The Highlight of My Weekend

At some point yoga became the highlight of my weekends. It wasn’t supposed to be this way. It was just supposed to be something that I happened to do.

But it wasn’t just something that I did. In Starkville at Firefly Yoga, it was taking away my mornings. In Stillwater at Red Earth Yoga, it steals the middle of the day. I was having to dedicate real time to these things.

I didn’t realize what would happen as a result. Ashtanga is a special kind of evil yoga that goes after pretty much every muscle, even ones I didn’t know I had.

Because I couldn’t lift after a shoulder issue kept me out of the weight room for a while, I quit the gym in Mississippi and was left with yoga as my only real source of upper body strength training. For the most part, that’s not going to cut it. Ashtanga disagreed. More specifically, 58 vinyasas disagreed.

I almost threw up the first time I went to an ashtanga class. This was something I had to take seriously.

I started making sure I was prepped for class. I generally wouldn’t run the day before class. I was getting a good night’s rest. It was still kicking my ass, but I was getting used to it.

Flash forward to the move, and I had a new studio to acclimate to. I had the luxury of a weekend ashtanga class again, but I had to deal with it a new time, a time I didn’t want to spend sweating on a synthetic mat.

After a few weeks of procrastinating, I finally made it in. I then proceeded to attempt dying after 90 minutes of 90-degree yoga. It was brutal. I was wiped. But I made it. And that’s what matters.

I’ve been back a few more times, and as I’ve acclimated to the heat, I’ve started being able to make it through class somewhat successfully. A few weeks ago, I was able to do all but a couple of the vinyasas available to us. Last week I did them all.

Crap. You know what that means. Time to make it harder on myself.

Once I started doing ashtanga here, I went from 3 weight room sessions to 2 so I could have the rest before masochism took place. It was working. I was about as fresh as I could hope for going into ashtanga, but now that I’m no longer dying, I decided that lifting the day before might not hurt so bad. I took it┬árelatively easy, but I was still lifting. I woke with sore shoulders that were bound to appreciate all the vinyasas I could throw at them.

And I threw the vinyasas at them. I lucked out. The studio was in the 60s when we arrived because someone turned the heater off (the windchill hit low 20s this morning), so it took a while for the studio to heat up. My shoulders still hate me, but I survived again.

So in the middle of the pie-eating contest that is academia (and the prize is more pie), I keep adjusting my week around 90 minutes in a musty studio.

And I’m cool with that.

Adios, dorks.

-Q

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I’m making progress? I’m making progress

The first time at the real yoga studio killed me.

The second time also killed me.

The third time killed me, but it took longer to pull off.

That’s progress, right?

While I’m used to getting in the swing of things, I didn’t expect to get into the swing of things this quickly, especially in a heated class where we’re going all the vinyasas for the sequences that we do (I’m guessing about 6-10 vinyasas missed today, but that’s the most I’ve done).

I’m still soaking through my shirts. The first session was bad enough that I’ve started taking a spare shirt to switch into afterward, and I’m putting a towel underneath me to avoid getting my carseat sweaty (not working well enough).

I say that to say this: It’s still hard. I’m still sweating profusely, but I’m hanging in there.

And why? Lifting.

That’s the only logical answer.

I’ve overlapped with lifting and yoga before, but usually it’s one or the other. For the first time, I’m able to do both (in part because I have to from the knee issue). And for the first time doing ashtanga, I’m able to lift at all. I started doing ashtanga after my shoulder kept me out of the weight room. Now I’m lifting during the week, which makes all those effing vinyasas a little more bearable.

In an ideal world, running would be added to the trifecta. Weights are getting me through the movement, but I need better cardio to sustain 90 minutes of 90-degree heat and about 50 vinyasas.

But progress is progress. I’ll take it.

Progress Report: Weight Rooms & Dying in Yoga Studios

It’s been a little bit since I checked in, so I thought I’d share what’s been going on:

I haven’t fallen of the weight lifting wagon yet, which is good, especially if a 45-pound plate falls on you on the way out. I’m taking it relatively easy, not adding too much weight. I’m going for higher reps more so than anything else. Still legs as priority, with some upper body and core work thrown in so that I can ogle myself in the mirror.

Side note, I’m not historically a headphones while lifting person. I didn’t see the point. But then I bought wireless headphones for running only to find out that I wasn’t going to be running any time soon. Hated for them to go to waste, so they make the trip to the gym. That said, I’ve been listening to podcasts (and one audiobook) instead of music for the most part. It’s been a good way for me to stay caught up on my backlog of episodes. 99% Invisible, Nerdist, and Revisionist History are my go-to podcasts in case you’re looking for something to listen to.

As for running? Like I said in the last paragraph, I’m still not running. Enough said.

And I finally made it to the yoga studio in town. I’d made it to three rec center classes at the university gym. That was… interesting.

The first class was terrible. Calling it yoga is a bit of a stretch. Derogatorily, I’ve seen it referred to as McMommy yoga before. Basically, just exercising on a yoga mat. The second class was better, but that was a low bar to step over. The poses were on point, but they were out of sequence and the teacher was giving bad instructions. The third was much better, though she would hold the counts too long (it was fun to watch people collapsing into child’s pose because she would say 1, 2, say something for a count or two, 3, 4, 5). It was fine, but the class is still too short and there’s too much risk or spending time on my knee or getting stuck in pigeon for 5 minutes, which I can’t really do.

So rec center is out unless I’m desperate. That means I’ll be at the real yoga studio immediately, right?

Well, no.

There’s a problem: The studio’s schedule is a bit wonky, and the class I want to take is taught at noon. That’s after I want to eat lunch. Starting a 90-minute class then is less than ideal. Any productivity that’s going to happen has to happen before yoga, which is just weird. I’ll adjust. Eventually.

But I made it today. I’ll call it generally a win. It’s ashtanga, which I know I can do. The teacher was good, so I know I have a person I can go to as a teacher now. And most importantly, it’s off campus to lessen the risk of running into my students, thank you very much.

That said, it’s not all good. Again, the time is awful. Can’t get around that. Eventually college football games will actually interfere. Next, you can’t trust the website to be up-to-date enough to have the person who will be teaching listed. That’s problematic when you’re as picky about teachers as I am (so I don’t actually know the name of the good teacher I had class with today).

As for what happened when I actually got there, we’re now nitpicking. The place is carpeted, so it was a bit on the smelly side because it’s a yoga studio. Also because they heat the class to about 90 degrees. That causes a lot of sweating. So much so that I went through a liter of watered-down Gatorade and soaked through my shirt so much so that it was actually dripping by the end. Not a good smell. First time I was in danger of ditching my shirt in a yoga class. Nobody wants that. Not until I drop about 20 pounds, at least.

And most vainly, I was the worst person there. That’s not new. I was the least capable in ashtanga at my old studio, but this was amped up. Everyone (except maybe one) was either a yoga teacher or in teacher training. The class was more advanced as a result, so instead of floundering in my own sweat like I would have anyway, I was floundering in my own sweat as other people were fairly comfortable going much further than I could.

But all in all, it was a win. I have a studio to go to. I had Whataburger afterward. And I worked hard enough today to not feel guilty for not working out tomorrow. I’ll be happy to move at all tomorrow.

How Diamond Dallas Page, no cable, and horse blankets got me started with yoga

The first time I did yoga was a bit strange. It started with back pain. This isn’t atypical.

I’d moved to Florida and had a six-week window where I was there with nothing productive to do before I started my grad program. I was mostly lying around on a cheap futon, with some guitar playing, some reading, and a lot of TV watching to do. This inactivity led to more persistent back pain than I’d like. The kind that lingers in your lower back just above the back of your hips.

Among my favorite channels was PBS. When I got there, I didn’t have cable. I plugged in my cable cord to the jack just to see if I would get lucky and have free cable. Nope. But for some reason it did act like an antennae, and I picked up a snowy version of PBS.

For the first few days, that was all I got, so once I got cable, I kept watching out of habit. There was a lot of time spent watching Curious George’s shenanigans and time spent watching Austin City Limits. And of course there were the glorified infomercials.

One of those was for a pilates video. It talked about how it could help with back pain. I did what I do and went to a bookstore for an instruction manual. I decided that yoga and pilates were basically the same thing and went looking for both. I opted for yoga because it seemed more manly (there was one book where Diamond Dallas Page was teaching yoga, and if yoga was good enough for DDP, it was good enough for me). I at least opted for a non-DDP yoga book. If I was going to make a slightly sexist decision, I could at least get a regular yoga book instead of a broga book.

I then read the book. I looked at what it had to say, including what I needed. Evidently, I needed carpet or a yoga mat. I had neither. But I did have a rug.

Let me tell you about that rug. It wasn’t actually a rug. It was a horse blanket. I won it in one of those little kid rodeos when I was 6 or 7. I didn’t know I’d won anything until they handed me this fancy horse blanket.

Problem was I already had a saddle pad. Why use the fancy blanket when I already had something to perform the same function? And it didn’t really occur to me to use the fancy horse blanket if I didn’t actually need it.

My brother used it as a horse blanket once or twice, I think. I’m not sure I ever did. Maybe once. Again, we had saddle pads that were more functional. I actually used the horse blanket as a blanket for myself once or twice. I was an odd kid. I’m still an odd adult.

Before my move to Florida, I looked around my parents’ house for what I could steal for my place in Florida. I’d never lived somewhere that wasn’t furnished, so I wanted some amenities from home so that Florida could at least have a bit of Texas in it (and some New Mexico, too). I had the saddle blanket sitting in the closet. I threw it in the wash (it had been used as a saddle blanket at least once, after all), and then I took it to Florida to use as a rug for my living room.

So I have a rug. This rug was conveniently about the size of a yoga mat. The book said I needed a yoga mat or a carpeted floor. Looks like I’d found the best of both worlds.

Well, instead of carpet, I had tile floors. I loved that tile. The problem with tile, though, is there’s no real traction to it. Turns out if you use a rug as a yoga mat, it’ll just slide around.

My first yoga session was spent with me tentatively getting into poses, including lunges, and praying that rug wouldn’t move far enough for me to bust my face on the tile floor.

It worked once, and that was all I asked of it. I upgraded to an exercise mat immediately, though it had some of the same problems. It still slid some, but it was kind of like playing tennis on a clay court. You learned to work with the predictable slide.

That mat lasted me five years until I went into a real yoga class. I thought I’d keep going back there, so I bought a mat and only went one more time. I ended up sticking the yoga mat under the exercise mat for traction, which worked wonders. When I started going to real classes after I moved to Mississippi, I strongly considered doing that, but I didn’t want to be the weirdo who took in two mats to class. I was already a dude at yoga, which made me stick out enough as it was. In some cases that worked to my benefit, but carrying in a second mat would not have helped.

Why am I telling this rambling story? It’s mostly because I can’t sleep, and I was lying on my rug while I drew something. So yeah, that’s how I started doing yoga. Fun fact: The exercise mat was my bed the first two nights after my move to Oklahoma.

Perks of the Move

Moving is stressful.

Let me repeat that, moving is stressful.

Ok, got it? Good.

When you fill out those life stress forms, moving is high on the list. And because moving usually entails other life stress, those forms generally predict you’re going to die in a week. That’s not good. Seriously, I just took the stupid test, and I feel into the highest category.

But we’re not going to focus on that. We’re going to focus on the positive.

When you’re going into a new job, you’re supposed to look into the benefits. I did no such thing. I looked at the job. I looked at the people. And that was it. After I accepted the job, then I started worrying about benefits.

Not how they recommend doing things.

But sometimes you dumb your way into a good situation. In my (until yesterday) current job, I basically got no real health benefits beyond normal insurance. I was able to see a doctor on campus (did I mention I’m a faculty member?), and that was about the max I got on the convenience scale. At my last job, mostly the same, though because there was an attached medical school, my health insurance was all basically in-house and comprehensive. But mostly just normal stuff.

The new job? It’s got some perks. The one I did know about from my interview was that the rec center on campus was free to use. Due to injury issues, I knew I couldn’t get the most out of a gym membership, so I hadn’t been going. This means I can do my PT exercises and whatever else my body allows. It also means I get free yoga classes, albeit probably not the type of classes I want to take. But they’re there (I’ll still give a real yoga studio a try in town).

That’s pretty nice. No gym fees, and it’ll be half a mile from my office. But that’s not all.

Wait for it.

They have massage therapy on campus.

I cannot adequately convey how happy that makes me. I had to convey it in gif form.

One of the things I am not looking forward to is having to find a new MT. If this works out, I’ll have one that is a 10-minute walk from my office. And it’s cheaper than what I pay now.

So they’ll be closer, which will cost me less time (about an hour just for travel) and gas (3 gallons of gas, so $6, give or take), and it will literally cost less (about $20 less for the same time). Please return to the above gif. I’m still in that state.

If it works out. It might not. But then again it just might.

I might start getting massages more than once a month. I always said if time and money weren’t an issue, I’d get them weekly. Maybe the universe is testing how much money counts as “not an issue.”

So free gym. Free yoga. And massage 10 minutes away from my desk. I think this could work out alright.

I’m Hungry and My Pants Don’t Fit

That seemed like a good place to start.

I just ate supper. I’m still hungry. And I spent most of the day trying to keep my shirt and pants in place, even with a belt on.

In the process of trying to maintain some semblance of healthy decisions, my body has been changing and adapting. I’ve dropped a few pounds, but I’ve also had some weight shifting around.

And now my pants don’t fit right.

This should be cause for celebration, but I’ve explained my weight fluctuations before. I’m not going to start gloating now. I’ve put on 15 pounds in 6 weeks before without knowing it, so I can’t rest on 5 pounds lost or pants fitting a little loose. No, I have to keep plugging away because I’m prone to decisions like this:

@rendrags, mistakes were made

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And this (same day, BTW):

Bad decisions

So right now my pants don’t fit, but I’m not throwing them out yet, and I’m not buying out Old Navy’s slightly slimmer pants.

Instead, I have to keep plugging away. I keep doing vinyasas. And I keep leaving myself just a little hungry. It’s all about the process.

I don’t like to celebrate my accomplishments because I think celebration makes it feel like you’re done. You’re never done. Maybe when I can go from crow to handstand, I’ll say I’m done.

dsc02678-animation-1

But that is not this day. On this day, my pants are just a little loose. And we’ll live with that for now.

Adios.

-Q

Pizza for 29 Vinyasas

Today was not a day for good decisions. It started with a late awakening, which was chased with Chick-fil-A for breakfast. Then I chased that with a 20-ounce Coke.

Not the best part of waking up.

Between the late start and then some packing I was doing at home, I missed my normal lunch hour. At this point, I realized I wanted pizza. Not like a slice or two. I wanted A pizza, not SOME pizza.

That’s also a bad idea. If you’re keeping score at home, I currently have diabetes. I don’t actually have diabetes, but at this rate, I’m not sure how I don’t have diabetes.

I made a deal with myself. Yoga for pizza.

I’ve been having trouble making it through full sessions since I returned from a trip a couple of weeks ago, so I was going for it as best I could. No pizza unless I was sweat-slicked.

Once I was covered it sweat, the deal was the rest of the workout was for me. Every little thing I could squeeze out of the workout, I was doing for me.

Of course, I was exhausted at this point. I’d eaten a decent breakfast, but that was about 4 hours prior, and I had a lot of caffeine in my system (for me) to spike my hunger. I’m dripping sweat, and I’m shaking as I did what I could.

And so it goes. I took a cold shower to help cool me down more quickly, and then I ordered my pizza (medium, thin crust, ham, spinach, and tomato).

Protect your loved ones

A post shared by Quisto Settle (@applications_of_randomness) on

Usually, I’ll split this into two meals. Not today.

Pizza never stood a chance

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I devoured that sucker. And I’m honestly still a little hungry. But Chick-fil-A and pizza were plenty, so just the two meals for me today. Let’s talk about why.

A relatively conservative calorie estimate still has me over the 2,000 calorie threshold. And most of it was crap.

For the yoga, 350 calories would be a generous estimate of calories burned, and that’s probably more than what actually occurred.

So did the hour of yoga justify the pizza? Nope. Not even close. That’s not how this works. Even if I did the yoga, it doesn’t entitle me to anything. The pizza just negated the work I put in. A good decision doesn’t negate a bad one. This isn’t a balancing scale.

But that wasn’t really the point. I was going to make a bad decision. I could feel it. I didn’t really do yoga to earn the pizza. I did yoga because I was going to eat something awful anyway, so I might as well do some damage control.

So 29 vinyasas for more than a thousand calories on that pizza.

29 vinyasas to leave me exhausted. 29 vinyasas to leave me covered in sweat. 29 vinyasas to feel in my shoulders tomorrow.

It’s the repetition. The pizza was going to happen because I’m stressed and I was going to make a bad decision. Yoga at least grounded me a little so that I wouldn’t feel like an entire sack of crap, just half a sack of crap. Because I know what I’m going to do with ashtanga every time, I can soak it in. There’s no intellectual load. It’s just movement. And breathing. Lots of breathing.

And hopefully I’ll do it all again tomorrow.