Five stupid things about the label ‘Yoga body’

Ok. Guilty. It’s been a while. No need to remind me. I’ve been reminding myself everyday for quite a few months. Luckily (for who exactly?), I’m wound up enough to express my emotions through blog.

There are two words I think should be struck from the English language with intensity. Like angrily crossing something off a list with a sharp pencil. Or angry purple crayon.

Those words are ‘yoga body’.
‘Yoga body’. And one more time – ‘yoga body’.
Who the hell is the punk who came up with this label??!!

I take gorilla pose very seriously. I actually look like a gorilla.

I take gorilla pose very seriously. I actually look like a gorilla.

I love yoga. On a good week I make three lunch time sessions and three after work and for good measure I throw in pilates once in a while.
I’ve dabbled with yoga previously but this time things are getting serious. I have two mats, two fancy non-skid towels, mat spray, a special yoga top with a built in bra, my own block, strap and foam roller, and I’m thinking of getting a headband with ‘I heart yoga’ plastered on the front. Have I bought into the fad of fancy fitness gear?… No, I don’t think so.

I even have two studios I pay an unlimited subscription to and the crazy thing is that I actually turn up rather than pay the usual gym donation (big shout out to Abundance and The Yoga Lounge)!

See?! I love yoga.

What I really don’t love though is the discussion on what constitutes a yoga body.
Let me just be clear. I do not have a yoga body. Whatever the hell it’s supposed to be.

Do my ankles look big in these leg warmers?

Do my ankles look big in these leg warmers?

I have sturdy, solid thighs – which I’m told is a proud, hereditary trait of the fierce, strong women in my family (in fact, my aim for a while now has been to have such strong thighs that I can crack coconuts between them – Too much information).  I have a curved spin which makes me look like a turtle in forward folds. I have unnaturally short arms which means reaching my toes was celebrated with the same enthusiasm as the moon landing.
And last but not least, I have a broken tail bone so when I’m told to sit properly on my sit bones I start to feel a little punchy.

So why should I even like yoga? Good question wise listener.

It’s empowering. It’s hard. It’s sweaty. It’s ego shattering. It’s satisfying. It’s soothing. It’s energising. And it makes me realise how strong I am. Both mentally and physically.
Shit that’s deep.

So with my crazy twisted spine, short little squirrel arms and broken tail, I get really frustrated when articles describe yoga bodies as something I’m not, nor will ever be.

With that, I’m giving you five stupid things about the label ‘yoga body’.

  1. Whilst trying to check out if you have a ‘yoga body’, you will spend too much time looking at the mirror in your studio and smack your forehead on the floor during crow pose.
  2. It’s likely you will buy a bra, tights or sparkly top a size too small because you think it is the size of someone who should have a ‘yoga body’. You will never wear said item of clothing as it cuts off your circulation and makes you lose the will to live.
  3. When you see endless ‘fitspo’ (don’t even get me started on that label), images of people with ‘yoga bodies’, you will get angry at the internet. And the internet is your friend. That’s where Netflix lives.
  4. Because you are trying to hard to fit into the expectations of a ‘yoga body’, you will bare not a part of your actual body to the outside world. Which is a shame because your actual body is beautiful. And you will also be vitamin D deficient.
  5. If you become too consumed with your ‘yoga body’, You’ll miss out on the real benefits of yoga. Inner awesomeness. And let’s be frank, everyone could do with a little more inner awesomeness.

It’s not all doom and gloom though, there are some very impressive people out there doing great work to crack this ceiling of expectations around the ‘yoga body’. I’d like to salute My Real Yoga Body and Richard Widmark from the Raw Experience who are doing a remarkable amount of good by changing how we see yoga bodies.

On a final note, happy Yoga day everybody! May your tree pose be strong and your forward folds bendy.

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Wellbeing is a blue rinse away

A couple of days ago I started writing a blog post about butter.

Yep. Butter.

It’s probably not a huge surprise – given my lengthy absence from this blog – that I’ve been suffering from a severe case of writers block. I couldn’t even muster a witty email until very recently (some may comment that I still can’t….).

Now I still plan to post that riveting analysis of the second best part of a cow. So you still get to look forward to that with unjustified enthusiasm.

But it’s going to have to wait.

A couple of hours ago I got a hair cut.

I’m one of those lucky people whose hairdresser also doubles as both counsellor and very dear friend. This is not a deal that Matthew really had much of a say in, but he’s been a very good sport and has kindly refrained from changing his number on me.

Anyway, he cuts a damn good head of hair. So much so that I feel a little like Don King hustling his talent (currently sporting the same haircut… coincidence?…).

Damn I'm good looking

Damn I’m good looking

So I’m sitting in the chair with my newly bleached, then blue rinsed, then shorn, then mohawked hair and I started to feel a feeling I’ve been missing in recent weeks… Enthusiasm.

It’s no big secret that I am Gollum’s grumpy cousin in Winter. Some demon takes over me that turns me into a giant pain in the ass. No amount of dairy-free, sugar-free, 85% cocoa mocklate can get me out of my slump (it seriously calls for the good stuff).

As Matthew has known me for quite sometime, and being the well adjusted human man that he is, he has developed a coping mechanism for my visits – wine.

So I’m sitting there with my grumpy cat face on and as my haircut is taking shape, my face is transforming into something I haven’t seen for a while. I think people call it a smile.

Lilac is the new blue rinse

Lilac is the new blue rinse

It dawned of me all of a sudden that wellbeing for me, is getting my creative groove on. I didn’t need those 30 hours of therapy after all! All I needed was a haircut and a blue rinse!

Creativity and in turn wellbeing comes in many, many different forms – baking, painting, singing, working, gardening, running, writing, speaking, a bit of pampering – whatever. For me, it’s doing something out of the ordinary.

And a good, colorful haircut was just what I needed to move my slump. 

Consider this a public service announcement. This is my list of ten things to get your creative juices flowing and increase your wellbeing:

  1. Get a haircut. You don’t have to go all out. Get a trim. Spruce yourself up. 
  2. Eat chocolate. The REAL stuff. As good as healthy chocolate can be. There is no substitute for cocoa and sugar. Strike me down. I said it.
  3. Write. Something. Anything. It could be your name over and over again if that’s what it takes (not judging), but writing helps.
  4. Be nice to people. I have a theory – Work hard, have fun, be nice to people. Genius!
  5. Pet a dog. If you have a crippling fear of dogs, you can substitute ‘dog’ for parakeet, kitten or miniature pony. It’s really not important.
  6. Donate to charity. Time or money, it doesn’t matter. Nothing is as good for your wellbeing as positively contributing to the wellbeing of someone else.
  7. Hug someone. Science tells us that babies benefit from close human contact. If it works for babies than chances are it works for big people.
  8. Breathe in fresh air. Even though it’s cold, and even though the couch is tempting, crisp oxygen will rejuvenate you whether you realise it or not.
  9. Finish something. This is vague. And that’s intentional. I am the grand starter of many things, finisher of none. But finishing stuff gives you immense satisfaction. Don’t judge me for quitting the crochet blanket/onesie.
  10. Be kind… to yourself. Your grump will pass and you’ll run out of recorded programmes on MySky and life will resume as normal. Breathe in. Now breathe out. And chill out.

If you want a number 11. I would highly recommend giving Hot Bikram Yoga a try. It’s not for everyone, but nothing says “get over yourself” like sweating profusely in a room that smells like mince meat with a bunch of half naked contortionists.

That’s all folks. Until next time. Enjoy the ride x

Winter – the serial killer of motivation

It’s almost 1pm on Saturday afternoon. I’ve just managed to pry myself off the couch and out of my jammies. I’ve also just finished half a family sized block of milk chocolate… And I’m considering going back for the second half.

“Nooooooo!!!!” You cry. “How have you slipped so low???”

Not even this will help.

Not even this will help.

If you are regularly reading my blog, then you’ll know I have been absent for the last few weeks. I’m sure you noticed and you’ve been missing me.

The problem is Winter.

Well, actually, it’s Autumn but I lump them both in the same camp.

You see, I suffer from SAD. Seasonal Affliction Disorder for those of you not in the know. SAD is a quasi-scientific affliction which causes sufferers to become grumpy, unmotivated, hungry for baked goods, a giant pain in the ass to be around and blame Mother Nature for her complete lack of respect of the need for sunshine.

And boy oh boy have I got it.

Sometimes SAD announces it’s arrival with the precise change of seasons, and sometimes it sneaks up on you when you’re least expecting it. One day you’re fine and you easily get up at 6am for your 5km run followed by your kale smoothie. The next day your favourite pair of shoes are your slippers and you don’t even remember if they were meant to be grey?

What do you mean I can't wear them outside?!

What do you mean I can’t wear them outside?!

I’m probably being slightly over dramatic (yet another symptom of SAD). It’s not like I’ve completely gone to the dogs. I’m still going to yoga 2-3 times a week, loving my weekly personal training session and climbing up some mountain every weekend. But now, when I indulge in a few pieces of chocolate and lie completely prone on the couch like a statue, I don’t wail in distress and leap off the couch and into a series of lunges. Instead, I break off another piece and sink myself lower into my butt groove.

The great news about SAD is that it’s not permanent.

The moment the sun comes out for more than four consecutive seconds and the wind dies down enough so that my hair isn’t accidentally styled into a mohawk, I’ll start feeling like a fully function human being again.

There are other things you can do to counter the effects as well. Here is my list of five things to help you out of your SAD slump.

  1. Eat comfort food. There is a good reason why they call it ‘comfort’ food. Delicious food really is good for the soul. I’m not for one second suggesting you go out and buy two litres of Coke and a packet of Twisties. That is NOT comfort food. That is called eating your feelings. I’m talking about a good, real, honest, home cooked feast. Try this Molten Lava Chocolate Cake from the Paleo Mom. I DARE you to not to feel better.
  2. Buy good looking gym pants. And then wear them on the couch. Seriously. I bought this incredible pair of yoga pants from Lululemon and they are the epitome of comfort. Lying on the couch has never felt this good. And strangely, it actually started to motivate me to leave the house. It’s like voodoo.
  3. Be grateful for Winter. Now this is tough. It can be downright impossible to find things that make you feel great about the fourth ‘100 year storm’ in one week. But there really are some things about Winter that aren’t completely awful – falling asleep to the rain outside, mulled wine, extra woolly socks, ear muffs, skiing/snowboarding (if you are that way inclined… I am not), all types of soup, and not having to make an excuse to stay in doors and watch a Simpsons marathon. See? That’s just a few to get you started.
  4. Watch Jenna Marbles. If you haven’t seen a Jenna Marbles video then I just don’t know who you are. This girl has 13,000,000 subscribers to her Youtube videos!! That is cray cray! There is a good reason for it. She’s hilarious. A couple of my favourite videos – How Home Workouts Work, Better Names for Animals and Drunk Makeup Tutorial (which, by the way, has been viewed more than 18,000,000 times!!! So I’m not the only one who enjoys it). You’re welcome.
  5. Be kind to yourself. As easy as it is to fall down the hole of “I’m the worst person in the world because I haven’t showered for two days and I’ve abandoned kale and quinoa for white bread and coffee”, you’re actually a perfectly awesome human being. Let it go. You’ll come right. This is only temporary. Buy yourself a nice pen and a warm pair of socks. Maybe get the Pharrell album and play ‘Happy’ on repeat a 100 times.

So there you go. I hope I’ve been forgiven for neglecting you. I promise to write another post soon… While I wait for my fondue to cook. Until next time, enjoy the ride. x

 

Five signs your healthy life style has gone too far

This morning I completed my first ever Xterra trail run.

By all accounts. I should’ve loved it.

What’s not to love?! The short course (which seemed like a good place to start), is 6km of uphill, through gorse, onto clay, down gravel, up again, down again, up again, down again and finally – when your spirit is destroyed – another 1km on the flat to the finish. Fun right?!

Looking way happier than I felt

Looking way happier than I felt

Weeellll… Actuallly… Not so much.

Perhaps I’m being a party pooper or perhaps I just don’t like being passed by a 10 year old, but I can’t say it was my best or my favourite run ever.

I can’t really put my finger on it. It wasn’t the 3km of steep uphill on treacherous clay. It wasn’t the gorse I seemed unable to avoid which gave my legs a good shredding. It wasn’t the bone grinding vertical downhill or the grassy slip and slide or the nearly assing it right over the side of a cliff or the up where there should have been down.

It wasn’t specifically any of those things.

I think my problem is that the millions of things I’ve signed up for – salsa dancing, hot yoga, hatha yoga, climbing and burlesque to name a few – are beginning to feel like a bit of a chore.

Once we got through the gauntlet of serious runners – who obviously missed the “We’re all here to have fun” briefing – and made it to the finish line, I turned to Jeff and said “Shall we sign up for the next one?”

Am I mad?! Seriously!? That’s crackers!

This got me thinking, how do you know when your new healthy lifestyle has gone too far?

I used to think that when my friends came over for dinner and said something like “Ooooohhh I see you’ve bought another cookbook dedicated to quinoa” that they were impressed with my enthusiasm for the superfood grain (it IS very versatile you know).

Upon reflection however, they may have actually been thinking “Oh god are we having quinoa in every dish again?!!”

So here are five signs to help you recognise when you’re enthusiasm has become maniacal obsession.

1. Your pantry is full of health foods, whole foods and supplements that you don’t know what do with… And it reflects in your bank account. I’m yet to find a recipe with Maca Powder that doesn’t actually taste like dirt. Maybe it’s supposed to taste like dirt?

Now where did I put the cactus root?

Now where did I put the cactus root?

2. You can’t attend a social occasion without first providing the host with a detailed description of what you can and can’t eat –

“I’m not eating orange coloured fruits and vegetables at the moment but I do eat green vegetables on Wednesdays and red fruits on Fridays. There’s only a couple more things: No wheat, dairy, yeast or soy. No fruit after lunch time, carbs after breakfast, protein before 5pm. I’m only eating foods which I have physically collected myself. Is this a problem? What time should we come round?”

3. Likewise, your social life is determined by when and where you have the next event you’ve signed up for –

“Mum, I would love to catch up with Aunty So-and-so and Cousin What’s-his-name, but I have a yoga retreat/ultra marathon/salsa competition/insert sporting event that I just cannot miss.”

4. You own industrial strength kitchen machinery for your blending, processing, mashing, mixing and general healthy food preparation which is worth as much as your car. Maybe more. I want to be buried with my cherry red Kitchenaid mixer… And blender… And food processor.

5. Your nicest clothes by far are exercise clothes. This makes it somewhat awkward when Jeff wants to take me out for a nice dinner of gluten free tacos and I ask if I can wear my yoga tights. Lululemon you have a lot of answer for.

Don’t get me wrong now. I love the healthy me. I really do. But sometimes it’s important when to know you  need a break.

If you want to eat a Lindt chocolate bunny instead of your organic sugar-free date bar, that’s totally fine. If you want to lie on the couch for the weekend and watch a Breaking Bad marathon while drinking margaritas, do it. And enjoy it. Most importantly, enjoy it.

Enjoy the ride! x

What a bunch of losers

I am not a person who wins things.

When I was four years old, I won an Easter egg painting competition. That’s been it for almost 27 years.

Don’t feel sorry for me. I mean, I’m totally ok with it. Who really wants to win a years supply of red onions anyway? No thanks.

It’s gotten to the point where I enter competitions for the thrill of knowing I’m not going to win. Win six months supply of adult nappies? I’m in! The chance to win a free Eiffel tower tattoo on your back? Hold me back!

My luck is just not great when it comes to competitions.

I do have very good luck at being the person at a restaurant who will have their meal forgotten though. Or, the person most likely to be on the flight where the pilot will have to slam on the brakes at the end of the runway. But near death experiences aside, actually cool competitions where you want to win and feel a sense of success, pride and accomplishment? Nope.

Over the last six weeks I’ve been participating in the HR Biggest Loser with my amazing workmates. We each put in $10 a week and were subjected to weekly weigh-ins (“For the last time – Leave the scales where they are!!!”), substitutions (“I’ll have a glass of red thanks, there are too many calories in white wine”), and weird food experiments (“Chickpeas in cookies are a crime against nature”).

Early on it became less about the money to be won and more about how we were going to celebrate at the end – mostly this involved a lot of talk about a bucket of KFC chicken skin or two litres of ice-cream.

As we continued through the six weeks, we formed something of a support group for each other. It wouldn’t be unusual to hear a conversation in the lunch room go something like this:

Workmate #1: I am going to do terribly in this weeks weigh in. I completely lost it and ate a bunch of curly fries on Saturday (said with head in hands).

Workmate #2: You’re going to do absolutely fine! One little blowout won’t ruin all your hard work. And if anyone is going to do terribly, it’s me. I demolished a cream donut in front of the TV on Sunday. I didn’t even regret it at the time. That’s me out of the competition.

Workmate #1: No way! You’re doing so well! You’re totally going to win.

Workmate #2: No YOU’RE going to win. You’re the best.

Workmate #1: No YOU’RE the best.

For an outsider watching with a bag of popcorn, I’m sure it was just as entertaining as the show, but we actually lost weight the healthy way – check out this depressing article about the show – and without the psychotic, soul destroying personal trainers.

Now six weeks on, since we began in January, the eight of us collectively have lost about 30 kilograms (about 66 pounds or almost five stone). Everyone worked incredibly hard and it’s paid off.

The most amazing thing is… I won! I’m still shocked. I lost 8.17% of my body weight and I can hand on heart say that the chickpea chocolate chip cookies are delicious.

Post competition, I’m continuing with my healthy lifestyle. It was always so much more than about the weight. The removal of processed food and refined sugars has actually changed my life (cue – Oprah moment). Without trying to be cheesy – it just comes naturally – I win everyday when I have more energy, can run faster, sleep better and get a thrill out of making delicious treats like beetroot brownie! I’m not going to lie though, it felt amazing to win.

Sometimes it’s great to win. It’s absolutely ok when you don’t. It just means that when you do, it will mean so much more.

To B-Lal, BooBoo, Flick, Miss M, Sneilson, Flossey, and Miss Page – I totally dig you guys. Thanks for the fierce competition. You’re all losers in my book.

I didn’t eat my two litres of ice-cream, just the two scoops for me. Enjoy the ride x

Inaugral HR Biggest Loser - Winner 2014

Surviving a healthy hangover… Or a zombie apocolypse

I fell off my healthy wagon at a wedding recently. I ate a chicken wing. And had a margarita. Then some deep fried cheese. And I topped it off with too much sparkling wine and a bout of Gangnam Style.

I’m not perfect. I’m so ashamed.

Actually, I’m not. I needed a good blow out. I needed to vent some pent up frustration from sitting at my desk chewing my cucumber sticks while less then 10 metres away the Strategy team eat their team lunch of fried chicken and chicken salt seasoned fries. No, I’m fine with it. Honest.

My point is, I’m not a quinoa obsessed, kale devouring, natural food robot.

As good as I felt at the time and as outrageous as my dance moves were, the next day I suffered like I have never suffered before. My body went in to what I can only describe as sugar, wine and cheese shock and made it it’s mission to purge the evil from my body in any way possible.

This resulted in me lying incredibly still, face down while trying to negotiate water into my mouth.

Hangover face. Is this my best side?

Hangover face. Is this my best side?

Had this been the way I spent the rest of my day, I probably would’ve been ok with that. But it wasn’t was it. Ooooh nooo siree.

Early the day before – pre-wedding – I had loftily suggested that Jeff and I go for one of our hill walks seeing as he was driving that night and I wasn’t going to be drinking that much (reformed booze hag alert) We’d both be feeling great the next day and we may as well make the most of it.

Well, one of us was feeling great.

‘Live and let live’ is not one of Jeff’s life mottos. Nor is ‘Let the person having the worst hangover ever lie on the couch and be alone with their remorse, self loathing and headache’. Jerk.

Jeff managed to get me out the door by about 11am. On any Sunday morning that’s impressive. He waved painkillers in front of my face like a carrot until he got me into the car. He’s tricky that Jeff.

To save you from a mostly uneventful, yet lengthy story, I’ll get to the good stuff.

Everything was going perfectly fine and I was actually feeling almost back to normal. We got to the top of the aptly named Boulder Hill. I took a photo –  standing on a boulder. I took several more photos of boulders. We even ran back down to the half-way marker. Damn my reoccurring smugness.

I suggested we try a different track back. We hadn’t done this track before but it couldn’t be any more challenging than Boulder Hill. Because we were feeling so bold, we ran for the first couple of kilometres. Over the streams, around the mud puddles, through the swarm of cicadas (I screamed), down one hill, up another. Go team go!

After about 30 minutes, I started getting pins and needles in my finger tips and an overwhelming craving for apples. Odd. I looked down to see two giant lumps of ham staring back at me. My fingers had each swollen to the size of a dog roll and the skin was bursting like sausages cooking on a barbecue.

Did I panic? Of course I panicked! Did you read the bit about my fingers the size of dog roll?!

With no idea how far we had to go, no cellphone reception and no epipen or antihistamine, it’s pretty fair to say I panicked.

Jeff on the other hand, was cool calm and collected. There wasn’t really any other option than to keep going. I was mostly worried about the reaction becoming anaphylactic. The last time this happened I ended up with a tennis ball sized lump on my ass from an adrenalin injection.

After what seemed like the longest walk of my life, we reached the car and headed straight to the emergency department.

Several hours of observation and a prescription for industrial strength antihistamines and the nice doctors let me go home to singlehandedly eat a family sized chicken.

There is probably a good moral here somewhere. Don’t over indulge. Always carry a survival kit. Make sure you’re wearing clean undies on a bush walk, just in case. But I actually think it’s this:

Sometimes, despite all your best efforts, you have a blowout. It might be sugar; it might be three large pizzas with stuffed crust in one sitting; it might be one more glass of wine that turns into five or it may be ditching the run to watch a marathon of Breaking Bad.

Whatever it is, give yourself a break, and get back on the horse tomorrow. You’re not a chia munching, coconut water gulping, tofu loving robot after all. Enjoy the ride.

TOP HEALTHY HANGOVER TIPS

  • Coconut water smoothies – raspberries, strawberries, coconut water + blend = done.

    Boulder Hill. Winning.

    Boulder Hill. Winning.

  • Run up a hill. That will sort you out.
  • Wear your awesome shorts and you will naturally feel better.
  • Lie in the sun and soak up the Vitamin D goodness but wear a hat and plenty of sunscreen.
  • Let the dog lick your face. I’m sure that I once read dog saliva fixes hangovers (maybe not science).
  • Eat a nice, juicy apple.
  • Stay in downward dog until the urge to vomit goes away.
  • Flick through one of your healthy cookbooks for an hour trying to find something to cook and then instead,  eat almost a whole ready-cooked roast chicken with nothing but a fork and your determination, while standing in your kitchen. It’s protein. Shut up.
  • Don’t have an allergic reaction and end up in A&E.

A healthy, happy Valentines Day

This post is dedicated to things I love.

Happy Valentines Day!

Happy Valentines Day!

Sometimes, in a moment of desperation or despair, it can be easy to obsess about all of the unhealthy things I once had a passionate love affair with.

Things like fondue, garlic bread, Milky Ways, McDonalds cheeseburgers with added mayonnaise, strawberry daiquiris, crunchy nut cornflakes, Doritos, raspberry ice tea, cookie dough, chocolate chip bacon waffles and teriyaki chicken donburi.

That last one brought a tear to my eye.

But this post is not about the things I miss, it’s about the things I love. So here goes:

  1. The new me. Boom.
  2. 85% cocoa dark chocolate.
  3. Fluro. Any fluro but fluro gym gear DOES make you workout harder/run faster.
  4. Coconut water.
  5. Beetroot in smoothies.
  6. Yoga on Saturday mornings with my amazing friends Karen and Jen.
  7. Buckwheat pancakes.
  8. My Food Bag.
  9. Supportive workmates.
  10. IMG_20140208_085159Homemade muesli.
  11. Gluten/dairy free options that don’t make you hate life.
  12. Soy custard.
  13. Hill walks with Jeff and Chuck the pug… and her shoes.
  14. Insanely motivating personal trainers – here’s looking at you Elly.
  15. My mum who sent my blog to her ukulele group.
  16. Snack sized cucumbers.
  17. Red wine.
  18. Kale. Honest.
  19. Lululemon.
  20. Wellington “Summer”.
  21. Anyone who reads this blog.

Love yourself. Send yourself a card even. Like your own photos on Facebook. Honestly, that is all you need.

Wishing you all a very healthy, happy Valentines Day. May your days be full of carob powder, calf stretches and beetroot smoothies. Enjoy the ride.

IMG_0183