UN-Podcast 037: UNwound

Here we go. Starting today—and for the next few weeks—Apple is going to see a spike in productivity app downloads, the internet marketers are going to make a killing on cleanses, and it will become impossible to get a parking spot at the gym after 5 pm.

Over the next few weeks, we’re all going to resolve work a little harder, look a little better, and be much healthier people—and we’re going to base our resolutions on uncontrollable expectations: 6 pack abs, higher salaries, lower cholesterol numbers* (etc.). And these uncontrollable goals, my friends, are precisely why New Year’s resolutions suck.

What makes these goals “uncontrollable?” After all, aren’t these goals quantifiable? I can see my abs, I’ll know when I get a raise, and I can take a blood test to tell me what’s up with my health. I’d like to argue (and I don’t think anyone would disagree with me) that just because something can be quantified, doesn’t mean that it can be controlled.

When I first took on the Muscle and Fitness Hers 12-week transformation challenge that kicked off my third relapse with EDNOS (and finally earned me the classification of “anorectic”) in 2010, I had a (mostly) quantifiable end goal in mind: I was going to lose 10 pounds, have a six pack, and be muscular enough/at a low enough body fat to compete in an NPC body building competition. For 12 weeks, I ate clean, limited calories, lifted heavy, did extra cardio, and controlled and controlled and controlled** everything—from meal timing to supplementation—until I reached the end of the 12 weeks.

Yet, though I had lost a lot of weight, I wouldn’t have even gotten an honorable mention in a bodybuilding competition. Though I could quantify the variables to the best of my ability, my end goal was out of my control.

This is how we make resolutions: I have an end goal that I cannot control, but I want it badly enough that I will convince myself that I can control it. I can micromanage the variables, but the variables themselves are not my focus; I care only about whether or not I reach my goal. And if and when that goal doesn’t turn out the way I’d planned—because I have no way of controlling the outcome—I either punish myself by going further (as I did, which is how I ended up without a period) or swinging back in the opposite direction.

One of the most important things that Bikram yoga has taught me is how to set healthy, achievable goals. When I was bodybuilding the end goal—the unquantifiable possibility—was the focus, and I mindlessly went through the little every day steps (the journey) while focused on the uncontrollable outcome.

yoga-teacher-training

[image source]

In Bikram, I have uncontrollable goals too—I want to touch my head to my knee. I want to balance with both hands in namaskar while in toe stand. I want to touch my full spine to the ground in wind removing pose. I want to strive for full expression of each of the 26 postures—but they are merely the ideals I keep in the back of my mind while I focus on the little steps (the journey) as I take them each day in class.

For example, in one class, when I was struggling with balance, Mike Mayle, the owner of Balance Yoga Center in San Jose, CA, told me to focus on my big toe. Instead of worrying about how beautiful my standing bow looked (how high was my foot over my head? how level were my hips? how low could I bring my body down?) I just thought about my big toe. For the rest of the class, in all of the standing postures that required balance, I focused my energy on my big toe, and I stayed standing. And because I wasn’t focused on the big goal (full expression of the posture), but on the microstep it took to get there, I was actually able to go deeper into my practice.

I wanted to write about this today, of all days, because on Day 1 of the new year, we’re focused on the “full expression” of our resolutions—the uncontrollable possibilities (bikini bodies, higher salaries, better health, etc.) instead of the the little steps that it takes to get there (showing up every day and [metaphorically] focusing on the big toe).

As Mike has said before, “You never forget your first Bikram yoga class.”

And he’s right: I remember that first class and many many many of the classes in between, because each class was a milestone on the way to achieving a different goal.

On day one of my Bikram practice, my goal was just to stay in the room. On day two, it was to come back. On day three it was to start memorizing the sequence. Two years in, it was to complete a 30 day challenge. A few months ago it was to focus on my big toe.

There is no start date, there is no end date; every day is another chance to set a small goal and meet it.

So, instead of focusing on your “New Year’s resolution,” here’s instead to 365 days of learning how to focus on the big toe.

In today’s podcast, we talk with Mike about goal-setting, yoga, and finding your authentic self. I think you’re REALLY going to like this one:

Go Listen Now!

finding-our-hunger-podcast

Stay hungry,

@MissSkinnyGenes

*Not advocating this one, necessarily. See Cholesterol Clarity by Jimmy Moore for reasons why.

**Or should I say “quantified, quantified, quantified?”

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Sharing My Hunger in 2013

Standing at the top of the stairs in San Francisco

Well, here we are on the brink of 2013.

I thought about making resolutions, but I realized that I just…shouldn’t. Why? Because making resolutions is dangerous; I am too goal-driven.

I know–being goal-driven sounds like a good problem to have, at least displayed prominently on my LinkedIn profile; however, goals and resolutions can be negative when placed into the hands of a self-flagellating perfectionist.

Such as myself.

If you go back through my blog, you’ll see many of my relapses with ED and exercise addiction coinciding with “challenges.” 30-Day Bikram challenge, Fruit Stand Wellness (running) challenge, Muscle and Fitness Hers Transformation challenge…etc.

And a resolution, in many ways, is another challenge. It’s another arbitrary start-and-end point with parameters that define “messing up.” It’s an opportunity to punish myself for not achieving, a chance to let ED and associated thinking creep in when I don’t–or can’t–live up to the goals and time frames I’ve set for myself.

So this year, I’m not making resolutions. Instead, I have just one goal:

I will continue to find ways to stay in touch with, learn about, and accept my hunger, and I will help others find their hunger when I can.

That’s it. That’s all I want out of 2013.

2012 has been an amazing year. It’s been one of struggle and pain, to be sure–but I am grateful for every second of it. I have emerged a much stronger, healthier person. I am not perfect and I am not healed, but I’m learning to be okay with good enough and coping with the wounds that haven’t closed and the scars that haven’t faded.

Even better, I’ve figured out how to turn one of my passions into a viable career. I’ve gotten in touch with my diet and exercise, and I’m healthier–mentally and physically for it. I’ve allowed people into my life–incredible people all over the world, old friends and new–who have enriched the last few months, and I know will continue to enrich the year to come.

Thank you all for following me on this crazy journey for the last five months. I’m looking forward to all of the wonderful things the future has in store for us next year.

Stay hungry & have a happy new year,

K.

P.S. I read a great post on Mother Fitness about why we shouldn’t make resolutions. I thought it was worth sharing: Stop Setting Goals

P.P.S. Kelly at Be Anything But Quiet shared a great link from the Huffington Post about surviving the holiday food-and-weight obsession, but I think it’s something that applies all year long.

P.P.P.S. I love that WordPress has put together such a beautiful “year in review” feature. Check out the amazing things that have been happening on the Skinny Genes blog since July!

Here’s an excerpt:

4,329 films were submitted to the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. This blog had 31,000 views in 2012. If each view were a film, this blog would power 7 Film Festivals

Click here to see the complete report.