Saturday, January 11, 2014

Health post: Balance

Picture from XOJane.com: Yep, I'm a Fat Yoga Teacher. Great read!
Happy New Year everybody! Work is back on and the holidays slipped by so fast. By now I guess a lot of you are working on - maybe even struggling with - your New Year's resolutions. On top of the list is that perennial favorite: "get healthy."

I made that resolution last November -- you can read all about that here. As I began my Saturday with 30 minute DIY yoga session at home (I felt awesomely relaxed and stretched and thoughtful), I thought back on those past two months. I also thought long and hard about this wonderful letter posted by The Plump Pinay. Mostly, my thoughts centered on balance: not just literally balancing during the tree pose, but balancing my resolution towards health, to be the best *me* I can be, while accepting that beauty lies in all of us, whatever our size, whatever our outward appearances may be.

I have to admit it's not easy.

Many of us who've been carrying extra weight all our lives can easily equate weight loss with health. After all, that's what everyone's been telling us: "you need to lose weight, because you cannot possibly be healthy while your body is not ideal." The fact that health does not mean thin is something that takes a long time to process and accept. And so pursuing health without falling into the weight loss trap is a balancing act.

It's a struggle, but I think -- whether it's because now, in my 30s, I'm finally mature enough to make the distinction and let go of all that youthful emphasis on desirability or because God is giving me the strength to do so -- I'm getting the hang of it. Here are a few things I do to help me stay on track:

  • Don't focus on the scale. Have I lost weight since I started my lifestyle change in November? I honestly don't know. I haven't stepped on one all this time. As I explained here, past experience has taught me that me and the scale aren't friends. So I don't measure progress on the scale at all.
  • Make up your own standard. If I don't count how much weight I've lost, how do I know if I've made any progress? I have my own measurements -- and they don't have anything to do with numbers. Do I feel more energetic and endorphin-happy because I started the day with exercise? Can I hold a Warrior Three pose for five seconds more than I did yesterday? Do I feel sluggish and bloated because I pigged out on junk food, or do I feel clear and light because I've been consuming fresh and healthy meals? These are the standards that tell me I'm on the right track.
  • Follow the Pareto Principle. The Pareto Principle, also known as the 80-20 rule or the law of the vital few, is something taught in economics and project management. It's also a handy guide for any change you want to make in your life as it's the key to avoiding burnout. Basically, stick to your resolution or lifestyle change 80% of the time, give yourself the remaining 20% as a break. So if I eat healthy and avoid processed food 80% of the time, I give myself the freedom to not follow that for a few meals each week. It works for me because it's sensible and doable: I'd never really been an all or nothing girl.  
What about you? Are you focusing on your health this 2014? How can you ensure that your health focus remains, well, healthy?

3 comments:

lornadahl said...

Happy New Year, Iggy!

I agree with your methods (being conscious of your disposition over what the weighing scale says). How was your DIY yoga? I'm so scared kasi to practice yoga on my own, unless siguro regular talaga ang practice ko.

True, it's hard to remain committed and I pray you'll remain focused. You're such an inspiration. :)

Katrina said...

Thank you, you're so sweet! :) :)

Yoga kasi I've been practicing since 2009. I'm not super galing or anything but I have the sun salutation sequences memorized and I have some basic poses down, so I do that, and then there are some yoga routines din in my Skimble Workout App. :D Important thing talaga with yoga is the posture and breathing. One thing my teacher told me that I always remembered is to pretend that you're inserting your shoulder blades into pockets on your back, this ensures that aligned ang spine and you don't tense up during a pose.

Ay! Eto pa naalala ko sa yoga:
1. You're trying to find the mountain in every pose. Sounds kooky but it really means that the mountain is just you standing hip-width apart, so you're balanced and aligned -- try to look for that sense of balance and stability in any pose. If you go beyond that, something's wrong with you're alignment or your pushing too far.

2. Imagine two forces pulling you in opposite directions - one pulling your tailbone to the earth, the other pulling your heart to the sky. This really helps me pag balancing poses like Tree!

3. Always inhale and exhale through your nose!

Sorry ang haba ng comment! I really love yoga e :D sayang lang I haven't been able to go to class since April 2013 (tipid mode) so self-practice nalang ngayon. :/

lornadahl said...

Wow, daming inputs! Thanks! Actually, I tend to forget to breathe when doing difficult poses. And I particularly find balancing poses like warrior soooo hard.

True, it can get expensive. How I wish I can afford to practice regularly since I'm scared to try it at home.

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