#GetFitChallenge: Reflections

Three months ago, I signed up for a challenge. Specifically an in-person fitness challenge.

My track record of challenges is dismal. I’ve signed up for NUMEROUS challenges online… have I ever completed them? No. Hell, I don’t even think I read the daily emails.

In addition to my challenge record… my fitness level is a joke. I love sports but despise exercising… even though I feel good afterward, I dread dragging myself to the gym – which, I only started about three years ago.

So I’m not 100% sure why I did sign up for the Core-Barre GetFitChallenge, but I did. The challenge provided a diet plan (which I did not follow, mostly for my own reasons – written about here) and at least four classes – either Barre or Pilates –  a week.

A bit of history 

Growing up, I was a tomboy – give me sports, things to take apart and experiment with, Lego to build, trees to climb and bodies of water to swim in. Ballet, modern dance, traditional Indian dancing were NOT for me (and trust me, my mom tried). My little sister is a dancer (modern, traditional Indian dance) and was into all the reality-TV dance shows since their inception. She purchased the Zumba set too – I sat laughing at the videos…

Fast forward 20-something years: A bout of insomnia late last year lead me to stream season 23 of Dancing With the Stars. The show introduced me to dance as a form of exercise (it also introduced me to how gorgeous those professional male (straight!) dancers are!). I was hooked and kept watching, as well as having in depth post-mortems with my “work-mom” (who is obsessed with dance and a latin dancer herself).

Doing something remotely close to “dance” for me is huge. Yet, something clicked in me: I desperately wanted to dance (Argentine Tango is still on the bucket list), be graceful and “elongated”. Knowing I have two left feet, ungracefulness, funky body shape and serious balance issues; I have to take baby steps.

I noticed Instagram posts for Core-Barre and decided I wanted to try at least three Barre classes (which I wrote about here, prior to even thinking about the challenge), improve my balance/ flexibility and definitely be bikini-body ready for summer.

So, I signed up.

The Challenge

At the introductory evening a few days prior to the challenge I was TERRIFIED. Everyone looked amazing already… what did I get myself into to? After measurements, weighing in and “before” photos *cringe* I felt, well crap, but motivated… I was doing something for me. I did not even care about the winning… all I wanted was to prove to myself that I can do something “good” for myself.

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2017 has been THE cherry on top of a craptastic (yes, I love making up my own words) 4 year long “bad patch”. By actually committing to the challenge for myself and knowing it was time to take care of “me”. Taking care of myself has never been high on my priority list – I am the picture perfect people-pleaser and give way too much off myself (to my own detriment). I’ve never had much self-worth and the past four years led me down a spiral of unhealthy coping mechanisms… Things get tough? It’s fine, I’ll fix it all for you and numb myself to deal with my own emotions around the matter.

So it was scary to decide to do this for me. I’m in my thirties and I do not want to live a live of “what if’s” but rather a life of “oh well”. I do not want to die with regrets – I already have so many and the list does not need to be longer! To hold myself “accountable” (and none of my friends were around to do the challenge with me) I started documenting my weekly progress.

Barre and Pilates 

Overall I managed at least four classes a week (sometimes I’d do six). Both barre and pilates were new to me. Yes, classes are intense but SO MUCH FUN! My favourite part of the classes… the stretching at the end (and I managed to get VERY close to the splits!).

For some reason I was the only one sweating in barre class – flip, the concentration and muscle groups you work are damn hard. In addition to my sweating, I am ungraceful, my body can be hyper-mobile so I look weird and very uncoordinated… however this all lead to lots of laughs and deliriously happy moments. I have never in my 30-odd years remember being happy while laughing at myself and my “weirdness”. It was a new feeling and I kinda liked it.

Diet 

Yeah, did not follow the diet. But I did cut out sweets, milk chocolate, take-aways and my latest addiction “Hazelnut Latte Hug-In-A_Mug”. I also stopped my tendency to pop a pill to make myself feel better – no more sleeping pills, antidepressants, painkillers. I went cold turkey… The insomnia was a bitch but I had to go through it.

However, my addiction to peanut butter grew stronger (there is nothing better than eating it straight out the bottle (the Black Cat Sugar and Salt free crunchy one)).

Emotions 

Felt all the feelings. For. Real.

I went through every possible emotion throughout the challenge. From crippling insecurity, feeling sorry for myself, not sure how to deal with stress to actually having happy moments.

It did not help that I experienced some of the roughest weeks of my life during the challenge: intense work schedules, lots of travel, (multiple) cancer diagnoses in my immediate family, being with my family through surgery/ appointments/ treatment, tough medical decisions to be made for myself, doing a prayer for my gran who passed away six months ago, my self-imposed drug free period, friends who needed me and my support during their own struggles, finally letting go of a no-good relationship.

My double and triple sessions during the challenge was my escape. The one place I could go to where for an hour, or two.. or three I could have fun and just be me… like a relaxed kid again. Every single time I left class I was happy (so much so that a friend thought I was drunk while voice-noting her on the way back home from class)! And the sessions did help exhaust my body so sleeping became easier.

The finale

Very unexpectedly I did win the challenge. I couldn’t believe the change in my body. Without taking photos I would not have seen the change… I stayed the same weight for the longest time. While I did not lose much weight, I lost centimeters and the shape of my body changed… I actually have muscles now!!! (Like my legs are toned… not skinny Indian legs!).

Here are my pics:

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Lost: 2.9kg; 8.4cm waist; 4cm hips

Most of all….

Core-Barre introduced me to an incredible group women who I am proud to call friends, allowed me to tone my body, made me prioritize myself and my health, stop the numbing mechanisms and after classes I am genuinely happy (endorphins for the win!). The challenge allowed me to be more me and allow me to experience moments of self-worth. The INCREDIBLE and INSPIRING women I met during the classes have given me strength and support. In comparison to my teens and 20s, I am and feel so much stronger (physically and emotionally), pill-free, less sad/ anxious, more authentically me, a touch more confident and HAPPIER in my 30s! 

Thank you, Robs and team!!!

Looking forward

There is another challenge at the studio “Abs Sculpt”. And yes, I’m doing it!!!

k x

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Hot, Sweaty…and worth it!

One of the new things I tried in 2016 was… Hot Yoga.

For those of you not used to Yoga lingo… Hot Yoga (the style I practice is of the “Bikram” style) is a series of 26 postures, performed twice, in a room heated to around 37 degrees Celsius with 40% humidity…. in 90 minutes. Sounds like hell? I thought so, too.

Me? Yoga? Are you crazy?

The only reason I gave it a go is because I had two people independently (they don’t even know each other) bug me about trying it out. Now, I have attention deficit disorder and I need a lot of stuff going on around me to feel at peace – weird, I know. I dabbled with a few yoga classes a few years ago but – to be very honest – I got bored. And the stillness was my version of hell. I couldn’t do the postures, my mind was going a million miles a minute and I felt anxious and awkward. After two classes of that, I wrote off yoga – it wasn’t stimulating enough for me.

So for two people who know me pretty damn well to suggest I try “hot yoga” for 90 minutes… I felt as though I was on an episode of Punk’d. But, these are people I trust with my life so I thought, what the hell – if it is anything like before or worse (now its in a heated room!) I will forever have “I-told-you-so” bragging rights.

Disclaimer 1: These are my perceptions and experiences.

Disclaimer 2: I’m Indian – (well, of Indian ancestry – my family has been in South Africa for more than a few generations) and while Indian people should do yoga or be good at it.; I’m not that kind of Indian (I suck). I just look… tanned. 😛

#FirstEncounter

I got to my first class on a Saturday morning at 7:30am.

What. The. Hell.

I walked into that room wanting to sprint back out! So hot. So humid. Already near sweat.

After the first BREATHING exercise – I was into full sweat mode. And that was just breathing. I was convinced I was going to die. Convinced. But I somehow miraculously made it through the class (I did all but two postures).

And something weird happened. My mind went “blank”. In the room, trying to survive the class (literally just trying to keep myself alive) while listening to the instructor and focusing on putting my body where it needs to be. It was…peace, relaxing, contentment. That’s what it felt like. And THOSE are brand new feelings for me! I felt like I checked out of life, my problems, my issues for an hour (it took me a while to stop thinking) and that felt AMAZING.

Once you hit that final corpse pose, you are so sweaty and almost proud that you survived the class (even if you didn’t do all the poses). You walk out of the room and a rush of cool air hits you – it’s heavenly.

#ConsequencesOfMyFirstClass

Me = Emotional wreck.

I could not keep hold of my emotions and feel “blegh”. And tears. A fair amount. But it almost felt like a release (trust me, I know how weird and “out there” this sounds). After googling, I realised it was normal. Normal? These yoga people are crazy, I thought.

But…

I went back five days later. I don’t know why – I seemed to be drawn there.

It was a shorter class – 60 minutes, you only do some of the postures twice – not all. But I felt as though my HEART WAS BREAKING IN TWO when in “Camel pose”. I really thought my heart was being ripped out of my chest and crushed. However, after I stepped out of that room and had my protein shake… I felt lighter (here I mean emotionally, not just the copious amounts of fluid I lost sweating).

And I wasn’t emotional at all. Win for me! And I went back, and back, and back….

So yes, I had to go back to P and V and tell them they were right. I resisted doing this for a long time…. 😛

#addict ? 

Still a newbie to yoga, I do feel “changed” in some way and I almost seem addicted to it.

When I practise at least twice a week, I find myself WANTING to take better care of myself: eating healthier, sleeping well, feeling less burnt-out, drinking more water and electrolyte supplements and being more in the moment – I can actually concentrate a little (weird feeling for me). Now on holiday, and not having practised in a few weeks – I feel all those good things disappear – slipping into bad habits of junk food, low energy, irritability.

You may think the same repetition of poses is boring, especially for an ADD-er like me. That was my assumption too. But its not the case for me at all. Somedays I can’t do a damn pose without falling out of it. Other days I can last a bit longer. And there have been a few days where I could do it!  I think knowing which poses come next also helps my need for control.

The heat really keeps my mind blank and at peace (well, that’s peace to me)…and you get to a point in the class where you don’t care about comparing yourself to other people. Its hard to not try to compare myself other people but you get to a space where you focus on yourself. I can’t seem to look at myself in the eyes yet – so I focus on my leg/ knee/ shoulders. And I’m still very body conscious, you won’t see me in a sports bra and tiny shorts/ figure hugging yoga pants (don’t laugh, but its kinda my goal – and to look myself in the eyes).

 I am not so emotional anymore (damn backbends) but it all depends on how I am doing on the day and how I treated myself that week. If it was a crazy week where I repressed a lot of emotion/ feelings – be assured the class will be tough for me. If it was a busy, angry week – I am more determined in class (almost to the point of over-doing it with poses and risking injury).

I practise mainly at Zen Hot Yoga World in Bryanston, Sandton (Johannesburg, South Africa) as it is closer to me. I have also had a few private classes with the awesome Eliza (I’ll write more about my facilitation sessions with her in another post) at the eco-friendly Yoga Republic studio in Randburg and will definitely try out the more adventurous “Air Yoga” classes and the calmer “stretching” class in the new year.

#LessonsLearnt

Here are some of my personal tips to help… or at least I try to follow them

  • I have never sweated that much in my life. Towels for the mat are a must – I try not to wipe off the sweat during class as it does interfere with the temperature homeostasis (yay for my biology-driven brain!)
  • Tie-up hair – the sweat pours off me… and my hair is drenched!
  • Eat a little a fair amount of time before you go to class (for me its coffee (strong with a smidgen of milk, no sugar) and a handful, or two of almonds… and a banana about 30 minutes before class
  • Stay hydrated! I like to sip on an electrolyte supplement/ coconut water before class, water during (sips only)
  • I like my protein shake with L-glutamine AFTER class – again, sipping it while sitting down recovering after class (NEVER drink a protein shake before class…. it will end badly, you WILL feel like throwing up especially during the poses where you are on your tummy)
  • Finish the electrolyte supplement/coconut water
  • Lukewarm – cool shower when you get home (I don’t do cold showers)… it feels really good!

Till next time

k xx

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