#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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#GetFitChallenge – Recap of Week 3: Baby Steps

I can’t believe Week 3 is over and we have begun Week 4… almost halfway! To be honest, I’m feeling a bit emotional that this challenge is flying by!

If you have not read my previous recaps, you can find Week 1 here and Week 2 here.

Week 3 was all about me finding my feet again, and taking things one baby step at a time. I was still on the mend from my viral infection, and even though I felt “left behind” I knew biologically it was not wise for me to train in any way, state or form while still on medication. I was surprising ok with this – perhaps because it wasn’t a flaky excuse and I was pretty ill (not “pretending” to be more ill than I am).

Training

Post-illness, I was feeling good and managed to successfully complete 30 minutes with P and a barre class on the Thursday. My first exercises/ training since the previous Tuesday – and I FELT IT.

P focused on legs… and I leg pressed more than my body weight. But it was cool. Except… at barre, Tyla decided it was LEG DAY. I made it through the class. But as soon as I climbed into bed (at 8pm – don’t judge) I was exhausted.

The inner of my thighs and sides (love handles) had the good post-workout feel. I LOVE the feeling; probably because I don’t feel it a lot. My body breaks down lactic acid pretty quickly so the day after training I don’t feel much.

Saturday saw me complete my first double of Week 3; barre and pilates. Barre was high intensity, pilates was murder with the pilates ring thing. After the double I had to drag my sorry ass to work where I felt as though I could have fallen asleep at any given moment. Alas, it is the life of a scientist…. the struggle is real people. Trust me. 😉

And no… no hot yoga for the past two weeks… I do miss it. But my favourite teacher Eliza is doing a class on a Sunday at the end of Week 4 so I may join it (if I survive Week 4…more on that a bit later).

Diet

My downfall. As usual. While I still have not indulged in sweets or ready-to-drink hot beverages (yay me!) I did have extra sugar.

Quite a bit of honey for my sore throat and sugary, deep-fried goodies at my folks. I must admit that I did not binge (as I expected)! And I did not feel bad and hate myself for it – perhaps because I knew what was coming so I could mentally prepare.

I’m still struggling with drinking enough water. A lot. It’s winter and its cold… (yes, excuses). But it is my aim for the next few weeks.

In terms of supplements I am religiously taking Omega 3, 6, 9 (Flaxseed oil) mostly cos my joints “creak” when I train! (Yes, old age – I know!). I am also taking Vitamin effervescents and realised I need a probiotic (too much info?).

Post-training, I have been taking my protein shake with some L-glutamine. However my protein shake of choice has been off the market for a while and I AM DESPERATE for SOMETHING! So I am on the look out and ANY vegetarian suggestions would be most welcome!

I’m officially down to two shakes….. I feel as though the shake gives me a boost… I can have a meal-replacement shake with milk – but that increases the dairy content. I’m still hooked on fat-free milk and low-fat yoghurts (yes they have artificial sweeteners) – for some reason I have mental block against full cream. However, it may be my disordered eating patterns from a few years ago.

Emotions

Week 3 was better emotionally – I accepted that I was ill and took it easy. I was also at home with my folks and extended family… we always manage to make each other laugh and it is a good distraction. I did shed a few tears but it was more circumstantial than self-criticism.

What was interesting, though, is that I did notice the more I physically healed from the infection, the more and more anxious I felt. My body CRAVED movement of any sort. My trip back to Jozi was only on Tuesday so by the time Thursday rolled around I was VERY ready to get active.

Stats

I weighed in on Saturday…. and I lost 2 kgs. How, I have no idea. I’m scared I’ve lost muscle, especially since I was ill. But we will see how the next few weeks progress. No photos this week – I ran out of time and wasn’t that brave – plus I knew my diet was craptastic (to say the least).

One of the aims for myself in the challenge – is to get some sort of ass. I mean, it is “booty barre” for a reason… As usual, my body does things weirdly and I think I’m losing what little of an ass I have. EEK!!!!!!

I also want to get more definition in my tummy as well as get rid of the love handles – which I do believe may be going away a bit – though it could be my imagination.

 

Week 4 

I’m stretching myself for Week 4… perhaps being a bit overzealous. But I think I can kick ass. Mind over matter, right? I hope!

It is doubles all the way for me this week – barre and pilates today (Monday), Tuesday and Saturday. I’m keen to try the triple on Saturday but we’ll see how I feel on Wednesday! In addition to the barre and pilates, I am training with P for 30 minutes on Tuesday and Thursday. I also want to try and attempt a hot yoga class on Sunday (beginning of week 5) but I will listen to my body…

Dietwise, I want to cut down the sugar (no more honey or refined sugar for me). I also need to desperately increase my intake of water (I am severely lacking). My electrolyte supplements unfortunately do contain some sucrose so I can’t get away from that entirely – especially if I do not drink enough water, my body requires the supplement.

In my enthusiasm to move more and eat clean in Week 4, I did forget that I am also on a lab rotation that is insanely busy… All. The. Time.

All this means is that I will (hopefully) sleep REALLY well this week and I need to be super prepared!

Good luck to me 😐

Support

The 8 week #GetFitChallenge was always going to be tough for me. I knew it even before signing up:

  • The discipline to complete the required classes per week (I can flake really easily and have some pretty lame excuses) and to get focussed in other non-work related areas
  • Trying to not eat sweets or drink highly processed ready-made beverages and consciously choosing to “eat-clean”
  • Learning to accept myself, my weaknesses and tune down the self-hate… boosting confidence

It was freaking scary to sign up. I was going solo on this. Some scary stuff; especially for someone who is very fond of my comfort zone and being invisible (yes, I know I need to change that). I’m very used to feeling “not good enough” and even signing up was HUGE for me. For some weird reason Robyn kept asking if I was keen on joining… I was – perhaps she sensed it? I don’t want to live a life of “what ifs” and I want to be more open and “seen” but I truly feel that I’m not worth it… Yes, my self esteem is shot. But this challenge is helping rebuild it…piece by broken piece.

To be honest I never in a million years expected anyone – let alone Robyn, the mastermind of the challenge – to read about my journey through the eight weeks. Robyn has truly been a pillar of strength, sending my words of encouragement and motivation. I can truly say it is because of Robyn that I have not thrown in the towel not the challenge yet. I love that she has created Core-Barre: a studio that is welcoming and a pleasure to visit. Everyone in the challenge is awesome: friendly, supportive, welcoming. It is kinda a “safe space”.

Now I need to get my ass out of work and off to class!

k x

#GetFitChallenge – Recap of Week 2: Down & Out

I knew weeks 2 and 3 would be hard… however, I did not think it would be THIS hard.

Why?

I came down with some form of cold/ flu/ viral hybrid-infection. It started with a sore throat and losing my voice last weekend. This symptom slowly, but surely, progressed to a fever midweek and I’m still pretty congested. Feeling physically drained, congested (thank you, sinuses!) and all headachy is probably the worst limbo out there… you’re ill but it is not quite stay-at-home ill. You just feel crap. And the meds you take make you too restless to sleep – even though your body craves sleep. In addition to my “poor health”, I flew home to my parents for a few days.

Training

Exercising in any way, shape or form when you are ill is not advised. You put additional stress onto your already fragile body – plus you need the extra energy diverted to your immune system to fight off the bad guys or you’ll progress to more severe symptoms.

Because I can be an idiot sometimes; I thought I was fine and completed my second double class of barre and pilates on Tuesday. Physically I felt good and got through it. In fact, I really enjoyed it… until Wednesday morning. I woke up (not having the best sleep in the world) feeling more congested and just iffy. My sore throat seems to be returning and my sinus headache was unrelenting. Mid-morning I broke out in a fever – the first for this period of illness.  Blegh.

I decided to listen to my body and did not exercise for the rest of the week… While Week 1 of the GetFitChallenge saw me complete around 6 hours of training, Week 2 only saw me complete 2 hours. Sadness.

Diet

The win of week 2? I still have not succumbed to any confectionary items and soft-drinks (yay)! Or added sugar to any hot beverages.

I did however have lots of honey to soothe my throat…. Yes, I did “indulge” in sweet and fried foods. No, I did not stuff my face or binge eat. Which I’d like to see as a win. I’m not depriving myself at all… everything in moderation. Maybe I am taking this challenge into a new lifestyle?

Stats 

Yes, the dreading weighing and mugshots happened in Week 2. we are to weigh ourselves and take progress pics weekly. I dread this part. I am the least photogenic person around (thank God for SnapChat filters!). Surprisingly, I managed to lose about a kg from Week 1 to Week 2. In addition I *think* I can see a difference in my photos (a bit more definition in the abs)… or maybe I’m wanting to see something so badly I’m tricking myself!

Emotions

As always, this is my most challenging battle, and perhaps the main reason I registered for the GetFitChallenge. This past week I have been exceptionally mean to  myself – especially seeing that I did not train as recommended. With me, there is always a head vs heart battle; intellectually I know I can’t stress out my body physically, yet emotionally I feel like a failure.

Seeing everyone on our group chats pushing themselves is truly inspiring but also makes me feel worthless… which makes me “hate” myself for not trying… and sends me into a slump and makes me feel physically worse… making me hate myself for being “weak” and getting a cold and not trying – it is a vicious cycle.

I’m consciously trying to work on my internal dialogue with myself and treat myself with more love, care and kindness. But it’s a 24 hour job and damn hard work!

The women in the challenge, particularly Robyn – our mastermind – are amazing; all smiling, energetic, ready to go out and kick ass… all so positive and full of life. These women are the epitome of what I strive to be… just being around them in class bring a smile to my face and brightens up my day. There is no drama, no external influences bringing me down. They make me want to lift myself up and be happy with myself. The pic below was taken after my one and only double class in Week 2 – I look so happy and chilled…. I’d love to carry that around with me.

2017-07-11 20.07.50
Feeling good after completing my Barre and Pilates double!

For this challenge, I made a contract with myself more than anyone else. Robyn’s challenge gave me a platform and a gentle push in the right direction. I’ve always broken promises to myself before and I REFUSE to break this one, too. I can’t handle breaking another promise with myself.

Even just coming to the end of the 8 weeks will be an achievement for ME. I am in competition with myself, the old me: quits when she hits a wall, has crippling self-doubt, very little self-worth and no self-love. I need to remember I can do no more or no less than what my body is capable of – and I know it is capable of a lot.

I need to do what’s best for me: physically, emotionally and mentally.

I need to cut out toxic relationships and mines negativity in all areas of my life…. and I’m worth it. I deserve to be confident and happy in my body and mind.

I need to take this challenge one day at a time.

Looking forward

Week 3!

I’m only back into routine on Wednesday and do hope to squeeze in three core-barre sessions this week – one on Thursday and two on Saturday morning… Unfortunately I’m working on Saturday so it threw my plans of trying the triple for a Saturday: barre, pilates, barre. Maybe next week…  The plan is to also train with P at least once. And – if I am feeling up to it, a hot yoga session with E on Saturday afternoon/evening.

Although I am feeling better physically, I need to remember not to strain myself and my body.

Diet-wise: I need to reset a bit and eat-clean once I get back into my routine. I am proud that I have not had any sweets or soft-drinks though. I am craving fresh food right now!

Emotionally – I need to remember what my friend Miranda always says (and which has become my source of motivation)…. Remember No Matter What: Chin Up, Tits Out. (I reviewed her first book here)!

Until next week!

k x

 

Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff Cos Life Can Change In The Blink Of An Eye

It’s no secret I am a control freak. Stress and worry is my default setting. But something really rattled me today.

I’ve been having a crappy few weeks (written about here), what with death anniversaries, being reminded of those I have lost, those who have forgotten and abandoned me. All in all, I was just feeling sorry for myself – and not appreciating the present moment. That’s hard for me, you know – living in the present moment. I’m always over-analysing and over-thinking – freaking about the past and worrying about the future.

Yesterday – to top it all off – I locked my keys in my car boot. While at the gym. I am not impressed. Paulo stood next to me trying to come up with solutions (driving me home and breaking into my house – I have all my keys on the same set) and laughing at my stressed-out-control-freakness. After phoning a friend (Paulo really just laughed at me :P), I decided to call the assist company who would get a locksmith out to me. The locksmith was supposed to call me in 10 – 15 minutes. Trying to work off the excess anxious, stressed-out energy – my control freakiness went into overdrive when 15 minutes later…still no phone call. What the hell. Again, Paulo laughed.

Both Paulo and my chiropractor Kate (who is AMAZING at needling and did work away some of the stress I built up in my shoulders in the midst of the key episode!) tried to reassure me that I did all I could do to control the situation and it was out of my hands now. So did hearing it from two independent parties help calm me? Hell. No. I just needed my keys!

Eventually the locksmith did arrive. And I did get my keys. But boy, did I feel sorry for myself! Got home, stuffed my face with chocolate – sleeping aids and I feel into bed.

I woke up this morning still feeling all “woe-is-me”. However, thanks to my newest “Dancing with the stars” phase, I adore the “Clap your hands” song by LeoSoul. Here is a video of the pros dancing to it. After purchasing the song on iTunes, I listened to it, on repeat, all the way to work (a 45 minute commute). And was in a much better mood.

Until some news rattled me. A friend was scheduled to have a baby today. She would have made an incredible mom and was the most excited 9 month pregnant woman I have ever seen. Unfortunately, due to unknown circumstances, very early this morning she lost the baby. We don’t know details but I am in shock. It seems the baby’s heart stopped and doctors were unable to resuscitate.

The news is frustrating and confusing me. Why? What happened? What do I say? How can I help her? How do I fix this? I have an annoying ability to numb m own feelings and thoughts in order to ensure everyone around me is ok and getting the support they need. I break down months, even years later (which isn’t pretty but again my default setting and

I can only imagine what she is going through. Hearing that news and knowing she will need all the love, support and strength from her friends has made me very reflective today. It’s made me grateful and appreciative of life, of the people I have, of the lessons I learnt. It’s also made me realise what an utter negative, complaining jackass I’ve been these past weeks/months/even years.

It will be a long and arduous path for my friend, but I will be there to support her. This has been a huge “awakening” for me. I have so much to be thankful for instead of focussing on the negative aspects and complaining. May this teach me a lesson to have a more positive outlook in life. It can do me no wrong… and being negative only makes me feel worse.

Thank you for taking the time to read this.

k x

Heartsore

It’s been a rough week for me. The week started out “bleh” and every day I felt a little more of my heart “squeeze” a little more (trust me, its real). It was a week of introspection and emotions – though there was not much outward displays of emotion on my part (which is a deviation from the norm for me…cos perhaps I am growing up).

Tuesday the 10th of Jan was the death anniversary of my paternal grandmother. She passed away in 2013. It was also the paternal grandfathers birthday – who, unfortunately, I never got to meet as he passed away before I made my entrance into this world. Because its my family, I guess they were trying to be economical…because January 10th is also the day my paternal aunt and uncle were married.. My uncle – my godfather – passed away suddenly, six months before my gran, in 2012.

Saturday the 14th of Jan would have been my maternal grandfather’s birthday. He passed away when I was 16. I was my first experience with death.

And I don’t think I’ve really death with it or worked through the “Kugler-Ross” grief stages. My default is to ignore and pretend it doesn’t happen.

So while I tried to ignore these dates and all the other feeling brewing inside me, I tried to keep occupied with work (I spent over 12 hours at work on one day trying to perform a two-day test in a single day). I also spent an incomprehensible amount of time on social media – which we all know makes us feel worse. I should’ve known better! Work – academic work has been piling up and I can’t seem to get to it…. I have opportunities that will only further my career yet I am scared. I worked out quite a bit, getting my ass kicked three days this week – thanks P – just to tire myself out to the point of exhaustion so I could sleep. My method, though highly flawed, seemed to working.

And then came Saturday.

It was an easy, no-real-plan-in-place day, just a few appointments. I went to bed on Friday night with a bit of anxiety and woke up with it on Saturday morning. I tried to go drug-free and ignore it…. While I was getting my eyebrows threaded I started sobbing. Not because of the pain (though it is incredibly painful and not something you get used to… beauty is pain, right?), but it was as if the floodgates opened and my heart broke free. My beautician, Cookie, has been a constant in my life for the past few years and I trust her implicitly. Cookie is an eyebrow queen and has made my stringing, busy brows look amazing. I love her and truly treasure my time with her and she always makes me laugh. Cookie is beautiful and has an awesome, tell-it-like-it-is view of life. She’s almost like mom surrogate mom. While we were chatting and catching up… … I broke down. Mid-thread.

Cookie let me cry. She allowed me to let it all out. I always feel safe with Cookie and being so vulnerable with someone who respects and allows you to be free is rare.  And so so so so appreciated.

Feelings I buried within the depths of myself came up.

  • I miss those who I have lost. I have never truly mourned their deaths. Why did they leave when they still had so much to teach me? Why did they leave before I told them how much they mean to me?
  • I’m scared to take the plunge and try something new for my career…for fear of change and that I have to relocate when I have built my own eclectic family (and someone who is special to me) and community here. Even though I know the plunge only open more doors for me.
  •  I’m frustrated, disillusioned and depressed that I do not know who I am, what I am meant to do in this world.
  • I worry I am getting older and won’t be able to have a relationship and family someday
  •  I have been hanging on to false hope (with the someone who is special to me) – instead of seeing that I am being “used and abuse”, a toy to be played with then discarded. I love and care for someone who has given me every reason not to… yet, I can’t let go and walk away (am I an idiot). These feelings hurt – especially when the way I feel, care, love is not reciprocated.
  • Why do I hate myself so much?

After my “breakdown”, Cookie finished my eyebrows (they are amazing, as always) and just gave me a hug. I needed it. I managed to slot in a haircut at the same salon as Cookie and while I was getting my hair washed, Cookie made me the most amazing hot chocolate I have ever had. it was a regular hot chocolate but it really soothed my soul at that point and set me at peace… I think because it was made by someone who personally took time out of her day to make me hot chocolate,  to show how much she cares about me. Its the little things in life. Cookie made my day and I got home smiling.

Until…now. I went to a Hot Yoga class this morning and made it through the class….only to get into my car and burst out crying. During class I looked at myself and could find rolls of fat that I despise. So much for me working out in a sports bra and leggings. Not the best way to handle yoga class at all. But I guess it is the state of mind I am in right now.

Crying is definitely the best release. I do feel more calm post-cry, but also exhausted… I haven’t felt this low about myself, my relationships, my body in a while and I do think the time has come for me to process the emotion of loss, move on and let go (for both the ones who are dead and the ones still alive). I also need to learn how to love myself – something I really struggle with. So I need to nurture myself a bit… while trying to be productive and disciplined… Life really is damn hard!

All in all, I’m still heartsore.

k x

hot-choc

 

Acceptance… Why is it so hard?

I was in my hot yoga class on Sunday and there is something my favourite (and awesome) instructor said something that just stuck. Stuck like I can’t-get-it-out-of-my-head, stuck. Its been ruminating within me…and making me feel a bit vulnerable.

While lying in corpse pose mid-practice, Eliza mentioned that moving your body in yoga allows you to learn how to love yourself (side note: I am paraphrasing). Loving yourself is not in a vain way – it is more accepting yourself wholly for who you are, what you are, what you look like, what you believe in.

And thats a big thing for me.

All my life, for as long as I can remember, I have been hating myself… for not being enough – not smart enough, not pretty enough, not thin enough, not confident enough. I take things too personally and am too sensitive, I trust too much and place too much emphasis on what people say about me. I am a people pleaser.

Society has placed a lot of expectations on the world and in this digital age we are bombarded by images and an influx of advertising imprinting on us what we should look like, how we should act, what we can do. I am also a millennial – a member of the instant gratification generation…we want things our way, and we want it now. Not a good combination.

So, why did the phrase “love yourself” stick out to me  THIS class. Especially when the same two words are everywhere – from social media to local magazines… It is the theme du jour, so to speak. I’ve heard and read the phrase many times before. What changed in that moment, in that yoga class?

Perhaps it was the “right time”. I was too exhausted to over-think and analyse and question. I was sweaty and vulnerable and my mind was “still” (well, as still as an ADD mind can get!). It was the first time I actually heard the words. I “felt” the words. And it scares me (not just because I feel very un-scientific saying that I “felt” words).

Just the day before I heard news that threw me… and made me sink into the depths of self-pity. Not the most attractive trait, I know. It made me question the world and the unfairness of life. Why do “good” things happen to “bad” people? “Good” as in lucky, getting everything handed to them, not struggling. “Bad” as in  superficial, arrogant, treats people as consumables. The whole nature of it all makes me question and over-analyse life….is life really that unfair? Or is it a perception? What do I really feel about “everything happens for a reason” and “all in good time”?

To add insult to injury, I’ve been feeling forgotten… I seem to attract emotionally unavailable people to my life and then berate myself for giving 150% of myself to a one-sided relationship. I care too much. I love too much. Almost to the extent of losing myself in the process. While they only know me when they want something. It sucks.

I get that each person has their own journey in life. Their own obstacles, trials. But why is it that those who suffer the most are the most humble, genuine, compassionate people? I’m not saying I am any of those qualities but I feel as though I am respectful and caring. Why have things been such a struggle for me these past ten years? Why have their been so many bricks along the path which caused me to stumble at every single step? These questions have been haunting me for the longest time.

As I was in the corpse pose during that class, my heart physically felt as though it was being squeezed, constricted….remnants of muscle breaking away and falling into the deep abyss (so to speak).  I’ve felt this way before – I know it well. It is my not-good-enough feeling – I remember it from early 2015, when I had my heart broken. When Eliza said the words “love yourself” it was as if it was a “lightbulb” moment. Don’t get me wrong, the feeling is still there…but my thoughts have “shifted” slightly.

I know I need to persevere, keep at it, take it all in my stride. Intellectually, I know this. I need to move forward. “Embrace” the lessons and learn from them. Grow as a human being – and get stronger, more adaptable, resilient, disciplined (shout out to my 2017 theme)! However, emotionally I am “stuck”… It is so much easier to feel sorry for myself and stay in the same metaphorical place while lamenting my fate, blaming the world – hell anything and everyone – for my situations. I have so much to be grateful for and when I reflect on this it makes me feel worse for even feeling sorry for myself. Vicious cycle all leading to “hate-me” avenue.

It is much, much harder to be an active participant in my life and love myself – flaws and all.  The perception requires me to take 100% responsibility for my life, my actions, my decisions. Which is scary because there is no-one or nothing I can blame but myself. When I am in the middle of a hot yoga class and sweating profusely, thinking I am going to fall flat on my face, my mind screaming at me (you’re going to die!)…the heat, the instructions and pure instinct kick in and my body surprises me. I can do it and make it through the class. So perhaps I need to trust my instinct and intuition more in everyday life…and learn to accept myself – flaws and all. Easier said than done.

What do I need to accept in life?

  • I will never have supermodel looks or a supermodel body or look like anyone else.
    • But I can be the healthiest, fittest person I can be.
  • I will never be the smartest person in my field.
    • But I can work hard, be disciplined and focused on where I would like to be.
  • Some people will only know me when they need something.
    • But I can set boundaries to protect myself.
  • People I love and care about will not feel the same about me.
    • But I can hold a place in my heart for them, wishing them well, without expectations.
  • Some people will not have the same values in life as well.
    • But I can know my own values, morals, ethics and not be pressured into saying or doing things that does not feel authentic to me.

All these things require diligent action –  especially when I’m having a bad day and my default is to feel sorry for myself. Its damn hard work. Today, is a particularly hard day. I deep in wallowing mode and trying to pull myself out of it. My discipline and habits for the day have fallen to the wayside and I’m harder on myself because of it. Talk about a catch-22. Again, vicious cycle. But my crappy feeling is somehow different this time around… I’m fully aware of it… not just feeling “bleh” for no real reason.

I’d like to think my hot yoga practice and my facilitation sessions with Eliza have opened the gates to a new perception of myself and my world. The combination seems to have pushed my boundaries – in and out of class. I only started hot yoga in October 2016, at least once a week so I am still a newbie! My first and second facilitation sessions were in December 2016.  Those are the only new things I’ve incorporated in my life and since then I found I’ve been bubbling with the urge to write more. I’ve somewhat started to  accept my body (the moments are few and FAR between but there have been glimpses of acceptance).  I’m still working on being disciplined, learning to set boundaries and say no… hopefully it will come with time! And I am definitely a work in progress when it comes to comparing myself to others.

Hopefully putting my words down here will allow me to “let go” of some of the thoughts occupying space in my mind and let me get on with my priorities and goals. And, I think, most importantly figure out my vision and passion in this world… so I can see the bigger picture and accept myself more…

Am I the only one who struggles with this? What do you do to get yourself out of a slump? Do you find accepting yourself hard? Please let me know below 🙂

kush

x

Survival Of The Fittest

I’m a geneticist. A human geneticist. I love biology and pathways and everything that makes sense. I love that there is so much more to learn about the way genes are expressed,  modified and how they fit into the grand scheme of things. Genetics is an abstract term and a subject where I have noticed – people “get” or “don’t get”. I’m lucky I get it. I love that I can take a few known facts and come up with a hypothesis that seems logical (well, in my mind). It keeps my brain stimulated – constantly questioning and learning which is a personal value. I need to always be learning.

Genetic variation has allowed species to adapt to environments; allowing evolution of species by natural selection – survival of the fittest, so to speak. As Homo sapiens we have seemed to have “lost” the basic natural selection thanks to medical technology. But, we are still evolving – perhaps not in great physical strides, but in other ways. I’m going to go a little far out but bear with me…

Why am I going on about genetics, genetic variation and adaption? Well, its not as obvious as you may think. Our brains are amazing – the plasticity of the mind astounds me. We can change the way we think, (Disclaimer: I am NOT a neurobiologist). I’ve learnt that as humans we go through a metamorphosis – in the traditional sense, as well as on the emotional/intellectual level. Hear me out, and you’ll understand why.

I’ve been in a weird place for the past few years. And I’ve been beginning to question everything I know about the world – who am I? What am I here for? You can call it an existential crisis – which started since I was about 25. I’ve been trying new things, reading more laterally and opening my mind to understanding myself better.

For me, 2016 started with me attending regular therapy session with a psychologist. I went at least once a week and we embarked on Cognitive behavioural therapy. This way of thinking is weird for me (I’m a pessimist) YET there was nothing my logical brain could dispute. Example: If I say I just can’t take something anymore – well, I am “just taking it” because it hasn’t killed me yet. True? Yup, true. We – I – put connotations on things, and they are usually negative so I’ve in essence trained my brain to focus on the negative and it keeps me from trying new things, keeps me away from rejection.

After about 10 months of therapy, I felt I needed something a little different. Which is when I met Eliza at a hot yoga class. Apart from being a kick-ass hot yoga instructor Eliza runs an awesome company, Yoga Plus. One of the services she offers are facilitation classes – almost like life coaching.

Eliza does private facilitation sessions using the Demartini method. Now, I’m definitely not an authority figure on the subject and these are completely my views so there is a very good chance I’m horribly wrong. In a nutshell the Demartini method involves the facilitator asking lots of questions – focusing on a certain “block” you are currently experiencing – and you digging deep into yourself trying to answer. The questions may seem simple enough but when you try answering you really need to concentrate and remember… A lot of the process requires you to identify people in your life who have seen you/ witnessed you encompassing certain qualities/traits (and you need to talk about these situations) that you don’t like which is causing you stress.

Ultimately, the process shows you both sides of the coin – so to speak. It reframes the block (connotation: bad thing, bad relationship) so you can see the good and bad… Good as in how the block is “helping” you at this current moment and bad as in how the block is keeping you away from your ultimate goal. The bad is easy to figure out… The good – well, it makes you think a bit.

For example, I am struggling to complete a project, which I need to complete ASAP… It seems as if at every damn stage of the project I was hurled another obstacle – either professionally or personally which required my attention, instead of the project.  The two sides are:

  • Bad: It is keeping me from succeeding professionally, making me feel like a failure.
  • Good: I was made aware of things (e.g. starting my first job and first serious relationship (and the struggles that went along with it), researching alternate therapies for cognitive disorders, reading more about the mind/body connection) that allowed me to grow, research, learn – as a person…not just a scientist.

This did not even hit me before my session with Eliza but before my project I was a judgemental, snobby, know-it-all bitch. For real. It was either my way or no way at all. Everything in my mind was either black or white. If you had a differing opinion to me, you were an idiot. Reflecting on my journey and to the person I am now, I am a lot less judgemental and I acknowledge that there are shades of grey. Every obstacle I faced during the course of the journey allowed me to stop and grow as a person – subconsciously.

It is freaking mind blowing. The last session I had was few weeks ago and I’m still kinda freaked out (in a good way) about it. Everything was so clear… and it still is.

Eliza and the Demartini method has made me realise that all the obstacles in my path during the journey of my project was beneficial to me on an intellectual level – if not a proactive one to complete my project. Had I not experienced any adversity during my project – I would still be the same judgmental snobby bitch, probably very depressed and longing-for-more. Now, I’ve evolved and adapted intellectually to understand that there are other opinions and reasonings apart from my own and while I may still long-for-more I do know and acknowledge that every single person can teach me something…

We need to be intellectually and emotionally adaptable to live – to thrive (ok, I’m FAR from thriving) – in the world. We need to be open to all possibilities, to understand  opposing viewpoints and not get too frustrated by them.. If we do not, we will be desperately unfulfilled and unsatisfied with life – perhaps at the extreme suicidal (and I do go to the extreme).

Ultimately, my passion for genetics – with the help of Eliza (Yoga Plus) – taught me the most valuable lesson of all. Only the fittest “survive”. Talk about a light bulb moment…

Now…to kick my ass into gear and get writing!  Please check out Yoga Plus for an incredible facilitator and amazing hot yoga instructor!