes and Child's Pose.

Instead, by late January, after 18 of Kathryn's YogaGlo classes, I had to face the fact that this old shoulder injury I have wasn't digging on the daily vinyasa practice. Downdog to plank to chaturanga to updog to downdog is a rotator cuff nightmare if your alignment is off, OR, in my case, if you have a weak spot from injury that might never quite be the same as it was when you were 25. I had to take a break.
Ahi tuna, spinach dressed with olive oil and lemon.
With avocado. Of course. My fave lunch this week.

So I moved away from Kathryn (even though I do love her oh so much) and toward my Kripalu yoga practices. Stephen Cope's Dynamic Kripalu Yoga DVD, Danny Arguetty's audio practices, online Kripalu practices. And I recommitted to my own meditation practice. (Have I already mentioned that being a yoga teacher is hard? The pressure to practice what you preach, so to speak, is immense. And it's not even the external pressure that is hard as much as it is the internal pressure - at least for me).

So I gave the script a little rewrite. I mean, really, what kind of script doesn't have the obligatory challenge for the protagonist to overcome? The hiccup was the shoulder injury, I shifted my practice to accommodate my rhomboids, DAMNIT, so now me and yoga sail off into the sunset together as I get super strong, lose a bunch of weight, and write about profound insights and life-changing moments (and go to Bali with Kathryn). Right? Right?!?

I started having panic attacks.

This was absolutely NOT part of the script.

Grilled Ahi tuna. Homemade sweet potato fries.
Roasted green beans!
I have a part-time job to supplement my teaching, and I was sitting at my desk one day when all of the sudden I thought I was having a heart attack. I was short of breath. My chest felt tight. I was sure I was dying. There was NO rhyme or reason behind it.

And thinking I was going to die - really, truly, honestly think I was going to DIE scared the SHIT out of me.

This happened about four different times, completely out of the blue. Different times, different places, different circumstances. I saw that my local hospital was doing a free heart screening day, and it even included an ultrasound of my carotid artery. I showed up bright and early, certain I was going to learn that I was, indeed, dying of heart disease and that I didn't even HAVE a carotid artery.

Nope. My heart is a-okay. I do have a carotid artery and it has exactly 0% build-up. (I asked the lady doing the ultrasound if that was good or bad. She laughed at me).

Quinoa pasta is AMAZING. Kale with garlic.
Christmas plate in March. So?
So now I had to re-write the script yet AGAIN. I asked a close friend who knows everything about everything (I'm serious. He knows everything about everything. I'm so glad he's my friend) and who I trust implicitly for some advice. I was forthright about what was going on. And I took his advice. Little bits and pieces at a time.

Instead of relying on yoga for everything, I got back to high intensity interval training, strength training, and made some nutritional changes he recommended. I've been a RAGING insomniac for years and have gotten by; I set an 11pm bedtime, 7am wake time for myself and stuck with it. Even on the weekends (usually), I get up, I drink lemon water, I say hello to the sun, I meditate, I exercise...and THEN I have coffee. One cup. I'm incredibly mindful about what I put into my body - I do a little Michael Pollen/Weight Watchers combo that is working for me. “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” (and then track the WW points. It really helps with the "not too much" part). I drink a ton of plain water - about 100 ounces a day. I keep track of my sodium (aren't iPhone apps the best?) and try to stay below 2300 mg a day.
Chimichurri salmon, roasted carrots, lemon risotto w/ cherry tomatoes.

And for the past few weeks I've slowly but surely started feeling better...and better..and better...and so much better, comparatively, that I've had moments of euphoria.

Another dear friend of mine, who I'm also so glad is my friend, and who I also trust implicitly gave me some really sage advice, though. Don't get too caught up in the euphoria. Don't be obsessive. Take the middle path. (Can anyone guess where both of these friends went to college? ;) 

And I'm still practicing yoga in some way, shape or form every day, of course, and I'm teaching 10+ classes a week. In fact, I even did a Kathryn Budig class this week, for the first time in over a month. And it was SO, so, so, so great. I had to modify some stuff for my shoulder, and I'm not going to be able to do more than one to two KB practice a week, but it was SUCH a treat.

This is me, NOT having a panic attack.
I like NOT having panic attacks, thankyouverymuch.

There is no ending. There aren't any credits. I'm not done. This is where I am right now. And I just keep praying, "Artemis, huntress of the moon, make my aim true. Give me goals to seek and the constant determination to achieve them."