How a Firefly taught me patience.

Serious question: if I’ve achieved my sole New Year’s resolution by mid-August, does that mean I can coast for the rest of the year?

This week has been… interesting, to say the very least. I suppose I’m not surprised – it’s a new moon today – but on that same token, it’s been a really trying week, mentally, physically, emotionally. Sometimes in weeks like this I have a tendency to neglect my yoga practice, using excuses like ‘I’m too tired’ and ‘I just don’t have the time’ to justify sitting on my chair feeling sorry for myself or drinking wine alone with the cat. This week, though, I made a point to stay on the mat, and in all my frustrations at everything outside of yoga, I somehow found the patience and focus to manage a huge breakthrough. Back on December 31, 2014, I told myself if I could hold a handstand for at least five seconds in 2015 that would be a goal accomplished; and on August 12, 2015, I did exactly that, and then a little more.

There’s something empowering, invigorating about setting and reaching a goal. Whether it’s as simple as “I will not forget to wash the dishes before going to bed tonight,” or as complex as “I will get into a crazy yoga pose,”  having something to work towards, pushing you, motivating you to get better, is absolutely a wonderful things. But I am admittedly terrible at following through on long-term goals. My first few years in NYC were so tumultuous between moves and new jobs and relationships that trying to think in the long-term was way too overwhelming, when it was all I could do just to budget so I’d have enough for groceries that week. The longest I’ve stayed in a job is just under 30 months and that place was fucking nuts, so I always knew that wasn’t a place to look at in my long-term, and while I love my apartment and I see myself there for the foreseeable future, I know it’s not somewhere I’m going to be for many more years.

Everyone around me is making these huge decisions that affect the long term, like moving around and getting married. It’s easy to feel left behind in these situations, which I know because around this time last year that’s exactly how I felt; I had this clear view of everyone in my life moving forward and I was still blacking out on weeknights after an office happy hour. Then earlier this week I had a little freak out about the future, because all of a sudden I’ve realized I have a plan. I have a long-term plan about my life here in New York, and how I want to grow as a person, and where I might be in the next five years, and it’s absolutely not at all what I thought it would be when I moved to New York five years ago. Maybe to some people that sounds like growing up or maturity or whatever, but it just makes me fucking terrified because honestly, I don’t know if I can do it.

After reaching my resolution on Wednesday, I paused for a minute after a long flow yesterday and decided to try a pose that first piqued my interest in yoga, and a pose that I swear to grilled cheezus I have been working for the better part of a year and still couldn’t get into it. In frustration a few months ago, I stopped practicing the pose, telling myself maybe it would be more of a possibility down the line. So yesterday, on my handstand high, I gave tittibhasana, or Firefly pose, a try. And just like the handstand, all of a sudden I was in the pose. No frills, nothing fancy, and miles from perfect, but in that moment I couldn’t have cared less about perfect. I was flying in tittibhasana and that is something I never thought would happen in 2015, never in a million years. Patience is a lesson that kept coming up this week in work and in practice – patience with others, patience with myself. Getting into that pose was a revelation in patience that I needed before tonight’s new moon: sometimes there are things I can do on the first try, or after a week or two of concentration. But sometimes it’s going to take more time – maybe eight months, or maybe over a year. But if I remember to focus on love, practice and patience, truly – all is coming.

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PLD Montage: Vol. 2.2 (Whole30 Edition)

30 days is not a long time, all things considered. Breaking it down, it’s four weeks at work and four weekends, it’s two paychecks, and maybe four trips to the grocery store. But when you’re on Whole30, those days break out a little differently. That’s 90 meals that need to be planned, prepped and consumed all on my own. That’s four weekends of no wine, four weeks of no chocolate, and two paychecks largely sacrificed to food-related purchases. It’s 30 days where you feel sick, and bloated, and depressed, and over it for a large portion of the time; it’s four weeks of your brain taunting you with all the things you “can’t” have and maybe a night or two where you dream about swimming in a pool filled with pinot noir.

But it’s only 30 days. And in those 30 days, there are a lot of things you can learn. SO without further ado, I give you:

PLD Montage: Whole30 Edition:

  • After some back-and-forth on the exact start date, my lovely friend M, who was joining me in this round, and I decided we’d start on Monday, March 30. The way I saw it at the time, I had two big “tests” during the month – dinner with a client, and my grandmother’s 90th birthday party – and the rest of the time would be smooth sailing. Work was supposed to calm down after the insanity of March (March Madness, if you will), I had zero plans on the weekends aside from the aforementioned birthday party… what could possibly go wrong, right?
    Lesson learned: Always expect the unexpected.
  • In preparation for the 30 days ahead, I spent a lot of time reading about what to expect throughout the process. I read the Whole30 timeline, read people’s reviews online, asked M and G more about their experiences, and generally thought that I’d done a bang-up job preparing for the month ahead. The more I prepped, admittedly the more I thought I’d “probably just skip” some of the early unpleasantness, like carb flu and any gastrointestinal weirdness. I mean, my diet was pretty aligned to the lifestyle anyway. Was I really eating that much sugar, in the form of work chocolate and wine, to affect me in any noticeable way?
    Lesson learned: You are not the exception to the rule, snowflake. Also CARB FLU IS A REAL AND TERRIBLE THING.
  • On Day 13, I just felt crappy. I’d been dealing with the stress of my grandmother in the hospital/nursing center and trying to help my mother through that time, plus a stressful time at work. I hadn’t seen a single improvement in 13 days of eating foods that were starting to bore me – my skin didn’t look better, my energy was steady but not great, I was still sleeping poorly and if anything, I felt like my yoga performance was getting worse, not better. I was in Connecticut at the time, surrounded by my parent’s incredible wine collection and take-out pizza from my favorite place in the world, and all I had to eat were chicken sausages, sweet potatoes and kale. If there was a single moment this month where I wanted to quit, dear god, it was that one.
    Lesson learned: Putting seltzer in a wine glass and going to the wine cellar to stare at all the bottles actually helped get me through that moment. I swear one of the bottles of Three Sticks was telling me “it’s only two more weeks…”
  • On Day 30, I woke up at 5:45 with a ton of energy, checked Instagram (duh) and hopped out of bed. I made myself a delicious breakfast, packed a big lunch, and checked the fridge to confirm I had enough leftovers from Sunday for dinner. I practiced a little yoga, opening up my shoulders and back for the long day ahead at a desk, and then went into a forearm stand, a pose that I’ve been working on for months, and one I set as a goal to master during Whole30. I smiled as I eased out of the pose, got dressed and quickly checked my schedule to confirm when I’d be able to pop out to Chelsea Market for a bottle of wine to open in celebration tomorrow night.
    Lesson learned: It’s about the journey, for sure, but the destination is pretty sweet too.

It’s been a whirlwind experience, to say the least, and it’s crazy to think it’s just because I tweaked my eating habits for 30 days. I’ve learned a lot about myself on this Whole30, in ways I never expected. I’ve learned that I can and should eat a lot more food than I was eating before, because even doubling my portions hasn’t caused any weight gain that I can tell. I’ve learned that I am mentally stronger than I’d imagined, passing on my favorite foods free in the office kitchen, passing up the best bottles of wine from my parent’s cellar, and passing the candy drawer at work multiple times daily. I pushed myself to try new things and found so much happiness in the little victories, like falling under the spell of Bikram yoga after managing not to pass out in the standing postures, and buying unusual produce to challenge myself, like golden beets and funny-colored squash. I learned that I love foods like olives and beef bone marrow, and most of all, I learned that I can cope with some heavy things on my own, not buoyed by the comfort of a drink or a brownie.

People keep asking me now that the Whole30 is over whether I’d ever do another one. That answer changed daily throughout the past month, one day a resounding “DUH I FEEL LIKE SUPERWOMAN” and the next a loud “HELL to the no.” The answer today is “Definitely, but not for a while.” Because the most important lesson I learned? I could live without dairy, grains, legumes and sugar for the rest of my life. But god dammit, I love a good glass of wine.

Quick Thoughts: Day 29

Today I woke up like every morning, rolling around for a few minutes before managing to roll myself out of bed, eyes heavily lidded with an interrupted dream and a fervent desire for five more minutes under the thick comforter. Once my feet hit the floor though, I was as awake as I am now, four hours later, working my way through emails before the day really gets going. Like every morning, I made my way to the kitchen where I cleaned a few straggling dishes from food prep all afternoon yesterday and made breakfast, a three-egg blueberry fritatta, half a cucumber sliced and a sweet potato, all while packing a salad with chicken sausage, roasted mushrooms, kale, cucumbers, guacamole and homemade dressing for lunch. I scanned the fridge quickly and decided I’d cook a turkey burger with leftover beet greens and butternut squash for dinner later, something that should only take me 20 minutes since most of the prep is done. After breakfast it was time for a little yoga, then rummaging through my closet to get ready for work, allowing myself a few extra minutes to savor the cool spring breeze drifting through the open windows in the apartment, hinting ever-so-slightly at the warm weather to come, calling memories of picnics in Fort Tryon with a cool glass of wine in a sweating plastic cup.

Today is Day 29 of my very first Whole30. I’ve made it through all the uncomfortable physical milestones, like carb flu and food boredom. I’ve pushed through some personal hurdles, like non-stop working hours and a family emergency. I have prepped every single meal that has gone into my body for 29 days, aside from one client dinner and one lunch at Hu Kitchen with my lovely friend M. I’ve pushed past thoughts like “you shouldn’t eat that much” and “it’s not working for you,” pushed through moments where all I needed was the comfort of a little bit of sugar or just a sip of wine. I haven’t radically altered things in my diet, but even so I’ve learned so much about myself in the past 29 days, and picked up habits I’ll carry with me as long as I can.

Tomorrow I’m going to wake up and everything will be exactly the same, except by the time I go to sleep, I’ll have accomplished something I never thought I could. It’s kind of crazy, that it’s already been 30 days, and kind of wild to think that this is the longest I’ve gone without sugar and alcohol since who even knows how long. Probably at least ten years. Maybe even more. It’s just 30 days in the grand scheme of things, but through all my planning and research, all my mental preparation, all the difficult times in the past month and all the difficult times I’m facing with a new perspective moving forward, there are things I hated and things I loved, and one huge lesson that I’ve learned: this program can change your life. It’s changed my lovely friend M’s. It’s changed my anchor G’s. And now I can say with absolutely certainty, it’s also changed mine.

Stay tuned for a round-up of lessons learned later this week. In the meantime, starting on Wednesday, I have some wine to drink.