I’ll be starting off 2018 taking a new yoga journey with Adriene Mishler of Yoga with Adriene, and wanted to invite everyone along. I started 2017 with the Yoga Revolution, and I’ve talked before about how that literally changed my life. Now I practice yoga nearly every day using the Down Dog app or just a personal home practice, but Adriene will always be my number one yogi bae.
She has an amazing way of making you feel like you’re already doing it and like you’re guaranteed to succeed. You literally can’t do it wrong when you’re following along with her. If you ever thought yoga was too hard or you’d never be able to get in that pose, give her videos a try. She’s great at offering modifications and getting you to trust your body. I can’t say enough good things about her and really about yoga in general.
No matter what day you start, it doesn’t matter, just jump on the wagon whenever. If you’re new to yoga or if you’ve been practicing for years, I’m certain there will be something here for you.
The videos start January 2 and will be posted on her YouTube channel, and if you sign up, you’ll get a daily email of inspiration. If nothing else, even if you’re not into yoga and don’t plan to be, starting a daily practice of anything that’s actually dedicated to you and your wellbeing is, I think, a great way to start out a new year. If you’re looking for something really easy to start out with today, consider starting here:
If you join up, let me know how it goes. You can do this!
I’m going to be straight with you, Dear Reader: 2017 was pretty fucking great for me. I would be remiss to not call it super successful. While the things I did don’t apply to everyone, they certainly turned things around for me in a lot of ways. Am I am expert advice giver? No, but I’m not less of a good advice giver than the next fucko, so in that vein, here are my top suggestions for anyone looking pre-un-fuck 2018. Also, there are five suggestions here. You could call this a top five list. I won’t though.
Assess And Address Your Fucking Health
If there’s only one thing I could suggest everyone do right at the start of 2018, it would be to take a look at your physical well being and take steps to improve it. (But since I’ve got this handy little internet soapbox, I won’t be limited to just one. You’re welcome!) No, I don’t mean look in the mirror, grab a fat roll with dismay, fuck your knees up on the treadmill every day for the next two weeks, then give up into a bowl of raw chocolate chip cookie dough. I mean, actually take stock of how you feel on a daily basis. One of the things that shocked me the most when I lost weight was all the ways I felt terrible when I was fat but didn’t realize were so bad til I was healthier. If you, like me, are blinded to how great things could be, consider starting to track how you live your life on the reg:
- Daily Food Intake – Just write it all down, there’s no use lying to yourself!
- Daily Water Intake – Just TRY to drink a little actual water, okay?
- Digestion and Bowel Movements – How are your shits, Dear Reader?
- Energy Exertion – Are you getting off your ass–genuinely off it–and moving around?
- Sleep – When do you get ready for bed, actually get in bed, actually fall asleep, actually get up?
Track what you can for a few weeks (there are a lot of great apps out there for some or all of these things) and include, at the end of each day, how you actually felt that day physically and emotionally. Don’t try to make changes, just keep an honest log. See how what you’re doing correlates to how you feel. Where can you make improvements? DO THOSE THINGS.
Assess And Address Whatever The Fuck Your Problem Is
Okay, this is, admittedly, way more loaded than the header makes it out to be, but on at least some level you can do this! It might also take some tracking and honesty and a little soul searching, but what the fuck are you waiting for? Looking at your relationships might be a good place to start. What do you like about them? What do you hate? Why? How can you (and I mean YOU, not through the actions of others) facilitate the good things and lessen the bad things?
Example: I love Husband. I love being with him, talking, hanging out, but I hate fighting. Why? I don’t like how I feel during and after a fight, and I don’t like that if fighting is frequent or particularly bad it could really deteriorate our relationship. So what can I do to lessen those fights? Well, when I get angry, I get Italian Angry™ and it happens really fast. It’s sort of a 0 to 60 thing, then it tapers off almost immediately. My anger, yelling, saying hurtful things, all exacerbate a fight when, instead, I could take a breath, stay calm, and explain why I’m upset. We still may have an argument at worst, or a discussion at best, but both are healthy and lead to understanding and compromise. Husband isn’t perfect, but neither am I, and I can only change myself.
This is meant to be a focus on YOU. How can you be a better person? Everyone has issues, and no you cannot (and should not) compensate for everybody else, but you can work on yourself, so fucking do it.
Set Some Fucking Goals
Be they vague or specific, big or small, hair-brained or totally logical, set some 2018-fucking-goals for your 2018-fucking-self. I don’t mean resolutions, like this big floating concept that you plan to reach by way of…the universe making it happen or whatever; I mean goals. While the destination might be vague, the journey should be mapped out. Say I want to be more creative in 2018. That’s pretty damn vague, so how the fuck am I going to become Artsy Ashley 2k18? Well, I know what my strengths and weaknesses are, like I’m pretty bad at focusing in the beginning of a project, but I’ll wallow hours away late at night on something once I’m in the groove, so I need to set very specific times to get things started and done.
To reach that goal, a planned evening for me might look like this: 30 minutes to decompress after work (that means YouTube), 15 minutes to get set up and look through inspiration/get in the groove, 40 minutes to work on the actual project, and 5 minutes to plan for the next time and clean up. Those last five minutes are crucial for me because, like I said, I’ll just keep going and either burn through sleep time or just burn myself out on the project all together. If I go through the planned cycle, say, three out of every five weekdays, Artsy Ashley just might be born by summer. Of course, as the year goes on, I’ll need to modify that schedule, but the point is I’ll start out with a road map to get to that fucking end goal.
Downloading a habit app might really help you out here. I use the one in the link, but I don’t really play the game aspects, I just feel really good about leveling up. Before I go to bed, I check off everything I’ve done. If I’ve missed a number of things, I’m motivated to do better the next day. If I’ve checked everything off, I feel super successful and motivated to keep it up. You can use the habit app for health goals too. See, it all ties together.
Don’t Be Afraid To Ask For Some Fucking Help
Humans very rarely do things entirely on their own. Even if you hire help, you’re still getting it. But you probably need help the most when you’re making changes and working toward something new. Getting thrown out of your regular routine is tough, and can be tough for the people close to you as well. If they’re used to old 2017 you, they may not take to well to 2018 you. That’s totally their problem, not yours, but letting them know you’re changing, and letting them know how they can help might, well…help!
You also may find yourself struggling at some point. Before I took on NaNoWriMo this year, I knew I would need motivation in the form of human encouragement. I enlisted Anachostic and another workmate to take part in the great wordening of two ought one seven. Without someone to run beside (and fall behind) I would have most likely stopped at the first smoothie shop on the way and just hunkered down for the winter. That is to say: I needed help. And I asked for it. And I got it.
Fucking Love Your Current Self And Look Forward To Your Future Self
I hated my body when I was overweight, but I still, even if it wasn’t a lot, loved myself. I loved myself enough, at least, to put in the effort to change because I knew the potential I was capable of.
I need to be kinder to people.
I need to start feeding my mind again.
I need to shit at least once a day.
All ways a person can change, all suggested with love. Especially that last one.
There’s this movement going on that suggests loving yourself means accepting the exact person you are right now, indefinitely, and you don’t need to ever evolve. If you think you’re perfect, well, good for you, but I don’t think that’s really what self-love is. If you really love someone, you should want what’s best for them. Sometimes that means giving someone a piece of candy, but that also means telling someone the truth, even if it hurts.
Love yourself enough to tell yourself the fucking truth.
I planned to talk about bras today, but I don’t think I’m well enough equipped to do that just yet. I also keep falling asleep. So instead, yoga.
It’s been about a year since I started doing yoga regularly. I dabbled a bit with it on and off in 2016, but I practiced almost every day in December except for the week of Christmas when I was on vacation and didn’t actually end up relaxing at all (go figure). Then in January of this year, I did the Yoga with Adriene 31 Day Revolution. I was using Adriene‘s videos in the previous month, and the timing was perfect: I’d learned enough to not get discouraged and to keep myself going, but was still new enough to feel challenged by the videos and excited by the concept.
That January changed my life. That is so cheesy, but fuck if it isn’t true. I didn’t miss a single day, and I really started planning my whole day around when I was going to get my yoga in. I learned a lot of things, including you need to make time for yourself, and you need to find and practice things in life that you really love, but mostly, I learned (or realized) that I only get one body, and by taking care of it–really doing what is right for it–led to a brand new kind of happiness.
In January, I was halfway through my weight loss. I could definitely see results, but still had a long way to go. I was committed, but wanted to step up my game, and yoga filled that gap. I’ve practiced on average 5-6 days a week since then, and now I do 20 minutes in the morning every weekday, and usually one longer session on the weekend.
Usually I am not good at picking new things up. I love to try new stuff, but I rarely stick to changes, except yoga. It made me flexible, strong, and mindful. It also helped me to appreciate silence. Now I can’t imagine my life without it.
Oh! And! Spartak update: We ate it. It was fine.
For a number of years I was obese. I would argue that I didn’t look it, and I didn’t have a lot of the symptoms that come to mind when one hears that word, but at 190 lbs and 5’4″, I was clinically obese according to the Body Mass Index.
The weight crept on slowly, and although I noticed it, I didn’t care enough to do anything about it. I tried to rationalize the gain–I was getting older, I was stressed out, I wasn’t that fat–and I tried to lose it a few times with gimmicky diets and products that could never really work, but nothing ever stuck. I became immune to the weight I gained both because I was slowly learning to live with it, and it exacerbated apathy I was already feeling. Well, that and I had a binge eating problem that I refused to address.
Everything changed for me in August of 2016. After a series of very unfortunate events that all would have been a million times better had I not been overweight, I decided to make a change, but not like the “changes” I’d tried before. I didn’t go find a fad diet to starve myself on, and I didn’t throw myself headfirst into a workout program that I could never keep up with. Instead, I did research. I needed to know that whatever I was going to do was going to work.
So I started calorie counting. I found my TDEE and ate at a deficit, and the weight melted off. Yes, I had some plateaus, and yes there were some real struggles, but when I stuck to the plan, it worked. It wasn’t magic, it wasn’t even complex, it was just science. Over the course of a year I lost 60 pounds and today fall under a healthy weight on the BMI at 130 lbs. I posted a video a little while ago about the specifics of how I did it, but that’s not what this blog is about.
Like most people who talk about weight loss, I can say I lost pounds, but those are just numbers–I gained so much more. And it’s totally true, I remedied health issues that I didn’t even know I had through weight loss! But that’s the thing I actually want to talk about–all the shit I didn’t even know was going on.
First, a list:
- Knee pain
- Back pain
- Constipation/diarrhea and general GI upset
- Snoring/poor sleep
- High cholesterol
- Borderline high blood pressure
I resolved or nearly resolved all the above only by changing how I ate and losing weight, but the thing is, I can only really see most of these things from the other side. Current me knows past me was fucking miserable, but past me had no idea. For instance, I knew I snored, but I thought it was normal (ignoring that I never snored prior to gaining weight), and I didn’t realize the snoring was contributing to my sleep issues. I realize now that my weight was constricting my airways, which is kind of horrifying. I was literally crushing myself in my sleep, but I couldn’t see that.
I fractured my pelvis seven years ago and have had constant low back pain since (the fracture was actually a catalyst to the beginning of my weight gain). I thought yeah, this is what I have to live with, until I lost the weight. Now, I almost never have back pain. I consistently walk five miles a day on the low end in flip flops, and I go to bed every night perfectly fine. I roll around on my back and contort myself into the weirdest shapes doing yoga, and never feel more than that good soreness from using my muscles. It’s amazing.
I know, I sound like a commercial or a zealot, but frankly that’s fine. There are products out there that work, and weight loss fucking works. And the best thing is that it’s practically free.
You might ask yourself, but Ashley, if you didn’t know you were miserable, then what was the problem? Ignorance is bliss, after all. You might not have been wrong if this was about something other than my health, but I would have continued to decline, and it would have happened rapidly had I not changed my ways. Also, looking back, there were so many things I was unhappy with, body image among them, but I pushed so much of that down or I attributed my issues to something other than my weight, and I convinced myself I wasn’t doing as poorly as I really was.
Finding out I was clinically obese was shocking because when I looked around I was never the largest person in the room, and I didn’t have any of the symptoms (or so I thought) of obesity. Now, I’m not saying people should be treated poorly or even necessarily encouraged to lose weight if they’re obese–you can be beautiful in absolutely any body and the choices you make for that body should be completely autonomous–but we say things like the average pants size of an American woman is 16, and people think it’s fine to be average. Weight isn’t graded on a curve, it’s static, and just because we’re deviating away from a healthy, lower average doesn’t mean it’s okay to be like everyone else, but that seems to be the general feeling in the states. Obesity is pretty normalized in America, and we have so many misconceptions about how we get that way. I’m not saying it’s easy or that you’re not treated poorly when you’re fat, but we’re starting to accept obesity as inevitable or even healthy, and that’s terrifying.
Today is World Obesity Day, a day meant for awareness and a call to action amongst practitioners to focus on prevention and treatment. I don’t really expect many people to read this blog, but this is what little I can do. I can tell you my experience. Being fat is shitty. Yes, you can live a fulfilling, exciting, wonderful life if you’re obese, but I guarantee you the healthy-weight version of yourself will live that same life exponentially happier. No, weight loss isn’t a cure-all, and it’s not a magic key through the door of perfection, but you’ll be able to do so much more at a healthy weight. Don’t think you’re stuck how you are–you’re not. Don’t buy into the dogma that there’s some secret to weight loss or that you’re destined to gain ten pounds every year for the rest of your life. You just need to take control and you need the truth.
And the truth is, you can do it.