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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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 pain in the ass

A couple of weekends ago, I finished my first 10km race. That’s 10 whole kilometres of non-stop running. 10,000 metres of burning thighs. An average of 8,500 steps of sweaty eyebrows.

image

Now I'd like pancakes.

Understandably, I was pretty thrilled. Even more so because this time last year, if you’d suggested to me I would be running 10km I would’ve laughed, then cried and then ate another piece of bacon dipped in nutella.

I really enjoy running. This usually surprises people because running is
such a solitary sport and I am not… ahem… a solitary person.

Yet, something about running on a lonely road at dusk, with no end in sight, and your concentration on nothing more than putting one foot in of the other, is really appealing to me.

Maybe it’s because I really like the sound of my own voice and so I have ample time to talk to myself. Who knows.

A couple of years back when my dog Chuck was a wriggling ball of endless enthusiasm and energy (now she’s found smackos. We’re good), we used to take her out running. She was all paws and tongue and she generally didn’t care where we were going as long as she was glued to your legs.

On one occasion, her enthusiasm got the better of both of us.

I won’t say exactly who is to blame because it’s uncharitable to blame a cute two year old pug, but she stopped right in front of me and I fell.

I remember the exact moment my disc crunched my sciatic nerve. I remember the exact moment that lightening bolts of pain shot down my leg and into my toes. I remember the exact moment I said a lot of swear words that would embarrass even the most unsavory of characters.

And there went my plans of running a half marathon. Just like that. In the hyperextension of a knee.

Over the next few years I tried every therapy available to satisfy the chronic, often excrutiating and constant pain running through my leg:

Tramadol = Nothing says “hire me!” Like throwing up on the first day of your temp job. Hello hallucinations.

Physiotherapy = That gel is cold and I’m paying you how much, to do what?

Bowen Therapy = Still not entirely sure what this does but I think its working?

Chiropractor = Should my spin be pointing in that direction?

Acupressure = Should I be bruising like that?

Acupuncture = Have I mentioned I don’t like needles?

Orthapedic surgeon = You’re telling me I just have to “learn to live with it”?!!

image

Yes, that IS an ice pack on my ass.

None of this worked for me. And for the past few years I learned to cope and accept that I would never run in the way that I wanted to.

When I changed my lifestyle though, I changed my attitude.

For too long I’d been satisfied that pain would be the master of me and I was sick of it.

So this year I started running again.

I started small. The odd kilometer here and there. A hill walk punctuated by a burst of runnning. Some vertical hikes up the sides of mountains.

Then one day I went for a run and realised that at 7.5km I was at the longest distance I had ever run!!!!

And that Saturday, I ran my first 10km.

Sure, it turned out that the run was part of some medical conference and it didn’t appear it was open to the public (“who’s enjoying the conference?!??!” Ummm what?). Sure, it meant getting up at 5.30 in the morning on a Saturday. Ew. Sure, I came last.

But I did it. And I felt unstoppable.

It sounds bizarre, but I talk to my pain. I treat it like a member of my extended family. I can’t choose it. And it may always be there. Sometimes it overstays its welcome. And sometimes I need a glass of wine and a panadol to help me through it.

But now I know that I’m the boss and it doesn’t have to own me… Well now I can train for that half marathon aye.

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.

Motivation is a pair of shorts

Motivation comes in all forms. For me, it comes in a pair of shorts and a fancy pair of socks.

I’ve been feeling pretty proud of myself lately. My change in lifestyle has been going really well. I’m now a fully committed healthy person.

Recently, I made myself a cauliflower pizza base with capsicum, spinach and tomato while Jeff had his pizza with seven different meats, three different cheeses and on a deep dish base. I swear mine tasted EXACTLY like real pizza…… Ok, you got me. It didn’t taste anything like real pizza, but it was YUM!

Just like a bought one!

Just like a bought one!

I also signed up for a gym and a bunch of personal training sessions. I will mention at this point that in the six years I have lived in Wellington, this is  the sixth gym I’ve joined (not all at the same time), so let’s not get excited yet, there’s still a chance I could flake out.

In addition to the pizza substitutions and my new gym bunny status, I’ve also been experimenting with a bunch of foods that until now I’ve been too scared to try. Foods like kale, black rice and silken tofu. Maybe it’s because I drunk the Koolaid, but these foods make delicious meals. Look, I’m as surprised as you!

All in all, I’m pretty impressed with myself. So what better way to celebrate the impressiveness that is me, than by buying some new gym gear.

It’s scientifically proven that buying new gym gear makes you want to work out. You can understand that this is a huge relief to me to hear given the small fortune I have just forked out at Lululemon for the latest, greatest and swankiest new gym gear. You can’t argue with science.

Now I know that Lululemon have gotten themselves a bit of a bad name. They seem to be constantly embroiled in some controversy or another. I’ve read more than one article referring to them rather unpleasantly as akin to a cult. The Scientologists for yoga fanatics if you will.

But for all that, damn they make good clothes.

Unfortunately for my rapidly diminishing bank account, Lululemon has opened up an outlet right next door to where I go to yoga. Every Saturday after yoga class I stop in there to have a quick browse and walk out with one of their brightly colored, reusable bags with at least a $20 pair of socks and a top that says “Running is my ohmmm” stitched on the inside. It’s an addiction. It could be worse I suppose, it could be crack, or chocolate.

There comes a time though when if you you’re going to take this whole health and fitness thing seriously, you need to own a pair of shorts. And you have to leave the house in them.

I’ve always been reluctant to run or do any sort of exercise in shorts. It makes me feel kind of exposed. It’s bad enough that I’m all flailing and gasping when I run let alone being half-naked while doing it. If I wasn’t so clumsy I’d happily run in a onesie.

On my latest trip to Lululemon I decided to get brave. If millions of people around the world can wear shorts, then so can I.

The pair that was recommended to me came in a variety of bright fluro colours. The battle was half won. When I went to try them on however, I noticed something that seemed a bit unusual. Shorts with built-in undies. That just made me feel weird. I’m not a harlot! I didn’t think this was going to work out. Despite my deep seeded discomfort, I tried them on (double undies thank you very much).

Goodbye paycheck.

Goodbye paycheck.

Well strike me down. I have never known comfort such as these shorts. The freedom… The perfectly stretchy waist band… The soft, breathable fabric… The sneaky key pocket! I was pretty sure they’d actually make me run faster and longer too.

I bought them. And then I bought another pair in black. Soon I may be the owner of three pairs. What do you know, they DO make me run faster and longer.

I exercise almost everyday, whether it’s yoga, running, walking up hills or going to the gym. Just the thought of putting on my snazzy running shorts is enough to motivate me.

Feeling comfortable in gym gear is one of the biggest hurdles to exercising in my opinion. Buying gym gear doesn’t have to be expensive, an ordeal, or a significant purchase (socks can do it!), but you do have to feel good about yourself.

Buy a new t-shirt with wicking in it and see how quickly you try it out because your curious to see if it really does absorb all your sweat!

Until next time, enjoy the ride. And by the way… I love my built-in undies.

Goodbye Giant Undies

Dear Giant Undies,

I’d like to wish you well for your retirement.

You’ve served me well over the years, but I’m no longer in need of your services.

We’ve been good friends you and I. You’ve hidden my muffin top and dealt with my butt cheeks admirably. I fondly remember the time you held it all together underneath the clingy green dress of doom.

You never complained when I asked so much of you. I stretched you too the brink at times but you took your job seriously and you concealed all the wobbly bits with a sense of pride and confidence.

I know you often compared yourself to Bridget Jones’s granny knickers, but to me you’ve been so much more than an unsightly undergarment. You’ve been a huge support, I could easily rely on you to be behind the scenes while I took the glory and you’ve backed me time and time again.

There have been so many times that we’ve laughed together, like that time Jeff saw you poking out from under my running shorts and wondered what you were! Oh the good times.

It’s not that I don’t still want you in my life (because I do), it’s just that I have running shoes in my life now and it has meant that I don’t have the same requirement of your services.

You will always hold a very special place in my memories, and I will be forever grateful for your contribution to my life.

I would love to say that I hope we’ll meet again, but I don’t think we will.

All the best, and thank you for your service.

With kindest regards,

Pia

Retiring giant undies thanks to fluro running shoes

Retiring giant undies thanks to fluro running shoes