I didnt exercise much growing up. I always saw it as something my parents did and it was a passion of theirs, not mine. I was never particularly good at group sports and if I wasnt close to being the best at something without too much effort, I wouldnt pursue it. I know that sounds very lazy of me to admit, but when it came to athletics and me in my formative years, this was my mentality. I always did well in gym class but couldnt care less about going out and running or taking a exercise class or biking the lake. Oddly enough, I wasnt particularly skinny or lean but fairly proportional in that I never really worried about my weight and definitely ate my share of Wendy's cheeseburgers in Wexford (c'mon we all did.) During my college days at Penn State, I tried a number of times to become the consistant gym-goer or avid runner, but never stuck with anything. Honestly, I have no clue why. I think I often chose fun (aka eating and drinking with friends) over the physical exertion of a conditioning class. Yes, I took these classes here and there but I always left feeling exhausted, defeated and most of all, upset with my lack of desire to stick it out and be patient with progress.
Flash forward to my first year in NYC. My friend Lindsay and I decided (over too much wine, natch) that we were going to run our first half marathon together. We trained seperately for the most part (taking a bikram yoga class once early on in the training and pretty much collapsing in class) and in January of 2008, we completed the Rock N Roll Half in Arizona. I cried crossing the finish line. And I think average pace was 10:30. But I finished and it felt great. I lost about 8-10lbs during my training and felt awesome. My knees/hips on the other hand killed like a MOTHER. I took a few weeks off after that, and then tried bikram out again. It felt great. I was by far the weakest in class having to sit down for multiple poses, my head and eyes glazing over with stars and hot flashes. I cant tell you the number of times I almost passed out. Camel pose was NEVER an option and I would gaze upon the women who seemed to do it so gracefully, covered in sweat, barely panting. After a few months of moderate consistancy (2x/week) with the practice I felt wonderful. I was running a good amount but nothing over 6miles a pop to supplement my weekly workouts. You know what? I still look at the picture of me and Lee from his birthday that March. It was the first time in years that I noticed I had a glow about myself. I felt amazing. Life just felt better. And my mind was so clear. I felt my anxiety and winter-blues depression begin to vanish. I was honestly seeing the world differently as dramatic as that sounds. But like most things in life, things change or setbacks occur. I definitely fell back into an unhealthy regime for a while in late 2008 into 2009 but life was a barrel of "fun." Indulgant dinners out with Lee, bar nights with friends, tapas and wine nights with my girlfriends...I mean, it IS what NYC in your 20s is all about. Everything was either all or nothing for me. If I wasnt working out, then I was having a hell of a time trying new restaurants and cocktail concoctions.
In late summer of 2010, with just a few months til our wedding, I was determined to change this fluctuating pattern with myself. I wanted more than anything to wake up on our wedding day feeling the most healthy and strong as Ive ever felt in my entire life. AND I DID! :) It was not easy but I realized that somewhere inside of me I had the mental strength to get to my physical goals. With each passing week I was feeling that much more confidant in myself and seeing rapid results. And I felt more ALIVE than I have had in a decade. With bikram yoga, I have found something which my body and mind respond to and a practice that I openly plan my free time around. The conditioning classes at Equinox gave me examples of how muscle confusion along with the energy of a full class working together is a powerful thing to change a life. I know it changed mine. My hip surgery in February was a real tough setback and boy did I struggle with the healing process and just being patient with myself. But now, I am back in the game. I didnt let a week go by since my PT was complete that I didnt attempt my routine pre-surgery. Yes, I am levels behind where I want to be but I didnt fall back into a routine of completely disregarding what I know my body needs and mind craves. Small victories on the road back to 100% (in a 115 degree room with 40% humidy works for me!).
PS: Ive started a Bikram Count on the side of this blog to keep me accountable for my practice. It feels really good to add each tally mark, so why not?!