As an ex-smoker, I thought I knew all about breathing – I held every cigarette inhale as deep and long as I could, and controlled every exhale. I mean, that’s breathing, right? 25 years into my smoking habit, I had a wake-up call (a lung collapse) and ended up in the hospital in intermediate intensive care for four days and three nights surrounded by patients like me who couldn’t breathe without assistance. I was miserable. All I wanted to do was to smoke. When I was released from the hospital, I didn’t know what to do with myself. My body was telling me to make some changes and I finally needed to listen.
I started taking Pilates classes and made a weekly commitment to show up for class. Ten years ago I took a combination Pilates and yoga class and remember vividly my first yoga flow sequence. I remember at the end of that class that I felt like something different was going on – something I hadn’t experienced before. And my breathing was very different. I was so curious to learn more. I bought some DVDs and practiced some poses at home but I really found what I was looking for when I added yoga classes to my week.
It wasn’t always easy to show up for yoga classes, particularly as I was going through transitions in my personal life, but the practice never failed me. It actually was the yoga practice that has served me the most during my toughest challenges. Showing up on my yoga mat paved the way for me to continue to show up for myself. I received my RYT-200 during Soaring Spirit’s inaugural session and as I remain committed to my Vinyasa roots, I also incorporate fitness training into my protocol. I try to use my wake-up call as motivation to keep learning more about becoming my best self.
Becoming my best self and continually showing up takes some planning, but the rewards are totally worth it. I am committed every day to eating as healthy as possible and adding in fitness – yoga asana, gym time, fitness classes, and walking. The number one tool that helps me to eat mindfully is a food journal – online (such as MyFitnessPal), or manual, as in pen and paper. To do the same, track all food and beverages for one week. Then do it for a second week and add in how you feel after eating and drinking. On week three, start measuring portions and calculate daily intake of food. This daily intake will give you a lot of information. A terrific rule of thumb is to eat less than you metabolize each day. If you have a fitness tracker, you can get some good ballpark figures on what you are burning during the day.
I carve out time each weekend to prepare food for the week. I cook proteins (chicken, eggs, salmon, tofu) and then supplement the protein during the week with healthy complex carbohydrates (sweet potatoes, quinoa) and vegetables. I bring prepared food with me to the office and even when I’m at meetings outside of the office.
Join me on Friday, November 29, 2019 for lunchtime yoga at Soaring Spirit and we can talk after class about creating a customized approach for becoming your best self!