Yoga – Back to Beginner’s

When I lived in China, my roommate M was a certified fitness instructor. She was super disciplined about it – and she really enjoyed it! She was the first person I knew on a personal level that really enjoyed exericising. For sure none of my family did, but then, they were busy making a living and getting by. I guess I grew up with the idea that exercising for fun was a rich, white person’s privilege. [Not that my family didn’t encourage me to exercise – they did, in the form of signing me up for summer sports camps/classes from the time I was old enough to walk myself to-and-from places — hey! walking! that’s exercise!]

Anyway, my roommate M’s daily schedule would look something like this:

5:30 AM: Wake up and exercise for an hour, either cardio or strength.
6:30 AM: Shower. [This was around the time I would wake up, I know because every morning when I woke up needing to pee, I would have to hold it because she was in the bathroom. :\ Lots of practice for my current lifestyle now.]
7:15 AM: [Yep! I had to hold it for 45 minutes! A couple times, I had to visit my neighbor because it took longer than normal…anyway…] Have quiet time with breakfast.
7:50 AM: Walk across campus to work. [We walked together with the other English teachers on our team]
12:00 PM: Meet up with colleagues for lunch at the cafeteria.
12:30 PM: Change and work out again, usually cardio.
1:15 PM: Take a quick nap. [I miss xiu xi!]
1:50 PM: Walk back to the school building.
5:00 PM: Work out again! This time, usually yoga or pilates, or both!
6:00 PM: Dinner and evening activities.
9:30 PM: Good night!

I started to join her for evening workouts after a bit, as did some of the other girls on Team Taiyuan. It was fun. I enjoyed the social-ness of it, as well as doing something new [in a year full of doing new things]. I think I was 170-ish pounds when I arrived in China. By January, I was at 158, and when we left China in June, I was 145 – the lowest weight I’ve ever been in my adult life.

Needless to say, I am no longer 145. It would be a miracle if I were 170, especially after the holidays! Still, I considered myself fairly healthy and active. After I came back from China and up until I moved to the Bay, I played tennis avidly 3 days a week for 2 hours each time, plus I biked in the evenings, PLUS I gathered and used a mini-collection of workout DVDs that M had used in China. 4 summers ago, I biked at least 4 hours per week. 3 summers ago, I hiked Angel Island at the head of my group without losing my breath. 2 summers ago, I got a gym membership, actually used it to the fullest, and swam daily and got a flip-flop tan that lasted through Thanksgiving. Last year, I picked up running, hiked the hill around campus with a collegue, and did the Warrior Dash.

However, I’ve felt my health decline slowly and surely over this year. It started back in January, with some friendship and living situation upheavals, feelings of insecurity and inadequacy, and a pretty dark and persistent depression I had to deal with nearly every day of 2014. I’ve felt disconnected. Except for when my college friend J brought me out of myself to play badminton, or when A pulled me into the Thanksgiving Run Against Hunger, I haven’t done much. I’ve done a bit of jogging here or there on non-school days, and I swam at the local pool a few times over the summer. But that’s about it.

My eating habits have also declined. During my first year teaching, I cooked every single meal to save money for the most part. Even when I moved to a different place with less fridge space, I still made the effort to eat fresh, homemade food. Although I did end up making more runs to the store, and hence more time got eaten up so that I worked out less.

This year, I probably ate out at least twice per week, and not healthy stuff. It’s been a year of pretty bad choices, feeling bad about those bad choices, and growing ever further away from the healthy habits I was so happy about previously.

I blamed it on a lot of things:
– the all-consuming job of being a teacher
– the added duties of the various committees I was on
– the added duties of department co-chair
– added duties as part of the EL team
– the need/desire to make more money, so I got an IISME internship during this summer where I sat in a cubicle all day and got temporary carpel tunnel from over ‘mousing’
– that ugly depression
– increased social activities and church involvement
– lack of space in my new place to work out/store my equipment
– lack of time to properly shop and cook good, nutritious, healthy food

Goodness, that list of excuses is long! It’s time to stop. I should have stopped yesterday. For awhile, during grad school and the first few years of teaching, I was confident and happy in my body, even though I wasn’t at my ideal weight. It was one of the things I wrote about right here on this blog at one point. But 2014 has devastated that confidence. It’s time to get it back.

5 out of the 8 things listed above is about time management. Yep, that has degraded a lot this year as well. I’ve dropped all committees already. I can’t drop my duties as math department chair nor the EL stuff, but I can manage them better. I’ve also already committed to teaching the Penguin (4-5 year olds) Sunday school class, but that’s only every 2-3 months for a month at a time. BSF is also a non-negotiable. I will have to refrain from picking up anything new here on out, as well as rearrange my current plate a bit.

2 of the 8 things have to do with material management. Money. Space. Keeping track of where my money goes and saving has gotten to be a very good habit of mine. But I’ve also grown a bit slack compared to how I was in the past. I’ve accumulated a more than adequate emergency fund, plus I’m well on my way to becoming financially stable in retirement. The next step is to buy my own place; which would solve the space problem as well. I need to get over the fact that I cannot afford a dream place yet. I can only afford what I can afford. My parents are pressuring me to buy as well, and my grandmother’s health has a bit to do with it. I’ll keep looking, and keep saving, and keep investing for that day when I can call a place my own. Until then, I can keep my space cleaner than I have done this year. How much space does a yoga mat and a set of 5, 8, and 10 pound weights actually take anyway?

The last one, my mental state, is a bit more tricky. Managing mental health has become an integrated part of my overall health in the past couple of years. I accept it now. I don’t need a psychiatrist, or even online quizzes, to tell me there is something off. What do they say, that acknowledging there is a problem is the first step to solving it? Well, check!

I have a lot of new year’s resolutions. I always do. I have 20 years worth of journals to prove that. Here’s one of them now: to get back to being at my best health in all factors – weight, productivity, mental, and spiritual. To be back at the place where I was happiest with myself.

I switched to a MacBook Air last fall, so I can no longer play my workout DVDs (maybe it is time to get a TV and dvd player?). Thankfully, the internet has solved that problem for me. There are hundreds of workout videos for free on Youtube, and some even on Hulu. I’m sure I would have access to even more with a paid subscription. I’ll refrain for now, due to the goal about managing my money better.

And thus, I leave with this yoga video. I did the workout tonight. It felt super long during the process [and to think I used to do it for hours at a time, and would feel like the time went by quick!], but I’m feeling the loosest I’ve felt in my muscles since…since…probably since only a few weeks ago when I ran. But it feels like the loosest I’ve been since China.


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