Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Goals Redux: Then & Now

Then and now...click above and you can watch a little 12-second video of me walking, from behind, when I was uber-fat. Here's a pic from that time too....

That was me in 2005 - and here I am today, having just finished my 97th Bikram yoga class in 62 days. I feel like teacher training was a capstone experience for me to see what this new, improved body could do, after all the work and effort I put into it over the past few years to get it healthy. It absolutely came through for me, and I couldn’t be happier living in it! Bottom line: I have never, ever loved my body like I do right now. Ever.

Back on the flight to Acapulco on April 5, I wrote my goals out and posted them here. I grabbed a copy and reviewed them on the flight home. I wanted to write my thoughts about how I ‘performed’ against them straight away, and perhaps will revisit and look at my opinion again in a few weeks, and maybe still again in a few months. I had a lot of’em, so this may take a bit. I’ll capture what I wrote originally, and then give my thoughts on what came of it.

Before I do, I want to call out what for me are my most proud accomplishments. I think we're all taught to be uber-humble and never toot our own horns, yet I think many of us (myself, anyhow) might have a little more self-confidence if it was socially acceptable to say things like "I'm a good cook" vs. "I like to cook, and I work hard to get better at it..." so here, I'm unabashedly going to say what I did well at training. Below is the whole sha'bang, this is the nutshell:

1) I never missed a sign-in; no make-up classes for me!
2) I avoided "yoga drama" - really, I didn't over involve myself in a way that lead to drama.
3) I never left the room; or my mat; or, after the first two days, I never missed a posture!
4) I supported people but did not over-extend myself to the point of putting their needs before mine.
5) I ate what I needed to in order to have a successful, happy, healthy experience at training - putting aside weight loss goals and trusting the process, which worked, as I lost a load of inches and toned up nicely!

Ok, here's the original goals with their outcomes:

1) Physical: In this area, I think it is fair to have some expectations. I'm not going to be specific though - my expectation is that my body will come out of this training better than when it went in. I expect to be stronger, better at some postures, and maybe weighing a little less (I mean really, did you think I would leave that out??) or else, at a minimum, lose some inches. In terms of hopes - I hope for no injuries, no illness, easy periods, and the stamina and strength of a clydesdale!

Whoa. I love this part! As they say in the corporate world, I exceeded expectations! I am traveling home in a way, way better body than I showed up with 9 weeks ago. I did not lose weight, but indeed, did lose inches. I toned up like mad and can still hardly believe how my body feels to me. Firmer, tougher, stronger all around. In some postures I feel light as a feather whereas in the past, I felt like a dead weight. Health-wise, I can’t complain: Two short bouts of low-grade diarrhea; A rash that went away fast; I skimmed the top of a cold for a few days; and though my uterus blessed me with three periods in a mere 9 weeks, they weren’t bad at all. Oh, and my stamina. God bless my body. Clydesdale I was – I felt like a mighty-mouse powerhouse in this body of mine and I couldn’t be more grateful to it!

Oh, and my postures - I'd say I had some wicked movement in all of the backbending postures, and my leg strength has done wonders for my balancing series. More than anything, I have such a much, much deeper understanding of the nuances of each one, and the importance of those nuances, that I expect will change as I keep evolving and...practicing!

2) Emotional: Oy. Now this is a place where I am super excited and anxious all at once. I am wide open. I have no expectations, other than that of myself to be emotionally open, open, and more open to whatever comes up for me. (However, I secretly hope for some grand epiphany unlocking all of my psyche's mysteries - not expectation, I said hope, people. :)

This is another area I feel really good about - I stayed pretty darn open if you ask me. I had a few rough classes, and I just let myself cry if I needed to, allowed most feelings of anger quickly pass through that veil to what they really are – hurt, pain – and just tried to let my emotions come and go without a lot of judgment or attachment. And well, my secret hope did not happen – I didn’t exactly have a grand epiphany though I did have a few nice realizations. Additionally, I really enjoyed watching and being a part of seeing other people realize things about themselves.

3) Spiritual: Again, here, I expect some movement - some movement in my ability to find my own quiet, focus, peace and connection to myself, and my body. Again, nothing specific, I imagine something will happen, and going through teacher training will teach me something about myself at a spiritual level, and hopefully in a way that let's me live my life a little bit more in the way I want to.

This area I think I’ll need more time to really assess, but off the cuff, I feel like all of these things grew – focus, peace, quiet. And my connection to myself and my body – hell yeah – I’ve never felt more in love with my body and myself in my lifetime. Ever. It’s pretty cool. I believe I have greater ability to be quiet in my mind, fearlessly. While I won’t quite say I’ve reached bulletproof status, I think in moments, I can be – and that is a new thing! I'll take it.

4) Logistical: I want to never leave the room. I want to never leave the room. I want to never leave the room. Did I mention, I have a goal of NEVER LEAVING THE ROOM. We'll see how I do; I will allow myself exceptions if something, er, inappropriate would occur if I did not (think: intestinal distress, etc.). I just don't want to leave for emotional overwhelmedness; for anxiety; or for fear. In those moments, I remind myself, "It's ALWAYS better to stay in the room." I half want to set a more hardcore goal - like, never missing a posture; like, never laying down...but I'm not here to be a hero. I'm here to practice physically (and emotionally) doing the right thing for myself in any situation, which means pushing myself as hard as I can, while knowing when enough is enough - when it is the right thing to allow myself to rest (guilt-free) in any given posture, set, series or class.

Oh mama, my proudest accomplishments lie here. Not only did I not leave the room, I never left my mat – and, after the first few days of acclimating – I NEVER MISSED A POSTURE. This is not anything I expected, and once I got about ½ way, it kept me going (you’ve gone this far, don’t sit down now; yes, I know everything is black and you can’t see... Just do what they say; yes, you’re pissed, but you’ll be more pissed if you sit and you don’t really need to sit!).

It is amazing what one is capable of when pushed and pushed and pushed. I have to say, I am still shocked and surprised. As mentioned above, my body really, really showed up for me, so any physical distress was simply yoga related; I didn’t have the flu, I was eating and hydrating well, I took my electrolytes and vitamins, nothing was pulled or broken. In all, everything simply lined up. I won’t hold back though, I am super proud of myself and glad I had the opportunity to achieve this! After hating and being disgusted with my body for so many years, and putting so much energy into that self-loathing, this 180 degree experience has allowed me to see myself (and my body) in a whole new way.

My goal is to be good at reciting my dialogue, delivering it with some level of inspiration, gusto and genuineness. I would like to not sound nervous or unsure, but rather confident and firm (by the end of it all) :)

Er, we’ll see about this. I definitely was nervous and not nearly as confident as I’d hoped to be when delivering dialogue. It wasn’t a disaster, but also not what I’d hoped for. I worked hard, did my best in the confines of the situation, and figured this was a place I can continue to work hard at home! More to come as I get out there at teach!

5) Socially: There are so many different kinds of people here and I want to meet and learn something from them! I realize some connections we make in our lifetime are purely logistical - that amazing person you talk to on a plane never to encounter again, for example; and I expect to meet some people here who resonate for me in this setting in a big way that may not carry over to regular life. Additionally, I figure on meeting a person or two who will be the "lifelong friends" that everyone tells you that you will meet at training. The nutshell is, I hope to meet and connect with some cool people, a few of whom maybe I will keep in touch with after training. And that all said, I want to practice not putting sooooooo much energy into others, that is, knowing them and helping them in ways that may not serve me (like, I'm beat, I know my dialogue, but you need help....so I'll stay up to late for you. No Jenn. NO! Because the follow-up is, "then tomorrow I will resent you and be furious with myself for making a bad choice..." No one wins here! I know this, I just need to practice it!). When it happens this way, I want to be able to say "this person is not for me; I don't need to stay here and work to 'make it so' when it's just not. Let them go, move on, take care of yourself." I've been known to just try to get someone to like me, when maybe I didn't even like them so much - I just didn't like the fact that they didn't seem to like me. Now there's a batch of energy I don't need to expend in this setting. I want to practice a level of discernment in terms of who I put energy into outside of myself.

Here’s another place I feel really good about! I did indeed meet a handful of wonderful people I know for sure I will see again. I also met many others whom I delighted in talking with and connecting with in the context of what we were there for. While I may or may not see them again, I really, really am glad to have known them.

As for boundaries, I had'em! There were a lot of people going through a lot – I found myself able to be supportive where/when and how I could without ripping myself off. I didn’t coddle or try to ‘save’ anyone; in fact, at times, I was pretty firm in my approach which is something I’ve never really been comfortable doing – though I know 'tough love' is often the best support someone can give me. So I watched and learned and didn’t over-involve myself but still felt I gave what was healthy for both parties involved in many situations. It was good to have the chance to practice this concept, as it’s been a big ‘to-do’ for me for the last, oh, let’s just say many, years.

6) Afterwards: Who can say what after all this will be like? I suppose in 9 weeks I will. But for now, I want to teach right away (Saiko is generously coordinating a mock class on Thursday at 12:30 just a couple days after I get home! Those of you in Seattle, mark your calendar: June 12th at 12:30 in Laurelhurst!!! Jenn's 1st Class). Ongoing, I want find opportunities to teach at least 3x/week, and of course, practice at least 5-6x/week. And after a few months, assuming I like it, figure out what might be next.

Well, what can I say here? Time will tell, and more to come! But I’m enthusiastic and excited, but also tempering those feelings with my total lack of finesse and experience at this point. I know it will work out and I will get the classes I need to build my skills! Stay tuned for more on that.


AmyPinSeattle said...

Very impressive~

It's hard to know the line between tellign it like it is and bragging...it's more about the intention than the actual statement I think.

Of course, I suck at it so what do I know!!

bonnie said...

Infinite congratulations!

Steph said...

Hi Jenn

So pleased you are continuing your blog. I'd be having withdrawl symptoms otherwise!

Your before and after photos show the amazing changes that have occurred in your body. So great to hear that you are happy and loving it :-)

What an inspiration you will be to others. Sending you lots of positive energy for your class on Thursday!


nighthawk said...

I just want to say that I have read EVERY ONE of your blogs and thought about you daily. Your insight, determination, and courage was a source of inspiration to me. You are a fabulous writer and I want to say "Thank You" for taking the time and effort to not only write your blog, but to capture the true essence of yoga, especially Bikram yoga. "Never too old, never too sick, never too bad, never too late to start from scratch and begin again."

You have worked HARD. Remember, "it ain't bragging if you can do it", and you DID IT!

I am hoping to take a class from you one day, if I ever make it out to Seattle from here in the Midwest. Continued success to you, and thanks again for writing about your Teacher Training.

Hillary said...

I left you a comment in the very beginning of your training to let you know that I was reading your blog... but I wanted you to know that I have read your blog throughout your entire journey in Acapulco, because I am attending training in the fall ( I already have my dialogue! ) Anyway, you are seriously an inspiration. I loved reading your blogs, because they were candid and honest, and very natural. Thanks for blogging, I already started my blog for this summer going into the fall. I actually might be in Seattle this summer for a weekend, if I am, I'd love to have a cup of coffee and chat about training!!! Thanks again,


Anonymous said...

Yes, infinite congratulations indeed. I've so enjoyed reading, and I can't wait to continue reading about your first class, your future reflections on the experience, etc.

You gave me a big, radiant window into the teacher training experience, Jenn. I am so lucky I stumbled onto this page so many weeks ago.