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Thursday, September 29, 2011

charming places: adventuregirl log day 3: becoming darth vader

Becoming Darth Vader
The sun was still laying low behind the mountains as he strapped the mask on me.  Being claustrophobic, having a neoprene mask tightened around my face caused instant panic. Brad was cool though, as he always is, and said it would be over in a few minutes. I sat in the chair as he dimmed the lights. Brad left the room and I was alone. I closed my eyes thinking just breathe in and breathe out. Breathe in and breathe out.

I was in here in this mask, in this room  with Brad Crump, Health & Wellness Manager at Red Mountain Resort having my metabolism tested as part of the Weight Loss & Well Being week. I’m terrible. I’ve lost a considerable amount of weight in the past year by not eating wheat, dairy, sugar, coffee or alcohol. However some days I would eat maybe 300 calories. Three weeks ago I ate nothing for a week, then the next week when I ate normally the scale went bananas and I gained weight. My body didn’t know if I was starving or feasting.  Thus the mask which measures my breath and both my aerobic and anaerobic functions. Basically, the test tells Brad how many calories I need to sustain my body. You hear that to lose weight you should eat between 1200 and 1800 calories but every body is different. What do you really need to eat and do to lose weight?

Brad came back in for a few minutes and relieved me of the mask. He reviewed the readout and then turned to me and put the mask back on me. I stepped onto the treadmill and I tried to remember to breathe in and out slowly as Brad increased the speed and incline. What he wanted to see is the rate at which I start burning fat. Imagine running on a treadmill with a SCUBA breathing apparatus on as you tried sucking in air while running. There you go. I closed me eyes and imagined that this was a good thing. It's a good thing. It's a good thing.  It helped and it was over in minutes.

Brad printed out my assessment, complete with charts and a plan for me going forward. We reviewed it together and apparently I eat 1/3 of what I am supposed to eat to lose weight. He explained that there is a point where your body will not lose weight because you are starving yourself. There were a lot of numbers and a lot of pages but what it comes down to is that there is a MINUMUM amount of calories that you have to eat in order to sustain yourself or your body will start cannibalizing itself. Ick.

I thought I had it all figured out. I’ve read the fitness and weight loss books. I know what to do. Apparently not which is why I plateaued. Now I know to trust the experts. I HIGHLY recommend getting this done. Research Resting Metabolic Rate in your area to find a doctor or wellness center who does this test. It kinda blew my mind. Or call Brad at Red Mountain Resort to get information on you can schedule this at the Red Mountain Wellness Center.

Becoming Tinkerbell

My arms were curved above my head and my hands were clenched in the shape of a lion’s paw. Grrrrr. I was sitting cross-legged on a mat in my first Kundalini Yoga class. Kundalini is a yoga discipline about “visualizing and meditating on the chakras to balance and maintain the pathways for Kundalini energy to flow” (Swami Sivananda Radha, Kundalini Yoga for the West).  I sat on my mat and tried to just allow this new experience. My mind was racing with my schedule and I couldn’t find my centered happy place. I tried to focus on the music. I listened to the artist’s song about being “Bountiful, Blissful and Beautiful.” I focused on the words and watched our yoga instructor, the unbelievable Rebecca Dalley (who was also my personal trainer) calmly instruct us as we moved into each position. She radiated peace. Here was this buff, intense trainer who kicked my ass in a 1:1 session just an hour earlier and now she was this calm yogi. I followed her lead. It was all very chill until the "Lion’s Paw & Breath of Fire" pose where you sit cross-legged on your mat, raise your arms up on either side and curl your hands into the shape of a lion’s paw. Then you cross your arms quickly in front, lower then again. You also breathe quickly through your nose for 3-4 minutes. Rebecca said something wonderful happens if you can do it for 3-4 minutes.

Try. Now. Try this. See how long you can do it. Or if you’re at work and your cubicle mate would think you to be crazy, look at the clock and then time 3-4 minutes. It is a LONG time. I started 30 seconds. Cool. Then 1 minute. Awful. Arms aching. 90 seconds. Pain. Terrible. Arms down for a moment before I screamed in agony. Back up. Pain. It’s too hard. Push through. Do it. Don't quit.  See what happens. I pushed through. Almost done. 90 seconds. 60, 30, 10. Done. I lowered my eyes and started to cry. I was flooded with emotion. We opened our eyes and paused for a moment. Rebecca said it was hard for her too but she pushed through and by three minutes she felt like pixie dust was being sprinkled on her and that she felt “Tinkerbelled.” I like that. I’d like to know what that’s like. Try it for yourself when you’re alone and let me know if you feel the pixie dust. I started to and then tears started flowing. It was emotional and wonderful.

Becoming Julia Roberts

I have a hard time sitting still. I get bored easily. When I am in bed trying to fall asleep my mind wanders.  So I decided to take an Intro to Meditation class with Ian White, a darling man who has trained with the best meditation teachers in the world. My friend, Brenda, who is here with me took the class too.  We grabbed yoga mats in the dimly lit fitness room and sat cross-legged on the floor as Ian told us about meditation and his background. It sounded reasonable.

He asked if we drank caffeine or wine. Did we multitask? Any of these things might be hard to do. Ian said he would move us through different methods of meditating, teaching us to meditate in different ways depending on what type moves us. I decided to lay down for the meditation. I closed my eyes. My legs were straight in front of me and my palms were face down by my side.   Ian asked us to imagine a problem that bothers us and to pick a color that represents this. The color black popped into my head. Each time I breathed I imagined stress leaving my soul. This was working. I was surprised. Then my mind started to wander. “Did I need to do laundry? I wonder why my iPhone's battery was dying so fast. What time was my hike in the morning? I miss L. and the puppy at home. Was 'Modern Family' on Tuesday or Wednesday nights?” I felt like Julia Roberts in the film “Eat Love Pray” in the scene where she tried to meditate in India yet her mind kept wandering. In the end she did accomplish the goal of pure meditation (after an encounter with a special elephant.) I was hoping it wouldn’t take an elephant to help me too. Bring it back to center. Breathe in and out. Ian asked us to imagine a color that makes us feel good. I imagined pink, the color of a conch shell. I breathed in pink and as I exhaled I imagined a pink bubble like if you were to blow Bazooka gum into a perfect pink bubble. I was in that bubble.

We practiced tactile meditating. I touched my thumb and middle finger together and concentrated on my pulse. That kept my attention on meditating.

Then we went to our happy places. Close your eyes and imagine your happy place. What is the sound? What does it feel like where you are standing? What do you hear? Are you warm or cold? Is there a breeze? I imagined myself sitting by a pool. I felt the chaise lounge beneath me. I smelled lemon trees. I could feel the sun on me. I was happy. Ian then asked us to imagine that scene dissolving. That is something I couldn’t do.  I found myself furrowing my brows. No, I will not leave. I will not dissolve this moment but maybe that is what Yoga is supposed to teach me, at least in this moment in this class that is my lesson. To let things go. I did. I let go and then I went back to my hotel room and slept like a baby for the first time in a long, long time.

We closed Kundalini earlier in the day with this lovely song that I’d like to leave you with courtesy of Rebecca. (Thanks, Rebecca! You’re spectacular.)
“In this class we send our prayers in song to the ones we love, for their comfort and health, or to the ones that we want to resolves conflict with.”
(sing along to Snatum Kaur)
Sunshine Song
May the long time sun shine upon you,
All love surround you,
And the pure light within you,
Guide your way on. (Repeat 2 times)
What I learned today was this: I thought I had all the answers. I thought I knew my body best and how to manage my life. Today, courtesy of Brad, Rebecca and Ian I learned to open my heart to someone else. I’d say this week’s experiment is doing exactly what I hoped it would.


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