The self-awareness I gained through yoga enabled me to increase my mobility, change my diet and lose weight. As a result, I manage my Type 2 diabetes without medication.
I was a skinny girl when I was a kid. My parents worried about this. My mother, bless her soul, thought it important for me to eat tomatoes and cottage cheese, but the only way she could get me to do this was to add sugar. And at my grandparents, I had to eat all my dinner to be able to have dessert – and I loved desserts! By the time I was a teenager, I was putting on weight. When I married, it was into a family of big eaters. No surprise, I put on more weight. Later on, it was just my son and I living together. I was working long days, and we pretty much lived on fast food that I would pick up.
By 2006, when my friend Cate gave me as a Christmas gift a yoga mat and the yoga class of my choice, I was a hundred pounds overweight. I was also recovering from a year long sickness with lung fungus, and my back hurt so much of the time that I had weekly visits to a chiropractor and a massage therapist. I didn’t know much about yoga then. But when I saw the Yoga for the Larger Woman class in a catalog, I liked the sound of it; and Cate said that she’d do it with me.
It wasn’t exactly love at first sight, me and this yoga stuff. But thankfully Cate kept going with me and encouraging me. (When she was out of town, she’d bribe with me gifts so that I would still go to class even without her being there.)
It took about six months, but I began noticing changes. I had lost 10 pounds. I was becoming stronger. I started standing straighter, and my flexibility improved. My co-workers even began commenting that I had a new bounce in my step. So when a second LW class was offered, I signed up for that one too. Later, I was taking three weekly classes.
These were all positive changes. And I knew that they were coming from the yoga. But I also knew that I needed to lose more weight and do much better with my diet. And then it happened. I learned from my doctor that I had Type 2 diabetes.
It was hard for me to admit that I was a diabetic. But I told myself that it was time to face the truth and do something about it.
As it happened, the diagnosis came when I had just committed to a year-long project, with others and the guidance of Vilma, of building a daily home practice. I was to practice yoga at home every day for one year and blog about it several times a week. And you know what, I did.
During that year, I cultivated a self-awareness not only to create my own yoga practice, but also to watch my relationship with food and change my eating habits. For example, one night I was looking in the refrigerator for a snack and the lemon yogurt looked inviting. I stopped and asked my body, are you really hungry? The answer was, no. So I closed the refrigerator and went to bed. This was something I had never done before.
I also used the required regular blogging to help me track my eating habits. It gave me a pretty good picture. A balance of food choices was certainly missing, most noticeably, fresh veggies. Little by little, I stopped relying on vending machines and fast food pick ups. I started making my own breakfast, instead grabbing something on the way to work. I began make a lunch to take with me, instead of grabbing something on the way. Then I started bringing veggies for snacks. The structure and awareness of my yoga practice was helping me in lots of ways to change my eating habits. (I also apologized to my son for setting up bad eating patterns for him that he was now working on breaking.)
That year of building a home practice also got me to develop a daily walking habit. I went from struggling to walk a few blocks to walking at least a mile per day – in good weather, sometimes three miles a day. It seemed that yoga, walking and diet change was the right combination for me. At the end of the project year, I was 20 pounds lighter and my diabetes A1C test numbers said that I was no longer clinically diabetic.
I am growing so much with the help of yoga. I am trying new things; I am moving outside my comfort zone. I know that food issues may well be my life’s work. But the awareness that I am gaining through yoga continues to help me make changes, to make progress one day at a time.
Believe me, I’ve come a long way baby!