Tag Archives: breathing

Far From Perfect

I made it to the gym again today.  I did 30 minutes cardio on the bike and then did an hour fifteen minutes of yoga.  The yoga class was intense.  I have to say, though, the instructor was fantastic.

The class was fairly advanced, that is to say, it was not for beginners.  I have taken yoga classes in the past as I mentioned yesterday.  I’m not unfamiliar with the different poses.  I would still qualify myself as a beginner, however.  It has been quite a while since I have really done any yoga, apart from the Bodyflow class yesterday, which I guess doesn’t really qualify as yoga exactly.

This instructor really seems to like the downward facing dog position quite a lot.  I can do it, but it is a fairly difficult position, particularly for someone who is still a bit heavy.  The fact that most of my weight is still in my stomach and upper body makes it even more difficult.

Every series of poses that she did either ended up in downward dog position or started there.  I had a really hard time with it.  The nice thing about this teacher is she kind of let us do things at our own pace.  When I found I could not do that position over and over, she said it was OK to either do the plank position or the child position instead.

This helped.  I alternated between downward dog and the child position.  She moved fast, but she let people find their own way to get from one position to the other.  Some of the students have apparently been doing this a long time and did not have the struggles I had.  Other students were far behind me.

Another student said that this teacher is great because she gives you permission to fail and find your own way through the practice.  That you don’t have to be perfect, but you just have to try.

This is good news for me because I am certainly far from perfect.  Nonetheless, I feel I had a good practice today.  I really tried to stretch and breathe through each pose or series of poses.  I am sore, but I feel good.  And the meditation at the end was wonderful.  I really like meditation.  It helps me feel centered.

I will definitely go back to this class, but I also think I’m going to start practicing the poses and breathing at home on my own.  Clearly, there are plenty of videos on Youtube to help me out.

I have my consult with the personal trainer on Thursday so that I can learn to use the weight equipment.  I know how to use some of them, but I really want to learn how to properly use them so that I can focus on strengthening and firming my body in addition to the cardio and fat burning that I’m doing on the bike.  I want to move away from the bike and onto the treadmill, but I have to admit, I’m a bit apprehensive of running.  I don’t like running at all, but I’m getting bored with the bike.  Maybe I will give it a try for 15 minutes or so tomorrow.  We shall see.

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I Walked A Mile!

photo (3)

I know it is not such a big deal to walk a mile for most people, but considering 5 short months ago I could barely walk to the corner and back this is a big deal for me.

Yesterday, my new employer took a bunch of us to a National’s baseball game.  I stopped going to games and such years ago because of my inability to walk around.  I am doing much better now with my walking, so I decided to go.  Another friend of mine was there also.  She lives across the highway from me in Arlington.  I spent time hanging out with my co-workers and time hanging out with her. 

After the game she said she would give me a ride home.  The caveat was that she worked about a mile from the stadium and we had to walk to her office to get her car.  She asked me if I thought I could make it that far.  I confidently said yes, but secretly I was like, OMG can I do this?

I was kind of worried, I have to admit it.  I thought about it and really, I have probably walked a mile or more recently without even thinking about it.  I have walked laps around the malls here in DC.  I have walked around the museums.  I have walked around the National Mall.  But I have never really said, “OK, I am going to walk a mile now.”  

My friend knew me pretty well before the surgery.  She knew what kind of trouble I had walking.  The whole time we were walking she said stuff like, “Look at you!  You’re walking great!”  No back pain.  No gasping for air or even struggling to breathe.  It totally awesome!

I know it’s not much, but for me it was a big emotional milestone.  I can now say confidently that I walked a mile!

Commuting in DC

metro

So, now that I am able to walk some more, commuting to DC is not the hassle it was a year ago.

When I used to work in DC at a client site, my office was located about a block and a half from the nearest Metro station.  I also had to walk across the street from my apartment building to catch a bus.  I did not have to walk a lot, but it was still more than I could handle.  I had to sit when I arrived at the bus stop.  After I got off the Metro in DC, I had to stop at least twice to rest my back before getting to the office.  It was awful.

Now, I am back to working in DC and no longer working from home.  My office is nowhere near a Metro station.  It is at least 5.5 blocks from the nearest station. Well, OK that’s not entirely true.  There are two stops that are about 4 blocks from the office, but then I have to go two stops out of my way and take another train, and the stop where I change trains is still adds another two stops to my trip.  It’s worth the extra block to not have to change trains and keep my metro stops down to three stations.

Five blocks are really not that far.  Normal people walk this much all of the time without even a thought.  I used to before I became so morbidly obese.  Now that I have lost 81 pounds, (OMG 81!!!!!), walking this much is easy.

I am also standing pretty much from the minute I leave my apartment until I get to the office.  I stand out in front of my building to wait for the bus…OK that’s not true.  I sometimes sit at the bus stop.  But once I get on the bus, I stand until I get to the metro station because there is often not a seat.  Then the metro train is so full, I stand for the three whole stops until I can pry myself out of the train.  There is not even time or quite frankly the room to read anything on my kindle app.  Seriously, some days you need a shoe horn to get people out of there we are packed in so tightly.  Then I fight to get up the escalators and out of the station before I begin my hike to the office.

Sometimes, I go to the little French café (where they play middle eastern music, btw…not that I mind middle eastern music, it’s just that Americans have fanciful notions that every French café should be playing Edith Piaf singing Non Je Ne Regrette Rien all day long, but I digress), that is next to my office to get a cup of decaf.  There I sit and enjoy my last moments of solitude before entering the snake pit.

Honestly, the three stops are not bad.  Even the 5.5 block walk to the office is not bad.  I just hate being crammed on the train with about 10,000 other people with nowhere to move or breathe.  I am convinced with every jerk of the train that I will lose my balance and fall into the person next to me.  There is no real room to fall, so I would probably just body slam into the person next to me and cause people to tumble into one another like dominos.  Then there is the constant stopping and waiting for no reason without explanation.  And I haven’t even mentioned the broken escalators and elevators.  The train ride is stressful.  I thank God I only have to go three stops.

I am also thankful that I can do it relatively pain-free.  I still have some pain in my feet.  And occasionally my knees and back hurt a little.  But for the most part, I am enjoying the fact that I can do this.

Two other points…I lost 81 pounds!!!!  Omg I can hardly believe it!

The other thing I wanted to mention, I kind of put on my Facebook Page yesterday.  Yesterday, upon exiting the Metro station in DC, I ran into a friend of mine whom I have not seen in about two years.  She had a gastric by-pass 9 years ago.  We used to work together.  She looks great.  I also did not know her before the surgery.  She told me over and over again that she has no regrets.  I thought about her often before and since my surgery.

Well, I saw her and walked right up to her and made eye contact and she looked at me like she has never seen me before.  Then I told her who I was and seriously, her jaw dropped.  She asked me what I had been up to so I told her that I had the surgery.  We only had a moment to talk because we were both in the mad-commuter-rush-to-work mindset, but she told me that I looked great.  I have her email address, so I am going to send her an email.  I need to tell her how her experience really helped me make my decision when I reached my breaking point.  I may not have been ready to do it when she and I talked in the past, but I thought of her often through everything I have experienced.

I Can’t Believe I Did It!

I know for most people walking is not such a big deal.  I’ve written about this before.  Walking is reflexive for most people.  You want to go somewhere, you get up and walk.  No big deal.

Well, for the past few years or so, walking has been very difficult for me.  My back hurts a lot, my feet hurt, and I have asthma caused by my obesity.  I have to stop to take frequent breaks and walking is very difficult and close to impossible for me.  Until recently that is.

Since my surgery, I have been told that I must exercise.  I cannot do any strenuous exercise yet, but I have been advised to walk as much as possible.  Usually, I have been going to malls or stores and walking around.  Now with the Christmas shopping season upon us, going to Target or the Mall is just a crazy thought.  Any walking to be done will be mostly pushing and shoving or standing around waiting to walk through aisles due to the throngs of people clogging up the place.  So, I have been walking down the hallways of my apartment building mostly.

Since the surgery, walking has become a bit easier.  I’m breathing better, my back hurts a lot less.  My feet still hurt, but I can usually go quite a distance before they start bothering me.

Today I was sitting around my apartment listening to music and reading a book.  It was getting close to the time where I should start walking through my apartment building.  I was really dreading it.  I did not want to go shopping, but I did feel like leaving my apartment.  I really needed a change of scenery.

I wanted to go down the street to where the shops are and walk around.  The problem is, how would I get there.  I live at the midway point up a very large hill.  I do not own a car. I don’t live far from the shops, but since walking has been difficult, I was a little bit apprehensive about walking there.  Normally, I would take a cab, which is really kind of ridiculous.  There is also a bus, but the shops are one stop away and that also seemed a little silly.  Plus another bus was not due for an hour.

I decided to suck it up and try to walk down to the shops.  I had been doing much better now that I’ve lost some weight.  Plus, I figured if I had too much difficulty, I could always pick up some groceries at the supermarket and take a cab back.  So, I bundled up and put on my walking shoes and started my trek.

Walking down the hill was surprisingly easy.  I had no problems whatsoever.  I was cold, but I was not out of breath and my back was not bothering me.  I rewarded myself with a steaming hot cup of decaf coffee at the coffee shop.  I continued reading my book, (yes an actual book with pages bound together), and enjoyed the warmth of the overcrowded sole coffee shop in this part of town.

Once I had read a few more chapters and drank as much of the coffee as I could, I donned my hat, coat, gloves, and scarf and headed back out into the cold.  I walked around for a little bit, passing all of my favorite restaurants enjoying the smells of the different foods.  I thought the smell of the indian food would make me crazy, but what did me in tonight was the smell of bread and oil coming from the newest italian/pizza place.  I wanted the fresh hot bread dipped in olive oil so bad! OMG it smelled good.  But I kept on walking until I reached the bus station.  All that was left was to decide how I was getting back up the hill.

I checked the Next Bus app on my phone and there wasn’t a bus due for a long time.  Walking down the hill was easy.  Walking up the hill, I was a little bit worried about.  I decided that I could wait an hour or so for a bus so that I could go one entire stop, try to hail a cab, or just tough it out and walk up the hill.  I decided to walk.

There is a bench about midway before the entrance to my apartment building.  I did stop and rest there, not really because I was tired or needed a break, but because I was afraid of how I would feel by the time I reached my building if I didn’t stop.  When I did reach my building, I did have to stop to catch my breath.  Walking up hill is much harder than walking down.  I did not have to stop for long, though.

Now that it is done, I feel great!  One month and 38 pounds ago, I could not have done this.  I never would even have attempted to walk down to the shops let alone walk back up!  I really feel like I have regained a bit of my own independence.  I’ve hated the limitations that being so heavy has placed on me.  Being able to walk to the village and back makes me feel like I really will be able to get my life back!  Yay me!

Today’s picture is a piece of art work from one of my friends in my writer’s group.  Her name is Sushmita Mazumdar.  She’s an artist and a writer.  She writes children’s stories mostly based on her own life in India, which she then makes into hand-made books.  All of her stories are true stories, although sometimes the main character will have a fictional name.  She also makes all kinds of art, much of which is made to represent a story book she has written.  She recently had a show at Glen Echo Park in Maryland, which I went to see.  This painting is about a story about a kite.  This is my favorite painting of hers.

If you’re interested in supporting artists or into shopping local for the holidays, check out some of her books and artwork.