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On weight gain and yoga

If you didn’t know I turned 37 last month. That isn’t old and it isn’t young. It’s kind of a pointless age really, but a nice right in the middle of my prime kind of number. The more I talk about my age and say/type/read the number the more I get comfortable with it. Because I’ve been struggling with aging (I’ll have to save that for another post!). One number I never rarely pay attention to is the number on the scale. I know it’s a bit higher than it was 2 years ago when I was in the best shape of my life. I don’t need to look in the mirror or post selfies on Instagram to know I can’t see my abs anymore (some days are better than others!). Even though I’m still “fit” to some, doesn’t make me exempt from the struggles that come along with weight gain. I’m going to talk more about that on today’s blog but I apologize if my thoughts are a little all over the place. It just spilled out.

Two years ago I was one of those people posting my abs (and all my body parts) all over the internet. I was in the best shape of my life but the least happy I’ve ever been. Having the “perfect” body did not make me happy. Just let that sink in for a second.

In April 2014 I was doing a photoshoot for the Vegan Revolution project. Two days before this epic peak in my career, I severely sprained my ankle and everything went downhill from there. I couldn’t train, lost part of my identity, fell into a total depression and started eating away the pain. I don’t think I’ve actually talked about this stuff on my blog in depth. I guess it has taken 2 years to really come to grips with the whole situation. Also getting older makes me more open to talking about my inner demons. The rest of the year was tough. My body rebelled against me and my ankle never seemed to heal.

I kept trying to exercise but everything I did led to pain and tears. And donuts. And cupcakes. I just ate and ate. With little activity, you can imagine where this put me. Not only did I gain weight, I felt like crap, had more brain fog, couldn’t concentrate on work, stopped my usual hustle for my business, and lost most passion for life. Even though I still looked “fit” to many people, it was never as good as that peak moment in April. As I was dealing with my own self worth I read more and more about the struggles women face with their weight, the Health at Every Size movement, feminism and fitness, and a whole slew of topics regarding women’s’ health and fitness. More and more women are talking about loving their bodies and not giving into society’s view of what is beautiful and acceptable. But was I ready to love my body? Not quite.

tripod-headstead2015 came and I decided to devote myself to yoga. I figured if anything, stretching would help my ankle and the meditative aspect of yoga would help my mind and depression. I missed activity so much and needed any kind of boost I could scramble. The first time I did yoga was in 1998 during a course at Austin Community College. Though I never had a regular practice, taking yoga classes here and there over the years, my body loved yoga. It was challenging yet peaceful, and was the only time my mind totally become clear and at peace. I did no other type of activity for a couple of months, and miraculous my ankle didn’t hurt anymore. There was something to this yoga!

So I kept at it and repaired not only my body but my ability to detach so much to my physical shell. I mean, I am not my body. The way my body looks does not determine my worth. I am not a better person (or better vegan) for having a body that you may think is a “good” body. Even though I am “fit” to some and “skinny” to others, this physical shell tells you nothing about me as a person. It has struggles and feels things deeply. It has scars and memories of past abuse.

Having abs should not make you like me more or want to buy my products and services. My experience, integrity, and reputation is the only thing you need to make a judgment or choose to work with me. If having a body that you see as worthy is what determines whether I gain you as a client I am probably not a good fit for you. I refuse to give into the shallowness of that kind of relationship. I love my body because it is strong, well-nourished, happy, and capable. Over the last 2 years my eyes have been opened to the fact that many people in the world don’t have able bodies. I am privileged to have a body that can do all kinds of amazing things. I don’t want to ever take that for granted. When I look in the mirror and zero in on my perceived flaws, I take a step back and show gratitude that I have all my limbs and get to do yoga.

Have I failed or am I lazy, do I not care about myself because I no longer have the body I did 2 years ago? Nope. But some may say the body 2 years ago is the “good” body. That body inspires others. We live in a messed up society that judges people based on the way they look. One that uses terms like “bikini body” to get you to buy juice cleanses, meal plans and fitness programs. How did we learn to be a victim to this, become so judgmental of ourselves and others, and how do we turn it around? This body I live in is the only body I have. So I will continue to nourish it, stretch it, strengthen it, and attempt to love it till its last breath. As someone who has always had a little hate for her body, it isn’t going to be easy. But I continue to surround myself with inspirational women, change the media I consume, and have these conversations with others in order to transform the way I not only look at myself but the way I view and treat others. It’s deep and intensive work. And the discussion is far from over!

If this post has hit home for you please tell me in the comments below. It’s very raw and took a lot to post but I believe we need more open and candid discussions about these topics.

Here are a few articles I read recently that sparked this post.
What a Yogi looks like community
When #fitspo hurts more than helps
So I gained weight, so what?

Featured blog photo by Steven Ruud
Photo 2 in blog by Vin Garg