It’s 7am on Monday May 6th, 2019.
As I type this post — which I feel like doing because I have not published one in a number of days, after I redesigned my site — I am going to briefly reflect on the last three weeks, during which I have regularly attended yoga and Tai Chi classes.
This past April 12th, I went to my first yoga class ever.
Free, it was held at a local branch of my library, and there was only one other guy there, maybe 20 years younger than I.
I liked it enough to sign up for a series of 7 classes at a local health center run by the Cleveland Clinic. The cost was only $42, or $7 a yoga (or Tai Chi) session, and it includes unlimited use before and after class of a gym that is rarely crowded, with equipment in good working condition.
I never saw that guy again: 99 per cent of the attendees at these classes, and at the Iyengar group classes I have started going to at private yoga studio, have been women. There are worse fates.
I also have been bicycling a lot, as in 15 miles or so every other day. I also lift weights, mainly 15 and 20 lb curls and flies, and swim.
At 8:30am, I shall commence bicycling to my 10am core-specific yoga class with Sandra. I will be back before noon, which is good, as the summer pattern weather has kicked in here in South Florida, which mean daily thunderstorms and rain every afternoon, with temps already in the high 80s.
So what has the result of this work been?
Have all the stretches and concomitant aches and pains been worth it?
Well, my blood pressure has dropped 20 points.
Let me take it right now to confirm. 139/71, with a 66 heart rate. Not bad at all. Prior to taking up yoga and Tee, my systolic reading was usually at 160 or above.
So there’s that.
Goodbye Metoprolol, which I have been taking for 10 years, ever since I suffered a thyroid storm that almost killed me in the Times Square subway station in Manhattan. I shall not miss you.
The second effect has been an increase in muscle firmness.
My biceps are starting to get pumped out (but not in some gross way), and my skin no longer droops around my cubital fossa, aka the crook of my arm. I have found that you can start to get crepe like skin when you reach your sixties; so light weight lifting and a lotion that was recommended by a dermatologist, has done wonders in terms of firming up my sagging flesh.
The pecs are getting much better from the gym work; my dreaded “moobs” are far less pronounced: if there is anything more embarrassing to a guy than looking like he has, er, tits, well, I can’t think of anything.
The big challenge remains my stomach. I do have quite a bit of tone in my abs, but the 50-lb layer of lard that covers my gut and chests disguised it completely.
The good news is I have lost 8 lbs in the last 3 weeks, which is about 2 lbs ahead of 2-lbs-a-week schedule.
This is really good news; and I am now trim enough that I treated myself to a new black ninja yoga outfit from Dick’s Sporting Goods yesterday.
Without thinking that I am ever going to look like I am 25 again, I do in fact want to look sharper now, not simply feel the pain in my back gradually recede without needing Tramadol or Aleve to mask it.
My goal is to drop to 250 lbs by the end of May; that mean another 10 lbs is just over 3 weeks.
Ambitious, but doable.
The no beer, no ice cream, no sugar, no carrots, no pasta, lots of water, and mostly vegetarian small portion diet plan is working great — though I do eat one or two hard-boiled free range Nellie’s Eggs most mornings, and for dinner, either Heinz vegetarian beans (this is being revisited, as I become pickier with the food I put in my body) with a bowl of delicious Basmatic rice, or, say, a thin-sliced whole grain sandwich made of grilled organic chicken with a dab of olive oil.
The idea is to make the food tasty enough to enjoy, but with the portion size you will have at any given meal decided in advance: 1 bowl of rice and beans, not 2, for example; or half, and only half, a lemon-grilled chicken breast. My guess is that losing weight starts in your head.
Unfortunately, it turns out that the Heinz beans are not crap free. They contain, in particular, modified corn starch and sugar, and thus are high in calories (around 140 or so per serving).
Given that I was raised by an English mother, Heiz English style baked beans were a staple for me growing up.
You can get these at Publix here, but the expense is hard to justify (over $2.00 for one can).
Instead, I’m going to start making my own version: here is a recipe that I shall experiment with, changing to suit. I figure that if I am going to spend this much time rebooting my body through strenuous workouts, then it makes sense to also be super picky about what I put in it for fuel.
All in all, I would say the yoga is helping immensely improve my joint flexibility at the muscle and bone levels, while the Tee is redefining my sense of balance and ability to move through space.
Beyond the physical benefits, I have noticed a increase sense of inner calm and the emergence of a new sense of purpose.
A number of issues — most of them the kind mundane one that pop up in daily life, but some of a profounder nature — have come up in the last three weeks, but I’ve dealt with them in a tranquil manner, as just issues that need to be solved, before I move on — instead of turning into paralyzing crises that sustain the whiny notion of how difficult life is. If you have ever exclaimed out low, “why does everything always have to be so hard!”, then you recognize the feeling.
Nice to be rid of it.
It this regard, I find myself drifting more toward the ying/yang philosophy underlying Tee, than losing yourself by merging in the Divine Oneness that is the Buddhist essence of yoga.
It’s a good mental space to be in, and I shall be talking about it more in future posts.
And now, it’s time to shave and shower and be off to my Core Yoga class.