Journey Back to Wellness

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This was NOT me…

I have never been what one would refer to as an “athletic” person. If are reading this and you know me, or knew me as a child then you know exactly what I mean. I was the kid during the gym class softball game who they put way out in the field as far from the action as possible. On the rare occasions when the ball was hit that far out, I’d scream, cover my head, and drop to the ground as if it were a cannonball, not a softball coming at me. So you can probably guess that I never played team sports. However, I always enjoyed music and the arts and did some dance. I also was pretty good at “individual sports” like swimming, diving, and martial arts.

I can’t catch a fly ball…but I can twist myself into a pretzel!

Although I only did these activities in spurts throughout the years, I always had great flexibility, and loved twisting myself into highly awkward and creepy-looking pretzel-like poses. Back to gym class…remember the Presidential Physical Fitness Test they made you take every year? The sit-and-reach portion? Yeah I owned that every year. Go me!

Given my inherent flexibility, it seemed natural for me to give yoga a try. I first tried it in my early 20s. I did some basic beginner DVDs, and found I liked the feel of Vinyasa Flow yoga best. I liked how the transitions from pose to pose, breath to breath, and vinyasa to vinyasa were very smooth and fluid. What looked pretty simple also worked up a pretty good sweat. I did yoga sporadically as well, in spurts throughout the next several years, and also took dance classes and did Pilates exercises that incorporated elements of yoga as well.

That’s more like it…


Things changed. Life happened.

Things changed in my late twenties and early thirties. I was involved in a serious accident that completely killed my back, knees, wrists, and left shoulder, and then had my kids in the next few years following that. After my second pregnancy, due to hormones and some medications I was taking at the time, I had gained a significant amount of weight and no matter what I tried, couldn’t drop it. I’d lose 10 or 15 pounds here or there, but could never manage to lose a significant amount, even after stopping the medication.

About a year and a half ago I had several severe back spasms that were more painful and debilitating than anything I’d ever experienced in my life, and was told that I had degenerating discs up and down my entire spinal column. The doctors said I had to lose weight, but that the only exercise I could safely do was physical therapy and swimming. Since my insurance at the time didn’t cover the PT, I opted for the swimming.

A glimmer of hope…

Surprisingly, some weight started to come off. I won’t say I swam regularly as often as I should have, but for whatever reason, the weight kept coming off in small amounts. Then it stopped for awhile, which I was bummed about, but was not surprised since I really wasn’t doing anything significant to actually cause the weight to come off. But then more weight started coming off again; a decent amount more. I was completely baffled since I was not exercising regularly and I had not made any dietary changes. My lifestyle had changed a bit, since I went back to school and started doing more work from home, so I was busier and not on the couch snacking as much (although I still snacked plenty…don’t get me wrong). But I was still fairly sedentary. Sitting at a desk in front of the computer or in the classroom is no more physical than lying on the couch.

So much weight came off that my darling husband suggested that I go to the doctor to make sure I didn’t have some horrible fatal disease. So the doctor ran some tests and the results revealed that not only was nothing physically wrong with me, but that I was in fact very healthy. The doctor was also very confused though and basically said to keep doing whatever I’m doing. Which would be nothing. OK, doc. You’re the expert.

Gaining momentum…

By this time (a few months ago), I had lost a total of about 35 pounds from when I was at my heaviest a couple of years earlier. Without any consistent effort. I decided that maybe if I actually put some effort in, I’d probably lose even more. A couple of years ago I got rid of all my size 4s and 6s because I truly believed I would never wear them again. Now I’m not so sure. Losing that much weight without trying gave me hope that just maybe, with some conscious effort, I could fit into those sizes again.

So within the past two months or so I did an internal herbal cleanse, started transitioning to a detoxifying greens and plant foods-based diet, and doing my yoga and Pilates again.

Nearly 10 more pounds have come off. I am now about 15 to 20 pounds away from my target weight, and I am really confident that I will reach that goal sooner rather than later. I have so much more energy now than I have ever had in my life, and my skin looks amazing. This, in addition to the weight loss, is motivation enough to stick with this healthier diet and lifestyle, even when the going gets tough.

With the yoga and Pilates, however, I have had to take it back a few notches. Because of my injuries and back problems, I still have chronic pain and flexibility/range of motion issues. The wrist problems make some poses in yoga hard, so I’ve had to get Stick-E Yoga Wrist Savers, which have really helped.

I also had to start back with the beginner-level Pilates DVDs (I do Ana Caban’s Pilates DVDs…love her). This morning I did one of my more challenging Pilates DVDs. It was not easy, but I got through it.

I also decided to try some of Shiva Rea’s vinyasa flow yoga DVDs because she has something called a “yoga matrix”. This allows you to customize your yoga practice based on your ability/flexibility, and how much time you have. Genius! It’s been working out really well.

So while my journey back to wellness is not complete (nor will it ever be…we are always works-in-progress), I have a much more positive outlook on life and for the first time in years, I feel like my dreams of being thin and fit again will be realized. Tomorrow I will let you know some of the most important lessons I’ve learned so far on this path.

What steps have you taken to live a better life? What lessons have you learned along the way?

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