They’re in my drawer. Where they might stay for the next 6-months. Summer is here. The sun is shining by 5 am again. The horrific Queensland birds are calling. Magpies are in full kill-all-moving-things mode. Make way, because the season of extremely short shorts is upon us. Hello, Queensland in all your uncovered glory! I had missed the overexposed upper thighs and barely concealed…anything. But, hey it’s already almost too hot to wear pants and it’s September. So, I’m not wearing pants. And, I won’t hold anyone else to that obscene standard either.
Look at me, complaining about the heat of summer, only a couple short weeks after complaining of the cold of winter. I can barely keep up with the seasons, but I ate a mango today that almost melted me, it was so sweet and juicy. Summer is here! Mangos are juicy, skin is exposed and gleaming, the air feels sensual – especially when I ride my bike quickly to avoid having my eyes pecked out by magpies.
I don’t have a theme in mind for today, but let’s roll with it and see where it takes us. I was feeling a little guilty for not posting anything for a few weeks and so I’m writing off the cuff; we’re flying by the seat of our non-existent pants with this one, friends.
On to real life – where I am forced to wear pants.
Today, I’m on day 18 of my 30-day yoga challenge, and also 20ish days into eating paleo. I probably would have been wise to do these little experiments in health independent of each other, but I just don’t have the time to wait, so here we are, doing king pigeon and eating steak. (I actually cooked my first steak this week and I will not lie, Rick makes a much better steak than me and I wish he would come back from Broome.)
Regarding this experiment in cave man eating and yogaing, I have to begin by saying that I took a 3-hour nap yesterday afternoon, and just awoke from sleeping another 9 hours and I am not quite awake, even now. I am wiped out in a way that leads me to believe that something big is happening in my body – or this whole plan is a horrific failure. But, my yoga seems to reflect that change positively, so I’m a happy, exhausted camper.
In the last week I have reached new thresholds in poses that always challenged me, and tried some new things. I can feel real changes in my hips and lower back and hamstrings – places I’ve been historically tight. In fact, yesterday my teacher used me for demonstration purposes for a one-legged king pigeon. (I was the counter example to a girl named Jade who, it appears, has no bones in her body. She slips into one-legged king pigeon like she’s sitting in a chair.) Me? I don’t slip into anything related to pigeon. I work and breathe, and breathe and attempt to soften, and a wince, and lose my balance and sometimes fall over. However, with 18 days of unmitigated yoga breathing under my belt, apparently I’ve softened a bit. I won’t say my one-legged king pigeon was perfect – far from it, but I actually touched my foot with both hands and didn’t fall over. It was a big deal for me – the pressure of having 30 people watch me do it might have helped. For those who don’t know this pose, here’s a photo.
Anyway, without going into too much detail of the ways my body is changing through yoga, I can say it’s good. There are places that I never even recognized as being tight, that I may have not even known I could loosen, which are slowly awakening and making their presence known. My alignment is improving much the way it did in college when I got into Pilates for a bit. Overall, it’s a good thing, but sometimes I am pretty sore. It’s a good time for Rick to be in the field for nearly two weeks because I would be asking for a lot of back rubs if he were here.
I have to say that doing this 30-day challenge is harder than I expected. It’s like running in the sense that I’ve always done yoga for the mental and physical enjoyment of it, not because I had set a goal related to it. This made it MY time to enjoy and decompress. But, much like running, once a goal has been attached to it, it becomes both a blessing and an obligation to go to yoga, and I think it’s harder to work with intention under those circumstances. For the first time in my life I have caught myself glancing at my watch during class, wondering how much longer it will go. I am just very tired. And, I see that exhaustion mirrored on the faces of the other 30-day challengers. But we’re truckin’ along.
Overall, the benefits far outweigh my tiredness or my worries about my intention being lost. My body feels strong, balanced, and good in a way that I don’t get with running. And the knee problems that have been plaguing me of late are slowly getting better. I can feel flexibility and increased strength through my left hip and knee, whereas just a month ago I could barely kneel on it because it was so sensitive and inflamed. Obviously this is a positive development, and with my grandpa getting his knee replaced in just a few weeks and lecturing me on why I need to stop running, it seems timely that I’ve started down this yoga path with a more dedicated focus now.
So, for the second half of my 30-days of experiments on myself, I am eating paleo. For those who aren’t familiar with paleo, it’s a way of eating that attempts to replicate what humans have historically eaten throughout our development. It’s become very trendy for people doing things like Cross Fit or other kinds of fitness stuff, and also among those with food sensitivities. It involves cutting grains, processed/refined sugars, dairy, and legumes out of your diet, leaving you with basic cave man foods like nuts, veggies, and meat. For me, the food sensitivity thing is really why I’m doing paleo. I have always had a sensitive stomach, and as I’ve gotten older I have suffered increasingly annoying skin issues like sun rashes, blistering, and heightened skin sensitivity. I also have a thyroid disorder, which is often related to autoimmune disease. Many doctors have linked these together in passing, but none has ever actually recommended I do anything to understand or explain how they are related.
So, linking my own symptoms with family history that includes lupus, thyroid, and some mood disorders (which all show strong autoimmune-related dietary connections), I have increasingly begun to believe that what I eat really matters to my health and well-being. This is an interesting turn of fate as my diet for the last 10-years or so was significantly dictated not by what was best for me, but what I thought was best for the world. So, I was a vegetarian, pescatarian, and intermittently a carnivore, but primarily I was a vegetarian for the fact that I didn’t like the way industrial meat was raised and the environmental effects of industrial agriculture. I have to admit that I didn’t give it a whole lot of thought, beyond the fact that I didn’t eat meat. I never took too seriously the likelihood of creating any kinds of nutritional deficits because I ate healthy, vitamin-rich foods.
Well, fast forward to two months ago when I learned I was severely anemic, low in zinc, low in about 4 other important things, and just basically poorly nourished. Here I was thinking I was in good shape after running my third marathon, and I learn that I am actually not in good shape. In fact, I am unhealthy. I am short on nearly everything that one can get by eating meats. Holy hell!
So, I decided to try paleo. I hadn’t ever done a full exclusionary diet to test my food sensitivities and I needed to eat meat – so I’m killing two birds with one stone.
And, I think I am slaughtering these birds. I feel amazing. There are major differences in my skin and how it looks and feels. It is really soft to the touch now, where it has always been dry. I also feel like it’s less prone to inflammation than just a few weeks ago. Also, I wake up in the mornings without feeling groggy. I get out of bed and function like normal person. And my stomach doesn’t get upset the way it used to. It is mind-blowing. I didn’t expect that the results of changing my diet would be so apparent after such a short time. It floors me.
Now admittedly, I can’t tell you that my skin is healthier because I am doing paleo, because it might be from doing so many inversions at yoga. But, either way, I feel really good. So, I guess to close, my life at the moment feels good. Yoga is mildly addictive, despite the fact that it tires me out. Eating paleo is a bit sad, due to the whole cheese prohibition thing, but it’s worth it because I feel really healthy this way. And, oh yes! Rick’s family and mine are coming to visit in November! So, we have some serious beach time ahead, and probably some reef time as well. I’m already chomping at the bit.