on yoga: failing and succeeding

I failed at yoga today.

It all started with an invitation to play with inversions. The posture cued was side crow, which even at my peak was never accessible.

But I did have a hankering for flying squirrel, or flying pigeon, or if you’re speaking Sanskrit these days: Eka Pada Galavasana.

I braced my hands on the sweaty mat. I squatted into figure four. And, whelp, that’s as far as I got because my legs were screaming TIGHT at me and this weird-ouch-in-my-arm-that’s-been-lingering-but-I-don’t-know-from-what yelled REMEMBER ME.

And immediately I felt that disappointment creeping in. You know the one. “Missing my glory days.” “Back in the day.” “I’m getting old and fat.” “I’m so out of shape.” “Oh how the mighty have fallen.”

Blah to the blahbabetiblah.

I’ve been feeling it a lot lately. Damn that stupid app Timehop that I loathe to love but love to hate. Just recently, a much slimmer self of mine appeared post-half-marathon race, but here I am today, and I can’t seem to run at all without my forty-year-old feet killing me.

And, so, you can see why I’ve failed at yoga today.

One of my favorite Scriptures that comes to mind on a wallow-day like today is:

Image result for isaiah 43 18-19

I love it so much because it is my tendency (dare I say our tendencies) to dwell on the past, to get stuck in what used to be. But I don’t want to sink into that mudhole anymore.

I want to be here. Now. Present.

And that is why I failed at yoga.

Although, remembering this, coming back to this reflection, is really what it’s all about.

How can I be present, right now? How can I be my healthiest self, right now? How can I be grateful, right now?

That… that is the yoga.


a change of momentum

15360bb2666c9872e6ac4ad13bbce3b7On a recent trip to some schools in California, one statement spoken stuck with me: “sometimes you need to change the momentum.” Of course, this referred to the most effective approaches to student discipline.

But it also referred to me. I need a change of momentum. My life is consumed by sugar, overeating, and laziness. Since my Mom died, I’ve let myself go, to use the old adage. I cannot find the motivation perseverance and persistence to maintain a healthy diet, or sadly, even work out these days.

Meanwhile, in other news, but also related, I am plagued by unhealthy symptoms: headaches, fatigue, sinusitis, anxiety, allergies, dry skin, blah, blah. And I’m beginning to believe the messages I’ve read across the internet and in books: Sugar as Poison, Give up SugarConscious Cleanse, Food Rules, A Year of No Sugar, Anti-Cancer. Ironically, sadly, I have almost been in-taking as much information as I have sugar.

But for me, the problem is not a lack of information, a lack of conviction; it is the courage to act on what I’m learning. To truly give myself the habit and discipline and honor of self-care–at the deepest level, the level where rewards are not immediate. And for this, I need a change of momentum.

Enter the big, scary word “cleanse.” I have always secretly–or not so secretly–looked down on people who did that kind of crazy stuff, thinking it was a whole lot of unhealthiness wrapped up in the guise of health. But I’m there. I need a different path, a place to begin, and where better than someone else telling me what to do? And so I am turning to the expert, a naturopathic doctor recommended by a friend. I like this cleanse because it’s not a crazy lemon-cayenne-ingestion-fest. It is a gradual release of ingredients through a 3 week period, into a short liquid phase. (We’ll see if that happens!)

It is the change of momentum that I need. And so far, I’m loving the vivacious fruits and veggies overtaking my refrigerator and life.

stir fry veggies

stir fry veggies

stocked fridge

stocked fridge

today's breakfast

today’s breakfast

today's lunch

today’s lunch

weighty matters

Some time ago, while snuggled with my husband on the couch, no doubt with some snacks on our lap (you’re welcome, Irony), we finally got around to watching the concluding episode of Biggest Loser, one of the few shows we make sure to catch regularly. Every so often we’d lean over to each other and chit chat, with our mouths full (again, cheers Irony), about how good someone looks, or how much I like that dress, or the loose skin that needs to be cut off, etc.

For the past several years, we have fallen into the habit of watching the show because we like the show. It motivates us; it inspires us. We especially like the prior season when they worked with the kiddos to combat youth obesity, a problem in our country that bothers us both.

Which is why, when we saw this, we were so shocked. When the ghastly remnant of Rachel walked onto the stage, a mere fragment of her once muscular and sturdy frame, we both gasped. As did Bob and Jillian.


There has been much talk since then (here or here), to which I am going to contribute my two cents in this post. I have not been able to get this disappointing conclusion out of my head. For Rachel the skeleton, who said she works out 3-4 times a day, it is a celebration. But for me, it is one more indictment of the message our society sends answering this question: how do we define success in weighty matters?

Clearly, The Biggest Loser’s endowment of the award to the sickly skinny Rachel indicates it is not about health, but about frailty. And all I keep coming back to are Bingo, Sunny and Lindsay–especially the female youth ambassadors. I hope, as they watched that waif walk across the stage, they didn’t immediately go to a place of: “wow, so that’s what I gotta do?” And if one of them did, shame on you Rachel, shame on you Biggest Loser.

Our society is in desperate need of a redefinition of beauty and health and success in weighty matters.

And as a member of that society, I also need to transform that definition in my own life. I wish I could say all my issues with weight are external, a mere result of society, but I fight my own personal battles as well.


a very fit teenager

In high school, I was athletic, but never skinny. My Mom always excused it by saying I was “big-boned.” When I went to college, I didn’t realize I was gaining a bit of weight. That is, until a very special person in my life, from a very skinny and beautiful family (who probably should not have been the one to broach this topic with me), said I was getting chubby. I was devastated. It changed who I was and how I viewed myself. No longer was I the compass of health; now, an external model, an unreachable model, dictated my self-esteem.

photo 2

me at my heaviest

Fast forward a few years, when I married my best friend. The years went by, and the pounds came on. When people asked me how long I’d been married, I used to joke and reply: “5 years and 50 pounds.” But sadly, it wasn’t a joke. Our lifestyle of eating and becoming coach potatoes as a way of spending time with each other  showed in our stomachs. Before I knew it, my rolls competed with my chins for some sort of prize, all of which I had to lean around to even see the scale looking back at me in fear with this number: 235.

But something clicked. I realized I didn’t want to be that much of Mary. It wasn’t healthy, and I sure wasn’t proud. This epiphany coordinately nicely with our move to Colorado–a state where people bike, run, hike, play outdoors and eat organic granola regularly (JK).

photo 3

1/2 marathoners!

Slowly, I shed some pounds. Then I was inspired to sign up for a a 5k, then a 10k, then (gasp!) a half-marathon, and I shed more pounds. I got a dog and walked him. I started a regular practice of yoga. And before I knew it, the first tenet which defines success in weighty matters gradually formed in my life:

Active living

This tenet has led to the second definition of success:

Mindful eating


I’ve found myself now thinking of food as fuel. I intentionally eat a smoothie full of veggies and fruits and goodies in the morning, knowing it will start my day right. I eat lunch considering if it will give me the energy I need to get through afternoon yoga. I eat on the weekends thinking about what will fuel my run.

Now, before we get all congratulatory, I am in no way thereI still suffer from an addiction to sweets, and I enjoy eating too much to become an ascetic. My day starts very healthy, but typically discipline and mindfulness wane as the day progresses.

But what I do celebrate and take pride in is that I have redefined what there is in my life. It is not to look like Rachel. It is not to please the ghost of my past. It really is not even to lose weight…though I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want that. 

Success in the weighty matters, arriving there for me, means embracing an active lifestyle while eating mindfully. And I’m pretty sure even Bob and Jillian would agree with me there.

Tried and True Teaching Tools

writing into meaning


"To sting people and whip them into a fury, all in the service of truth."

Escaping Bars

Writings on Love, Pain, Overcoming, Hope, Longing, Justice, and Injustice


Strength \ Vision \ Service \ Exploration

A Tree On Fire With Love

But it's still scary sometimes because most people think love only looks like one thing, instead of the whole world

teaching With "Ang-sigh-eh-tea"

The life of a teacher who struggles with anxiety and depression.

Sampa Sympatico

A Yankee Teacher's Experience of Sao Paulo, Brazil

Once Upon a Time in México

Living my dream of teaching, traveling, and discovering culture

Teach. Travel. Taste.

A peek into the life of an American teacher in Colombia


Adventures in Globetrotting

Nomad Notions

Tales of Expat Living, Teaching, and Tramping in Taiwan and Beyond.

Sojourners' Journal

“Each of us is here for a brief sojourn; for what purpose he knows not, though he sometimes thinks he senses it. But without deeper reflection one knows from daily life that one exists for other people." —Albert Einstein

Pacific East by Middle East by Midwest

Observations and Experiences of Bahrain and Japan

Ex(pat) and the City

The life of a twenty-something Canadian living & teaching in Korea.

ISR Discussion Boards

ISR Discussion Boards are open to site Members & visitors alike. Your Voice Counts!

Teaching & Traveling

The Life of An International Teacher




Teaching in Brooklyn in Spite of Everything

Actively Dying

by Peter Fall Ranger


by Aleya Kassam

Words Half Heard

writing into meaning


A snapshot of my journey to living each day with gratitude and striving to be full of greatness


"I'm too old to live my life in fear of dumb people." - Charlie Skinner, The Newsroom

Cultivate Clarity

creative writing and mindfulness-based coaching, workshops, and retreats

Crawling Out of the Classroom

In everything that my students and I do together, we strive to find ways to use reading and writing to make the world outside of our classroom a better place for all of us to be


writing into meaning

Chase Mielke

Author. Speaker. Well-Being Expert.


Taking the journey, bumps and all

Nonlinear Compilations

Parenting, teaching, writing, and learning to find beauty in the present

talk from chalk

What I've learned while teaching

Thoughtful teaching

Thoughts on teaching in the modern world.

Hope, Honor, and Happiness

A blog for the book “Kingdom of the Sun” and discussions on finding the Hope, Honor, and Happiness in education, life, and the seemingly impossible.

Secret Teacher

Life inside the primary classroom

A Confederacy of Spinsters

Sex, Dating, and Surviving Your Twenties

Miss Four Eyes

Seeing twice as much absolutely counts as a super power.


writing into meaning

Love, laugh, be light

"Re-examine all you have been told. Dismiss what insults your soul." ― Walt Whitman