Working Out the Work Out

If you’ve been following this blog at all, you’ll know that I’m constantly going on about losing weight, and never managing to do much about it. I count calories or work out for a week or so at a time, then fall off the wagon. It happens over and over. I’ve done all kinds of things to try to get myself on a schedule and actually in the weight loss zone. My latest endeavor was that great app, Gympact, which essentially pays you for going to the gym and charges you if you don’t. Eighty six percent of Gympact users supposedly make their alotted gym visits every week, but somehow I managed to screw up every week. To date I’ve lost about $100, and every time I lost money, I just got a little less inclined to try harder next time. Guess I’m in that small percentage of people who just can’t seem to try hard enough to meet the goal line.

So here goes another thought. What if I treat going to yoga class every morning like going to work? What if it’s a required part of my week days, and there’s no question as to whether or not I have to get up to 5:30 to meet the expectation every morning? In the past when I had a required work punch in time, I wasn’t late and I didn’t skip – I woke up on time, got ready, and went. Even when my commute was upwards of an hour, I’d figure it out and make my goal of getting to work at such-and-such a time.

Tomorrow I’m going to set my alarm with the idea that going to Bikram is essentially starting the work day. Then we’ll figure it out from there.

Day #18: Monday, Monday, Monday

Here we are, seven years down the road, and the media is still milking Hurricane Katrina for all it’s worth. There is nothing worse than getting about a million and one phone calls from concerned friends and family members who demand that you leave your house and run for the hills – when there’s NOTHING TO WORRY ABOUT. All because they’re watching way too much MSNBC. I really get tired of the news sometimes. This morning’s headlines include such gems as:

Isaac Crossing Gulf with New Orleans in Crosshairs (Because hurricanes obviously = guns, or cannons, or something of the sort, right?)

7 Years after Katrina, NOLA Braces for Isaac (Oh, you should see the bracing going on right now. Nah, you’d just get bored.)

Isaac Takes Aim at New Orleans (At least that one’s more direct. Pun intended.)

So if you’ve never lived through a hurricane before, and you’re wondering what someone like me plans to do on a day like today, I’ll tell you. In ten minutes, I’m leaving the house and heading to work, where I’ll stay for most of the day unless something horrific happens. This evening I’ll come home, make sure the computers, iPad, iPods, phones, cameras, etc are all charged, and start freezing some extra ice cubes just in case. Then I’ll kick back and watch some TV with The Man. Really, that’s all there is to do when it’s only a Category 1 or 2. It’s basically going to be a big thunderstorm with high-ish winds and lots of rain. Blech, I’m already tired of talking about it. Hurricanes suck, but mostly because of the people involved, not the storm itself. Stop freaking out and tackle it as it comes. I survived Katrina, and three other big ones in NC prior to that (involving massive flooding and loss of property, while I was inside said property), and I refuse to let fear ruin a good sunny Monday morning.

Now on to the good parts of my day. I made it to Bikram class this morning, and it was amazing! There were only four students, so the teacher joined in and practiced with us. Since all of us had been practicing for awhile, the teacher didn’t call instructions. Instead, we moved as a group on instinct, and she called ‘Change’ now and then in postures where it would be hard to tell what was happening (like Balancing Stick and Rabbit). It was a great class, a very powerful class, and I was able to meditate much more easily when it was just me correcting myself and not having to listen to all of the instructions.

Oh, my weight was great this morning, as well. I weighed in at 156.4 lbs this morning, so back on track with that. Now I’m hoping that yoga doesn’t get cancelled tomorrow, so I can continue to persevere. If not, maybe my Shaun T’s Rockin’ Body DVDs will come in today so that at least I’ll have something to do inside if it’s raining and I can’t go running.

OK, time to get to work. I’ve still got to turn in my timesheet, and finish up a worksheet I’m working on. Have a great Monday, folks!

 

Day #8 Wrap Up

It’s midnight, and things are just getting going at the bar across the street from my house. For some reason even though the bar is really nice inside, with good acoustics, romantic lighting, great cocktails and plenty of places to sit, on the weekend, patrons stand around outside the bar, screaming at the top of their lungs. The weekend crowd is also really into cars and motorcycles, and love to circle the block with radios blasting at top level, revving way-too-loud engines in some sort of weird gearhead competition that I don’t really get.

As I’ve mentioned in other entries, my apartment is pretty small, and since the screaming and revving goes on until around 2am at the earliest, I’ve had to get used to it invading my life. For instance, right now I’m sitting on my bed, clearly hearing every word of a shouted conversation between two women discussing the infidelity of a boyfriend (husband?), in great detail. This isn’t angry shouting – it’s just a conversation. And it’s out on a quiet, mostly residential street, so there’s no need for screaming. But scream they will for at least another couple of hours. It’s just one of the things you get used to in New Orleans. The bar can’t contain its customers, and the cops don’t have time for silly noise complaints like mine. Instead, I’m counting it as early training for sleeping through the noisy hell of a home filled with children. When you look at it that way, it’s a priceless service!

But no more bitching. We’re here to recap my day. I ate pretty well all day and even fit in a run and some crunches. The run was awesome, and I thought I was making good time until I realized that what I thought was a 2 mile run was only 1.6 miles (not so great). My time was still OK, at 10 minutes a mile, basically, but I was disappointed after thinking that my run time was super fast and awesome today. Oh well, maybe tomorrow. Setting my alarm to try to wake up for 8am yoga class, and hoping to make it to an afternoon class, as well.

Here’s my day’s eats, from LoseIt.com…

Wrapping Up Day #1

It’s 9pm CT, and I’m feeling like it might be time to hit the hay soon. I got home about an hour ago to find the lights all off and The Man taking a nap. I thought it might be a good opportunity to initiate a little friskiness, but instead when I woke him up he was in a shitty mood, so that’s a no go. Instead I weighed in out of curiosity (161.8 lbs – wtf?) took a shower to wash off the Bikram sweat, and now I’m curled up on the couch in my favorite pjs, jotting down notes here in on C&Q.

Obviously, I made it to my Bikram class. It was awesome, probably the best class I’ve been to yet. It was our instructor Joshua’s last night at the studio for at least a year. He’s leaving to study with a yogini in San Antonio, and we’re all really going to miss him. He’s one of my favorite instructors, always cracking a joke, quick with words of encouragement, offering awesome suggestions for improvement, just a great presence. He’s one of the teachers that makes you want to work extra hard to get your postures just right – my Balancing Stick is always best in his class.

Today was not only his last class, but also his going away party, so during class he played music at strategic parts (like “Lose Yourself” during Balancing Stick and “Danger Zone” during Full Locus, lol!) I love music, and feel that basically everything is enhanced with the right soundtrack. The same held true for yoga class tonight. It was a lovely time, and I hope that one of the teachers might start doing that every once in awhile, especially in Friday night classes. After class I stayed and chatted with a couple of the ladies I see around from time to time at the studio, and then I was offered a huge (HUGE!) piece of this beautiful triple layer cake from Whole Foods. It even had this gorgeous glazed fruit on top. I said no, but the instructor really wanted to get rid of it, so I took it…and walked straight down the street back to my office, where I gave it to one of the graphic designers to eat! Yay for self control!

So this is what my day looked like, according to LoseIt.com:

Yoga Extras

Today during Bikram I was having a hard time keeping my mind in the present. It was a tough class; the studio just added a second humidifier, and it was the last class of the day, so it was just a tad over 105 degrees the entire time. Plus, even though I normally love this teacher, today his strictness was really wearing on me. I got severely out of breath by Eagle, and from there it was pretty much downhill. I did my best to do most of the poses (except for Triangle, which I skipped out of not wanting to further aggravate my groin and glute, and also because I just wasn’t feeling up to it), and by the time I got to the last three poses, I was just completely worn out. Kind of a bust, as far as class goes, but I keep telling myself that we need the ‘bad’ classes to be able to feel extra good about the ‘good’ classes. Besides, I didn’t faint, injure myself, or – horror of horrors – leave the room, so I’m pretty much golden, right?

Anyway, while I was trying to live through class, my mind kept wandering. One of the things I was thinking over was how different each of my old studios has been. Overall, I love this studio the most. It’s brand new, and the owner/teacher did an amazing job at including all of the state-of-the-art bells and whistles, along with the regular Bikram must-haves. The hot room has full length mirrors on two walls, windows to the street on another, and then windows out into the hall on the fourth. The heating system is superb (although I was hating it today), and the humidity ensures that the heat is easier on your skin and you never feel like you’re getting roasted. Or at least you feel like you’re getting basted regularly, anyway! There’s also the required wood-grained antimicrobial carpeting, which smells weird, but whatever.

This is the first studio that I’ve studied in that has fans, though. I like them, but I still feel vaguely guilty when the teacher turns them on, even if it’s just for a second during the transition from standing series to the floor, or sometimes during camel (by which point a breeze feels glorious, I’ll admit it). It’s also the first studio that I’ve gone to that had showers and bathrooms in separate locations. This doesn’t bother me – I’m just happy there are showers – but it’s something that sets it apart. As is the crazy-cool Brita Hydration Station (it’s a water fountain, but it’s seriously spacey).

One thing that my studio is missing, however, is a mat-cleaning station. My first studio had a stainless steel table, very much like something you’d see in a professional kitchen, set up to wash your mat down as soon as you walked out of class. I loved it! I’ll admit – I forget to clean my mat all the time, which is really gross, I know, but I’m forgetful and lazy. It was great to walk out of class and be able to put your mat on a waist-high slab, and have a bottle of cleanser and a sponge ready to go to wipe it down. If I ever were to have my own studio, I’d definitely incorporate a mat-cleaning station.

Another thing that tends to bother me is when people set their mats up in weird places, or take up too much space and inconvenience other people in the hot room. Years ago, before I was introduced to Bikram, I did work study at yoga studio that used two mats for each person. It sounds weird, but it was a cool concept. The owner had figured out how many people could comfortably fit in the room, and where the mats would work best. He had us set out a certain number of mats, in a certain placement. When people would come into class, they’d either use a yoga towel or blanket, or more usually, their own yoga mat, and place it on top of the already placed mat. This meant that everyone was lined up perfectly, without crowding their neighbors, and no one had to think too hard about it. It made the beginning of class even more relaxed. I don’t think I’d go through the trouble of setting out mats, but I have wondered about marking suggestion spots on the floor to help people line their mats up correctly and ensure that everyone has enough space.

One last thing that’s very different about my current studio from my last is that we’re encouraged to drink water. My first studio had ‘party time’ after Eagle, so I was a little freaked out when I got to my second studio and the teacher informed everyone to drink water sparingly during class and try to avoid it if possible. I wondered if this was healthy, or if it was even doable. Over time, though, I realized that what they were saying was true. If I was properly hydrated going in, I never actually got thirsty. Before (and now), I took sips of water when I was bored, or tired, or to ease my stress level at being so very hot and achey. I’m very seldom actually thirsty in class, and if I am, I can always track it back to not drinking enough water before class. My fault – not the fault of the practice. The teachers at that studio all advised against drinking during class, pointing out that it was easier to feel dizzy, disrupt your carefully cultivated temperature balance, and that of course it would make you feel like puking during Kapalabhati breathing. All true. This doesn’t mean that my weak ass avoids drinking water, now that I’m at a different studio. However, I probably need to step back from knowingly allowing my weakness to get the better of me in class.

I’ve been reading other peoples’ blogs who say they get massages or eye masks or aromatherapy during class, but this has not been anything close to the norm in my small experience. What ‘extras’ have you seen in your Bikram studios? Anything you liked a lot? Anything you hated? I’m interested in knowing how very different something that is so regimented can be.

How To Clean Sweaty Bikram Clothes

When I first started doing Bikram yoga a couple of years ago, I was amazed at how much I could sweat. I remember the first time I noticed that my shins were sweating, and being simultaneously scared and amused. Before that moment, I thought sweat was pretty much confined to armpits, backs, and foreheads. What a surprise for me to see it coming from everywhere, soaking through my clothes and towel. Walking home from class, sweat dripping with every step, I don’t think I had ever appreciated the lovely Chicago late summer breeze so much.

As time went by, I got used to sweating, and grew to love it. I went to a pretty strict studio, and wasn’t allowed to wipe or scratch if sweat was tickling me somewhere. Part of practice is the stillness, and true stillness means learning to breathe through small discomforts, just let them go. I do pretty well at this part of class, actually. I’ve gotten pretty good at letting things go, and this has translated into my everyday life, as well.

Except when it comes to stinky yoga clothes!

I learned early on that sweaty yoga clothes and towels do not behave as normal laundry does. It stinks, it grows stuff, it’s the height of gross. You think you have it clean, then all of a sudden you catch a whiff of wtf-is-embedded-in-my-clothes?!?!? It drives me crazy. It essentially ruined my stillness for some time before I finally learned how to handle it efficiently. It’s been a while since I was a complete headcase when it came to getting my sweaty clothes clean, but I can still remember the frenzy. If you’ve never soaked through everything you’re wearing, PLUS a thick towel, put them in a plastic grocery bag to get them home, then had to actually empty the bag out in the sink to get rid of excess moisture, you’re not going to get the ‘crazy’ that comes along with doing truly sweaty laundry. It was a relief to get past that point and on with the show.

Lately at my new studio, however, I’ve overheard a number of people talking about battling sweat smells and stains in yoga clothes. I’ve been sharing my not-so-secret secret with as many people as possible, but it seemed like a good idea to just write a blog post about my method. This is a very simple and economical fix, too. No need for expensive sports detergents or any crazy multi-step programs – just a couple of additions to your typical laundry routine will do you a world of good.

You’ll need:

laundry-detergent

1. Laundry Detergent – whatever you’d like to use. I’ve been using All with Oxi-Active, because it’s what The Man brought home after his last grocery expedition. I’d have preferred Vaska (I’m crazy about lavender, and being biodegradable doesn’t hurt), but being out of a job soon, it’s best to conserve cash for a little while. Speaking of, if you can stand visiting their page, those crazy Duggars have a DIY liquid laundry detergent recipe that looks like it might be a good sweat-fighter, too.

Borax

Click through to learn more about using Borax in your home.

2. Borax (1/2 cup) – I’ve recently discovered that not many of my friends had heard of this miracle product. Borax is actually a mineral, with the largest commercial mines being in California and Turkey. It comes in a box, and can be found in the laundry section in most larger grocery stores, as well as box stores like Walmart and Target, and online at Amazon. It’s normally in the section with the fabric softeners and ‘extras,’ not with the detergents, themselves. It’s cheap, at around $4 for a normal-sized box ($11 for a larger version), and can be used to clean just about anything. It’s also a lot safer than many typical household cleaners, so I’ve heard of people using Borax and vinegar as exclusive household cleaning products in homes with new babies or allergy sufferers.

White Vinegar

3. White Vinegar (1/2 cup to 1 cup) – Oh yeah. This stuff is another miracle worker, and don’t worry – your clothes will not smell tangy when you’re through. It took a few loads of laundry for me to convince The Man that using vinegar could be beneficial to our clothing, but it does wonders to soften clothes and help kill off any remaining bacteria that are holding on to those gooey Bikram smells. Best of all, it’s cheap, cheap, cheap, and you don’t need to buy a brand name vinegar to get the job done right. Click through the image for more tips on using vinegar in your home.

The best part of all of these items is that they can be used in either a top loading or front loading washer. If you’re using a conventional washing machine – add the Borax and vinegar when you add the detergent, all at the same time. When we had a conventional machine, I would start filling the machine, give it a minute to get an inch or two of water, then add the detergent, 1/2 cup of Borax, and between 1/2 cup and 1 cup of vinegar, drop the top and let a little more water flow in and mix things up before adding the clothes. If you’re using a front loading (HE) machine – put the detergent in the detergent cup, then add in the 1/2 cup of Borax right on top of that, and put the vinegar in the cup where the fabric softener is supposed to go.

Typically, I try to throw my clothes and towel in the wash as soon as I get home, and then I wash them with cold water and the above products. If I’ve had to let my clothes wait for a few hours or even until the next day, I rinse them in the sink, then let them dry on a towel rack or other spot, and put them in the laundry with the new batch of sweaty gear the next day. When it’s been a day or more, I wash my laundry with warm water, unless something smells particularly ripe, in which case I go ahead and use hot. I also find that towels sometimes still end up getting moldy, in which case I end up double washing them, with a soak, in hot water, and add up to a cup of Borax and put some vinegar straight on the moldy spot in the towel before throwing it in the wash.

Do you use another method to clean your dirty yoga gear? Any secrets, tips or tricks to share? Please do so we can all benefit!

Star Studded Hot Room

With all of the vacation planning going on, I haven’t really been keeping up with the blog as much as I’d like. Even so, I’ve still been pretty faithful with going to Bikram class most days. I’ve been making it to roughly five classes a week for the last three, and my stamina and state of mind have really been improving as a result. Of course, there are so many benefits to Bikram, as I’m sure everyone has heard their instructors say time and time again. One of the ones they don’t talk about is getting to occasionally enjoy something special in a class – a shared laugh here and there, a sip of ice cold water, getting a stubborn part of your back to crack – ahhhh. Two days ago, I experienced a fantastic side benefit of class. I got to be less than 10 feet away from Michael Fassbender for 90 gloriously sweaty minutes.

Image

Not sure if this is big news, but New Orleans is becoming quite the little movie town these days. There are at least 10 movies shooting in town over the summer. The newest Brad Pitt flick, Twelve Years A Slave, is shooting here in June, and it just so happens that Fassbender will be in it, as well. I didn’t know this until Wednesday afternoon, though.

On Wednesday, I went to my normal noon class. I was running a little late, and when I got to the studio, I immediately rushed to get changed and fill my water bottle. As I was going into the hot room, I realized I’d forgotten to sign in, so I rushed back to the desk. An attractively-built man, lovely shoulders and gorgeous hair, was signing in, so I waited until he’d finished, then pushed up beside him, took the pen, and signed in. As he entered the hot room, my eye hit his signature. Michael (OHMYEFFINGGODSERIOUSLY???) Fassbender. I nearly had a heart attack right then and there, but I pulled my shit together, both literally and figuratively, and went to the hot room to get set up for class.

He was on his mat, just feet from the door, so when I entered the room I couldn’t help but sheepishly make eye contact. I grinned, but it probably looked more like a grimace. I’ve always been so bad with guys, and here I was, face to face with the most handsome movie villain ever. It was a bit disconcerting to see a larger-than-life guy, just the right size for his yoga mat. Of course as fate would have it, there were no empty spaces on the other side of the room (and yes, being a weirdo, I did try to get as physically far away as possible) so I ended up a mat over from him.

As class went on, I couldn’t help but notice that though he has really great muscle definition, and definitely holds his own on the mat, he’s not overly spectacular. I guess I expected this highly-trained movie star to be one of those yoga naturals that annoys the hell out of you and does the deepest back bends and twisty-est eagle poses. He wasn’t that guy though. It was refreshing to see that he was imperfect. It was not refreshing, however, when he left class during the floor series for a minute. He probably went to get a tissue, since he wasn’t gone long, but it’s really annoying when people leave the room, no matter the reason.

From what other people were saying after class and later on, he was a stimulating conversationalist, and a generally great guy. I was just happy to get to practice yoga with a star, and to see that even the very best of us are still just normal folks who struggle their way through class now and then.