I’ve come to the point, in the past year or so, where I’m tired of living in extremes. Passionately loving something, or vehemently hating it has become exhausting. Yet at times, for me, there has been no other way… or at least I haven’t been open-minded enough to see it.
I’m a girl caught between the MAC counter and the yoga mat. Loving the way Virabhadrasana II (Warrior II) has shaped my legs, and noticing it especially when I slip into my beloved violet Manolo Blahniks. Why do I need to choose between my meditation practice and my skinny cinnamon latte from Starbucks?
Well, I don’t.
I’m practicing a life of moderation. That’s right. I said “practicing“. Because, it really is something one needs to work at. Just think about how many times you’re tempted to buy, eat, drink while walking one city block. Without a fierce amount of will power a girl can be stopped dead in those pretty violet stilettos and fork over her already maxed out Visa without a second thought.
Confession: I am not Carrie Bradshaw. If my reference to designer, over-priced footwear has led you to believe otherwise, all apologies.
So yes… moderation. For me, as for many, it’s an everyday battle. One glass of wine can easily turn to three, one cookie to ten, one episode of “Say Yes to the Dress” can turn into an all out marathon. And this applies in all areas of my life, not just the naughty.
In February A* and I moved up to Vancouver due to a short break she had between jobs… one tour ending, another not yet begun. A decided running a marathon this year would be a new, exciting, achievable goal. And I thought “Good for you….but you’ll be doing it alone.”
I never, I mean NEVER ran outdoors before. In school I was incredibly active. My time after class was spent in countless dance classes, cheerleading practices, singing lessons, rehearsals for whatever show I was in at the moment. I was a Go-Go-Go Girl. But not a runner. Never a runner. Active or not, I’d be lucky to run once around the high school track without a dramatic episode starring moi and ending with a gasp for air and Gone With the Wind style fainting worthy of an Oscar nod.
So when this Marathon Thing came about, I was far too consumed with my yoga practice (or perhaps my fear of big fat failure) to think I would be participating in the 26 week training program A was following.
Well it started out simple enough… “Sure, I’ll go with you on one run. I’d like to get a bit of cardio anyway. And everyone who’s anyone in Vancouver is a runner.” And just like me, one turned to three times a week. My kitchen table was suddenly covered with Runner’s World magazine. $90 insoles for my running shoes? Of course! And before I knew it I was buying a cute black and fluro yellow hydration belt. A WHAT?! You mean, one of those ugly things the hard-core runner’s wear because they just won’t. stop. running??????? Me?
So maybe I’m slightly obsessive. Maybe…
Now let me take you back to a time in my life where this moderation thing was as absurd to me as wearing a hideous hydration belt… in public.
In 2005, six months into touring with the circus, A and I were pleased to discover that rather than heading to Japan (meaning we’d be out of jobs due to the language barrier) our show was going down under. YES! Australia… so many things to write about Australia… later.
So like everyone else on tour, we thought becoming certified scuba divers was an obvious choice. HELLO! Great Barrier Reef! We were in Florida at the time and enrolled in the PADI classes to ensure we’d have that prized certification before heading to Sydney several months later. After all the class work was finished and it was time to go on actual dives we awoke super early on Monday morning and drove out to the dive shop. This is where I experienced one of the most humiliating moments of my life…
Before we left the shop for the dive site, we had to get all our proper gear; weight belts, flippers, mask, snorkel, wetsuit…. WETSUIT.
Ah the wetsuit. Perhaps my arch nemesis.
In the middle of this massive dive shop our Dive Master brought out a few wetsuits for us to borrow for the dive. I desperately looked around for a change room, a curtain, a corner I could hide in to spare myself the embarrassment of pulling that sticky, damp, heavy thing on in front of other customers. But no. Right there in the middle of the store we were to drop our pants and try it on. I guess he expected me to react like any other 22-year-old, size 2 girl and pull it up with ease. Only, I was no size 2. Add 10 and I wasn’t even that. You see, in my last few years of college my alcohol consumption had reached an all time high. That followed by way too many late night runs through the Jack in the Box drive-thru had unfortunately packed on pound after pound. And since I’d stopped performing, my cardio was now limited to dancing on the go-go box at my favorite bar while double-fisting gin & tonics, often doubles… one after another. After another.
So anyway, here I am in the middle of the dive shop and my instructor tosses me a size L. Large. “Sure. I can fit into a large easily.”
Uh… no…. I could not.
Wetsuits aren’t the easiest things to put on in the first place. I had flash backs to my days as a child, Sunday morning getting ready for church, and my mother pinching my legs to pull up my thick, opaque, white tights under my poofy dress. God, I hated that. I tried my very best to wiggle into the floppy disaster, but it wouldn’t go. So of course, I had the wonderful fortune of telling my instructor that I needed a bigger size.
Dive Masters. They’re a special bunch of people. Adventurous, outgoing, and usually… LOUD. So he decides to yell across the store “HEY! SHE NEEDS A BIGGER SIZE! YEAH, THE LARGE DOESN’T FIT! TOO SMALL! JUST BRING HER AN EXTRA LARGE.”
Excuse me, an Extra Large??? That was the moment. That was it. I knew something needed to change. I was NOT going to wear an EXTRA LARGE wetsuit. ( Did I mention these were men’s sizes? Talk about added insult to injury.)
It’s funny how you can pinpoint one exact instance where the rest of your life changed. I couldn’t ignore the truth anymore: I had NO CONCEPT of moderation. I ate, I drank, I was l-a-z-y. It was time for a change.
Over the next four years (yes, four… because it took years to get to that state and twice as long to get out of it) I lost around 40 pounds, roughly 18 kilos for my Australian friends. And here I am, 5 years later and literally four dress sizes smaller, and my Facebook photos are getting comments like “Look at you, Skinny Mini!” I’m in a scary place though. When I have an evening of enjoying a bottle of Moet and a box off Whippets (an amazing marshmallow, chocolate cookie) with my best friend, I wake up the next morning wondering where my self-control went.
Wait a minute, I’ve lost a ton of weight. I’m healthier than I’ve ever been! I’m running the half-marathon in November, I have an incredibly strong yoga practice! Shouldn’t I be enjoying myself?!
A always says “You can have everything you want, you just can’t have it all at the same time.”
Sidebar: You will witness here and in future postings that A is always right. Believe me. It’s wonderful and annoying all at once.
Moderation. In yoga, I believe this is very closely related to the concept of Asteya. Asteya means “avoidance of stealing” and is one of the five Yamas or The Don’t List. However, rather than be limited to non-stealing, asteya also refers to non-hoarding, but in laymen’s terms I like to think of it as taking only what you need. How does this apply to Girl’s everyday life? Well, do I really need six cookies? If I take six, will there be enough for others to have some? It allows me to practice moderation.
And while some yogis and yoginis out there may read this and think “She’s not living yoga. Alcohol? Sugar? Manolos? That’s not yoga.”, I contest. Yoga, like all things in life, is something I want to practice with moderation. Reason being, once I start looking at yoga as something I have to do, something to check off the list… it defeats the purpose.
So can I have my Trikonasana (Triangle Pose) and eat cake too? I say yes.
Everything in moderation.
See, a Girl really can have it all.
*”A” is in reference to my partner. The jelly to my peanut butter, the mac to my cheese… okay wow, I’ve been writing entirely too much about food today.