My super disappointing guide to health

Oh Savannah, you pretty little thing.

It’s been a bright and sunny 75 degrees in ol’ Savannah for the past few days. It’s the first time in three, chance-of-snow-flurries-kind-of-cold months that my arms and legs have seen the sun, as they are usually hidden under layers of clothing. And yes, I do understand that if I lived anywhere else in the world that the winter would have been much colder, much longer, and those chances of snow flurries would have been full on blizzards. California made me a softie when it comes to winter. I think California made me a softie when it comes to a lot of things.

It’s finally spring. : ) It makes me smile and sing all day. For some people though, this time of year is not so happy.

I’ve been working in the fitness industry for about four years now. Participation in group classes, including yoga, follow a pretty predictable surge and fall depending on the time of the year. January–very high, as the New Year’s resolutions kick in, end of January–you see a drop, as the New Year’s resolutions fall by the way side, and now, the end of February–another surge, when people realize that all too soon they will be in a bikini on spring break.

This is the time of year that I get a lot of people coming up to me after classes asking for diet tips, weight loss secrets, how to lose 10 pounds in a week, how to get rid of cellulite, how to get an ass like Beyonce, abs like Janet Jackson, legs like this person, arms like that person.

We have become totally obsessed with changing our bodies into something different, usually something smaller.

I think I usually disappoint the people who ask me for advice about dieting and weight loss. I have a very simple “how to be healthy” plan, and I let my participants know that there aren’t any secrets, any magic tricks. One girl even replied, “Well DUH I already knew all that.” So, sorry, nothing groundbreaking here. It’s pretty simple stuff:

(1)Drink water

(2)Eat as much food as possible that grows out of the ground or from trees

(3)Practice yoga often

And that’s it. The yoga part is the most important, and that’s not a shameless plug to get you to come to my classes (come to my classes–that’s my shameless plug). Yoga, when practiced often, isn’t just part of a healthy life, it is a catalyst for a healthy life. Practice, and watch all of your unhealthy habits just fall away, down on to your mat along side your sweat and other crap that yoga gets out of your system.

Yoga is funny like that. It will make you crave the good stuff, the super nutrient-dense stuff, the food that you body needs. Last night I literally had a dream about a huge plate of sweet potatoes. Not kidding.

There are a few reasons why I think yoga does this to people. First of all, it simply makes you more aware. With this heightened awareness, you start to realize that food (“food”) like Taco Bell and Burger King actually make your body feel like shit.

And, it smells like cat food.

Secondly, yoga makes you appreciate you body. You start to care for it, look after it, treat it like it’s the only one you’ve got (it IS the only one you’ve got). Why would you eat something that smells (and looks) like cat food if you respect your body? Why would you starve it, just in hopes of making it skinnier, smaller?

Yoga has taught me that a little bit of fat around the midsection is good, essential even, because I’m a woman and my body is made to carry a baby. Sometimes I tell my students to look down at their bellies during a seated forward fold and to thank whatever is there for housing and protecting their most vital of organs.

I’m definitely not saying that yogis never eat or drink things that are bad for their body. Yogis are known to have a sweet tooth. I have a bowl of ice cream almost every night. This past Saturday night’s dinner was pizza and beer. Brownies are the shit.

Our world has created some very delicious treats. Not enjoying them would be oh so sad. It’s counterproductive to try to stay away from them, because then you feel bad that you can’t have it, feel bad that you have to try so hard to stay away from it, feel bad that you wanted it in the first place. Feeling bad is what ultimately makes us eat too much bad stuff. Feeling bad is not what yoga is about, it’s not what this life is about. Moderation is a beautiful thing.

Screw anything that’s advertised as “guilt-free” or “the healthier option” or “skinny”. That’s just perpetuating the whole idea that some foods should indeed make you feel guilty. It is so strange to me that guilt is even an emotion that has been associated with eating. Guilt towards food causes so many problems, from eating disorders to low self esteem to stress. Screw all of the things out there that make you feel bad if you want some frickin’ chocolate chip cookies. Eat whatever the fuck you want.

Except Taco Bell–it smells like cat food.

Be kind to your body by giving it the good stuff and not feeling guilty when it’s craving the bad stuff. The more yoga you do, the less bad stuff you will crave. Trust the process. Be compassionate with your body, it the only thing on this earth that is all yours.

A Valentine’s Day (and every day) rule to follow


I’ve been asked to write a post about a topic that I was really hoping no one would ask me to write. But, I knew, sooner or later, that it was coming. It was inevitable. We’re humans, after all, and this thing has so much influence on our choices, our lives, that I might even go as far as saying that most of us are completely controlled by it.

Love.

Romantic love, love for another person, the kind responsible for giving you the most supreme of all bliss and the most dreadful of all depressions.

And hey, Valentine’s Day is coming up, so what the hell.

I don’t hate or protest Valentine’s Day, but I don’t really celebrate it (in the way America wants me to) either. Alex and I are planning to make fish tacos and drink a lot of wine. That’s what we did last year, and well…that’s pretty much what we do every night we are together. Valentine’s Day just means that we will probably drink a lot more wine than usual. But definitely no gifts.

I don’t look down upon or see couples that do exchange gifts as materialistic. If they have the money and the desire to do that, then that’s good. It just so turns out that Alex and I are both pretty damn broke right now, so the whole gift giving thing just doesn’t work for us.

Our culture is really good at making us feel like shit about not fitting into the cookie cutter example of a relationship. It tells us, if you’re forty and not married–wow, something is wrong. If you (especially guys) don’t have limitless money to spend on your significant other–you’re not worth it. If you’re long distance–why bother? If you only see each other once a week–adjust your schedule. If your relationship is interracial or same-sex–forget about it. Oh, and if you like both men and women, you’re probably just confused and “going through a phase.” And if you’re…ya know…single….then damn, something is definitely, without doubt, wrong with you and your social skills.

Because NO ONE has the relationship that America tells us we should have, we all start feeling like ours isn’t good enough, that something is dreadfully wrong. And then we get angry at the other person (or ourselves) for not being more available, richer, ¬†younger, straight-er, white-er.

WHO MADE THESE RULES?

I have had a hard time with the very thing I am writing about today (I usually write about the thing I personally need to be learning at the moment, FYI) in my own relationship. Yoga, especially when adjusting someone, has taught me that every body is 100% different from the next. Our bodies, minds, and perspectives are influenced by the lives we lead. There is not one recipe for happiness, especially when it comes to loving another person, because now you have not one but two varying lives to balance and accommodate.

I didn’t want to write about this topic because I don’t really know much about this kind of stuff. One thing that I have learned is that when you’re in a bad relationship, you know it. You can feel it, if you listen. Respect that. But, if the other person is treating you well and it all feels right, I use my go-to rule of thumb–Don’t Let America Make You Feel Like Shit.

Following this rule will also help you from forming expectations about your relationship, and this is where we can really get into trouble. See my post called “The Should Mindset” for more on this.

So celebrate the reasons why you can call your relationship different from others. Remember that what works for you and what makes you happy is probably not going to be the “perfect” relationship as described by our culture. And thank god for that. America has succeeded in creating the most boring of all relationship standards to strive for. Figure out what works for you and the other person, or maybe you alone, and love it–it’s already perfect.