Monthly Archives: January 2017

Bidding farewell to the days of fear-driven exercise

I’m bidding farewell to the days of fear-driven exercise. I’ve spent far too long afraid that if I don’t exercise enough, consistently, or at least 3 times a week I’ll put on a few pounds.

It just doesn’t matter anymore. I noticed this last week when I was getting over a cold and migraine. It had been over a week since I’d taken a yoga class or gone for a hike or a vigorous walk. And I noticed something exquisite: there was not an ounce of guilt or anxiety in my body.

I used to feel intense anxiety and stress over fitting a run or a rigorous yoga practice into my schedule. I felt like a lazy bum if I missed two days in a row, or god forbid, more than that.

This is not me hating on exercise. This is me noticing how my relationship to exercise has changed. Exponentially.

There was a year when my hip (torn labrum and then some) was constantly in pain and I developed IT Band syndrome on top of that. Even though I was wincing in pain during a slow jog, I convinced myself I needed to push through it. I knew what was best for me — rest, take it easy, be gentle — but I willfully ignored my intuition. Not just once, but for months.

Too often I would sacrifice the health and well-being of my body and end up icing my knee, rolling out my hip, in the hopes that I’d undo the longer term damage and be up and running again in just a couple days. This somehow settled my nerves.

Exercise was not only punitive, but a vehicle to avoid feeling deep, dark, difficult emotions. I was afraid of the potential changes in my body if I didn’t exercise but I was more afraid of the feelings I’d have to confront if I sat still for too long.

That’s not to say I never had a run that brought me to tears (I did) or a yoga practice that left me weeping (I still do). But along my road to recovery from my eating disorder and severely negative body image, my relationship with exercise was deeply in need of transformation.  

Today, I feel thankful that I’m no longer exercising in excess and that I’m saying goodbye to the days of fear-driven exercise.

Today when I exercise, when I move, it’s a body prayer. It’s a connection and a call to the divine. Staying aligned and checked in to the energy flowing through me. Saying hello, how are you?, I cherish you. Saying thank you, I see you, I hear you and … I love you.

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My ME-ness is Unstoppable. Unbreakable.

I had a call this morning with a woman who is opening a fitness studio in Fairfield County. We were connected by a mutual friend in the fitness industry. She asked me about the style of yoga I teach – this Bowspring – because she had never heard of it. She gave me space to describe the practice and all that it has done for me: how it has furthered my recovery and growth beyond the confining walls of my eating disorder and poor body image.

I explained how my dance background influences my teaching style and that I encourage my students to explore or how I’ll often not so eloquently put it: “make shit up” — meaning if their body is feeling moved, answer that call. To not be afraid to wobble, or mess something up, or look like a dumb-dumb. (Because you never look like a dumb-dumb. When making shit up, you look like a brave soul connecting with your deepest truth.)

For a moment I regretted my words. Why did I have to be such an idiot and admit I tell my students to make shit up to a potential employer/partner?!

It was at this moment when the women stopped me and said she didn’t need to hear any more. She didn’t need a demo class. She was ready to put me on her schedule because she connected with my philosophy and my approach to movement. I could hardly contain my gratitude as I explained to her my vision has been to collaborate with other studios. And here she was, a messenger from the universe, manifesting my vision.

So the lesson? To keep speaking my truth. To keep stepping into my shoes. To keep fully inhabiting this body with my being. My ME-ness feels unstoppable. Unbreakable.

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Go With What You Know

It’s good to go with the flow. But it’s better to go with what you know – what you know to be true for you. Trusting yourself is the ultimate lesson. It’s where all the guidance leads.

-Melody Beattie

A few days before New Years Eve I was on my way to meet someone. As I was getting dressed to leave my house for dinner I had a funny feeling in my stomach. I questioned whether or not I should cancel but then didn’t want to be so abrupt last minute. But even as I got into my car and drove the 2 miles to South Norwalk the funny mudded feeling started morphing into a very clear “No, no, no, no, no.”

As in “No, don’t go.”

I hushed my intuitive voice but it roared loudly as I spent 10 minutes searching for parking. (This never happens to me!)

Shit, I thought. My intuition is really trying to tell me something.

But I wanted to be the cool, laid back girl who just goes with the flow.

I’m like, whatever! Easy breezy!

An hour into dinner I learned some unsettling (but not at all life threatening) news. Unsettling enough however that I could no longer remain in this person’s presence. My time had been wasted and I felt like a fool. I communicated this, calmly.

I requested the waiter give me my food to go and left this someone on their own. I still feel slightly guilty for not paying my share of the bill but … karma can be a bitch.

Suffice it to say I knew all along SOMETHING was up. And if I’m being really honest with myself, I could feel my intuition trying to tell me something the day before.

Only I talked myself out of it and blew it off as overreacting to something silly.

Perhaps this unsettling event needed to happen. It needed to remind me just how powerful my intuition is and that I could use a little brush-up on my listening skills. It reminded me to go with what I know.

If going with the flow is sometimes like following the shoulds or following the crowd, going with what you know is blazing your trail and honoring your truth. Even if it can get a little uncomfortable at times.

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Why I’m Grateful 2017 Started With a Migraine

After 2 days in bed with a migraine I had a really long meditation this morning. And something occurred to me: I avoid planning the big stuff that my heart desires and I avoid taking steps toward being more successful because I sometimes have a “what’s the point?” mindset. I am afraid I’ll to live like this for the rest of my life. Getting migraines, checking out of life for a few days. And so I commit to just enough… because why would anybody trust me? Why would I commit to workshops? To helping others heal? When I am so screwed.

It’s difficult to explain a migraine. I believe Joan Didion describes it best in her essay “In Bed:”

Once an attack is under way, however, no drug touches it. Migraine gives some people mild hallucinations, temporarily blinds others, shows up not only as a headache but as a gastrointestinal disturbance, a painful sensitivity to all sensory stimuli, an abrupt overpowering fatigue, a stroke-like aphasia, and a crippling inability to make even the most routine connections. When I am in a migraine aura (for some people the aura lasts fifteen minutes, for others several hours), I will drive through red lights, lose the house keys, spill whatever I am holding, lose the ability to focus my eyes or frame coherent sentences, and generally give the appearance of being on drugs, or drunk. The actual headache, when it comes, brings with it chills, sweating, nausea, a debility that seems to stretch the very limits of endurance. That no one dies of migraine seems, to someone deep into an attack, an ambiguous blessing.

Suffice it to say I feel depressed while in the throes of a migraine. I am completely disconnected from the rest of the world. I am in survival mode. It is a huge undertaking sometimes just to get comfortable. And there is that period of 1-3 hours at the apex of the migraine where I am at a total loss. I question going to the ER. I question how the heck am I going to make it. I cry because I don’t understand the returning question: Why me?

Something shifted in the first migraine of 2017. It wasn’t any less intense. I was debilitated. Barely capable of answering texts and had to ask my neighbor to walk my dog Daisy. What shifted is I was able to allow myself to go through it. I still had the panic of the apex but I allowed it to happen instead of fighting, resisting, or willing it to just end.

And when I sat in meditation this morning I felt it: I’ve been allowing migraines to run my life. Not just when I have them, but when I don’t have them: I am afraid of making plans and having to break them. I am afraid of being judged by others when I cancel on them for the 6th time in 2 months. In my professional life I am afraid of hosting a retreat by myself because what if, god forbid, I get a migraine and cannot fulfill my commitment to a few dozen people?

I’ve been teaching yoga for 10 years now, health coaching for nearly 5, and now I’m practicing Reiki. And what I realize is I’ve been afraid of becoming more successful for fear I’ll be found out by more people that I suffer from migraines and am a canceler. Or that I am untrustworthy and I’ll lose students and clients.

I relaxed into this last migraine as much as possible. Turning off email, NOT checking social media, and texting or calling people only when absolutely necessary. It took a lot of the pressure off and I treated this migraine like an extended meditation. I kept telling myself “You don’t have to be anything other than YOU. In whatever way that shows up. Right now. It’s OK.”

I reminded myself what these migraines teach me: to have the utmost empathy for other people’s pain. In all the various ways pain can show up.

I’m not feeling disheartened or down by my realization. Instead it’s something to work through. 

It’s actually a relief to be able to see and articulate. I see it as momentum forward in understanding myself better. And I see that I have a choice: I can stick with the “what’s the point” mindset OR I can create a new mindset through new thoughts and new beliefs.

I’m choosing the latter.

 

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