COMING CLEAN: Bogged Down

Since my first blog entry, I’ve been a bit overwhelmed. The trouble is, however, I didn’t really notice until my esthetician asked me today when I saw her for a facial. I think I’ve become so good at being busy that I’m never really still. I can’t just sit and be. When I watch TV,… Read more »

Since my first blog entry, I’ve been a bit overwhelmed. The trouble is, however, I didn’t really notice until my esthetician asked me today when I saw her for a facial. I think I’ve become so good at being busy that I’m never really still. I can’t just sit and be. When I watch TV, I surf the Web on my laptop or flip through a magazine. I sort the mail when I’m on the phone. I can tackle four or five chores at once, answer emails on the go and, even as I’m typing this, I’m thinking about what’s next on my to-do list. I’m a brilliant multi-tasker — and yet, for all that I do, it’s become increasingly draining.

So when I put my challenges out there — organize the house, lose weight, eat healthier, declutter my closets, train my dog — it really terrified me. Or, more accurately, it freaked me out. And it paralyzed me. There’s too much to do! I thought. I’ll never get it all done, so why bother? Just give up! The roadblock came from the idea that I just needed to get better — improve all around. Without any guidance, that can scare anyone away from change. (I was glad to see Pilar’s recent blog on ditching bad habits, and I’ve been reading Chip and Dan Heath’s book Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard, which you’ll see excerpted in our July/August issue.)

Mind you, I was not only raised in a culture that desires instant gratification, I’m also on the precipice of Generation Y, or the Millennials, and grew up with MTV and the Internet at school and digital everything. It’s not that I have a short attention span like some of my peers, but I need to see results — the end of the TV episode must have an ending, be it happy or sad. But lasting change comes from persistent, small and sometimes slow alterations that create a total transformation. I can’t just say I’ll organize my house — I have to start with a closet, nay, a drawer, to clean and continually move to larger areas and other rooms of my home. I can’t just magically drop 20 pounds — I need to cut back on sugar, fats and alcohol, add in whole grains, lean protein and fruits and veggies, and get more active every day. Once the steps are clear, the next level seems more attainable.

When I put the fear of big changes aside, I decided to do something everyday that was good for me. On Sunday, I made an egg scramble with kale and tomatoes and garlic. On Monday, I did a load of laundry and read from Switch. And on Tuesday, I took a group fitness class.

I’ve been wanting to give yoga a shot. With my inactive muscles and weight gain, I’ve had horrendous back problems, and my aunt recommended it after she had similar discomfort. A few weeks back, I asked our in-office yoga instructor, Christy, to show me the basics poses and correct alignment. Her tutorial helped a lot, especially given my only experience with yoga is with Wii Fit. She also helped me to remember to center my thoughts — focus my busy mind on my breathing and my body. I used those tricks when I took Life Time Fitness’s Warrior Fusion class on Tuesday, but still found myself in need of more instruction. (FYI: If you don’t have an in-office yogi, ask the instructor before or after the class if you’re having difficulty or would like to review a particular pose.)

Warrior Fusion mixes Vinyasa flow yoga with rhythmic movement and strength moves, which included push-ups. I haven’t been able to put weight on my wrist since the fall of 2008, when I broke my wrist in a car accident and had a titanium plate surgically inserted to help it heal (not that I was ever good at push-ups). I did a few on my knees, and then went into child’s pose to rest and stretch my wrist. Christy’s solution to modify the push-up: pose in downward dog on my forearms instead of my hands, then rock down to touch my nose to the ground (or try). This will still build strength in my shoulders, upper body and core until I can do modified push-ups on the ground. In the meantime, I can do push-ups against a wall with my body at an angle.

Even the seemingly simple moves really challenged me, and it made me realize how much work I have to do. Instead of letting that discourage me, I’m using it as motivation. If I ever hope to improve, I can only take it day by day — one class today, a healthy meal tomorrow. One room of the house at a time.

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