Tuesday, May 20, 2014


Today I finished my 100th's class, into the triple digits now and halfway to my goal of doubles every day for 100 days.  I wanted to write a long post about my journey thus far, and maybe that will happen tomorrow, but tonight I am too tired to do any sort of justice to what I would like to write, and I am not about to start sacrificing sleep when I am only halfway done.


Monday, May 19, 2014


When I started this blog, I wrote daily because I felt like I had a lot to share.  Then I wrote daily because that was my routine, and I was still able to put something together every evening.  My routine has been thrown off the last few days, and without anything pressing to share I took a few unexpected days off from blogging.

Seems for a couple of days my readers were content, but going on day three, I had multiple people ask about my blog today and why there haven't been any new posts.  I can assure you, I'm not even halfway done with this blog yet.

I would catch you up on the last couple of days and the progress I have made, but I think I will leave that for my day 50 post tomorrow.  Oh yeah, did I mention that tomorrow is the top of the mountain for my hundred day challenge?

More on that tomorrow.

Today felt like a really rough day.  I made the choice to sleep in, skipping my usual 6 am class in favor of the 11 am.  I knew full well the consequences, but at 2 am my brain was willing to take that risk.

I sat out more sets than usual today, and the room seemed hotter.  In the morning class I don't think the door was cracked or the fans turned up even once.  Despite some use of the fans, the afternoon class did not feel any cooler.

When I walked into the afternoon class the hot room was almost full, the only remaining spot in the front row was near the window, a place I try to avoid on sunny days like today because the direct sun can make the heat feel just that much warmer.  I didn't start directly in the sun, but as the sun drifted lower in the sky I was soon enough laying directly in a rectangle of light like something straight out of Citizen Kane.

In savasana this afternoon I kept placing my water bottle next to my head to block the sun from shining directly in my eyes.  It was a mind game that I was losing, not unlike early in my practice several weeks ago laying under an unmoving fan.

Midway through the floor series I glanced over at Roy.  Roy being the guy who paced me for the end of the thirty days and just kept on coming back, racking up a very impressive forty-eight classes in thirty days.  Roy had a wide grin across his face, a contagious smile that I could not help but emulate.

Smiling is a fantastic strategy against the various mind games you may encounter in yoga practice, especially if you are trying to hold in triangle pose for those last few seconds.

I found out after class what he was smiling about, and it turns out it was me. He said he looked over and saw me laying directly in the sun, and that he could see steam rising off of me.  The part that made him smile?  He swore he saw a rainbow in the rising steam.


Thursday, May 15, 2014

I Lost My Phone

To cap off the comedy of errors that my day has been, I now seem to have lost my phone.  So, there is that.  Who wants to take bets on whether I can wake up for 6 am yoga without the alarm on my phone?

I don't even...

Well, I came back by the house to search for my phone and get a quick post up if I couldn't find it.  This is me getting up a quick post so that I can get back to my house sitting job and give antibiotics and painkillers to an adorable, sweet kitty.

If I am not able to make it to the 6 am, I guess there is always the 9 and 11 am classes tomorrow.


Wednesday, May 14, 2014


Posting from my phone for the first time tonight, which will likely have some effect on the length of my post, though hopefully not on the quality.

I stayed up much later last night than usual, though in very good company.  I had the opportunity to voice a story that I don't often share, and one that I doubt will be shared in this blog, or at least not anytime soon.

It was interesting, with so much practice over the last month and a half on really paying attention to what my body was telling me, how strongly I could feel my own energy.  My levels of anxiety and apprehension, even though I was in a safe space, were dramatically raised.  It is not an easy story to tell.

It put into stark contrast the relative calm and peace that I have cultivated in the last month and a half.  Certainly last night was evidence I still have a lot of healing to do, but I am healing.


Tuesday, May 13, 2014

I Hurt

I just found this scrap of writing from just about four months ago, posted below with just a few small edits for clarity.  It doesn't have much to do with my yoga practice, other than perhaps to give some insight into the space I was in before I began this endeavor.  I was two weeks out of a very unexpected breakup at the time, to give some perspective of where some of this came from.  I have certainly had brighter days.

The hum of the fans in the tower beside me are only silent when I don’t remember they are there, white noise that betrays quiet and solitude that I might achieve if they were still, the monitor black, the miscellany of other peoples lives not constantly refreshing and pinging me with moment to moment updates.  Social media as I sit alone with silent lips.

I want to talk for hours, and texting is no substitute.  The quality of the spoken word, imperfection and inflection would lend more meaning to the same words, but the words wouldn’t be the same.  Conversations more quickly understood, more organic, alive with ideas and reflections. Laughs shared.

I need to voice my voice, and not in so idle a practice as small talk and chit chat of, “how was your day,” and the oft repeated, “fine.”

I am not fine.  I am never fine.  I don’t know who knows.

I don’t fit in.  Never have.

I don’t think people are cogs, though some endeavor to perform the task.  I never fit quite right.

I am tired.

So tired.

I don’t think I’ll ever commit suicide.  I often wondered if I would, but perpetually I am optimistic enough to see hope, even if I don’t believe it.

I have lived a life.  It occurred to me earlier today.  Or, was it yesterday?  No matter.

I have lived.  I was in love, got married, had my heart broken.  I have felt joy, sorrow, pleasure, pain.  I have fought.  I have been in the ocean, the woods, the dessert, fields, mountains, rivers, valleys, at cliffs and waterfalls, on hikes through the deep wilderness.  I have traveled on bikes, in cars, on planes, trains, and boats.  I have been published and printed, recognized to some small degree as an artist and writer.  I served in the military, operating a wide assortment of firearms and military vehicles.  I have loving parents, loving sisters.

I have cried, a lot. I have smiled, likely as much.

I laugh.

I want to love.

I want to love myself, and I don’t know that I do.

I am a stranger, having distanced myself from me. I don’t really remember why.

I have been kind, and had kindness given.

I have started fires, watched them burn.

I am loved.

I hurt.


Monday, May 12, 2014

The Emperor's New Clothes

I got my new yoga shorts today!

They arrived this afternoon, so I was able to wear them to my second class today.  They fit well, were generally comfortable, and more importantly they moved well and there was no binding as I went through all of the postures.  The fabric is moderately heavy to provide a modicum of modesty.  Well, as much modesty as wearing nothing but form fitting shorts can allow.

I was not aware just how much sweat my other shorts wicked from my body during my yoga practice.  With the new shorts, I think my legs were doubly wet, which I did not even consider to be within the realm of possibility.  I also had not given much thought to how much more exposed I would feel.  If I felt half naked before, now I feel almost fully exposed.

I think to the story of the emperor's new clothes, his procession naked through the streets, and nobody saying a word.  Yoga is similar in that nearly everyone in the room is wearing as little as possible, every curve and imperfection bare.  The difference is that everyone walks into the room knowing full well they are in their most raw form.

There is a beauty in facing yourself in the mirror like that.  For those that are not familiar, Bikram yoga is practiced facing a wall covered in mirrors.  The first lines of every class, "everyone stand and face the mirror."  Facing a mirror, you are really facing yourself, forced to see the naked truth or free to see the beauty of where you are in that moment.
I was surprised how comfortable I was standing nearly naked in the full mirror.  It was not something I could have comfortably done before I started this challenge.  It was not a direction in which I expected to grow.  I am glad this is a journey that can still surprise me.


Sunday, May 11, 2014

Mother's Day

I wake, my usual weekend time,
And out of bed I slowly climb.
Already lights on in the home,
About the house I slowly roam.

Up and dressed, now using Skype,
She is the early rising type.
Seeing this is Mother's Day,
My sister calls from far away.

She also gets her gift from me,
A little cutout chickadee.
Its shape is plump, and color rusted,
And in the garden will be trusted.

Off to yoga, bright and early,
To stretch my body, big and burly.
Touch my toes, and head-to-knee,
Soon more flexible I'll be.

Home to shower, dress, and eat,
Fix my mom a breakfast treat.
Waffles offered, she says "no."
Not how I thought that would go.

Eggs instead, fruit on the side,
Bacon, mushroom, kale inside.
She says she likes it when I cook
(Especially when she's off the hook).

Laundry turned, I turn to nap,
My bed is like a snuggly trap.
Briefly wake, my clothes to dry,
Then back to bed for more shut eye.

Wake to throw on shirt and tie,
Then to church by car I fly.
No time for a proper lunch,
Grab an apple, grapes (a bunch).

Straight from church to yoga rush,
Each request their patrons hush.
Stretching further than before,
Stretch like tree, cobra, and more.

Numbers, logic, order, math,
A knack in these my mother hath.
Patterns do delight her mind,
And so this pattern I did find:

Eighty-two, an easy one,
Current yoga classes done,
Also happens, as luck would be,
To be the year the world met me.

At home, my parents busy packing,
Again a meal is clearly lacking.
My happy task then to prepare
An evening meal for us to share.

Together as I seem to be,
Little credit goes to me.
Though you will never hear her boast,
My mother deserves this credit most.

To her I say, you taught me of
The importance that I act with love.
So, just like any other day,
I close my post with, "Namaste."

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Day 40

I bought new jeans today.  The regular fit jeans that I bought back in March were looking downright baggy, and I just couldn't take it anymore.  I dropped four inches in my waist line, down to a 36, which I haven't fit into since I don't know when.

Also, I weighed in at 269.4 lbs. this morning, a net loss of 16 pounds in the last 40 days, or .4 pounds of weight loss a day.  At that rate, I could get down under 250 lbs. by July, a weight I probably haven't seen since I was in the Army.


Friday, May 9, 2014


Motivation is a strange beast.  The driving force which carries us through a task.  At the start, the newness was its own motivation.  Doing something new has always had a strong pull as a motivator for me, and without a transition into other forms of motivation my interest can wain.

Thinking back, I think that excitement was the motivator I found second, and that lasted quite some time.  The speed at which I developed in my postures was quicker in the beginning, I was meeting and getting to know new teachers at the studio, and my personal challenge was a regular topic of discussion.

In the middle of my initial thirty days, when I felt like I was breaking down, and the newness and excitement had somewhat tarnished, I had to change gears and rely on determination.  Determination is a nice way of saying that I am stubborn, a trait which sometimes works out to my benefit.

Perhaps one of the most dangerous motivators is habit, which is where I feel like I am now.  Dangerous because it is less actively motivating than the previous three.  100 days is so far off that it is hard to draw motivation from, and so I try not to think about what exact day I am on or how many classes I have done.

I think those have been my major motivators over the last several weeks, though certainly there have been less constant ones.  Ego more than once has offered its form of motivation, especially, as mentioned, in triangle pose.  Subtly different than ego, the desire to impress has also motivated me from time to time.

For day thirty, when my sister was in town to celebrate, I think there were many strong motivators that came into play.  I was excited to be finishing the thirty days, I wanted to see just how well I could do at the postures, and I had a strong drive to do my very best, more so than any other time I have walked into that room.

I think that it is important to bring motivation into the room anytime you practice, whether or not you take the care to identify it.  The more motivation you can bring, the more energy the class has, and the easier it is for everyone.  If you have abundant motivation, others around you will feel it.  Conversely, if your motivation is waning, feel free to draw from outside yourself.


Water Weight

I looked down today, a rain of sweat splashed against the towel.  So saturated, the drops had to spread out to dissipate into the fabric slow enough to watch the overhead lights reflected in the drops before they each soaked down.

I was spreading my legs for the second set of triangle pose, right foot out four feet in the same position, only this time it slipped and I watched as it slid those few inches, sweat from the drenched carpet curled like a tiny wave in front of the side of my foot as it slid.

I step back to my mat and towel to a plopping sound like treading on wet leaves on the pavement.

Water trickles down my body, tributaries paying tribute to perseverance.

I read an article where a woman was perturbed that a little sweat had been accidentally flung on her during a hot yoga class, but what did she think she was breathing?  The humidity rises rapidly during a class.  Once I walked into the room after a full class and my glasses fogged.  Just one more reason to keep taking the early classes as my routine.

After class my towel doesn't have the capacity to hold all the sweat that it did when it was out flat across my mat, and I leave puddles anywhere I stand too long.  At the water fountain where I fill my water bottle to drain and fill and drain again.  Out in the lobby where I catch my breath, reflect, and do my Facebook check-in, I leave more puddles.

A liter in the morning before class, another during.  Two more after class before I even leave the studio.  Five, six, maybe even seven before the afternoon.  Another during class, and two more after.  If I drink two more that night, I drank twelve liters of water, or just over three gallons of water a day.

I drink three gallons of water a day.

A gallon of water weighs roughly eight pounds.  I drink twenty four pounds of water a day.

Weigh myself in the morning before class, drink eight pounds of water, practice yoga, and still weigh two pounds lighter when I get home.  I lose roughly ten pounds of water weight in each yoga class.  Three hours out of every day I am shedding twenty pounds of water, or a little better than a gallon of sweat per class.

I think I will go refill my water bottle and get some sleep, so this is me signing off.


Wednesday, May 7, 2014


A month ago today I defeated the posture that had been my early nemesis.  A month strong I have performed every set of every posture of triangle pose.  The math: Four sets a day for thirty one days (inclusive), equals one hundred and twenty four sets.  There have been several times that I have nearly fallen out, and I can admit that it has sometimes been pure ego that has kept me from collapsing, but everything before it and everything after is made easier by having conquered just that one posture.

I asked Dara today what I should write about, and her suggestion was that I should write about how I was doing in the postures.  Specifically she said that she thought my standing bow pulling posture was coming along really well.  I am actually pretty excited she mentioned that posture specifically, because all the way back last month on the 12th, when I wrote the post Adapting, I had identified standing bow pose as my new nemesis.

While I defeated my first nemesis in a week, this second has taken quite a bit longer.  The major delay was my elbow, which was getting worse while I was otherwise getting stronger.  When I should have been making gains, I was slowly losing the posture, and there was a time when I had to sit out the posture entirely.  Fixing my sleep fixed my elbow, and fixing my elbow has allowed me to really make an effort in getting bow pulling pose conquered.

I still fall out (a lot).  It is a particularly difficult posture, and while I can get into it pretty deep, invariably I lose my balance and fall out.  Falling out just means that I am pushing myself, and that I am that much closer to defeating this nemesis and moving on to the next one.

Standing bow is not the only posture that I am making gains in.  I remember how excited I was early on just to get my forehead to my knee in the aptly named head to knee pose.  Now I can regularly get my leg all the way straight and my heel off the ground with my forehead to knee.

On the other hand, standing head to knee might have to be the next nemesis I choose, as it seems like it has been a long while since I have seen any sort of gain there.  Mostly because when I am rounding over to pick up my foot, I still have too much to round over, though that is slowly changing.

Really, all of my postures are coming along.  I am in a space where I feel really good about my practice, I am enjoying the benefits of practicing so often.  Also, this may be the most successful I have ever been in fighting off a cold, which is something I attribute wholly to my yoga practice.

Today it seemed to come up several times how my challenge and this blog have inspired others in their own practice.  I am both gladdened and humbled that sharing my journey has had a positive impact on others.  It was never my intention to do anything more than my own personal yoga practice, and certainly I never expected the response from the community that it has created.  Thank you to everyone that is a part of this community, and for everything that you do to lift each other up.


Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Kill It With Yoga!

Back on track today with my routine.

It is a good thing I had the routine to fall back on, because my motivation sure wasn't going to get me there.  I have been feeling like I have been coming down with something for a couple of days.  Just a tickle on Sunday, then soreness and congestion yesterday.

This morning I was feeling pretty yucky (I say "yucky" because Facebook doesn't recognize "queasy" as a legitimate feeling), but opted to go to yoga regardless.  Taking a page from the Barney Stinson playbook, I decided to stop being sick and be awesome instead, slightly altering the mantra "kill it with fire" to "kill it with yoga."

In the morning class I did not feel particularly awesome, but I persevered.  A combination of the heat, humidity, and breathing did wonders for my sinuses.  After yoga I went and got some Airborne, came home, and proceeded to sleep for most of the day.

Afternoon yoga went exceptionally well, I was feeling great, I had energy, and my residual congestion was again wiped out.  Not that all of my symptoms are gone, I still have that tickle at the back of my throat, and I am sure the congestion will be back for another round in the morning, but I am excited that getting sick has not gotten in the way of my yoga practice.  Rather, I am excited that yoga has seemed to help so much in lessening the impact of getting sick.  As those that know me can attest, I can be a pretty big baby when it comes to getting sick.

Extra glad that the yoga made me feel so good this afternoon, because coming out of class I got a text from Alison, my cousin, saying she was in town, so I was able to go out for dinner and catch up with one of my very favorite people.

Living the day to day of weight loss, the change is so gradual that it can be hard to see the whole scope of the change that you have gone through.  Alison remarked that I looked great, and so much thinner.  I get a lot of the same compliments at the studio when somebody sees me that hasn't been in for a few days, or just draws comparison to what they thought when they first saw me.

The weight loss has become evident to me in a few ways.  I bought new shorts for practice at the very beginning of my challenge.  They are athletic shorts with a short inseam, like running shorts, and I thought they would work well because they had an elastic band down the side.  I was wrong.  They bind in all the standing postures, and from day one I have had to pull up the shorts to the tops of my thighs so that I can bend my legs how I need to without being restricted by the fabric.

When I lifted the legs of my shorts in the first few days of practice they were tight around my thighs, perhaps even stretched a little.  This had the benefit of holding them in place through the rest of the postures, which was nice.  As time went by they slowly became looser, so that they would occasionally fall down between sets, and I would have to hike them up again.  These days they just kind of billow down, which would not be an issue if they still didn't bind up my legs when I try to do most of the postures in the standing series, so I find myself pulling them up between almost every set.

There are worse problems to have, I know.

A couple of days ago I ordered myself a pair of yoga shorts online after scouring the internet for the style I was looking for in my size.  Turns out most retailers believe that men my size shouldn't be wearing spandex, and make that choice for me by not offering those styles in my size.  The ones I did find only offered my size in black, and not any of the other colors they offered in the same style for smaller sizes.

In determining what size shorts to get, I took the waistband of my size 40 waist jeans that I bought after losing 15 pounds in February, and crossed the waistband over itself around my waist about 4 inches.  You can imagine how baggy my four inch too large jeans are fitting me these days.  Again, there are worse problems to have.

I have not really talked much about a goal weight.  My goal was always just to finish the thirty days, and the weight loss was ancillary.  Ideally, I would like to get back under what I weighed coming out of basic training.  Not that I was a feather weight by any means, but that 230 pounds was the most hard fought shape of my life.

Speaking of hard fought, I am going to need more sleep if I am going to fight off this cold, so this is me signing off.


Monday, May 5, 2014

Adequate Sleep

Nothing eloquent tonight.  Not that my posts are ever particularly eloquent.  I am tired, so I am going to give my body the rest that it deserves just as soon as I hack out a post here.  So, nothing eloquent.

Today was pretty harsh.  I slept through almost every alarm today, which nearly caused me to miss my 6 am class, and actually did cause me to miss the 4:30 pm class this afternoon.  I woke up with a start at 4:25 and it was obvious that I wasn't going to make it downhill to class in just five minutes, so I ended up going to the 6:30 pm class instead, which is why I am writing this now and not already in bed.

Sleeping through alarms just added stronger punctuation to something I was already aware of.  A clear sign that I am not giving my body enough sleep.

If I had not made it clear in earlier posts, this challenge has required a lot more sleep than usual.  It is pretty common for me to come home from my morning class, shower, eat, and then fall right back asleep until lunch.  I am trying to find a happy medium where I am not sleeping the day away and still able to tend to other things in my life regularly, but I am going to start with making sure that I am getting to sleep plenty early at night.

Speaking of sleep, this is me signing off to go and do just that.



I really have little idea what I will write every evening as I sit to write my daily blog post.  This evening I have less idea than usual.  I feel that I should mention that, as this is my thirtieth post, I have been doing this blog for a month now.

I have no idea how I continue to have consistent readership.  Tomorrow I will likely cross 2,500 pageviews for the blog.  That works out to be approximately eighty people a day reading whatever it is I happen to punch out as a stream of consciousness while I try to reign in my thoughts to remain relevant to the focus of the blog.

I must say, I am finding it difficult to write tonight.  Every paragraph I write next, I delete again.  Strange I haven't yet deleted this one, and perhaps I will leave it here and go on to delete the next.

Yep, I deleted several more attempts at paragraphs!  I am taking this as a clear sign that tonight's post is just not going to get off the ground, so I will leave it here.


Saturday, May 3, 2014


As poor as yesterday went, that was how good my practice felt today.  I have found more and more that the swings in performance from one class to another can be fairly severe.  From one of my more challenging days yesterday, to come out and get so much deeper into postures today left me feeling pretty good about my decision to continue to 100 days.

Roy, the yogi who paced me like a marathon runner for the last several days of my initial thirty day challenge (and brought the sparkling cider to celebrate after my 60th class), confirmed today what I was feeling yesterday.  I saw him going into class at 9 am this morning after I was out of my 7 am class, then he was back again for the 4:30, and he said I was definitely right about getting enough recovery time between classes.

I feel that somehow doing two classes closer together is even worse than doing classes back to back, which was something I only tried once during my initial thirty days.  At least if you are doing the classes back to back you are still in the same mode and you are already plenty warmed up.  With the reduced recovery time of two classes closer together you are cooled down, but not quite recovered enough yet for another class.

I was thinking the other day about what Roy said about pacing me like a marathon runner for the last couple miles.  It occurred to me that not taking a break after my initial thirty days is akin to finishing a marathon and deciding on a lark to go ahead and make it an ultra-marathon.  Ultra-marathoners are the kind of crazy that I aspire to be, so I guess that is good, right?

I have been given the advice more than once now that I should take a break if I need one.  Let me say right here and now, that if I needed a break, I would be taking one.  Today was evidence to me that I am still healthy, making progress, and getting stronger, so while I may get to a point before the 100 days that I need a break, today is not that day, and I don't think that day is likely to come anytime soon.

I truly appreciate that the instructors take serious interest in the health and well being of each of their students.  Not only me, but I hear them in conversations with everyone about how they are feeling, how they are doing in class, how they can improve or get better in this posture or that, and even things completely unrelated to the practice of yoga.  The care the teachers take in getting to know each of the students is awesome, and the care they show towards those same students is inspiring.

To the instructors reading this, whether or not you have had me in a class or even teach at the studio in West Linn, I want to express my deep gratitude for everything that you do.  For choosing and following this path, you are awesome.


Friday, May 2, 2014


As it turns out, I had a pretty good routine going.

For a month straight, with only a very few exceptions, I was going to 6 am yoga (7 on weekends) and then 4:30 pm yoga after a nine (or eight) hour recovery between classes.  This worked out exceptionally well for several reasons.  I had enough energy for my morning class, then home for breakfast, lunch around noon, and still plenty of time to not have a full stomach for the afternoon class, after which I would have dinner at a descent hour.

The schedule flowed well, though many days much of my recovery time was spent sleeping.  I have been attempting to curtail just how much I sleep between classes with life making other demands.

I mention this all today, because, after staying up too late last night writing my blog post and cycling the laundry, I had the bright idea this morning of attending the 9 am class instead of the 6 am class.

This was a mistake.

Those three hours had a huge impact on my energy level in the morning.  I was doing yoga when my body had become accustomed to having breakfast.  Practicing fourteen hours after I had had dinner the night before, my energy crashed after the standing series, and my whole practice was thrown off.  I was still able to make attempts at every set of all the postures, but only just barely.

Thinking that was bad enough, I then had my usual nine hour recovery time cut to six, and my afternoon class was markedly more difficult.  Practice today over both classes was one of my more difficult days so far.

All that said, I was still able to go zipper dancing tonight at Friday Night Fusion, which was fantastic, as always.  So, even on one of my more difficult days of yoga, I still had the energy to go dancing for three hours.  And, as hard as it was, today was a good day.

Moving forward I will be paying closer attention to trying to stick to my routine.  The three hours of mediocre sleep wasn't worth the hardship in my yoga practice.  Thankfully, I still have my streaks of triangle pose and consecutive classes with attempts at every posture going.

You might be thinking that I am up way too late again tonight writing my blog post (I am), but dancing and catching the last few seconds of the Trail Blazer game was worth it, and in just a few moments I can change over the laundry and get some sleep so that I can be up bright and early for 6 am yoga tomorrow.


Thursday, May 1, 2014

Treating Myself

Back when I was barefoot running, rather than reward myself with food, I tried to make a conscious effort to treat myself with non-consumables instead.  I was trimming down, so I bought myself some nice shirts to look as good as I was feeling.

Why shirts?  I am as susceptible as any to occasional bouts of vanity, though, I guess if you can be distracted mid-sentence by seeing yourself in a mirror, you might be defined as perhaps more susceptible, and "occasional" might not be the best word choice either.

This is not a recent development either.  I have vague recollections of being so distraught by not being able to find my regular shoes once as a child, that I skipped school rather than wear the snow boots that I was being forced to wear.  Apparently, my youthful vanity won out even over my love of swimming, because, if I remember correctly, we were taking a field trip to the swim center that day.

For those who attend class with me who are wondering now if I practice in the front row to satisfy my vanity, the answer is, "no."  No, I practice in the front row, because in the second or third row, without my glasses on, I am just a fuzzy blur in the mirror.  Seeing myself clearly helps me with my postures.  Smiling at myself in the mirror, and seeing the sunshine through the windows reflected in my eyes is just an added benefit.

Yesterday was all family, which was wonderful, but just like at the end of the standing series, I wanted to take a moment to honor myself and my accomplishment today.

Following in the pattern of my running success, the first thing I did was shop for a new shirt.  I was looking for something to button up, but opted for a simple black V-neck shirt instead.  The slimming effect, on top of my already considerable change in body composition, looks great.  Later, I would run the purchase past more experienced (feminine) eyes in order to make sure it passed muster, and my purchase made the grade.

Pro tip for guys:  Never trust your own judgement when it comes to fashion.  Run any clothing and accessory purchases past a woman with experience and good taste.  E.g. most of my best wardrobe items have been gifts from my sisters, all of whom are very qualified to make such judgements.  Also, my new (fabulous) fedora was picked out my my cousins Alison and Lindsey at Saturday Market when they were in town visiting back in March, and I couldn't be happier with it.

Then I stopped in at Powell's Books to pick myself up a copy of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, after which I took myself to lunch at Roxy's Island Grill, which you may remember from an earlier post, but I really can not say enough good things about that place.  Sitting alone in the late morning sun at Roxy's, reading The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, and eating Hawaiian food was a little slice of the divine today.

After lunch I treated myself to my first ever professional massage, which was kind of amazing.  I had been sitting on a gift card, and honoring myself and my accomplishment was just the occasion to finally use it.  I am not entirely sure that I didn't fall asleep, it was so relaxing.  So relaxing that I didn't even think about the fact that I was covered in a thin veneer of massage oil which I should have rinsed off before going to afternoon yoga.

That is right, I went to afternoon yoga today.  Morning yoga too.  Today was my thirty-first day of doubles, and I don't see any reason to quit now.  More on that.

If you ever want to play a practical joke on yourself, cover yourself in massage oil, and then try to do ninety minutes of yoga.  Some of my very serious attempts at the postures were just comical, and I could not help but just laugh through wind removing pose.  At least my laughter entertained some of my other classmates.

A combination of the massage oil on my feet, trying to stand in a puddle of my sweat, while seemingly holding triangle pose for what seemed like half again as long, nearly ended my streak of doing every second of every set of triangle pose.  I managed to stay in the posture, but only just barely.

The other streak I have going is a bit of an achievement.  For five classes now I have again been able to attempt every set of every posture without sitting out any sets.  It had been quite awhile since I had been able to say that, but I am serious when I say that I am getting stronger and building my practice up again.

Amy gave some very good advice about taking a break in her guest blog post, and it is something I most certainly would do if I had come to the end of the thirty days hurting or feeling broken down.  This endeavor has been about treating myself, and I mean that in more ways than one.

On the one hand it was about treating myself, as in treating myself well, respecting myself, and honoring myself and my physical health.  On the other hand, as I touched on in my initial post and in others, this has also been about treating myself mentally for my depression.

I can say that I have felt joy these last several days, that things have been looking up again.  Through the entirety of this initial endeavor, I can say that there was not a day that went by that the instructors and other students didn't make my laugh or smile.  I honestly feel loved.

Feeling loved is not a foreign feeling for me, and I hope that I have conveyed how much love there is in my family and in the support they give me, but I honestly did not expect to find love in yoga practice.  For those that have asked what the most surprising thing I found in my experience in the last thirty days, it was love.

My depression over the month, though I could feel it pull, and I teetered on both sides of the precipice, was not nearly as bad as in times past, and these last few days I have begun to feel the burden of depression lift again from my shoulders.  I will live my life with depression, but this month, through yoga, I was able to live my life with depression.

I wasn't perfect, but that was never the point.

Physically, the changes have been tremendous.  I find it difficult to put into words the changes that this month has brought to me physically.  It is easy to throw out a number and say that I lost 10.4 pounds, but that number means very little.  Because I stayed so far ahead of my hydration, I can say that I am likely carrying perhaps even a little more water weight than when I started, and my instructors and classmates can attest to the muscle that I have gained over the last month, in addition to how I have slimmed down.  My clothes fit loosely, having dropped a couple of pant sizes, and I have gone down from a hard earned XXL in my shirt size, to a comfortable XL.

At the end of February, when I had lost fifteen pounds just by changing my diet, I bought a couple of pairs of jeans.  They were the first 'regular fit' jeans I had ever worn, as previously I had worn exclusively relaxed fit jeans.  Just two months later the slim fitting jeans are now baggy again.

I would buy new jeans, but I think I will hold off a little longer, because I am not quite finished yet.

I mentioned earlier that I am not quitting.  Instead, having accomplished my initial goal of thirty days, I am going to raise the bar just a little bit higher.  I did the math awhile back and found out that it is exactly 100 days from when I started on April 1st until my birthday on July 9th.  How could I ignore such a coincidence?

So, if you are willing to follow my chronicle just a little bit longer, this blog is now going to be about my quest to complete 100 consecutive days of doubles.  In just two days, I will already be a third of the way done with my new goal, so it is certainly achievable.  I am not going to break myself or hurt myself to do this, and I am going to continue to listen closely to what my body tells me, but I am excited to see what further transformation I can achieve by my birthday this year.

So, yeah, I am still crazy, but I guess that's me.


Wednesday, April 30, 2014


With my sixtieth class in thirty days officially on the books, you can imagine I am a little excited (and tired), as are my family and friends.  Two of my sisters are in town, along with my two nieces, and they leave early in the morning, so we have spent the evening celebrating and hanging out.  For those reasons, tonight's post is going to be extremely brief.
Jill and me in triangle pose.
I did want to give a huge thank you to everyone who has supported me thus far in this journey, instructors, students, family and friends.  You all made this experience a genuine pleasure, rough times were made easier, and good times were made great.  I really did not expect the outpouring of love and support that I have received this month.  This was something that I started alone, but I was quickly adopted into a caring and supportive community who quickly made me feel welcome, and have ensured that not a day went by this month that I didn't genuinely smile.

I really can not say thank you enough.  Tomorrow I will write more about my journey, but tonight I am going to spend just a little more time with my family before they disperse back across the country tomorrow.


Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Guest Post: Amy Robertson

My evening was such a whirlwind after this afternoon's class I didn't even realize that if I had just checked my email, I wouldn't have even had to write a blog post tonight at all.  I had asked a few teachers at the studio if they would also like to write guest posts for my blog, and more are forthcoming, but I just saw that Amy had sent hers to me earlier today, and I thought I would do a bonus post tonight to share it with you all.

Preston, I can't believe you are 2 classes away from completing your goal of 60 classes in 30 days! I didn't even know you 30 days ago and now you have become somebody who is regularly on my mind. I wonder how you are doing, what you are feeling and what you might share in your next blog post. When I met you about 26 days or so ago you had just taken my 6am class and I learned about your challenge. I remember thinking, "Whoa, that's pretty aggressive especially considering that this guy doesn't even have a consistent yoga practice. He's a little bit crazy and this might be a bit intense!" I remember telling you to have no expectations and that this goal is a lofty one. I also remember saying something about being kind to yourself and that if you find this to be too much and you stop before 30 days that you will not be considered a failure. I mean, heck, even we teachers take Sundays off at Teacher Training!!

You were not to be denied. You have diligently stuck to your schedule of 6AM and 4:30PM classes to accomplish this amazing goal. You even did a back to back double this weekend without missing a beat. You have become a bit of a celebrity around the studio and you even started this blog (a candid one I might add) due to the request of another student. Before I became a teacher I remember thinking that one of the main reasons why I wanted to become a teacher was to "give" others the gift of Bikram Yoga as other teachers were giving to me. I wanted to give back because the yoga has become such an important part of my life. What I didn't realize was how much our students were going to "give" me upon becoming a teacher. I am so inspired by everyone that first steps into the HOT room. It truly is no small feat. Preston, not only do you inspire in the HOT room but you remind us that we are all human and that each one of us is always just trying to do the best that we can each and every day.

You have said that on day 31 you will do yoga like all of the other days before it but what I hope for you is that you are able to find a balance not just in the yoga room and with your practice but also with the other aspects of your life that will allow you to take time off with the confidence that it's "just a day off" or it's "just a sweet or fattening food that I am going to choose to enjoy" because I can and because I know that I will get back to what makes me feel good at the next meal or the next day in class. In the words of the amazing yogi Emmy Cleaves (Bikram's most senior teacher) "More of anything, even the best thing in the world, is not necessarily more. You need balance."

Thank you for being such a great motivator to others and an inspiration to me. I hope you follow in your sister's footsteps and become a teacher because I think you would have a great story to tell and you, too, would provide a tremendous gift to others. Congratulations on your accomplishment!!


Thank you so much, Amy.  You are a huge part of the atmosphere and community that has made this endeavor the success and honest pleasure that it has been.  I appreciate your words of encouragement, and I look forward to many, many more classes with you in the future.



My awesome older sister, who has been mentioned so often in this blog, surprised me by flying into town today so that she could join me for my last day of the challenge.  Did I mention I have a super awesome older sister?

On the subject of surprises, I had a few good ones today.  Dara, one of my favorite instructors, let me know she wasn't going to be able to teach my last class tomorrow, but that she was teaching the 4 o'clock class in Happy Valley, so I kicked it out there so that I could get in one last class of my sixty with Dara.  When I got there she handed me a stack of chocolate with a card, which I am not supposed to open until tomorrow after my last class.  Did I mention I have really awesome instructors?
Also surprising, was how my afternoon class went today.  After having a pretty killer class this morning, I expected to be a little worn out for the afternoon class, but for the first time in awhile I was able to power through the entire class and make serious attempts at all the postures.  I got deeper into several postures than I had before, and I can safely say that my hypothesis about sleeping on my side has been confirmed, because my elbow is making incredible improvements, and I was able to get really deep into the standing bow pulling posture this afternoon.

I am excited to see what tomorrow brings.  I think it is awesome that my older sister flew up to support me for the last two classes.  If you happen to have the time tomorrow, and want to come join me for either of my last two classes, I will be at Bikram Studio West Linn for both the 6 am and the 4:30 pm classes.


Monday, April 28, 2014

Small Adjustments

Small adjustments might seem like a no brainer.  Small adjustments have helped me get my triangle pose looking fantastic, and I am very proud to say I have an unbroken string of 86 sets of triangle pose without falling out (two on the 7th, and four per day since April 8th).  And, triangle posture isn't the only pose that small adjustments have helped, I have been rocking the balancing stick lately, as well several other postures that have gradually come a long way from where I started at the first of the month.

Today I made a small adjustment outside of class that has had a huge impact on my practice.  If you have been following along, you may remember my mentioning that I was having a little problem with my elbow.  For the last several days I have had to sit out of the standing bow pulling pose and locust pose, and other postures had been effected as well.

The answer seems so obvious now, but I woke up this morning and realized as I lay there on my side that my arm was a little numb.  You know, because I had been laying on it for the last several hours as I slept on my side...  Sleeping on my side had never been an issue before these last couple of weeks, and it is how I have always slept, but apparently when your body is trying to recover from several hours of yoga on a daily basis, it likes to have unrestricted blood flow.

This morning's class went well, though I still sat out the same postures, but when I crashed after class I made it a point to sleep on my back instead of my side.  I don't know if you have ever tried to change the way you sleep, but my body felt awkward, and fought me every step of the way.  I was tired enough that I won out, and successfully slept on my back.

My afternoon class was a huge improvement.  Just those few hours of sleep seemed to do the trick, and with only some residual soreness, I was able to rejoin the postures that I had been sitting out for several days.

Hopefully tonight I will be equally successful in forcing my body to sleep in manner it is not (yet) accustomed to, so that tomorrow I can test my hypothesis again and see if this small adjustment is going to be the fix I needed.

I am otherwise still going strong.  Since finding my base again after the middle portion of this challenge, I have continued to improve.  Just two more days, and I am only getting stronger!


Sunday, April 27, 2014

Let It Go

Having my nieces in town has been highly entertaining.  They are adorable, so full of energy, curious, and smart.

Yesterday I got relationship advice from the five year old, which was entertaining.  She had asked if I was married yet, and I told her that I used to be married, but that I wasn't married anymore.  I should have expected the "why not?" that quickly followed, or the "is she dead?" she added before I could answer.

"No, she isn't dead," I told her.  "We just aren't together anymore."

"Why not?"

"Well...," I started, not expecting to be having a conversation with my five year old niece about my divorce from before she was born.  What do you even tell a kid whose world is princesses and happily ever afters about divorce?  I kept it simple by saying, "we had problems."

"Oh, well if you have problems you should talk to your parents," she started.  Not bad advice at all, really.  I found out later from her mother, my sister, that this was what she was told if she ever had problems with her little sister, rather than screaming and fighting.

"And you should go to her house and say you're sorry," she added.  "And bring her flowers.  Red ones.  You should bring her red roses, and go to her house, and say that you're sorry."

It sounds so easy when you put it that way...  So, if you have any problems, my five year old niece gives some pretty sage advice, though, fair warning, she will likely refer you to your parents.
A sketch of my nieces and nephew as faerie children.

The two year old inadvertently gives some pretty good advice too.  It is the same advice that I hear from almost all of the instructors at the yoga studio: "Let it go."

Of course, when the two year old says it, she's belting it out repeatedly and with surprising volume.

It took me a bit to figure out what she was saying, as I hadn't yet seen the recently released Frozen, which is apparently very popular with the two to five year old girl demographic.  She isn't so much singing it, as much is she is shouting it repeatedly and with enthusiasm, adorable and full of energy.

"Let it go" has helped me a lot with my practice recently.  Not carrying my day into the class.  Not carrying how I did in one posture into the next.  Taking anything that bubbles to the surface during camel pose and just letting it go.  "Let it go" is right up there with "just focus on your breathing" and "don't panic."

I have just three more days of this challenge, and I am feeling strong.  My classes are going well, and I was able to take the back to back double yesterday in stride.  More and more lately I have had people mention to me how much different I look, both in my body composition and in my postures.  It is something that is gradual, so I don't really think about it until I take a step back, but the benefits of this challenge have been bountiful.

I would like to take a moment to thank everyone who has followed along on my journey.  I really do appreciate the support, the encouragement, and the kind words.  I really love this community.  You are all wonderful.  Thank you.


Saturday, April 26, 2014

Three and a Half Hours

This morning went exceptionally well, all things considered.  I started my first class at 7 AM and walked out of my second class 10:30 AM, three and a half hours later.  I really was expecting the second of the back to back classes this morning to be excruciatingly difficult.  Conversely, I somehow felt energized after the second class.

Writer's block: That's a thing.


Friday, April 25, 2014


This blog post is going to be short and sweet, because it is 11:37 PM, which gives me 22 minutes to get a post up for the blog today.

While Fridays are typically when I go dancing, if you have been keeping track, tonight I had a lovely date instead.   We had a fantastic dinner at Dick's Kitchen, which I would highly reccomend, then on to Vie de Boheme to listen to the Ken DeRouchie Band perform, which is always a treat.  Even though I didn't go dancing, I feel like I had the energy to dance if I had gone, which still astounds me after more than three weeks into three hours a day of yoga.

This afternoon was my fiftieth class, and it feels like a milestone.  I felt really good in both classes, and I don't expect that I could be any more ready and prepared for tomorrow's back to back double in the morning.  That doesn't mean that I think that this back to back is going to be easy.  In fact, I expect it will be somewhat grueling, but I didn't start this endeavor because I wanted to try something easy.
As well as my morning class went, I was still exhausted afterward.  After breakfast I tried to take a quick nap with my hat down over my eyes, but my littlest niece decided it was time to steal my hat and take selfies instead.

Tomorrow I should have pictures from the coast, assuming I can still move my body to drive there after the back to back classes in the morning.  Wish me luck.


Thursday, April 24, 2014


There are many reasons to wear masks.  Masquerade balls come to mind, and of course Halloween, both of which I have made and worn masks for in recent years.  For those occasions we wear physical masks, allowing ourselves for a time to be something we are not, conceal ourselves behind some other outward persona, often much different than ourselves.

I have come to quite enjoy making masks.  Depicted here is my most recent mask, which I made for Halloween this last year.  The mask is essentially paper mache over a wire form with dreaded burlap for hair and a real pumpkin stalk for the horn.
My first mask in recent years is the Legend inspired troll mask pictured in the lower right corner.  It was another Halloween piece, the pattern being that both masks were made for parties I was invited to, likely a subconscious reflection of my introverted nature.  The other three masks pictured were all for masquerade balls over the last couple of years.
Mask making is an art form that I quite enjoy, especially for the reactions that others have in both viewing and interacting with them.

My nieces are highly entertained by the masks (after getting past their initial terror), and I distinctly remember when my oldest niece first overcame her fear of the troll mask and tried it on.  She made a terrible roar, then laughed and laughed.  Even at such a young age she instinctively understood the concept of becoming something else while wearing the mask.  My oldest niece and her little sister are visiting currently (as seen in the pictures from our trip to the park this morning), and when I showed them my new scarecrow mask the younger sister eagerly tried it on.
Then there are the other masks...

Someone asks you how you are doing, you smile and say you are doing well with practiced ease that makes you almost believe it yourself.  You write about what food you shouldn't have had instead of how you are having a difficult time reading or responding to texts and emails.  You sleep during the day, and you honestly can't tell if it is more to benefit your physical well being or your emotional need to escape and withdraw, and it is certainly measures of both.

Part of the reason I started this crazy journey was because of the depression I felt coming on.  Yoga has not stopped the depression.  It has, however, provided something to focus on in the last month aside from my depression.  More than a distraction, my practice has become a lens through which I have been able to examine myself.

In yoga class it is often repeated that we have to acknowledge and accept where we are.

I'm depressed, and that is okay.  This is not about being perfect.


Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Poor Food Choices

Thanks to my sister I got a short reprieve yesterday from writing for my blog, and the day before wasn't exactly taxing, but without another guest post, I guess I'll have to go ahead and write a real entry tonight.

I have seven days left of my initial challenge.  I have avoided counting down to when I am 'done' because I really do not intend to be done at the end of April.  The other day I had someone ask my what I was going to do on day 31, and I replied, "yoga."

I meant to write on Easter that I had some junk candy.  It was that extra sugary cheap stuff that has become synonymous with the holiday, which I really had no intention of eating, but old habits dye hard.  The consequences were nearly immediate, and dramatic, as, after nearly three weeks of only the lightest twinges of cramps, the sugar (twice) locked up several major muscles to painful effect.

After I first had some candy, I was driving to afternoon yoga and my abs cramped up something fierce while I was driving (and changing into my yoga clothes, which I don't recommend doing while you drive, especially if you're going to cramp up).  I had to laugh through it, as there wasn't much else I could really do while I was driving.

Later that night after dinner my mom handed me a couple pieces of Easter candy.  Not having learned my lesson the first time (or rather, not having made the association in my head between sugary treats and the surprising pain of muscle cramps), it wasn't long before both of my thighs were locking up and I was writhing on the ground next to the couch trying to stand so that I could walk it off.

Lesson learned.  Right?


After only a couple of cheat meals from eating paleo this month, which I mention earlier in my blog, I had been relatively good the rest of the month up until Monday night when I got home from yoga to the suggestion that we go out for (really good) tacos.  Two taquitos, a hard taco, a soft fajita taco, and a good share of nachos, all laden with delicious melty cheese and sour cream later, I had pretty much sealed my fate for how hellish my next morning's yoga session was going to be.

It was like I could feel all the inflammation in my body that the corn, dairy, and bad fats had caused, and it made the next morning's yoga session tantamount to torture.  All I had to say on Facebook after class was: "Another lesson in food choices."

If we are being honest, and I have strived for that more than anything in this blog, then I have to say it is a lesson I will likely repeat again, but at least I can say that I am now making many more good choices about how I treat my body than poor ones.  Winning the war despite a few lost battles.

After eating right that morning and afternoon, I was able to go back for afternoon yoga turned 180 degrees in the opposite direction, feeling good, though the fact that my sister had just arrived to town with two of my nieces may have had something to do with my energy going into that class as well.

The nieces are staying for several days while my pregnant sister enjoys some time with her husband down in Las Vegas before the baby comes due.  I'm loving having them around.  They are so bright and sweet.  My parents are taking them to the coast this weekend, which is going to be awesome fun.  I love going to the coast in Oregon.

In order to join them at the coast on Saturday, I am going to be attempting my first back to back double Saturday morning, during the second of which Ahmad (the teacher for both classes) will likely witness my complete breakdown.

Seriously though, Saturday is going to be a challenge in and of itself.  There has only been one class in these last three weeks where I have come out feeling like I could go back in for another round, and it wasn't recently.  So... wish me luck!


Tuesday, April 22, 2014

A Force to be Reckoned With

I had asked several people if they would like to do a guest post for my blog.  This first is from my older sister, whom I had mentioned frequently in my early blog entries.

Yesterday after Preston’s forty-second class, he posted on Facebook: “42. The meaning of life, the universe, and everything.” For a moment I thought Preston had a profound spiritual experience in class, and then realized it was a reference to the comic science fiction classic The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy wherein the supercomputer Deep Thought is tasked with determining the Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, The Universe, and Everything, and the Answer is 42.

I got the “42” reference, but confess I’m no Hitchhiker’s buff, so I had to do a little internet research when Preston’s blog post yesterday said “Don’t panic. Bring a towel.”  (Both in the top ten pieces of advice I give to new students, but what did that have to do with 42?)

Turns out, just as for a Bikram yoga student, for a galactic hitchhiker having a towel is a big deal: “Somebody who can stay in control of virtually any situation is somebody who is said to know where his or her towel is.” See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phrases_from_The_Hitchhiker%27s_Guide_to_the_Galaxy
On the significance of towels from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy:

A towel, it says, is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have. Partly it has great practical value. You can wrap it around you for warmth as you bound across the cold moons of Jaglan Beta; you can lie on it on the brilliant marble-sanded beaches of Santraginus V, inhaling the heady sea vapours; you can sleep under it beneath the stars which shine so redly on the desert world of Kakrafoon; use it to sail a miniraft down the slow heavy River Moth; wet it for use in hand-to-hand-combat; wrap it round your head to ward off noxious fumes or avoid the gaze of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal (such a mind-bogglingly stupid animal, it assumes that if you can't see it, it can't see you); you can wave your towel in emergencies as a distress signal, and of course dry yourself off with it if it still seems to be clean enough.

More importantly, a towel has immense psychological value. For some reason, if a strag (strag: non-hitch hiker) discovers that a hitchhiker has his towel with him, he will automatically assume that he is also in possession of a toothbrush, face flannel, soap, tin of biscuits, flask, compass, map, ball of string, gnat spray, wet weather gear, space suit etc., etc. Furthermore, the strag will then happily lend the hitch hiker any of these or a dozen other items that the hitch hiker might accidentally have "lost." What the strag will think is that any man who can hitch the length and breadth of the galaxy, rough it, slum it, struggle against terrible odds, win through, and still knows where his towel is, is clearly a man to be reckoned with.

See quotation at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Towel_Day (emphasis added).

With this description in mind I couldn’t help but think of the hitchhiker’s towel as a symbol analogous to the practice of yoga. It is about the most massively useful thing we can have as we navigate our lives: useful both for its practical physical/health benefits and also for its significant psychological/mental/emotional benefits. Yoga practice cultivates the ability to breathe and even smile through the length and breadth of the challenges that life brings—whether that is through triangle pose, an inconsiderate encounter, or something much more serious. No matter what comes, yoga is always there; even as you consider your Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, The Universe, and Everything. If you can bring your yoga with you wherever you are in life, you are a force to be reckoned with; there is tremendous strength in the ability to stop, take a deep breath, and then move forward to act consciously rather than simply react.

I’m grateful to travel life as your sister. I love and admire you, Preston, for your loving and caring nature, your willingness to walk to the beat of your own drum, your creativity and artistic talent, and your vulnerability in going after bold goals and sharing those goals and the ups and downs you experience along the way. You are a force to be reckoned with. I hope you always travel with this experience and your yoga towel as a source of strength. I love you.

I love you too, Jill.


Monday, April 21, 2014

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Forty Classes

It is hard to believe that I am two-thirds of the way finished already with my thirty day challenge.  That is twenty days, forty classes, and sixty hours of yoga so far this month, with just another ten days to go.

Since I conquered triangle pose with a smile, I have successfully held every set of every class since, and I'm continuing to see progress in the posture.

I am getting daily feedback and encouragement from teachers and other practitioners at the studio, which is great.  I have also started to get the "oh you're the guy doing two a day" from people at the studio, which I find entertaining.  It is nice to have the support and community, especially through the middle third of my challenge when I was struggling a little more.

I really feel like I am building again, which is great.  No phenomenal breakthroughs like early in my practice, but gradual improvement and continued growth since finding my base again.

There have been just a few hiccups.  My right elbow has been persistently sore for several days now, more so than my other joints, which are seeing similar stress.  I am keeping a very careful watch on my joints and making sure I don't push through anything painful, even if it means stepping out of standing bow pulling posture a lot recently.

Also, this afternoon in the first set of awkward pose, I fell out of the third part backwards with surprising result.  Falling backward is not unusual, it seems like I have fallen backward out of the posture at least once a day for the last three weeks.  This afternoon however, when I rolled back, my vertebra cracked all the way up my spine like a zipper.  It was the strangest sensation, like getting an adjustment at the chiropractor, although with more falling and that edge of panic before you determine that everything is fine.  I was a little tentative through the next few postures, but everything seems to be normal, so now I can laugh about giving myself an adjustment during my fortieth yoga class this month.

It looks as though my body is going to let me go the full thirty days, which is a huge relief.  I had had my doubts through this middle third of the challenge, but now I can see the finish line, and this body is going to get me there just fine.

Thank you so much for following along with me on my journey.


Saturday, April 19, 2014

Letters from Hong Kong

A little over a year ago I got an unexpected letter from Hong Kong.
Gwynneth is my niece, daughter of my youngest sister, who transcribed the letter.  I loved that my young niece had drawn a picture to send to me, though I'm not sure entirely what it was a drawing of.  That may be a mystery that is lost to the ages.

Then, just today I received another letter, for which a little less transcription was required, complete with a ballet fairy and a fancy chicken.
I love having a little developing artist in the family, and developing has been a theme for me today.

I really paid the piper this morning after going dancing last night, but in this afternoon's class I could really begin to see how I am beginning to develop again.  Struggling the last few days, I finally felt today like I found a new base to start working from.  Where I felt like I had lost a lot of strength and stability, I am again starting to make gains.

The gains are small, and I don't expect that anyone else would really notice.  Certainly I am still a novice and beginner when it comes to Bikram Yoga, but who knows where I will be in a little over a year.  Perhaps the random squiggles that are my current attempts at the postures will develop into half moons, bows, tortoises, camels, and fancy chickens.

On the subject of letters, I'm excited to say that several people have agreed to do guest blog posts for Yoga, Crazy & Me.  I am hugely thankful for those that have agreed to share their thoughts, and I am excited to see what they have to say.  I will be posting them as I receive them, so expect them sporadically over the next week and a half as I approach the conclusion of this endeavor.


Friday, April 18, 2014


Tonight a short post, I think.

If you have been following along, you know that the last several days have been a little rough.  I am finding that my stabilizer muscles and joints are getting sore and starting to fatigue.  I have been listening extra closely to my body as I move forward with doubles, and in the last couple of days have found that I have needed to sit out a set or two (or three).

Initially I was stressing out about my new limitations.  It seemed like most of what I had experienced so far was growth, and this really was the first time I felt a bit like I was taking steps backwards.

This morning was the first time in a couple of days that I just let it go, realized I could only do what my body was going to let me, and that anything that I was able to do was good enough.

I was surprised to find that I was able to dance tonight with relative ease.

I didn't know what to expect after such a rough week of yoga, but I was able to dance for three hours tonight at Friday Night Fusion.  I had a fantastic time learning to dance to the blues, and I would have stayed until midnight if I didn't have to write a blog post and get up first thing in the morning for yoga.


Thursday, April 17, 2014


As I can recall, I have only ever blacked out once.

We were hiking 50 miles through the high desert mountains at the Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico.  Coming from relatively close to sea level, just being at the elevation of base camp was tiring, and all the trails seemed to lead up from there.  Last thing I remember I was hiking up the trail in line behind Alex Burciaga on a hot day, the sun directly overhead, and then next thing I know I'm lying under a tree surrounded by very concerned faces of people trying to ask me questions while giving me sips of water.
I am the kid second from the left, seated in the front row, inexplicably flexing.
I went on three different 50 milers back in my scouting days, and the one thread through all of them is that I only remember the good parts.  I have an easy time forgetting the toil and the strain, while the feelings of accomplishment and the vistas from mountain tops stay clear in my mind.

After my first class this morning I felt nauseous.  A combination of feeling light headed and at the same time drinking too much water.

As a quick aside, when I was first stationed at Ft. Polk it was a particularly hot summer.  We were required to have with us our 2 quart cantines at all times.  I was just out of basic training, and an NCO's word was law.  I was in a driver's training course when, for what infraction I'm not sure, I was forced to drink the full two quart cantine, fill it, and drink it again.  I'll mention that the tap water there tasted particularly awful, as I recall.  While trying to drink the second cantine my body decided to purge all the water I'd gorged back up and out.  It was a particularly uncomfortable experience, as you can imagine, as I was also made to clean it up afterward.

The next day it was announced post wide that soldiers could no longer be forced to drink water, as apparently this had not been an isolated incident.

This afternoon I was light headed all through class, having to sit out half of the postures, laying in savasana instead.  Every time I got up to try and attempt another posture I would get more light headed, my vision would tunnel, and I would lay back down before passing out.

It is often repeated that our hardest classes are the ones that we get the most out of.  I'm still counting every class I show up and stay in the room as a victory, no matter what 100% looks like that class, and I remind myself that when I look back I will likely only remember the accomplishments and victories.

34 victories and counting.


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

At the Precipice

I have a very vivid memory of my Uncle Pete taking me to Smith Rock when I was a kid.  We hiked up the back side via trails, then across the flat top.  I had been scared to jump a small crevasse which split the rock as we made our way to the face, but that fear was nothing compared to what I felt as we reached the precipice, and I was near petrified as my uncle had me sit with my legs out over the edge.  I managed to suppress the fear in order to take in the majesty of the view, but I think it is the fear that I had to overcome that etched the memory so vividly in my young mind.

I have been at that ledge today in more ways than one.  I have been at the edge of tears, both on this side of the ledge, and just on the other.  I silently wept through part of my afternoon class today.  I didn't even realize I was so close to tears until the instructor took a moment between postures to recognize my continued achievement and how it has inspired other students of hers to attempt doubles.

I didn't feel inspiring just then.  I felt fatigued.  This afternoon's class was the first class since very early on that I had to sit out any sets of postures, and I was just trying to hold on to the fact that I was even there, still giving what little I had.
The other ledge, the one I am more fearful of, is my waxing depression.

The emotional roller coaster that these last couple of weeks have been have left me without many defenses.  Right now I am this close to going out and getting myself a chocolate bar, and I know exactly which one (a Ghirardelli Sea Salt Soiree).  When I say "this close" you might imagine me holding my thumb and forefinger so that they are barely apart, only a sliver of light between them to indicate that I'm not actually going to drive to the store and get one.  Instead, you should imagine me with keys in hand, jacket on, and sliding on my shoes as I try and remember the reasons I shouldn't go get another chocolate bar.  I say another because I have had three in the last few days, and not because I was hungry.

I am not going to go get chocolate tonight.

I am going to finish this blog post, and then go to sleep.

I slept most of the day today again.  Some strange alchemy of physical exhaustion and the gradual onset of depression has me sleeping a good portion of the day without effecting my sleep at night.  Sleeping this much is some bizarre middle path where I believe it is physically necessary for recovery doing doubles every day, and at the same time perhaps not so awesome for my emotional well being.

Still the vivid dreams, which, as I mentioned before, are completely out of the ordinary for me.  Today's dreams bordered on nightmares.

I guess today is all about being at the precipice.

The fear I feel is tempered by experience in a way that my younger self couldn't have understood.  I know that this precipice is a place to reflect, to focus on the majesty and not the fall.


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Halfway There!

This afternoon's class was number thirty.  That is thirty classes in fifteen days, and halfway to my goal of sixty in thirty.  I feel accomplished for having made it this far, and it hasn't been easy.

The journey thus far has been emotionally, physically, and mentally turbulent.  I've been everything from devastated to elated, from decimated to bursting with energy, and from dazed to having peace and clarity of mind.

The days that I have been devastated, decimated, and dazed have been few, and I recognize that these are the days when my being is struggling to most to grow, expand, and come into focus.

The persistent heated core that I experienced early in my practice is gone, as is my voracious appetite.  In fact, my appetite is all but gone, though I'm still eating small portions of meals when I know I should in order to keep my energy up.

As an experiment, I forwent my early morning breakfast this morning, and I still had consistent energy all the way through class.  After class I had just two eggs (instead of my usual three) and a very small side and it still felt like too much.  My lunch was equally minimal, just some grapes, chicken heart and liver, and a couple of mushrooms.  For dinner, after my afternoon yoga, I had a little bit more of an appetite, but still didn't have any desire to eat what I would have previously considered to be normal portions for me.

As someone who had been fat my entire life, I can tell you that I've never experienced a decreased appetite like this without being ill.  I can't recall reaching satiety during a meal without also being just stuffed full.  This is a very strange and unexpected adjustment to have to make, though I am doing my best to continue to listen to my body and fully commit to these adjustments.

I will be weighing myself in the morning, same time as my initial weigh in, so that I can get the most accurate measurement possible for my halfway point.  I can tell you I haven't once stepped on a scale this week and have it read over 280 pounds, no much water I had drank to rehydrate.  I'm excited to see what the number is, but I already know that the change in my physique has been severe.

I was going to post progress pictures, but... that isn't going to happen.

Instead, I will leave you with a picture of my nieces who will be visiting next week:


Monday, April 14, 2014

A Fortnight

Today marks a fortnight that I've been doing doubles.  Tomorrow will mark 30 classes and my halfway point.  I want to be able to say that I felt fantastic today, but today was really rough.

Today I had the energy of a panther, I posted with my afternoon check in, ...at nap time.  ...after a big meal.

This morning I got up, had breakfast, then slept another hour.  I went to morning yoga, then slept another three hours.  I got up, had lunch, then slept until I had to get up and go to afternoon yoga.  Apparently, my huge gains yesterday came at heavy cost in my energy today, and I really felt it in both classes.

This experiment was interesting, but I think it has gone on long enough...
...I shaved off my goatee!

I've been getting a lot of people commenting on my weight loss, especially in my face.  I couldn't really say that I saw it until I shaved off my goatee, and then it really hit me.

The shift in appetite has been jarring.  I had a smaller than usually breakfast at my normal time and still felt overly full all the way through class.  Again with lunch, where my portions were small.  I tried going even smaller for dinner, but I've felt over full for hours now.  Tomorrow I'm going to try and listen to my body even closer and really dial back.  I can't say I really understand what is going on, so I'm just going to have to trust the signals I'm getting from my body and continue to hope for the best.


Sunday, April 13, 2014

Like a Gazelle!

Tonight was the first time I walked out of class thinking I could walk back in and go another round.  I felt amazing!  Like a gazelle!

Even my morning class went relatively well, and I posted in my Facebook check in:

This was a triumph! Making a note here: Huge success!

For those who don't get the reference, this is a line from the song Still Alive written by Jonathan Coulton for the game Portal.  It fairly well summed up how I felt, in that I had made it through another class, and I was still alive.  As I have said, I always find morning classes to be tougher than my afternoon class.

I wasn't at all expecting to come back this afternoon and just knock it out of the park.  I felt ready, motivated, confidant, loose, strong, and all I could think of was this tapestry that hung on my wall as a kid that depicted panthers hiding in the shadows waiting to pounce out and try and catch some gazelles grazing in a sunny field.  I felt like a gazelle.

I don't have a picture of a gazelle, so instead here is a wicked awesome spider.
I guess in that metaphor the panthers are... I got nothing.  I am just hanging out here in my sunny field, feeling awesome, strong and confident!

I honestly felt like I made 20% gains in half of my postures this afternoon.  I came out feeling energized and excited, and I know that feeling is not going to be my experience in every class from here forward, but it is good to know that I can come out of class feeling like I'm on top on the world.  This is truly an awesome experience.


Saturday, April 12, 2014


A week ago today I started this blog to journal my experiences as I practice Bikram Yoga twice daily for a month.  The positive support of my journey has been phenomenal, and I truly hope you understand how much it means to me that you take the time to read about my experience.

Blogger tracks some interesting statistics about exactly how many people are coming to visit the blog, which I thought I would share:
I've been averaging just about 100 pageviews a day, with readers from ten different countries.  137 people have viewed my first entry, My First Thought, and my second most read entry is Ten with 76 views.

This being day twelve, I have settled into a pretty standard routine, though it is slowly changing as my body continues to adapt to the rigors of twice daily yoga.  I'm still waking up a couple of hours before the morning class to eat breakfast, but I have noticed that my appetite has recently decreased significantly.  This was something completely unexpected, but I am starting to quickly feel satiated, and I'm adjusting my proportions accordingly.  Even as I write this I haven't yet had dinner because I just don't feel hungry.  Instead, I've continued to hydrate, supplementing electrolytes with Elete and with and my usual coconut water.

I didn't even have much of a lunch at all.  After my morning class I was completely exhausted, but I quickly recovered without having to crash for another four hours, and went out to a flower arranging class with Chelsea from Frolic!

I cooked a few slices of bacon and had an apple before I got there, and then showed immense willpower in skipping the delicious cheeses, jam and bread, and opted to have some lovely radishes instead.  I forgot how deliciously crunchy radishes are, and they were treat enough.  Add those to the scrambled eggs and sweet potato hash that I had for breakfast and you have my entire dietary consumption for the day: 3 eggs, 1/4 sweet potato, 1/4 onion, 1 stick of celery, 2 T ghee, 5 slices of bacon, 1 apple, 4 radishes, and 33.3 fl oz of coconut water.

Because there was going to be a camera at the class, I went through my (limited) wardrobe to try and look my best, and found that many of my shirts are starting to fit too loose.  I'll say that again, just to be clear, the shirts that I regularly wear, the ones that I bought when I was at my lowest weight running, are now getting to be a little too loose on me.  The new jeans I bought myself at the end of February when I'd lost another 14 pounds are now getting a little too loose as well.  It looks like my reward at the end of the thirty days might be an investiture into some new wardrobe items.  A common phrase around my family, "there are worse problems to have."

In my routine, I find morning classes to feel markedly more difficult than the afternoon classes, and locker room chatter seems to align with my thoughts on the matter.  While I still give 100% in every class, afternoon classes just seem to be a little easier, I'm a little more loose, I stay in postures a little better, and my energy is more consistent through the end of the class.

I continue to improve in my postures.  Since that first day I defeated triangle pose, I have yet to fall out of the posture even once.  Every class, every day I conquer triangle pose again and again.  My new nemesis is standing bow pose, but I'm slowly building the balance and grip strength that it is going to take to conquer it as well.

After class I had a moment to speak with the instructor, and I really can't say enough how much I love the teachers at Bikram Yoga West Linn.  We talked about goals, targets, and where I'm going after I am done with these first thirty days.  I'm going to finish these first thirty days before I commit to anything too crazy, but I am excited for what the future has in store!