By Stacy Hope Small
The past few weeks, well months, have been a true test of my resilience and lessons learned over the years in how to process grief and the deep sadness that tags along. I’ve lost two close friends and my 15-year-old soul pup in 90 days. That’s a LOT. And, it’s all happening while I am in year three of no booze to take the edge off any of it.
This summer, I’ve also added in “getting healthier” to my agenda after some not-so-fab bloodwork showed signs of stress (high cortisol, high blood sugar) and as an active participant in a community known as Recovery2.0, I am not planning to digress from my health leveling up.
Daily, sometimes twice, kundalini yoga classes. More trips to the gym to lift a few light weights and get out of my comfort zone (ie, home with my pups). Eating three meals a day with LOTS of protein and low amounts of fat and NO snacks for atleast a 90-day period while I work on bettering my bloodwork results has been a huge lifestyle shift for me. In a good way, in that I already feel much better, and I know it’s exactly what needed to happen after a few years of post-pandemic paralysis and an aversion to exercise.
It’s a lot to admit that I wasn’t taking good care of myself the past few years. I was so focused on taking care of my older rescue pups (two of whom have now passed on in the past year-and-a-half), worrying about friends battling cancer, and laser-focusing in on my high-level clients who are traveling all over the world. I’d kind of forgotten that there are no short cuts when it comes to my own health and wellness. Not drinking alcohol has been the easier part for me than giving up snacks. That sounds weird, but gluten-free baked goods had become a favorite food group and I’ve since learned that it’s not uncommon to give up alcohol and crave sugar and feel like it’s the better choice. Neither are good options, to be honest.
I am currently in week six of next-to-no sugar other than small amounts from the date syrup I use to sweeten my high-protein pancakes and the natural sugar in blueberries and watermelon which are low-glycemic but high in joy-inducement when paired with low-fat feta and mint, or almond-milk greek yogurt. My life the past six weeks feels like an at-home wellness retreat, and if it weren’t for the three major losses, I’d truly be LOVING it.
My living room (photo below) is now my kundalini yoga/meditation studio where I practice morning Sadhana virtually with the world-renowned teacher/recovery guru Tommy Rosen. If you don’t know who he is and are struggling with any form of addiction, look him up (Home — Recovery 2.0 (r20.com).
So, while I am thrilled to be feeling better and on the path I know I am supposed to be on, the grief cannot be ignored. Two friends losing cancer battles is a reminder and a huge wake up call that we are all human, and we all have lifestyle choices to make. My naturopath reminded me, when we were going over my recent bloodwork, that I hired her to help me achieve my life goal of remaining cancer-free. Too many people in my family and my world have faced battles I’d prefer not to face. It’s a crucial time in my 50s to pay deep attention to my bloodwork and reverse the negative patterns showing up, before it’s too late.
With that comes a commitment to get to the gym a few times a week and strengthen my physical health, while also working on the emotional and spiritual pieces that come with trying new things (ie, the “not so x-treme muscle” class I’ve become fond of). I’m one of the younger people in the class and that inspires me. I see women in their 70s/80s using 5lb’ers for the class while I am still on 4’s. Ha. It’s not that big a stretch but it’s motivating and I know I’ll try the 5s soon as I started just a month ago with 3s!
Trying hot yoga was a way for me to prove to myself I really am onboard with trying new things. Did I love it? No. Will I go back? Yes. It was a class that the teacher made enjoyable solely by explaining the purpose behind each pose, and why we did the poses in this heated studio. Things like “it’s a massage for your liver/kidney/pancreas/gall bladder” resonate with me at a time when I am working to uplevel this area of my body. Some days though, when given the choice between Hot Yoga and Tai Chi, I might still choose Tai Chi. This happened last week, and I was in awe of my ability to not feel badly at all about my decision. Tai Chi might have been the slower option, but it still required driving to the gym, spending two hours of my day out of my comfort zone, and as I learned, it was NOT easy to move as slowly and consciously as the instructor encouraged me to do.
Sort of like life, some days you’ll feel like hot yoga and some days you’ll feel like Tai Chi. Both are good. Both work. Both help us move along our path.
Choose wisely. XO, Stacy