How Yoga Transformed My Life
In the Spring of 2010 I traveled to Italy with my Italian History class from Wesley College. I had never traveled outside the tri state area. So, to be given the opportunity to travel to another country, was a huge deal! To say I was excited is an understatement. I felt like a baby chick busting out of its egg; ready to take on the world! I was studying day and night. Researching information for my trip, and trying to learn the language. All the while, taking four or five other classes and working two part jobs. I did not realize it at the time, but I was wearing myself thin. I was not taking care of my body. Little did I know; I was in for a HUGE reality check. In the weeks leading up to my big trip I began to feel sick. My body was achy and I was exhausted all the time. I thought to myself “Perfect! As if flying 10-12 hours isn’t going to be bad enough, now I’m going to be sick on top of it...just my luck.” I tried to work through the pain, but It became unbearable. I scheduled an appointment with my family physician. I went in and results showed that I had a walking pneumonia and a double ear infection; that was the good news... During the vitals assessment, the doctor asked me to get on the scale. I took my shoes off (because obviously, they weigh so much) and I stepped on the scale. The doctor put the bottom notch on the 100 pound marker and began to quickly move the top notch to the right...50…60…70…80…90….What the f***…I thought. Then, in what appeared to be slow motion his hand flicked the top notch back to the left, reached for the bottom notch and gently placed it on the 200-pound marker. Back to the top notch; slowly moving it to the right, 10…20...30…finally it stopped, 246 pounds! No f***ing way. I was aware that I was “the big girl”, but 246 pounds!? This must be wrong! I was devastated. I remember getting in my car and crying like a baby for a solid 10 minutes. How did I get here? When did I gain all this weight? More importantly, how am I going to fix this? WHERE DO I START?
Although my spirit was crushed, I tried to stay strong. Even though the news about my weight was devastating, I still did not take immediate action. I still had to work, attend school and continue to prepare for my big trip to Italy! I didn’t know where to start and I most certainly did not have to time to exercise or focus on my health. I pumped myself up with medications from the doctor and off to Italy I went! My flight to Italy was horrific. A combination of my illness, fear of flying, and medication caused me to be ill the entire flight. Upon arrival, I rested for an entire day. Missing a whole day of activities and experiences with my class mates. One day during our trip we traveled to The Royal Gardens and The Royal Apartments. Part of the tour required an extensive walk around the gardens. At the beginning, the walk wasn’t too bad. I felt a bit wheezy and out of breath, but the scenery was so beautiful, I tried to push through. I wanted to see everything! The further into the gardens we traveled the steeper the hills became. I was so out of shape and unhealthy that I had to sit down. I was unable to finish the walk. Again, missing out on an experience, that was probably a once in a lifetime opportunity. I put on a smile on my face and tried to enjoy the remainder of my trip, but inside I was heartbroken. I was disgusted with myself. I hated my body.
My trip to Italy put a lot of things into perspective. I never want to be unable to do something ever again. I never want to feel weak again. I knew I needed to make a change, but again, I did not know where to start and I did not know who to ask for help. The four years following my Italy trip consisted of me trying quick-fix diets, taking diet pills, eating smaller portions of unhealthy foods, and not exercising. I truly believed if I just ate less, I would lose weight. I did not want to exercise and I hated to sweat. I wasn’t being real with myself. I was not putting in the work that was necessary to create change. I was not holding myself accountable, I had somehow gained 10 more pounds. In October 2014, I went to Wal-Mart to buy new work pants. I had been a size 18 for years. In the dressing room, I put on a size 18 pant, and they did not fit. I needed a bigger pair. I stood in the dressing room, starring at myself, my gut hanging over the front of the pants, the waist line barely fitting my hips, and the tears rolling down my face. I did not recognize the person in the mirror. That was the day everything changed! It was like a light turned on. A shift happened. I was going to make a change. I bought those size 18 pants and a size 20 pant. I was acknowledging that I needed a bigger size, but I was also going to hold myself accountable. No matter what, I was going to get into those size 18 pants again!
The next day, I reached out to my friend Korrie to be my accountability buddy. We started working out together almost every day! I’ll admit, it was hard at the beginning. We used a work out DVD and I always felt like I couldn’t keep up. But, I’ll never forget, every time I got winded, or felt like I wanted to stop, Korrie was right there cheering me on, keeping me motivated. She always made me feel invincible! We became a great work out team. Gradually we increased our work outs and we began to see results! After 3 months, I was back in my size 18 pants and I was feeling great! We continued to exercise and began to portion meals and eat healthier foods. I saw light at the end of the tunnel. Although I was making tremendous strides, I still felt like something was missing. Physically, I was changing, but there was still an underlining sense of self-loathing.
A coworker, who was also on a weight lose journey, asked if I would join her for a hot yoga class. I was a bit reluctant, especially after reading the description: “ Hot yoga refers to yoga exercises performed under hot and humid conditions.” Uh what? Im not that great at yoga, Im still pretty out of shape, and I hate to sweat! This sounded like it was going to be horrible, but my coworker offered to buy wine after class, so I went. When I walked into the studio I was nervous. I felt completely out of place, but this was a feeling I grew accustom to because of my weight. I did my best to follow the ques of the instructor, breath, and not pass out from the heat. An hour later, I was drenched in sweat, I felt completely relaxed, and for the first time in a very long time, I felt a sense of satisfaction. My meditation at the end of my first yoga class is an experience that I cannot explain. Whatever disconnect I was having, connected. I returned to mat almost every day. My yoga mat quickly became my source of strength. Every time I stepped on my mat, I discovered something new about myself. Yoga very quickly became my new addiction. The more I practiced the better I got. I was consistently losing weight and I gradually began to build up strength to practice more challenging poses. The stronger I became physically, the more it transcended into every aspect of my life.
Through my yoga practice I grew to love my body. I learned my physical capabilities. I discovered that I was stronger than I thought I was and far more capable than I ever thought possible. Once I began to explore the connection between my mind and body, I got lost in the practice. I revealed parts of myself to myself. I began to “clean out” my life, removing all things negative and toxic. First physically, then emotionally. Ending relationships with people that no longer served my journey, and letting go of grudges with people that were meaningless. I forgave myself and others for mistakes made in the past. Along with the 95 pounds, I lost my ego. I still struggle every day with my weight but I always try to remind “I am better than I was yesterday and I strive to be better tomorrow.” My yoga practice continuously helps me discover my inner strength, my self-worth and my true essence.