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

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

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

A-paleo-gy

See how I did that? Clever huh. No? Yeah my fiancé thought it was naff too.

But in all seriousness, I owe an apology to one of my amazing workmates.

This may be hard to believe, but before my born-again, reincarnation as a healthy person, I was a total sceptic of eating plans that shunned having eight teaspoons of sugar in your coffee and eating ice cream for breakfast. Live by the cronut, die by the cronut.

When my amazing workmate told me about her paleo way of eating, the amount of scorn I heaped on her now makes me hang my head in shame. At the time (and this was not that long ago) it was completely beyond me why anyone would want to eat like the cavemen did. Great, all you get to eat is nuts and seeds and then a sabertooth tiger goes and eats you. How wildly unsatisfying.

Like most uninformed people who like to have an opinion, I would jest, eye-roll, mock, scoff and generally act like an ass every time my amazing workmate bought out her lunch.

My stash of paleo food for one night away from home.

My stash of paleo food for one night away from home.

Well shut me up.

Just about everything I’ve been baking lately is a paleo recipe. It wasn’t initially intentional but turns out paleo baking recipes are awesome! I made this paleo chocolate fudge and it rocked my world. It has quite an unusual texture (I think that may be user error) but it is absolutely delicious.  My amazing workmate has even been sharing her paleo baking with me, and without the slightest “I told you so”. I’m not worthy! I’m not worthy!

As I said in an earlier post, there are bits and pieces of different meal plans (‘diet’ is such a nasty word isn’t it??) that I really dig so I incorporate bits of lots of them. I will never be able to give up grains (quinoa and I are in love) but actually, the premise of paleo is pretty smart.

There are a billion different resources on paleo and they all have a slightly different message depending on what they’re trying to spin. The page on paleo on Wikipedia provides a pretty balanced argument but a simple Google search will provide you with more than enough resources. I particularly like The Beginner’s Guide to the Paleo Diet by the awesomely geeky Nerd Fitness. Do some research and see if it, or parts of it, are right for you.

So amazing workmate out there, you know who you are, I a-paleo-gise. Please except my a-paleo-gy. A thousand a-paleo-gies. See?! It never gets old 🙂 Enjoy the ride.

Tips for new players from a new player

It can be ridiculously difficult to eat healthy when you’re unprepared. The temptation to snack overcomes you, what ever is closest to your reach “will do”, and the offer of a cream donut becomes impossible to resist.

This is why I’m always prepared in case of any food related emergencies that might occur (this planning has come in handy since we’ve just had our third severe earthquake in six months!)

So a few tips on preparation and planning from one new player to another:

  • Make lunch the night before. If you’re not a morning person, then what is the likelihood of you getting up early to make yourself a nice healthy salad before you head to work? About slim to none. Prepare your lunch the night before so that when you’re late again and about to miss the train, all you have to do is reach in the fridge. Voila!
  • Becoming a baking God/Goddess. I love baking. For me it’s relaxing. And now that i’m baking healthy food, it’s become even more satisfying. The added benefit is that I always have my own healthy snacks to munch on. There’s no temptation to grab one of those nasty packaged, processed, plastic snacks when I have my own delicious baking (check out these yumbo Apricot and Cashew Energy Bars from Nutitionist in the Kitch).
Homemade snacks

Paleo Chocolate Fudge and Apricot and Cashew Energy Bars

  • Substitutions aren’t as scary as you think. Before my rebirth as a health conscious vixen, my motto may as well have been ‘the more sugar the better’. As I’ve removed processed white sugar (actually, just about all sugar) from my diet, I’ve discovered that there are a ton of delicious sweetners you can use that won’t send your pancreas into overdrive. You just have to know how to use them properly. Maple syrup and honey are two great examples. Just don’t go overboard, you don’t need much!
  • Pick and choose the best bits. I like a lot of things about a lot of different diets. With whole food diets, I love that you can still eat everything you want, you just take out all the processed rubbish. I love the back to basics of paleo. I love the gluten free introduction of almond meal and coconut flour into my life. I love my new found dairy free appreciation (I’m learning to love almond milk). But… I also love a good sandwich. Pick and choose what feels good.
  • Put down that soft drink. Pick up your water. Along with my own snacks, I carry water everywhere I go. If you’ve already got a drink then you have no good reason to buy something to quench your thirst (it also helps you save the planet a one-use bottle at a time).

So there you go. Simple really. Until next time, enjoy the ride.

Biggest Loser… And pizza

Going back to work after three weeks of holiday was not the drag I expected it to be. This is because I have amazing workmates and I love my job. Pretty lucky right.

The week before I went back to work I received an email from one of my amazing workmates announcing that the post Christmas situation was Code Red and she was implementing our own HR Biggest Loser. Stat. I had a week to come to terms with the fact I was going to have to step on a scale every week as proof of either my eating success or failure the week before.

Turns out I’m more competitive than I thought. In that week, I got prepared. I put down Game of Thrones. I lunged (sort of). I ate rice cakes. I even went for a walk up a hill and discovered that my muscles had atrophied after three weeks of lying on the couch reading Game of Thrones.

By the time I went back to work I was feeling pretty good. I was already two weeks into the new and improved healthy me and I was determined that the scales would play nice and reflect that. Wrong. Two weeks after cutting anything that resembled unhealthy and putting chia seed into everything I ate, it seemed I was heavier than on the 1st January 2014. Whaaaaaa??!?!

Once we’d all finished negotiating with the Guardian of the Scales (“It’s definitely broken. Are you sure it’s been calibrated recently?”), it was time to take our workmate out to celebrate his birthday. At the pizza place next door no less.

I love pizza. I love cheese. I love crispy crusts and streaky bacon and barbecue sauce and extra cheese and extra toppings and ARGGGGHHH!

I hadn’t expected to be tested so quickly. And by the very people with whom moments before we had committed to ditching the white bread to take up making our own whole food, wholemeal, gluten free bread rolls! Traitors!

I had a salad. It was delicious. While my amazing workmates sat next to me, opposite me and diagonally from me eating the Shawshank – roast lamb with pumpkin, mozzarella and red onion – and Melicious – chicken, chorizo and caramelized onion – I had a salad. And it WAS delicious.

IMG_20140119_202639My blue cheese, spinach, apple, walnut and bacon salad was everything it needed to be. Munching into my salad made me feel pretty good about myself. Turns out I found some discipline somewhere!

I’ve since made it at home and it was equally tasty. I made a few small alterations – like rocket instead of spinach because the supermarket was severely lacking in it’s vegetable department – but it was still yum. You can find the recipe here.

The next weigh in is looming. I’m hoping the scales and I can come to some arrangement. Wish me luck!