Sometimes you need to slow down and appreciate just how far you have come.
That’s exactly what I made time for this morning. Sitting at a french cafe in the heart of Chelsea, I reflected on the past few weeks. There is definite evidence of progress. I have been participating in and enjoying Bikram yoga for close to three months now. My friend and I signed up for a 5k Summer series in Prospect Park. Every other Wednesday throughout the summer we will run a 5k. Ran one so far and although it was rough getting back into it, I felt proud to be doing something I love again. Running always makes me feel so strong. I made a commitment to cut sugar out of my diet and successfully went a whole three weeks without a drop of it. During that time I also consumed no alcohol and while I did have a few beers after my detox was over in honor of celebration, I have decided to quit drinking almost indefinitely. I don’t feel that need to escape that I once did which alcohol used to provide me and mostly just feels like I am poisoning my body whenever I do drink. I always feel worse. I only want to participate in activities that are beneficial to my body; I want to be good to myself. I established a personal doctor again and have been in for a few visits, it has been years since I’ve paid any attention to those important details of my life. This morning I was informed that I lost 12 pounds and drastically improved my blood pressure since my previous visit. I can only continue to work hard at boosting my health. Because all that matters to me is that I am healthy; physically, mentally and spiritually.
Aside from the focus on my health and wellness, I also recently received a raise after I obtained my New York City Health Academy certification in Food Safety. It feels good to be able to buy a few more groceries and not work so hard to pay the bills. I’m also looking forward to being able to travel a bit more often, so long as I can afford it.
I’m close to a month away from a trip home. I cannot wait to see my loved ones, have some fun and laughter and recharge my spirit.
I believe that life is mostly about timing. Sometimes things happen at all the wrong moments. But then again, sometimes it all works out. I feel strongly that there are amazing things about to happen in my future. I’m not waiting around or anything. My everyday adventures are more than I could ask for. I have the best friends, most supportive and loving family, an open mind, a big heart and the desire to always experience new things constantly and learn as much as I can. I believe the universe is taking good care of me as well as all of the hard work I have been doing.
Oh and it has officially been one year since I moved back to New York. I am still so in love with this amazingly versatile city.
I am a very lucky and grateful woman.
I guess we can call this a rough draft. I am sure to re-visit this at a later date but for now I just need to get it out. Because I feel very strongly on the topic.
I wish to discuss some things very important to me. Body image and respect.
First off, body image, especially in today’s society. Let me first say that I am pleased with the direction that the everyday depiction of a real woman’s body is headed these days. I see more and more full-figured woman in the media, advertisements, tv-shows, etc than ever before. But I believe there is still a real problem with society’s expectations of what size we should be or how we should look.
I believe much more emphasis should be put on the health aspect instead of “weight” and “size”. I’ve battled with my “weight” for a large portion of my life. Now that I have spent the last 5 years or so learning what it means to be “healthy”, I wish someone had introduced me to this lifestyle sooner. Instead of drinking slim-fast at age 9 (which is just fucking horrible now that I look back on it) or basically starving myself and taking very dangerous diet pills at age 21, I could have just learned how to eat real, whole, healthy foods and just be good to my body.
These days I am so proud of my body and I have no problems saying that. I embrace every little imperfection and make an effort to appreciate my whole self with every glance in the mirror. Maybe it’s wisdom that’s come with aging, maybe it’s so many empowering conversations I’ve had with my close female friends, or perhaps it’s all those times I spent changing in locker rooms finally realizing that no one is perfect and we all have our faults. I don’t know exactly but I am thankful for everything I’ve learned about myself.
Here is the problem. Now that we are approaching warmer temperatures, everyday clothing choices are no doubt more revealing. Especially when you’ve previously been bundled up with 3 or 4 layers. In all neighborhoods that I’ve resided in since my move to NYC, there seems to always be those men. The ones who stand around in groups just waiting for a girl in a skirt, dress, shorts, whatever to pass by. Then the filthy, disgusting, inappropriate, grotesque and degrading comments begin. It could be anything from a statement, a whistle, a look, a kiss noise or beyond. Either way, it’s uncomfortable and unwanted. This happens every year and at times it actually makes me question what clothing I choose to wear for the day. I think if I were in any other city I would be quicker to speak up and express my dislike of this. But to be on the safe side, I usually do everything I can to modify my path so that I do not have to come in direct contact with these men. This is difficult in a city where I rely on walking and public transit for all my travels.
I do not deserve to be treated in this way nor does any other woman. The lack of respect makes me sick and I wish I knew how to change it. Just because I am tall, have long legs and decide to wear shorts for the day, doesn’t give some creepy guy the right to say derogatory things to me.
So I vow to wear whatever I want to this summer. Without worrying about what disrespectful comment I might receive. Because it is my body and my freedom to be me. I will never again let someone else make me feel bad about that.
So I guess I’ve been extra tough on myself lately. All these new journeys I’ve taken on and I’m determined to make something happen; to move forward in my self-improvement. There are those things that remain beyond my control and that is difficult for me to accept at times. So, in a way, these new endeavors represent the parts of me that are strong, able and willing. I’m not competing with anyone nor do I have anything to prove. I’m doing it all for me.
Bikram yoga has proven to be the most challenging and rewarding thing I’ve ever done for myself. It brings everything out of me. Every hidden feeling, every unhealthy thought, every single emotion. It’s not uncommon for me to be in tears at some point during class. This is the most important outlet in my life right now. There are so many things that I feel I cannot discuss with anyone else around me but within these 90 minutes I am free to feel it all. And it always feels better afterwards.
My body is going through many adjustments. The flexibility happens slowly and I’m still in a lot of pain much of the time. But I can feel how much strength I’m gaining. In addition to yoga, I’m working at changing my diet once again. I’ve decided to re-introduce eggs here and there and I just began a 21-day sugar detox.
I feel so small sometimes. It helps to have a grasp on my own wants and needs. I’m empowered by the control I finally feel I have in my life.
Tonight I faced a new challenge. One I have been fearful of for some time now. I attended my first hot yoga class. It was undoubtedly hard work but very therapeutic. It was almost as if I could feel things inside of me melting away with every bit of dripping sweat.
Lately I view my life as a whirlwind. Definitely a fun whirlwind, but not close to subsiding anytime soon. It’s like when you see someone in the distance and you can’t tell if they are walking closer towards you or further away. I’m not sure which way I’m headed.
There are so many good things that I am doing for myself. Self-awareness continues to be my greatest concern. As much as I intend on living in the moment, I still catch my mind wandering.
The gift of yoga is the only thing that I’ve found that keeps me balanced. I’m able to accept things, let in the good, let go of the bad. All I know is that I finally understand that I am good enough. Just as I am. That alone is enough to keep me going every single day. I feel strong.
Reminders for this upcoming week:
If it hurts, that means it is working.
Nothing really worth it ever comes easy.
My body is capable of anything.
I am as strong as I decide to be.
My body can run many more miles after my mind wants to give up.
The process is progress.
I’m back in the fitness game full strength. My whole entire body is in pain but it’s always worth it.
I wish there were a way for me to fully capture this moment in which I am currently existing, at least so I could share the feeling with someone; anyone really. Jazz in the background, candles lit, safely snuggled under my heated blanket while I lounge here to document this next stage of me.
Rewind back to last year this time and I was living in a beautiful world called Columbus, Ohio. My job was high-stress, friends were scarce, resources limited and I needed something big to happen. For me. I was longing for a new outlet. I made the decision back then that I would someday run a half-marathon. Running was still somewhat new to me at that point but undoubtedly something I had grown to love. I pushed myself so very hard for the next 6 months, although not quite as intensely as I had hoped for. So instead, this last May, I ran my first 5k. One of the most rewarding moments of my life.
Fast forward to now. My wonderful friend Johanelli and I have decided to really start training for a Half Marathon next May. Now that I have an actual partner in crime to share this amazing and excruciatingly difficult journey, I feel more motivated than I ever have. I know all too well how painful this process is sure to be but at the same time the end results are guaranteed to be powerful beyond measure.
On top of marathon training, I will also be moving apartments in two short weeks. Words cannot describe how thankful I am to be moving on from this unfortunately poisonous living situation. Not to mention this new place will be a definite step up in my world and I can’t wait to start over again. It seems I do that often.
I could be the heated blanket, the Jazz, the endorphins or the fact that the moon is finally in my sign. All I know is that I’m on top again. Queen of my ever-changing wonderful world.
“Gratitude leads to Acceptance,
Acceptance leads to Bliss”
Sometimes hidden in the very dark places of your mind, light finds a way to shine through anyways. Lately I’ve found so much joy in learning more about the things my body and mind are capable of, while simultaneously building my mental and physical strength. They say our body is a temple and how true that has proven to be these days.
Yoga has taken me to a higher level from which I am able to face each day with a clear mind and a clean slate. I let myself feel freely and in turn have let so many of my walls down. In fact, there are no walls left. My life is now divided into separate chapters; then and now. There is a weight that I no longer carry and a burden that will never again be mine. Letting go is finally something that makes sense to me, at last I’ve learned how.
Very thankful for this new blessing that has been taking care of me. Thrilled to see what heights my mental well-being will continue to soar to in the future.
I feel it is only normal to fall off the fitness wagon every now and again. For me it is the simple fact that I am only human and sometimes I have the will power and sometimes I do not. I can only limit myself for certain undetermined waves of time before, eventually, I have to cheat on this plan somehow.
There are a plethora of body types out there and different ways that people treat their bodies as well as how strong of a metabolism they may possess. I was not blessed with a high metabolism as I have to work very hard to keep fit and maintain a healthy diet. This takes an extreme amount of self-control and sometimes near excruciating exercise plans. So as I said, this discipline only lives in me for certain periods of time before my deep-rooted bad habits begin to slowly resurface.
When I make good choices and treat my body well through the food I consume and how active I keep myself, I always feel a high sense of accomplishment. I feel stronger, happier, more energetic and just plain content with the person I am. Working on myself in any way continues to be of high importance to me always.
I’ve began to take better care of myself again. The trick for me this time was to incorporate new ways to stay in shape. I think after I ran the 5k back in May I was just feeling very burnt out. I still love running but I needed a change of pace. So thankfully in this amazing city I live in there are various fitness classes being offered throughout the duration of summertime and to make it even better they are completely free. These classes range from Zumba to Yoga to Pilates to Spin and beyond. I attended my first Zumba class today and I loved every second of it. It really got me moving, taught me some awesome moves and provided a killer workout for my entire body. The best part about these classes is that they are being held in prime locations. I never thought I would be dancing my butt off at a Zumba class along the East River, with the view of the Manhattan skyline as well as the magnificent Brooklyn Bridge. I’ve also started doing some early morning runs in Battery Park along the Hudson. It feels good to escape the enslavement and confinement of the gym and just reminds me of how lucky am I to be back here in this place with endless opportunities.
I’m going to work very hard from now until the end of the year and beyond because the challenge alone fills me with so much energy, passion and drive. It feels good to push myself and I will continue to do just that.
The most important lesson I have learned thus far in my life is to always focus on my personal growth; keep myself happy first and foremost. When I take care of myself and my well-being, I am just an overall better person. I deal with potential stress-ors with more positivity, I am more patient, more open-minded, I am a better friend, a better listener and see the world full of endless opportunities.
Last year this girl began a journey. I began a new hobby and it has completely changed who I am; for the better. I first decided to pick up running due to the fact that it terrified me. In hopes of conquering another fear, I jumped in not knowing at all what to expect.
I have spoken many times of my running adventures; this is something of much importance to me. Last fall I set a goal of running a half-marathon on this very day. I have trained hard but have also faced minor set-backs in the last 7 months or so. I gained so much heart throughout this time. I learned what it felt like to push myself harder everyday and to keep pushing even when it felt like I had nothing left. I really discovered just exactly who I am. I have an iron soul and I never give up; ever.
Sometime in March I began talking with one of my managers who had just taken up running as well and was planning to complete the 5k portion of the race I had been training for. She said we should sign up together. I decided that a 5k was a more suitable and most-likely more attainable goal to shoot for as my first public exposure to running. And so began the countdown.
Today was a day I will never forget. The amount of pure adrenaline coursing through my body alone was unexplainable and just felt thrilling. Being around so many others with the same drive and passion was beyond rewarding. Not knowing what exactly to expect kept me anticipating every second. I started off strong and kept steady. My pace definitely slowed between the second mile and the finish line but I kept going. Guided by an army of runners just as dedicated as myself, pushing themselves to the limit, I made my way towards the finish line. I collected my metal and met up with my friends. Words cannot possibly begin to describe what this accomplish means to me or what I felt in that very moment. I have never been so proud of myself. Next stop, half-marathon.
So here’s to dedication, persistence, believing in yourself, dreams, goals, strength, happiness and striving to become a better person. These are the things that truly enrich our lives.
Never give up.