Between the holidays and then Mardi Gras being so early this year I sort of feel like my year is finally just starting. I'm not a winter person and I tend to be at my least creative and motivated in January-Feb. I'll start to see myself falling out of alignment, making weird decisions and failing to execute a good routine. With some great introspection, probably due to all the yoga, I can start to identify what it is that isn't working and get back on track. I thought it would be good to share a few of those things I've noticed with my body and how I'm self-correcting. *Just to be clear, these are personal stories and things that work for me. I'm not in a place to be certified to dish out advice haphazardly but I do think it's valuable to learn from other people.
Problem: Arm Strength
I started to feel incredibly weak in my upper body from what I thought was out of nowhere. I blamed everything from the winter to traveling too much to not lifting enough weights. I blamed turning 31 and swore my youth was in decline and mourned the loss of my muscle mass. I couldn't hold my inversions in class and started to see my practice plateau. I was really frustrated!
One of my yoga teachers taught me to jump back straight into a low chaturanga, which meant I skipped stepping back into plank, lowering myself down and then moving into up-dog. While I felt proud that I could have control over my body enough to jump back and land softly and strongly, I cut out an important step in my routine that helped carve out upper body strength and definition. So I compromised and starting jump back with control into high plank and then maintaining that high to low push up that is effective for my body. I'll still do full jump backs every so often and find a balance but slowing down and concentrating on form and each movement is also important for my personal practice.
I wanted to make sure that my diet had plenty of clean foods and straight from the earth goodness. Part of my struggle with living in New Orleans is lack of access to quick, healthy food so I started cooking a lot while I worked from home. This is all amazing but what I realized was I was eating a lot of veggie based dishes and a whole heaping ton of fat. I'm a huge believer in having a healthy dose of fats in my diet. I gravitated mostly to avocados because they are the easiest thing to add to anything and do wonders for my skin but I went a little overboard. I realized that I was so heavily prioritizing fruits and veggies and completely forgetting to have enough lean protein. My energy was low, I was holding onto extra weight around my mid-section and I could not put on muscle definition. I was having avocado toast for breakfast, adding half an avocado for lunch, adding peanut butter to my smoothies, etc etc.
Last week I began to add lean protein back into my diet. I taught myself how to easily cook up organic chicken on my cast-iron grill pan (best purchase ever) and set it aside for meal planning. I began snacking on greek yogurt and limited the amount of smoothies I was making. So now all of my veggie dishes like my chickpea bowl have grilled chicken added to it. The result? A flatter stomach and better results from my workouts. My energy has also vastly improved. A high-protein, lean meat diet works well for me. Everyone is different. Some people swear by a vegan/vegetarian diet but it's just not for me.
I think there's an over-saturation of information out there at the moment so it's hard to decipher what's good for your body. There's conflicting information about food and what's actually healthy. At the end of the day I'm the only one that can decide for myself what works. It's having the clarity of mind to pay attention to the signals our body is giving us and cutting ourselves a break. Hope this is all helpful!