Who’d a Thunk…?

…that I’d need to bring my drishti to spin class?

Ok, here it is: I suck on the bike. Sure, I know how to ride a bike and all, but the notion of riding for more than 15 minutes or further than a few kilometres causes a big mental wall to go up. I’m not sure why, but if I do attempt a long-ish ride, my mind tells me no. If I’m able to drag myself on to my bike, while I’m riding, my head is telling me how much it hates biking and my legs scream at me to stop. However, there’s another part of me that really loves it. I enjoy being outside, feeling the warmth of the sun shining, the light breeze and riding with G. The physical exertion and having a destination in mind, especially if it’s to Cramptons or to one of our fave breakfast spots, make me revel in the ride. It’s these positive things that make me realize I don’t really hate it. What I want to do is work on the part of me that thinks I hate it, so I can overcome those negative thoughts and enjoy riding my bike a heck of a lot more than I have in the past.

To help bring myself down that path, I’ve challenged myself to start taking spin classes. Sure, I could have just started riding my bike more (duh), but at the gym, I won’t have to contend with hills, traffic, or pressures to keep up if I ride with someone else. I also hope to translate the challenges we face in class in to more strength and ease when I ride outside. Plus it’s led by one of my fave instructors, who makes me feel oh-so-powerful in her boot camp classes. The first time I went, I decided to go easy to avoid killing myself and end up resenting the class (and not want to go back.) The second time I pushed myself, and it ended up being the biggest mental struggle I’ve ever had to face. Even bigger than when I started to run, including the first 5K race I ran 6 years ago with very little training. There were actual tears mixed in with the sweat on my face. Ok, so I tend to be a crybaby, and my eyes leak freely in both happy and sad times, but these were definitely because I found it that difficult. Hoping that was the worst of it, I woke up early again this morning for my third go at it.

It was challenging, and no easier than last week. However, it was my drishti that got me through it with less difficulty (i.e., inner struggles).

Now wtf is drishti? Simply put, it’s the technique of using a specific gazing direction for the eyes to focus attention. In meditation, you gaze with the third eye and look inward. While practicing physical asanas, you use your drishti to find your focus and live in the moment. In balancing poses, you find your drishti to stablize and ground yourself.

In spin class, I used my drishti to focus on each moment, to work through the 30 second sprints and hill climbs, and avoid thinking about recovery (break) time. I used my drishti to calm my (screaming!) mind and cultivate my innner strength. I used my drishti to focus on the part of me that could do it. And I did it! With no tears! (But probably just as much sweat. Yucks.) So yes, I’ll go back. With towel, drishti, and open heart in tow.

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Scale it back.

Ok, I know you don’t want to hear this, but this year I was trying to lose some weight. “But Karen, you’re so tiny!” Why, thank you so much! But I hide it well. (Thanks to some helpful What-Not-To-Wear-type styling tips, i.e., always dress for your body!) For the past few years, I had put on some pounds that made me feel pudgy and gross. When we went to Hawaii in early 2012, I felt like a whale. When I started shopping for wedding gowns that summer, I opted for styles that could accommodate my curves and also mask a food baby that may form at the wedding. I wanted to try on some sexier, slinky styles, but avoided them because of how I felt about my shape. (Important note: I am 100% happy with what I chose as I felt it was totally me, yet I still felt cute and sexy, and, most importantly, I was comfortable all night long!)

I’ve never felt fat, but after I fell off my wagon, I did feel that with everything I’d learned about staying active and healthy eating had all gone down the pooper. Years ago, my main reason for starting to go to the gym wasn’t to slim down or achieve a certain physique. It was and always will be about heart health. Although I don’t have a family history of heart disease, it is the #1 killer out there, so that’s what motivates me. Oh, and now I want to be able to keep up with my active hubbie and kids too. (I’ve also learned the hard way not to dribble a soccer ball in teeter-totter-y wedge platform shoes.) While I continued to work out somewhat regularly over the past few years, I did re-develop some bad habits, which got me wanting to make some changes this year.

One of the blessings of being out of work at the beginning of the year was that I was able to connect back with what I love to do at the gym. By the end of February, I was back to my routine of going to classes at least 3x a week and making smart food choices. I set what I thought was a lofty goal for a target weight, and didn’t actively try to meet that goal. Instead, I was paying more attention to how I felt (less slothy!), my energy level, & how my clothes were fitting.

A couple of days ago, I thought I’d step on the scale just to see where I was at. The last time I weighed myself was over a month ago, and I was perfectly happy staying at that weight. But HALLO, I hit my target weight! Oh, how the heavens sang that morning. And they kept singing even though I got a breakfast biscuit from Tims (but no sausage!) afterwards.

I don’t care if I put some of those pounds back on, but just knowing that I met that specific goal sort of by accident made me realize that I could save the world! Ok, that’s a bit of stretch, but it made my realize that it wasn’t too hard to climb back on to my wagon.

I don’t need to be as dilligent with my routine, now I can just keep up my healthy habits and maintain. And enjoy all the beer and chips I want this summer with no guilt. In moderation, of course.

Now if only I could get through one Blogilates video without stopping…