Want to deal with the remnants of body image issues left behind as a result of decades of dieting really fast?
Decide to become a yoga teacher.
In the summer.
I am so aware of all the messages we are inundated with this time of year. Magazine covers with headlines like “Get A Bikini Body for Summer” or pictures of dimply bums that say “Worst Celebrity Bodies” or just threads on Social Media that shame the crap out of someone because they have body fat. Bodies with fat in real life are not the exception to the rule. We actually NEED fat on our bodies to survive. However, everyday we see bodies with fat endure ridicule and shame. What’s the solution? Stop feeling bad about your body and go out and enjoy your freaking life!
So, back to yoga teacher training. I am hyper-aware of the last of my insecurities as I approach the 2 weeks until teacher training starts. I realize that I am going to want to ask questions about how to deal with breasts and tummies in certain poses to help my clients adjust accordingly – without shame or judgment. I am afraid that I will be the only curvy person in my training. I tell people that I’m worried about the schedule and all I have to learn – only because I want to release some of the fear and vulnerability I am feeling – but the truth of the matter is; all I am REALLY worried about is my body and my perceptions of it’s flaws and limitations.
I rolled my ankle badly a few years ago and in preparing for my training it has flared up – I genuinely worry that backing off from being gentle with this injury will somehow be about the fat on my body… like someone might think “it’s that fat spilling over her yoga pants that’s making that ankle hurt”… I know… ridiculous.
I had a quite a tremendous “aha” moment a couple of weeks ago when I finished a class. The yoga teacher complimented my king pigeon pose (ahhh, my dream pose) and while I said “thank you” – I went on to complain that I had to use a strap. She exclaimed “me too!” and we both commiserated that we are coming to terms with the fact that we will never reach our foot in this pose – that our physiology will not allow for it. Huh, somehow I had made my short limbs about my body fat. This teeny little gal that was sharing this “me too” moment with me might have had short limbs too – but I assure you – no excess body fat.
This is what I LOVE about yoga! It’s about your body – but it’s not. It’s about embracing your body and what it is capable of right in that very moment. You can’t think about how a pose was easier yesterday – that just makes it harder. You have to accept. Yoga is breathing acceptance into every corner of your body. You will never receive the true benefits of yoga until you learn to bring your body to the mat and celebrate the shit out of that! Yoga is not about having or achieving a “yoga body” if you do Yoga – you have a yoga body.
How you feel about your body is YOUR CHOICE. I have chosen decades of insecurity and shame. I can assure you that neither of these approaches resulted in no body fat. So today I CHOOSE love and compassion for my body and ALL of the bodies around me. It’s not about your body lovies – all of those things that you like to blame on your body… that’s just a fail safe to stop you from owning your shit. CHOOSE to love your body – without apology – so that you can make room to find your passion and purpose. I see so clearly now that without this body my soul resides in – I would not be about to embark on the soul-shifting journey that IS yoga teacher training. Gawd, did I mention how scared I am????
Last fall I was scrolling my newsfeed on Facebook and serendipity had a little fun with my life – you see, I was drunk. I actually rarely drink and even more rarely get drunk so drunk scrolling on Facebook was very unusual. Even more unusual was the message I sent to a friend telling her how happy and relaxed she looked in all of the recent photos she had posted. This is a friend that gets real squirmy when you fire her a compliment – not in a “gawd, stop trying to be so humble when you’re so arrogant” kind of way… she REALLY is that humble and I REALLY check myself before I deliver her a compliment because I don’t want to make her uncomfortable.
So… I told her this and she said “Dude, we have to go for dinner because you won’t believe why I’m so happy and relaxed”.. so we did. And she told me that she had an Energy Healer come and clear her house and then also had a treatment on her body and that I just HAD to contact her!! I have lots of friends that are just as hippy dippy as me and this friend is NOT one of them – so it made me take note!
Fast forward a couple of months and I finally reached out to Lisa from Nine of Water….
She has helped me Release so much garbage from my body and my soul…. months, years, probably lifetimes of guilt and shame. All of the things that I knew deep down I was capable of becoming – I am becoming. She has helped me remove fear and doubt. She has helped me learn to trust my intuition and guard my heart without having to lose my “heart on my sleeve” sincerity. I am stronger, smarter, more confident…. all of this was in my soul to become and she helped and encouraged and it’s all happening people! It’s not all sunshine and rainbows and unicorn poop…. she gets real and helps you with the little piles of shit you covered up in the corners of your soul… if we want to be free we gotta clean that stuff up lovies!
Our Release Retreats are always about our own personal journeys.. we share our own stories and the tools we have used to achieve self-love and surrender to the beauty of our lives. So, it was kind of a no brainer when we asked Lisa to be a part of our day! We did a quick little question and answer and here is what Lisa had to say:
Why did you agree to be a special guest at our Retreat?
“Because I LOVE love!!! I am ignited when women come together to encourage, support and acknowledge each other. I know that this will be nothing short of that.”
Initially, what “drew” you to us and the Retreat?
“The timing of the event. 2015 is all about self care!”
What part of our Retreat is the most exciting to you?
“Coming together to shed and dissolve the layers of resentment, pain or guilt. Super excited to infuse and integrate forgiveness, safety and support. My mouth salivates thinking about the tasty delicious exercises that we will all take part in!!”
My mouth salivates too when I think of the delicious day we are about to serve some women of Central Alberta! I am so excited and so honoured that our little tribe of women is going to empower another group to create more love and more good in the world!
If you would like to schedule an appointment with Lisa
before the Retreat (which I actually strongly encourage you to do) – you can check out her website
and give her a call. I think there would be some real value in identifying some issues before the Retreat so we can really dig deep and RELEASE once and for all!
Most of my story starts when I’m 9 and some little asshole that lived across the street from me told my friend that he would totally be my boyfriend if only I wasn’t so “chubby”. I’m sure that seeds about my weight and my body had been planted long before that but this is my first REAL concrete memory of how my body and what others thought of it was going to affect my life. I dream of going back to that moment and marching over to the arrogant little bastard and bopping him square in the mouth with my “chubby” little hand…. but I don’t … and I spend quite a bit of the rest of my life shrinking for fear my size might be too much.
As I have said many times before, I was actually quite “imaginary” fat for most of my life – that is until I had children – oh, and then one of them was diagnosed with a chronic degenerative, life-threatening illness… then I got “real” size 20, thighs chafing together, fat. I hated my body. I had disagreements with my body for most of my adult life – but I must say this is the first time that I flat out loathed it.
Then came this little Company called “Goodbye My Muffintop Inc.” and it saved me…. saved me from so much further heartache I don’t know what I would have done. It made me realize that even on the other side of an over 60lbs. weight loss…. nothing was going to change until I stared those demons down and burned them up for all eternity. It made me realize that very few of those demons had anything to do with my weight or my body and the real problem was all the “tap dancing” I did to please other people. I was afraid that being my most authentic self would be “too big”. I let this fear affect my confidence tremendously and using my body image issues was a very convenient way to justify doing this.
So, what was a girl to do when she didn’t really feel any better after losing 60 pounds? I wrote, and I wrote, and I wrote… through my whole journey of coming to terms with how my body is and how it’s likely going to stay, how my daughter’s diagnosis broke my heart so bad that I chose to numb it all out binging on food and cigarettes, how NOTHING, not a single GOD-DAMN thing is going to change until you decide to change it… And out of all of that writing came a little Guidebook for a special day – “Release Retreat – 21 steps to loving yourself.
We did it! We had this Retreat and it was phenomenal. It was so raw and engaging for all those that participated – there were so many times that I stopped and listened and breathed it all in and I was so proud to be a part of something that was helping other women get to the blissful freedom that only self-acceptance can bring!
Now we are so excited to bring a BIGGER, BETTER, more thought Provoking “Release Retreat – Part Deux!”…. we took all of our guests reviews and rolled it into a new Retreat….
Our favourite Guest Speaker The Psychic Cowgirl is phenomenal and we are so proud that she is anxious to participate in our Release Retreat – Part Deux. The main goal for our guests is that they leave first, with am amazing inspired feeling and secondly, that they feel like they have many extra tools in their arsenal to continue on the journey to self-love and self-confidence!
We will cover topics such as forgiveness, healing within to increase confidence, strength and clarity… many of these discussions end in exercises that include meditations and tips to take home with you.
We believe very strongly in the healing benefits of yoga (mind and body) and will introduce 2 yoga styles to the Retreat – both classes will work for an experienced yogi or a beginner yogi. If you have enjoyed our Muffintalks throughout the summer you will be happy to know that the ILLUMINATING Alaynne West will guide us through our Sunday morning session!
Even better? Our Registration is ON SALE – RIGHT MEOW! Register before October 10 to Save $30.00!! Feel free to reach out if you have any questions at all! We really are so looking forward to seeing all of you and sharing this phenomenal information with you!
When it comes to the volunteer work that I do – as well as the GBMM work – it leaves me open to a great deal of criticism. Some of it is real – some of it is imagined. Criticism is a vulnerability soft spot for me – I wonder if it’s because I worry that once one of my shortcomings are identified by someone that the floodgates will open and all the shitty things I think about myself suddenly will be nothing but the truth?? Gawd, as I type this I know how silly it seems to think this.
I’m involved with a book study of “The Gifts Of Imperfection” by Brene Brown and today this quote just rocked my world:
“Staying vulnerable is a risk we have to take if we want to experience connection…”
The last 2 and half years of my life have been an experiment of living authentically and vulnerably and I have had the very highest of highs and the lowest of lows but today that quote made me realize I will always stay low if I get too scared to stay vulnerable. The end of 2013 was very difficult and the first half of 2014 hasn’t been much easier and I see so clearly now that my survival mode was to stop being vulnerable and I really shut-down quite a bit.
It got me thinking about the criticism that I’m so afraid of …. it’s never the constructive stuff. The people that offer constructive criticism have just as much skin in the game as I do… they are living a life as authentically as they can and they reach out to me and offer me guidance when it’s needed.
But that destructive criticism? That’s the shit that gets me. That’s the stuff that gets me in my tender little heart. How do these trolls know where to get you?
The quote “It’s not the critics who count….” is my mantra.
That’s my new barometer for taking outside criticism and considering if it’s constructive or destructive…. if it’s coming from a person who has been in the arena… I hear it … if it’s coming from an asshole who has nothing better to do than attack a person from behind the comfort of a computer screen I am getting so much better at dismissing it!
Also… putting myself in this role did magnify my shortcomings…. how can it not? None of us are perfect! I’m pretty proud of the courage it took to plow ahead anyway and proud of the courage it takes right now to not give you a laundry list of all the reasons why the work I do is hindered by my inadequacies.
Today, when I read the words about staying vulnerable I realized that I had “vulnerability burnout”… I forgot to nurture my vulnerable parts and had to withdraw… guess what? That didn’t work and I have simply felt stuck for the last 4 months.
This is so clear to me now…. if you make a promise to yourself to be your most authentic you… you MUST make a commitment of EXTREME self-care and compassion. This is the only way to protect your vulnerable heart if you want to wear it on your sleeve ❤
For those of you who know me – you won’t be surprised that the the idea for The Release Retreat was born from the inspiration of a daily horoscope. I read it towards the end of last winter and it basically said “it’s time to tap into your soul and share that with the world…” At first, I didn’t really know what to make of this because I didn’t feel like anything I was doing was very inspiring; I was digging deeper in my yoga practice, I was working hard to heal my broken heart, I was doing everything in my power to listen to my body – to what it needed…. My life had become quite simple. And then the “aha” came… my life was simple and I was so bursting with contentment about that – we get this “live an extraordinary life” message stuffed down our throats everywhere we turn that so many of us just fill it all up with our careers, activities – the glorification of busy – that we forget that what’s really extraordinary (and I daresay the exception to the rule these days) is really savouring our lives.
I fired up the laptop and started typing furiously about creating a day for women to finally “Release” themselves from what was holding them back from achieving this level of peace and calm in their lives. I typed what I wanted the day to feel like, how I wanted to feel, how I wanted our guests to feel. Quickly, without giving it a second thought I sent the outline to people that I knew would never criticize me for not making the Retreat happen but who I admired and wanted to create some accountability for this goal – and who I also knew would celebrate with me what a dream come true it would be….
…and it was…
There were times when someone was sharing their deepest emotions – really baring their souls – and I kind of froze the moment – I could feel that they were really letting go of something that had been holding them back and I was so proud and honoured that something we had facilitated was making this happen.
Like…. a lot.
We listened and learned. We had “aha” moments and “F*@k them” moments and sinking into deep, deep gratitude moments…. it really was a gorgeous day.
Shannon Laackman, The Psychic Cowgirl was on hand to guide us through meditations, to “cut the cord” on relationships or circumstances in relationships that have been holding us back…. she lead us through a beautiful and powerful chakra balancing… her bright and sizzly energy was JUST what we needed to keep us engaged!
The reviews were so touching and sincere…. My favourite comment of the day was someone saying;
“it was like an all day coffee date with your best friend…”
I am bursting with excitement about what comes next – how we grow. Thank you Marriann for your amazing partnership, thank you to The Bra Lounge for believing in our message AND Thank you all of you beautiful souls who trusted us and so willingly shared with us….. There are no words for the level of my gratitude… I love you all. Thank you for helping us see how truly right the path is that we are on. Namaste.
The quest for body perfection has become a tricky little bastard with a tricky little way to fool you… It has wrapped itself up in “health”… as in, if you keep trying to get a perfect body you will be healthy… like counting every calorie and tracking every rep is a healthier way to eat and exercise…. Like having “6 pack” abs is a definition of health. I have my own ideas now about extreme exercise that I won’t share – I really, really, want to end the cycle of judging others and how they choose to take care of their bodies but I also want other women to know that it’s okay to question this…. That it’s okay to wonder how exercising to the point of injury is “healthy”.
I recently had a very interesting conversation with a woman about this judgment. We were talking about family vacations and she indicated that when they vacation with their whole family they really have to consider her father-in-law who has had 2 hip replacements since he was 55. Yep, that’s right first hip replacement at 55. He had always been an extreme athlete, played football through high school and college. Often played when he was injured. Then, he became a runner and often continued running against medical advice. As she started to express how bad she felt for him I stopped her and I asked her how she would feel if her father-in-law was fat. If he was obese and because of this obesity he had required 2 hip replacements in less than 20 years. She agreed that this was a very interesting question – that many would see an obese person requiring these surgeries as a “they did it to themselves…” and cast judgment and possibly say derogatory things about the cost to our healthcare system. And really, what’s the difference? Her father-in-law mistreated his body too – just because his mistreatment made his body look good didn’t change the fact that his health was compromised by the way he treated his body.
I remember, before children, when I was “imaginary fat” – I always used to commiserate with my friends that I just wished that my body would reflect how hard I worked at the gym… Ugh, I want to hug that woman, and then slap her… My body did reflect how hard I worked – I just didn’t “see” it… I will never quite understand how I managed to convince myself that if I just worked out harder and ate so much less that somehow that would make my legs and my torso longer… it’s true, I was striving for a body that only someone a good 4 or 5 inches taller than myself would ever have! That certainly speaks to the effective brainwashing of the diet and exercise industry.
In any event, I guess I am ready to change the dialogue – ready to ask the tough questions of people and how they view their own bodies as well as others. It’s time to shift our attitudes about health and realize that the quest for skinny has never been about that.
There’s this epidemic amongst women where self-depracation is practically mandatory… how often have you been sitting amongst a group of bright, brilliant, confident women and the second someone starts in on a “muffintop” everyone weighs in with a laundry list of their apparent deformities.
I am, by far, one of the worst perpetrators of this phenomenon.
Why do we do it? Why do we try to dim our brightness? Why do we try to make apologies for all of the things that make us great…. This isn’t humility…Humility is giving without a thought of receiving, humility is being wise without being bossy,
Humility is not showing someone how your arm fat jiggles if you wave your arms over your head!
So…. I have made a deal with myself. I’m not going to do it anymore. I won’t. I have decided I love myself too much to try to break me down anymore… In fact, if you decide to be self-depracating in my presence I might tell you something that I love about my body … or worse, I might make you tell me something that you love about yours. You have been warned 😉