When I started my weight loss journey at the end of 2016, I wasn’t exercising at all. In fact, I didn’t add any exercise into my daily routine until after I had already lost around twenty pounds with Weight Watchers. At that point I wanted to add exercise to speed up my weight loss, but I didn’t want to do anything “hard” or embarrass myself at a gym! I wanted to start with something easy that I could do by myself at home. Yoga came to mind because I remembered really liking a yoga video I had in high school. So one day while the kids were napping I put on a “Beginner’s Yoga” video from Amazon prime.
The very first pose in the video was sitting back on your feet like what I am demonstrating in the picture. It probably wasn’t even that long, but it seemed like I was in this pose FOR-E-V-E-R. Being overweight and sitting on my feet like that hurt SO BAD! I felt extremely defeated that I could not even do the FIRST pose of a BEGINNER’S yoga video! I turned off the video, and just started crying about my weight…again. It was a terrible experience, and I swore off yoga for good. I was losing weight without exercise so I didn’t need that crap anyways!
I began walking pretty soon after the yoga incident, but it was really more of a mommy survival tactic than exercise. My boys were 5, 3, and 2 at the time so getting outside helped everyone stay sane! I was taking them to the walking trails and duck ponds around town, but let me assure you we weren’t setting any pace records. Walking with toddlers is more of a stroll with a lot of stops and some short bursts of having to chase things. It wasn’t super strenuous, but we got into a pretty good habit of getting out for some kind of organized chaos every day.
And since we were going out pretty regularly, I got a Fitbit to keep track of my steps. I set my step goal fairly low at first, but gradually increased it and started joining Fitbit challenges with friends. I love competition, and it didn’t take long for me to get pretty obsessed with hitting my step goal, and winning those challenges! If I couldn’t walk outside because it was rainy, or cold, or hot, or humid, or <insert excuse of the day>, I would stay inside and do a Leslie Sansone walking video on YouTube to get my steps in. Sometimes I would even walk around my house at night trying to get steps. My boys would cheer me on to win my “race”, and they loved seeing the fireworks on my watch when I hit my step goal! It never really seemed like exercise to me because the challenges made it fun! As I continued to lose and got closer to goal weight, I was starting to see little muscles peeking through. I decided I wanted add some toning into my routine. I was already wearing leggings every day because of the walking, so I thought “Hey, why not give yoga ONE more try?”
I hesitantly searched yoga on YouTube and found “Yoga with Adriene”. I loved her from the first time I watched one of her videos! She is funny, easy to follow, and offers modifications (which is something I now know the first video should have offered!!!). She makes yoga accessible at any level, and most of her videos are only about 30 minutes long. I would walk in the morning and do a yoga video during the youngest’s nap time. After about a year of practicing at home, I wanted to challenge myself and try something new. My wonderful friend was always going on and on about hot yoga. I was intrigued, but not completely sold on it. So, I was pretty scared the first time that I walked into the hot yoga studio. I mean, was I going to die?? I could possibly die! I had no idea what I was doing, but I didn’t die! In fact, I LOVED it!
I loved everything about it! The space, the heat, the camaraderie of having other people to geek out about yoga with! Sometimes I will just walk in and say, “I LOVE hot yoga!!!” and everyone will agree with me! Not like out in the real world. If I say “I love hot yoga!!” in the real world, people think I’m nutty. Well people think I’m nutty anyway, but they really don’t understand hot yoga. “Hot what?” “But why?”, and I get it. I never understood why people got so crazy over things like running. I would hear people say “I love running. It’s my therapy!”, and I would think, “What do you mean you love running? Running from what? Do you need a ride somewhere? I have a car.” But now I understand because yoga is my therapy, and it has become my passion!! For exercise now, I go to hot yoga 4-5 times a week. If I can’t make it into the studio, I still try to do a quick “Yoga with Adriene” video. I have stopped doing the Fitbit challenges because I don’t get steps during yoga, but I still walk on the weekends. The kids are old enough now that I can take them to the playground without having to watch them like a hawk. So instead of sitting, I walk the perimeter and check my social media while they play.
Exercise has been a gradual healthy addition to my lifestyle, but it is just that an “addition”. I heard a long time ago, “You can’t outrun your fork” and I wholeheartedly believe this! I contribute my weight loss to tracking my food and taking control of my diet. I do yoga because it makes me feel AMAZING and strong NOT because it makes me skinny. I still monitor and track my food in order to stay within a healthy weight range. I would encourage beginners to start with an exercise that you enjoy, and keep challenging yourself to hit goals and strive for more. Control your diet, have fun being active, and it will all fall neatly into place!!