The Whole U program at the University of Washington has featured my weight loss and fitness story on their blog website! I am so honored to be part of that program and grateful they have published what I wrote so that it can give other people hope who are struggling with hypothyroid and weight problems.
I asked Michael to write me some notes to describe how he felt going to hot yoga class with me on Saturday, and this is what he posted on Facebook:
Turns out it isn’t always about me.
So today Shelly and I were lounging about having a mostly lazy Saturday. It had been a hectic week for both of us and we needed some down-time. Which in my case usually means sleep more than the cats do, play computer games and generally avoid anything that resembles work, thinking, or in the best case scenario avoiding exercise at all costs. I have this down to a science.
Out of nowhere she asks if I want to go to Hot Yoga at noon with her. Every urge in my body screams to say no, to avoid this and continue in my state of denial of the advanced atrophy my muscles have succumbed to from sitting in chairs all day long at work and generally being a bum when I get home.
Then something strange happened, I am convinced I was momentarily taken over by some supernatural force, the words “yea, I could do that.” escaped from my lips. I tried to pull them back. I hoped she hadn’t heard what I had just uttered. She heard me. I was doomed. I would have to exercise. My only hope was for a tornado, or sharks attacking or a Sharknado.
Alas, I was not to get that lucky. Oh well, it might be good for me. But I sure was going to go into this kicking and screaming the entire way. How dare she take an interest in my health or attempt to make my aching back not hurt so much. Typical selfish woman I thought as I begrudgingly stomped to the closet to look for the shorts I wore the last time I went to hot yoga.
Mind you I had been with her before to hot yoga. It had been at least six months for me. The last time we went I probably looked like a complete idiot, albeit a sweaty and rotund idiot.
At least she didn’t know much more than me back then so I figured I would do ok this time also. The problem here was she has been going four or five times a week for the last six months, and, well, I have been educating my mind by looking for funny cat pictures on the internet when she is at hot yoga. This was a task I undertook with an exceptional amount of pride. However, by comparison I suspect her going to yoga was more beneficial than me finding funny cat pictures.
When we went before I remember we both had some confusion on what the poses meant, how to do them and how to not fall over in front of a room of people. She was in better shape than me back then (and still is) and had lost a lot of weight, but was still a relative beginner at the yoga thing. I had some hope that I would get lucky again and not look like a total moron.
I am about to be in for a rude awakening. As they say “out of the fire, and into the hot yoga room” or something like that.
We get to hot yoga right before noon when it is scheduled to begin. I think I was still hoping maybe they changed daylight savings time and I would get out of this. Or maybe the Mayan zombie apocalypse had occurred and we would be able to go home and maybe get a pizza on the way back to make ourselves feel better. Pizza is much better than exercise I think I mumbled to myself.
Nope, they were open, we were on time and there was lots of room to put down our stuff. To make matters worse the temperature wasn’t bad. The last time I did hot yoga it was around 110 degrees Fahrenheit (I said Fahrenheit for my Canadian friends that might have thought I meant Celsius). It was probably around 95 degrees inside this time. Mind you that is still hot and you are going to sweat, it just isn’t nuclear or the surface of the sun and you are going to die kind of hot as it was previously.
She puts her mat down and grabs another one that is evidently for me. She brought me a large pink mat with cat pictures on it. Not sure why, but evidently my obsession with cat related things has finally rubbed off on her. I go get a wet towel and stick my head into the shower in the men’s locker room so it is a little cooler for me and go back into the room of hot death and forced exercise. I am dreading this, on the outside of course, because I sure couldn’t admit I needed this. Hell no, I would lose my He-Man woman haters club card if I admitted that I needed this.
The girl teaching the class is young, blonde, cute and six months pregnant. Awesome I think to myself, the pregnant woman is going to be able to do all this strange stuff that I can’t and she has a basketball size stomach to contend with. The only good news is so did I. She says the name of the first pose. I think she said it was either Kielbasa or Chewbacca. I don’t know. But I figured if it was Kielbasa I would get to eat and if it was Chewbacca maybe they would cut the class short and we could watch Star Wars. Turns out it wasn’t either one of those.
The class begins.
So I look over at my partner in crime assuming she doesn’t know much more than me. When it hit me. She knows how to do all this stuff now. And really knows how to do this. I also check her out in the yoga pants and my thoughts drift to a place that I can’t write about in this forum because it would end up as a “Yoga Pants Erotica” story. But it was a great view, trust me. I stared for a moment at Shelly and thought “…wow has she come a long way…” She has lost a lot of weight and really is looking quite hot. For a moment I feel like I am cheating on my wife by having these thoughts, then I remember she is my wife, so I can have these thoughts.
She is starting to sweat, it’s hot and it isn’t easy to do all the poses without sweating. My yoga pants fantasy fades away and I of course move north and start my Sports Bra fantasy before the pregnant blonde calls out a new pose and interrupts my inappropriate thoughts of my hot and sweaty wife.
I don’t know what the next pose was, but it should have been called “Crouching Tiger, Breaking Walnuts”. Because if you are a guy attempting to bend over, keep your knees together and lift your arms over your head, trust me, the walnuts are in danger of being broken.
I decide that for self-Preservation I am going to modify this pose a little and not try to squeeze my knees so close. I doubted I would get much sympathy, but I didn’t want to start singing like Jimmy Summerville (most of you won’t get that reference, look up Small Town Boy by Bronksi Beat and you will understand).
Some other poses come up that make no sense what so ever. Something called Tree or Swinging Banana Hammock, then something about a Dog, a Downward Dog or maybe it was Snoop Doggy Dog Style, I didn’t know. I was just watching Shelly and trying to do the stuff she did. I had a success rate of around 42%. Which was 12 percent better than what I had initially calculated I would get.
I keep looking over at her amazed at all the flexibility she had. This was the same woman I knew a few years ago that was glued to a chair playing World of Warcraft and the only stretching we did was to reach for a wine glass. Of note, I am still really good at that pose. For the record, I think it is called a “Forward Fold, Cabernet Lift”. Also I keep going back to watching her bend and thinking about getting some wine out later and pouring her many glasses and seeing if I can get her to show me those poses again, if you know what I mean.
I was really proud of my wife. Of what she has accomplished and what she drives herself to do every day. I was also amazed at how hard this was and how she did it so effortlessly now.
I would try to balance in some strange pose and fall over. She did the same thing and was lunging forward and kicking her leg back at the same time.
I am hoping this motivates me a little and I keep going back. If they can keep the temperature at the same place it was today I could do it more. We shall see, but one thing I know is Shelly is going to keep going back and I love the results, so I support this. That and I may buy her some yoga pants, to try on, at home, after we do the “Cabernet Lift” a few times.
I hope you enjoyed a new perspective, and it was fun to have him in class with me, and to read how he really felt about it!
Sometimes when you almost don’t make it to yoga class, it becomes the best day you could have, better than anything you could have imagined!
This morning my alarm went off at 9:30am, after going to bed at about 12:30am and also after a very busy and sleep deprived week. I don’t remember what happened, but I just remember waking up again and looking at the clock and seeing 10:35 and saying SHIT really loud … Michael and I have plans to go out tonight and the 11am vinyasa class this morning was my only opportunity left for power yoga today. I was thirsty and hungry, and just about laid back down in defeat, thinking that rushing to make it was going to be like a few weeks ago when I arrived right at 11am and the doors were already locked, and I was SUPER bummed.
I decided immediately that I was not going to miss class, even if I got stuck under the heater because the room would already be full arriving barely in time – didn’t matter – I really needed to go. I got up, brushed my teeth, put my hair in a messy bun, grabbed my clothes, made some Zip Fizz, and got my ice water – out the door by 10:53am and everything worked out with the sucky stoplight to allow me to arrive at 10:57am. The doors were not locked, AND my favorite spot by the back door was still available for my mat, even though the room was quite full. Good karma!!
Today we had the English yoga instructor who is doing the vinyasa training – he is less organized in his style but I like his voice and he makes me feel stronger with his slower flows than some of the other instructors where I can barely keep up. And I knew it was meant to be for me to make it to class today when he turned on the music and I heard The Kiss, from Last of the Mohicans – brought tears to my eyes and chills to my body with that level of karma/coincidence and sense of utterly “meant to be” that I made it to THIS class!
This week has been a good yoga week for me with having some awareness of my developing core strength and all the muscles there, and in my arms/shoulders that are much improved. Today I was able to go from high plank to chaturanga without going down to my knees, and I really felt strong and confident in that flow, like never before (usually my arms are shaking and my core feels like spaghetti trying to stay tight).
It was weird, kind of like an out of body experience, or like I switched bodies or something – I don’t know why I could all of a sudden do it – but today I was able to lower myself down pretty well, and it was very gratifying!
What I can’t seem to do easily is flow from chaturanga to up dog without putting my knees down to flatten my feet correctly for the pose. I see other people able to do that without putting their knees down, I’m just not there yet …
I also had a few other breakthroughs and mini-epiphanies while in class today. I wasn’t exhausted at the end, nor was I super over-heated. The room temperature was “normal” for hot yoga, I guess about 105 degrees, and I was really sweaty (as usual), but I didn’t feel drained at all – I felt really good, like if there would have been a Hatha class afterwards I could have stayed for it and done fine. That has never been the case before!
I also have noticed all week in both Hatha and Vinyasa (and sculpt too!) that I am able to think about the breathing correctly during the poses and between them, where that has been a struggle for me most times (I’m lucky to do the pose right, or at all, and whether I’m breathing in or out at that moment, or through my mouth or nose, is hardly able to be considered or I wouldn’t be able to hold the pose). I also was feeling the weight of my body evenly in all parts of my feet, and hands at times, spreading out fingers and toes as needed. Every time I have done down dog this week, it has actually been a resting pose and felt good. For the longest time that pose has been difficult to hold with my shoulder pain, and it was too much for my arms. I also do not like being upside down or inverted, makes me dizzy. Now when I do forward folds or down dog, it feels really good.
I can feel my body getting stronger, and I can feel the muscles that I am working with each pose. That kind of awareness has taken more than a year to develop, and it is such a new and “awe-inspiring” perspective for me. I thought about how I felt for so long in boot camp, running, and in yoga, where I’m muddling through but not sure if I am doing anything correctly in form, and keeping my eyes away from any mirrors that would humiliate me and crush my self-esteem.
Today has been a good day, I am aware of significant changes in my body over the past year that are taking me to “physical” places I have never experienced before in my life. I never knew I could feel this way from the inside out – so strong, peaceful, healthy, and alive!
Today in my vinyasa hot yoga class I was able to hold a side plank on both sides twice without going down to one knee.
I couldn’t believe it! I could feel my core holding me up, and the strength I have developed there to be able to hold my hip up in the air with less weight resting on my arm. I did not lift my leg up in full expression, not there quite yet!
It is just huge for me to not have to go down to one knee to do this pose!
I am still on my knees doing chaturanga, and looking forward to posting about overcoming that obstacle sometime in the future!
But for now, I am happy with another milestone in yoga practice, especially when it indicates some improvement in my upper body strength and overcoming the problems with the pain in my right upper arm! I posted to Facebook about it when I was posting on the Cardio Challenge page …
After missing yoga by one minute on Saturday morning (door was locked, ugh!), and then not being able to go to yoga yesterday due to the Seahawks/49ers playoff game party, I was really feeling anxious and in great need for a good detoxifying hatha class tonight, especially since I leave on another work trip tomorrow to central Washington and will not be able to go to yoga class again until Thursday evening, IF I make it home in time.
Well, I got to class ten minutes early, and the room was already packed so I was stuck in the way interior of the studio, under the heater – right there I should have just walked out and said no. Under great pressure to end my 8 day streak without any yoga classes, I bit the bullet and set up my mat under the freaking heater.
By the time we got to dancer, I was delirious and could hardly see straight. I couldn’t wipe the sweat off fast enough to even see! When I had to move to the back of the mat to do balancing stick, the floor was so hot that it made my feet burn through my towel and mat! It was like walking on concrete in Palm Springs without shoes in the middle of summer, and I was DYING! For the first time in a very long time, I had to go to child’s pose during triangle, and I felt like a complete loser. Just to psych myself out that I wasn’t wasting time, I went into pigeon pose – holding it and switching legs through everyone else doing triangle/half-full vine/bird of paradise. I stood up to do forehead to knee and tree pose, but was shaking so bad I could hardly stand.
Then it was time to hit the mat, and it was as if my mat was over hot coals! I was laying on a freaking frying pan – OMG! I thought I would be ok getting through the rest of class, but it was SO much hotter on the floor that I literally felt like I was cooking. I cannot believe I got to the end of class without getting up to leave – it took everything I had in me to stay!
The next time I get stuck in a hot yoga class that full, and the only place left is under the heater, I am leaving without feeling the tiniest shred of guilt – torture by fire should not be part of anyone’s yoga practice!
When I get to Centralia later in the evening tomorrow, I will do 45 minutes on the elliptical machine – and repeat the same thing on fat burning mode on Wednesday night at the hotel (30 minutes on elliptical, then 10-20 minutes running on the treadmill, then another 20 minutes on the elliptical). Then hopefully I will make it back in time for the 5pm hatha class on Thursday AND get my spot near the door away from the heater!
I have driven by Hot Yoga Inc. in Covington for years, and always thought people who would do that were insane. I never thought I would join the ranks of the insane, but I have heard from enough people that I should be doing yoga. I also know that I am not going to lose any weight doing yoga from home using my DVDs. They say practicing in a hot room speeds up your heart rate and makes it a cardio workout and can burn up to 1000 calories in an hour, a lot more than running! And the heat helps you get more flexible, which has always been difficult for me.
I just can’t deal with heat and humidity so I chose a yin class as my first class because they turn off the heat. I figured this would be the only way I could handle the first time in that room. It was still hot because there were classes before this one that day, and all they did was open up the door to cool the room down. The moment I walked in the room it was like being back in Cancun and I could hardly breathe. I brought my thick yoga mat because I thought that would be needed with the harder floor. I realized in this class I need a strap and yoga blocks to do the poses, and I have no idea what I am doing. The hardest part is being in a position where you can’t see the teacher, but you have no idea how to do what she is saying to do and NEED to see it, then you are wondering if you look stupid or are going to tear something from doing it wrong. It felt awkward, but I think it will get better if I watch a few classes without doing much. I really just need to see what the poses are when she talking about them.
The one thing going to my first hot yoga class taught me is never wear sweats and a loose t-shirt again – I thought it would help catch the sweat, but baggy clothes just get in the way and sweats are way too hot. My groupon deal for Hot Yoga Inc. gives me 20 classes over a month, and it only cost $10, so if it doesn’t work out to do this I can just do normal yoga at LA Fitness.