Indigo30 DAY 30: Farewell

We have arrived … we have come to the end of our journey together. I am so grateful for the time that we shared. I am grateful for the lessons learned, the friends made, the goals achieved, big and small and everything in between.

Endings are always odd for me, I have to admit. I’d have to sit down with someone a lot more clever than myself to dig up some psychology on why I tend to go a little numb during goodbyes, but I am fairly sure it has something to do with the fact that I have had many endings in my life.

As a child I had many traumas of “low-grade neglect,” as I sometimes call it, the child of functioning alcoholics, and I had to grow up fast. It has always felt like a loss, my own childhood, especially as I watch my own children grow, and realize I cannot remember very large portions of my early years. Then the storms really blew in. I lost part of my home to a forest fire when I was 14. I lost my entire home to some kind of “accidental” fire when I was 16. I lost my mom mentally that day, her eyes rolled back into her head and she never returned to us, but rather to the bottle and any other numbing agent she could find to escape everything but a shallow breath. I lost my dad 12 years ago to my mom’s alcoholism and addiction, and subsequently to a new wife and life that didn’t really have any room for me, my brother or our children. I lost my mom to the heavens 6 years ago when her addictions, sadness, depression and despair were finally soothed by death. I’ve lost two and a half husbands, all three to some kind of addiction, and my behaviors in response went from very bad in retaliation to very enabling to, at long last, albeit enabling for a while, a non-negotiable  break with almost no emotion. (They call me the Head Witch but I am starting to think of myself more as the Black Widow.) I am a single parent who is raising her boys with no family around but, as irony would have it, an incredible sister-in-law. I built a company from less than nothing. The loss and aloneness I can feel at times are paralyzing. Thousands of moments have passed, when I have felt like I had no options, no wisdom and no guidance, when I have looked up because looking down can become a tendency, and imagined a holy angel, my mother, and said, “Why did you leave me? I need you. I can’t do this all by myself.”

As I look back on my life and its abundant loss, mostly of love, harmony, security and family, I have learned the skill of resilience and grit, which I am so thankful for, because gosh I have needed it when crumbling was just not an option. The downside of steadfast resilience and grit is a kind of numbing, a hardening. And it makes goodbyes feel like just another loss I need to gut through.

Before I even started this program, I vowed to myself that I would go through all of the processes with you, and be my own student. In many ways I also feel like I have now become my own teacher; the brilliant and wise teachers I have had over the years have, through their teachings, brought me back to me. I often hear them tell me in meditation, “You already know this. You already have the answers. You don’t need me to tell you. You already have this in you. I am not your teacher, you are your teacher. Stop looking outside of yourself. It’s all within you. All you have to do is listen.” Without me realizing it, through years of yoga, meditation and inquiry, I have learned the most important lesson of all: to trust my own intuitive way of doing things. Intuition isn’t always pretty. Trusting it is sloppy at best. Intution is flighty and it wanders all over the place and most of the time, it doesn’t make any sense at all. It’s a confusing house of mirrors, with no apparent strategy and seemingly no end. And yet, we all sum it up — what our gut, or our soul, or however you want to describe the inner knowing — with this common phrase, “everything happens for a reason,” which is an easy thing to say if the trauma isn’t happening to you, or after you know said reason. And it’s irritating AF to hear when you’re running into mirrors, bloodying your head.

So much of what I have written — perhaps all of it — is me teaching myself through you. The stumbling blocks, the sticky spots, the blind spots that lead us astray, the quagmire that we sometimes wallow in — I am doing all of the same things. I just have a really remarkable tool that I never really understood nor did I realize I had until the past year — it’s a piece of my heart and soul that always whispers, “keep going.”

Keep going, it says. Even if you have to slow down, just keep going.

When you want to fall apart, go ahead and fall apart. And then keep going.

When you want to run like the wind in the opposite direction of all of your responsibilities and all of the things that you created by your own choices and actions, go ahead and run. And then stop, and turn around and face it all like a warrior. And keep going.

When you feel all alone, keep going.

When you feel completely supported and everything is ambling along with ease and gentleness and comfort, keep going.

When the road comes to an end, you better get your thinking cap on and figure out how to build a new road. Because you have to keep going.

________

I was born near the Yankton Indian Reservation in southeastern South Dakota, on a very cold winter’s night in February, 1974. I was only one of two babies born that day. The reservation is the homeland of the Yankton Sioux and covers approximately 262,300 acres. It is the second-largest Indian reservation in the United States that is located entirely within one county. Legend has it that while Lewis and Clark gathered with the Yanktons in 1804 on Calumet Bluff, a baby boy was born. Captain Lewis learned about the birth, sent for the child, and wrapped him in an American flag. Lewis gave a speech in which he prophesied that the boy would live to become leader among his people and would be a great friend of the white men. “Struck by the Ree” (1804-1888) grew up to become Chief of the Yankton Tribe. As a leader, he befriended the whites, yet remained dedicated and loyal to his people. I love this story. I love that — a spritual leader of Mother Earth and the Great Spirit, brought people unlikely to befriend, together, and was a highly respected Chief among his devoted people — was born where I was born.

I grew up from age 2 in the Black Hills of South Dakota. The Black Hills rise from the horizon, a gloriously dark, mysterious and unexpected island in a sea of green and yellow prairie grass. Its pine forests and granite peaks keep centuries of stories and history, while the aspens whisper in the breezes and cover patches of foothillls like a blanket made of golden threads. Home to the Lakota Sioux, who called this place Paha Sapa, or Black Hills, because its pine-covered slopes appear black from a distance. The hills are not only magical to see and feel, but the Lakota viewed them as the center of the universe, home to spiritually significant sites. The majestic buffalo, sacred to the Lakota, still roam. In fact, they roam on my brother’s ranch, and I have fed the enormous, beautiful beasts with my own hands, while tears streamed down my face in awe.

There is a book I cherish, called The Lakota Way. It speaks of the beliefs, values and wisdom that have sustained the Lakota people, the people of my birthplace and home, “since time immemorial” through stories — stories handed down generation after generation. The author, Joseph Marshall III, wrote another book, called Keep Going, the Art of Perseverance. This book always sits on my desk.

Before I leave you, before I say goodbye, I want to share a short piece of this book.

A young man asked his grandfather why life had to be so difficult sometimes. This was the old man’s reply.

Grandfather says this: “In life there is sadness as well as joy, losing as well as winning, falling as well as standing, hunger as well as plenty, badness as well as goodness. I do not say this to make you despair, but to teach you reality. Life is a journey sometimes walked in light, sometimes in shadow.”

Grandfather says this: “You did not ask to be born but you are here. You have weaknesses as well as strengths. You have both because in life, there is two of everything. Within you is the will to win, as well as the willingness to lose. Within you is the heart to feel compassion as well as the smallness to be arrogant. Within you is the way to face life as well as the fear to turn away from it.”

Grandfather says this: “Life can give you strength, strength can come from facing the storms of life, from knowing loss, feeling sadness and heartache, from falling into the depths of grief. You must stand up in the storm. You must face the wind and the cold and the darkness. When the storm blows hard you must stand firm for it is not trying to knock you down, it is really trying to teach you to be strong.”

Grandfather says this: “Being strong means taking one more step toward the top of the hill, no matter how weary you may be. It means letting the tears flow through grief. It means to keep looking for the answer, though the darkness of despair is all around you. Being strong means to cling to hope for one more heartbeat, one more sunrise. Each step, no matter how difficult, is one more step closer to the top of the hill. To keep hope alive for one more heartbeat at a time leads to the light of the next sunrise, and the promise of a new day.”

Grandfather says this: The weakest step toward the top of the hill, toward sunrise, toward hope, is stronger than the fiercest storm.

Grandfather says this: “Keep going.”

My friends of Indigo30, it has been a pleasure teaching you and learning with you. Thank you for listening to my words. Now go and share and do amazing things with the gifts you have been given from every teacher, including yourself.

Your Indigo30 is now complete.

Indigo3O DAY 24: Cleaning house

You’ve spent 23 days cleaning your insides. Can you believe that? Your digestive tract is now like a water slide! And because of that, your skin is clearing (or clear!) your eyes are brightening (or bright!) your hair is shiny-ing (or shiny!) … just by changing your food and getting on your mat, every darn day. You have successfully created a routine, and even your BRAIN is clean. Sure you are still feeling emotions, but I bet the mood swings aren’t as drastic. And I bet the smiles outweigh the frowns.

In the ancient texts of yoga, there is a practice called sauca. Sauca literally means purity, cleanliness and clearness. So good job with the body, food and digestive sauca! Kidding image.pngaside, sauca is first of the niyamas on the eight limbed path of Ashtanga Yoga. (This topic is as expansive as the horizon, so I won’t go into great details about the eight limbs … you can come to teacher training for that! You are, however, on the path, you may just not know it yet …) Suffice it to say that sauca has very great and deliberate importance.

I like to think of sauca as a blank canvas. A clean slate. An open field. Space for creation. What we know about life is that it is very hard to create anything of significance on top of something else. Think of a house that has been run down, neglected, beat up, littered with trash and losing its structure. Would we just build over and around it? No. If we had the resources we needed, we would likely tear the whole thing down and start fresh. This makes perfect sense, don’t you think? And yet, we do not do this with our own bodies and minds. Instead, we pile on more without taking the time to scrape the lot so that we can use our resources wisely. Enter, the practice/niyama of sauca.

Sauca refers to purity of mind, speech and body. We all know that you can look super fab on the outside, but if you are a wreck in your heart and falling apart in your mind and cruel to the people around you, no amount of makeup, weight loss, designer handbags, expensive cars, big houses or big talk will make a difference. You are still a wreck in your heart and falling apart in your mind and cruel to the people around you with a whole bunch of stuff to (try to) hide it from everyone. The irony? People see through it all. Sooner or later, in whatever way, they start to back away.

This niyama is considered essential for happiness and general well-being. Anger, hatred, prejudice, greed, pride, fear, aggressive, passive aggressive, shaming, impatient or dominating communication, intolerance, negative thoughts … these things cause what the yogis refer to as “impurities of the intellect,” and according to these pretty dialed-in dudes, they are cleansed through the process of yoga — but not just poses. The poses help us get to the next level of “cleansing,” which is stillness. It is ONLY when we get still enough to listen that we are able to then clean out thought, or more professionally stated, inquire or self-examine. We cannot know ourselves if we are running around chasing the clock and chasing our tail all day. Busyness is an epidemic. We are not more important to others because we are busy. And we are not lazy if we are not busy. What a complete and total black hole of despair we have created with this busy culture! And in the meantime, we are losing our sense of self. When we sit quietly and practice mindfulness and meditate — or even just pray — we get still enough to listen and self examine. We stop talking and start listening. That is the third step of sauca.

“Sauca doesn’t lie beyond asana (poses) so much as it lies before it,” writes Emma Newlin. “If we turn up on our mats with a sense of aggression instead of ahimsa (non -violence), self-denial instead of satya (truthfulness), laziness instead of tapas (discipline or burning passion) and impurity instead of sauca (cleanliness), then we’re not likely to progress as positively throughout our sadhana (our practice).”

Sauca also calls for a cleanliness of surroundings. Home space, car space, office space. I am a very organized person and keep my spaces pretty clean and neat. Zen space for me is comforting. image.pngSo my routines for cleanliness are ingrained. My children often tell me that they love how tidy I keep things because it helps them feel calm. And they know where their stuff is which keeps them from getting frustrated looking for something, extends the life of their toys and belongings and keeps them from panicking and freaking out in the mornings before school. That is a huge win. It’s more work for all of us to keep up with, no doubt. But the trade-off is immense — peace in a typical time of struggle.

Perhaps for the remaining days of your Indigo30, since you have most all of the routines down now, you can take a look around at your spaces and start to clean them out too. Clean out some junk drawers. Purge your closet. Organize your desk. Choose just one thing a day so you don’t get overwhelmed.

You know how to scrutinize the contents of your food — now do the same with the products in your home — household, personal care, pet care. If you took some personal inventory of all the things you slathered on your body each day, I bet you would freak out. Shampoo, conditioner, body soap, shaving cream. Toothpaste, face cleanser, face lotions, makeup. Hair detangler, volumizing mousse, hair spray, on and on with the hair products omg. Body lotion, perfume, deodorant. And don’t forget, you then dress yourself in clothing that has been washed in laundry soap, softener and sometimes bleach.

I could keep going. I haven’t even gotten to all the stuff you clean your house with. Listen, I’m not trying to get you to use fewer products or stuff — the idea of practicing sauca is to pay attention to what’s in what you use. Examine the contents for harsh chemicals. Your body has to work so much harder to deal with all of them. Emma Newlin uses a great example, one of simply eating an apple. “You may or may not know that apples have the highest amount of pesticides of all fruit, which is why it’s best to eat organic apples. If we eat an apple full of pesticides, our body has to detoxify and digest the impurities before being able to absorb the goodness of the apple.” What a shame!

And it’s really no different on your mat. If you come into class holding onto a whole bunch of negativity, it’s going to take a little while to burn through it all. And friends, I’m here to tell you, after 25 years of practicing, that some days, the fire isn’t stoked hot enough to burn through all the funk. But you get on your mat anyway, because some is better than none. Even if you have only 20 minutes — PRACTICE FOR 20 MINUTES. There is no apathy on a yoga mat. You get on it and you do the work, the work of purity of heart. Because you know that on the other side of that hour is a new perspective.image

Zoom your lens out macro this week. Start looking at the bigger picture, the wide-angle of your life. Look and listen for what needs some attention, some sauca. Perhaps it’s your sock drawer, or perhaps it’s how you speak to your spouse when he/she isn’t meeting your expectations. Perhaps it’s your garage, or perhaps it’s a relationship that needs some clean up (a.k.a, you taking accountability for your role in it.) Whatever it is, on the path of the yogi, we stop, we breathe, we get present, we own who we are and how we are showing up in every situation, and then… we take action for what is right and good and clean and pure.

You’ve got this.

KG,

B

Indigo30 DAY 19: Why do I feel terrible?

One of the reasons I decided to write this blog day by day instead of pre-writing them and just doling them out like a Vegas dealer was because I wanted to be right in the pressure cooker with you. Also, I thought, what if I have a topic planned and that’s not what is actually happening for everyone at that time? Well, the topic that was sort-of planned, (my attempt at at least a loose outline), was about buying local produce and meats. Sort of interesting. Not really. And not what’s actually happening right now.

What’s happening right now is that a good handful of you just plain don’t feel good. I know this because you’re telling me. And because (ahem) I don’t feel good either. Your body is hurting, you have stomachaches, you’re feeling flu-ish. And your wrestling with not only what to do about it but a genuine frustration about feeling sabotaged by the universal forces when you’re 1- working really hard and 2- starting to near the end and 3- you want to go out strong.image.png

“Should I keep eating like this while my stomach is a rumbling mess?”

“I’m sure I’m coming down with something. Should I go to yoga anyway and just lay there (because I really want my star.)”

“I feel bloated and fat. What gives?”

“My shoulder and elbow are angry and have sharp pain. Isn’t the inflammation supposed to have subsided by now instead of flaring up?”

“I have so much gas. I’m about to kill the all people around me from toxic fume inhalation.”

First of all, sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but you may feel worse before you feel better. Think of a fever and how it sometimes runs its course — you think you’re getting sick, you feel better and think you’ve triumphed, and then it comes back around and just kicks your butt. and it kicks it hard until all the infection is finally gone. Well, that’s what’s happening right now.

Second, just as a disclaimer, please do not come to the/a yoga studio if you are genuinely sick and get other people sick. Doing that just to get a star will get your ass kicked in a different way.

Third, and this is the moment of truth – be mindful about what’s happening. Stop the brain racing and get present…

Your body is still adapting and cleaning. That’s why you feel badly.

Or

You ate something off-program and your body is reacting.

Or

You’re just looking for a way out or someone to give you permission for a way out.

Or

You can still go to yoga, but you need to dial the intensity down.

And, on top of feeling badly and one of the above things is occurring, maybe this is also happening …

The frustration, the worry, the guilt and the runaway thoughts of being a little under the weather or a little achy and the consideration skipping yoga is outweighing the innocuous actuality of just going and doing what feels ok and resting in savasana the rest of the time.

You have to decide between the two stressors – the guilt of going and not doing as much or the guilt of not going. Or… just go to yoga and do what you can. Don’t be so dramatic about it.image.png

Also stop and consider that taking 1-2 days off amidst 30 because the flu has taken you down is not unreasonable. It’s SAFE.

Rethink what you are going through. Reconsider what’s actually happening versus what you think should be happening.

General discomfort

As I said earlier, it’s not uncommon on or around days 18-21 to feel terrible. It’s a mind trick for sure, but it’s normal. Here are some fairly easy remedies if you’re not up to par right now:

Digestive distress (gas, bloating, cramping): try some peppermint gels (watch ingredients, some have soybean oil) and digestive enzymes. Limit fibrous foods like broccoli, dried fruit and nuts. Increase good fat intake. Sprouts has a peppermint sparkling water (Crystal Geyser) that I pretty much live on. I am not sure it helps the bloat but the taste makes me feel like it does. And also peppermint tea, which, when I am a grandma, I am going to tell my grandkids cures everything.

Headache: Hydrate and supplement your hydration with electrolyte replenishment. Get more sleep. It may be stress, it may also be allergies. See if you can’t identify the trigger.

Joint and muscle aches: Epsom salt baths, Doterra Deep Blue Rub & oil, cold compress, massage, cryotherapy. Your place is in the Vinyasa-Restorative class for a few days unless you can honestly turn your practice dial down until you’ve recovered some.

Flu-like symptoms: Hydrate, rest and a potential trip to the doc — there’s a bunch of kid funk going around and that s–t doesn’t play.

Fatigue: Obviously rest. But sometimes, getting back on your mat is the cure needed to fight the fatigue, especially if you have a tendency to talk yourself into being tired.

image.png

All in all, please try to be patient with yourself. Stop, take some inventory. Get clear on what’s actually happening and try not to immediately dwell on how this “setback” means failure. Quite frankly, I’d be concerned if some of this stuff wasn’t happening to you, because if you’re really working the program, it’s inevitable. I’m going through it too, I promise. I feel like checking the “all of the above” box. So I know I need to back off a little, drink more water and get some better rest. Here’s an exercise: Even for just a day, redefine your definition of failure — make it mean not trying at all and being a judgy jerk to those who do! That is a good definition of failure, I think!

In the comments below, tell me and your comrades how you’re feeling. Sometimes hearing from others helps us realize everything is normal, we are not alone and especially that “everyone else” isn’t doing a gazillion times better at things than we are.

I love you guys. I’m so super proud of you. Keep going.

B

Indigo30 DAY 18: Leadership

image.pngI started a new session of teacher training tonight. For most people, that doesn’t mean a whole lot because they don’t really know what it even is (I mean, most people are rather perplexed about what I do for a living in the first place, but when I try to explain that I train teachers to teach yoga, everything gets real foggy.)  Most just think I’m teaching people how to do yoga poses. Which is about 3% true. The rest, what I actually teach and train teachers to do, is actually compilation of my life’s study and work (so far.) Somehow, I have documented and organized what I think is the most effective content and curriculum for training a teacher in a local environment, to be successful, inspiring, confident, and most of all, real not only in a yoga class room but in all of life. Over the course of the last two decades in this profession, I have fallen on my face many times. I have made thousands of mistakes.  There is no training manual for how to run a yoga studio or create a yoga school. There isn’t a course in college dedicated to educating yoga teachers AND training them to publicly teach in live classrooms of upwards of 100 people. And despite the many online offerings on “how to grow your yoga business,” no one is preparing brand new, budding teachers for the rigors of dealing with payroll taxes and HR issues, much less scaling the business to be able to offer things like benefits and PTO. And that’s saying nothing of keeping a team of teachers and employees happy and teaching with accuracy, consistency and a compelling delivery. This little tiny tributary of modern business is unchartered territory. Anyone who is blazing this trail is going in absolutely blind. And they better have grit and resolve the likes of a superhero, because when you have no guide, no map, you are going to get lost. A lot.

I used to make a fairly self-deprecating joke that I could write a book about all the things not to do as a yoga studio owner and yoga teacher. Only because I felt like I had made every mistake possible.

And then, one day I had a massive realization. I can’t recall the impetus or the trigger, but I realized a very simple truth: that I chose everything that has occurred in my life. image.pngEven the things that I suppose one could argue I didn’t choose, I still believe that I chose all of the things that led up to said “no-choice circumstance” that somehow got me in that situation in the first place. I also chose all of my reactions, all of my lamentations, all of my moments of victimization, regret, and lack of better, more thought out judgment. No matter what happened to me, I was suddenly finding myself pausing and dissecting where in the chain of circumstances I decided to start blaming someone else for misfortunes. When I figured out where and when that happened, I backtracked, and started owning it as my own. And suddenly, my dialogue changed. It was no longer a conversation of self-deprecation around having made every mistake possible. It was one of respect for every mistake made and a greater respect for catching myself sooner, and more quickly before making more. The key insight: it was all my choice.

Tonight, as I closed my class, my affable, everyday self  stepped aside in the last 45 minutes while the leader took over. Sometimes, I don’t even recognize this leader, she is so powerful and unwavering. And I know why: she believes and lives what she says and stands by it in the face of all adversity. This leader stood in front of 20 brand new and seasoned teachers alike and said something like this:

“I have a terrible flaw. It’s one of those good/bad flaws. It took me a long while to see the pitfalls of it. This flaw is one of seeing the potential and everyone. This risky flaw is that I believe in people more than they believe in themselves. Where some people see lack, I see possibility. The problem with this is that when I believe in someone, there can be an inherent pressure that is placed upon them. My intention of course is to only hold them up and show them how much potential they have. But what can sometimes happen is my belief in them puts so much pressure on them that they give up because they are afraid to let me down. Even though they couldn’t. Fear of failure outweighs the possibility of success. And sometimes, they simply don’t want the pressure. They get squeezed to be better, and they want out.

I get that. And, you (you new teachers in training) — you signed up for this. You paid money, applied, gathered references, completely rearranged your schedule, and put your heart on the line, voluntarily. You, by your own will (no one was forcing you, were they?) signed up to be under my guidance for the next 10 weeks. To do anything short of pushing you to your best would not only be an insult to you but and insult to all who came before you and did the work. So I am going to push you. And I’m going to coach you, and walk with you all the way to the end, so when you graduate from this school, you are so confident and so powerful in who you are, the world around you will never be the same.”

And I meant every word that I said. Why am I telling you this? Because your journey with the Indigo30 is really no different. You volunteered to be a part of this program, and in so doing, you gave me the responsibility to guide you. You are not doing the world any favors by sitting on the sidelines. You are not doing the people in your community or your family any favors by sabotaging your health with poor food choices and lack of movement and nourishing your stress by overworking or overcommitting. So if for any reason you think that you have, “had enough,” or, “that this is a waste of time,” or that “18 days is probably enough,” I will tell you right now, it’s time to step up to the plate and lead.image.png

Lead your family.

Lead your school.

Lead your parents.

Lead your church group, your children, your friends.

Show them what strength and discipline and self respect look like by staying the course and truly living — not just “doing” — but BEING a whole, healthy, authentic, example of self-love. There is more to all of this than just losing a few pounds and getting a new Vitamix. You are now a leader of health. Own it.

(Oroginally, I was just going to talk to you about cool gadgets tonight…)

Keep going.

B

Indigo30 DAY 15: HALFWAY THERE! What to expect, what not to expect.

Expectations are a darn tricky thing. In fact, there have been thousands of moments in my life where I realized the only thing that was causing my suffering was an expectation I had of something or someone. And being brutally honest, the expectation was usually unreasonable. And yet, how does one set goals without having expectations? I mean, even just logistic expectations? “I have a goal of completing the Indigo30. If I do 30 days of yoga and follow the nutritional standards of the Whole30, Screen Shot 2018-09-17 at 10.05.14 PMI expect to feel great at the end of the program.” Not unreasonable. It’s when we inflate a reasonable expectation with something that’s irrational. Maybe for a few days, you could think about expectations like math (I seem to equate (haha) so many things with math these days, but damn it’s logical!) — listen, everyone knows that 1 + 1 = 2. “If I eat an apple, (1) and I add raw almond butter (+1) I can be sure that I had a healthy, compliant, nutritious snack (=2).” The facts equal the outcome. There are no variables or unknowns.

It’s when we do this: If I do yoga (1) and eat Whole30 (+1), I should lose 10 pounds by Day 15.”  Wait, what? That didn’t even factor in any variable (body composition, fat to muscle ratio, how many other and what kind of calories you’re eating, how hard you are working in class, if you are losing fat but gaining muscle, or even if you had any real weight to lose in the first place …?)  Do you see how easily we can create stories and unreasonable expectations? And it’s happening in your sweet little brain and therefore in your surroundings ALL DAY EVERY DAY. With your spouse, with your children, with your colleagues, with where you are in life, even with strangers in the car in front of you, expecting them to behave exactly like you need them to so that they keep your life moving at the pace you think it needs to move: “<<HONK>> WHY IS HE JUST SITTING THERE AT THIS LIGHT! <<HONNNNK>> GET OFF YOUR DAMN PHONE YOU _______!!” (Meanwhile, who knows but what this man in front of you just lost his wife to cancer and put his head down to cry at the stoplight.) You know it possible. It’s not likely, but it’s possible.

I’m serious you guys, your expectations are unreasonable. And wherever they sit with this program right now, I want you to do a very serious real-talk check in. Because if you’ve even followed the program 80-90%, your body is absolutely, positively changing somehow, even if its minor because 80-90% effort is 80-90% better than 0% effort. You’re likely sleeping better, your skin is likely clearing, your eyes are probably brighter, and no matter what, because I’ve thrown about a million things at you, one noodle is going to stick on the wall that you will remember, so admit it or not, you have also learned something.

Now I don’t want to discount the potential feeling of discouragement or overwhelmment. I know it’s real. I know the benefits everyone raves about are so coveted that you want them all and want them now. And some have them already. But for others of you, you have to stay the course. Your math equation has way, way different variables than your fellow team member. Your expectation of how something “should” be or “is supposed to be” could very well be the thing that’s holding you back. It usually is.

Today I realized that I’ve cared more about what I weigh than the true health of my body. I understand now that if this doesn’t change, I will never lose all the weight that I need to. This is my goal for these 30 days: changing my mindset and changing my life.” — Sara K., Whole30 Day by Day

What’s Actually Happening

During week three (can you believe it?!) you are still adapting. You have a groove, for image.pngsure. I like to think of the ego right now sitting in time out with it’s arms tightly crossed, smirk on its face, just tapping it’s foot, plotting. Like it’s saying, “Okay fine. I’ll let her do her ‘Indigo30 thing’ (in a snarky tone with and eye-roll and air quotes). She will be back. And when she is, we are going back to how it used to be, when I was in charge of her decisions and self-worth. And I will entice her by reminding her that she deserves that glass of wine and coconut cream pie, and everyone around her is WRONG.”

No, we aren’t going to let that happen. Ego may be sitting there tapping its foot, but the truth is, it’s hanging on for dear life. It knows its days are numbered now that you have control over your health. It may deliver some sucker punches as it tries to claw its way back — like cravings, negative self-talk or making you question yourself. But you have the tools now: phone a friend and get to your mat. STAT.

Now as long as I am ranting about reasonable expectations and being real with how things actually are versus the story, I think it’s good to address this question: What if, after these two weeks, you haven’t noticed much happening? Nothing miraculous, nothing huge, nothing out of the ordinary or surprising. You may be asking, is this Indigo30 thing really working?

First, it’s an absolutely fair question to ask. So think about the math equation again. Some of you came in already having done yoga for quite some time. And your diet might have already been relatively clean. So your equation is going to be pretty simple — you will just keep getting cleaner and stronger, but it’s also possible that your “progress” feels  smaller and slower because you were already pretty far along to begin with. This program, this time, has put you into what I call “refinement mode” or “polishing mode,” where your focus becomes even more detailed and specific. It’s like when you’ve been doing a yoga pose for a few years — and the teacher has you move your knee one half-inch to the right. To the beginner that would be silly if the rest of the pose was all over the place. But to the more intermediate student, that half-inch is refinement, and it can change the pose entirely for someone who is advanced. If your equation is different, say you’ve never done yoga or you were drinking soda pop every day or whatever that might look like — your results will vary as well. If you had a fair amount of weight to lose, it’s likely that you’ve lost a bunch already. And remember — please, please remember — IT’S NOT ALL ABOUT WEIGHT LOSS. Your body is literally healing and fixing itself and can finally function effectively, like it was designed to do from the months and years and DECADES of dietary abuse. You cannot expect it to be totally transformed in 2 weeks after years of neglect. It’s put up with a lot of your negligent shit for a long time. And a good portion of it is probably stuck in your lower intestine.

However, check this out, just because. If you are not seeing results, ask:

  • Is your food quality truly 100% Whole30-approved? A few small diversions (a single nibble of a cookie here, a splash of cream in your coffee there, and that one half-glass of vino when you really needed it after that grueling day at work, those few days you “took off” from yoga because gosh, you were tired …) All of this, even just the singular events themselves, are more than plenty to impede your progress. The program must be completed with 100% food quality and consistent yoga practice for the full 30 days for optimal results. My teacher, Baron Baptiste, usually says this at the beginning of a training, “You will either do this program, or your program. If you do this program, you will get certain results. If you do your program, you will get the same results you’ve been getting your whole life.”  …Sobering, huh.
  • Are you eating regularly? If you are cheating yourself out of meals you are cheating yourself of valuable nutrients by eating too little or too infrequently. And because you are doing yoga every day, I’m telling you — you won’t make it through class if you don’t have fuel. I’ve done this to myself a few times, not on purpose but because my brain runs so fast that I forget to eat. I am strong and practiced, but when my diet is this squeaky clean, I need to nourish a lot more regularly; if I don’t, even I’m in child’s pose seeing stars. Not good or smart.
  • Are you adding plenty of good fat to each meal? Straight up, y’all: if you skip this you simply will not have enough energy to keep going or think straight. Fat is image.pngGOOD. Fat is your friend! Maybe think “PHAT” instead and you will like it more. Same with good carbohydrate. I am not going to even say add in more say “especially if you are active,” because if you are doing yoga every day, you are beyond active. You are busting ass. So feed your body properly – add in sweet potatoes, butternut squash, pumpkin… all great fuel sources.
  • Are you sleeping enough? Lack of sleep affects hormone and stress levels, which as we have learned, absolutely, 100% affect body composition.
  • Are you exercising too much? I know we challenge you to get on your mat a lot, but are you doing other workouts as well? Are you maxing your practice every time you go to yoga? You must pace for the long haul and always aim for balance.
  • Do you have an underlying medical condition that could potentially be affecting hormone levels, energy production, etc?
  • Are you stressed? I don’t have to explain. You know.

If you can honestly, completely say that you have ALL of these factors in line, then my answer is not only irritating but probably what you need to hear and practice above everything else you’ve learned: be patient. Many people report that it truly did take the whole 30 days (and even then some, remember Melissa Hartwig’s testimonial?) to feel the magic. Let the journey unfold. You are a complex, complicated being. It’s good to have some goals, but let the results and enlightenment come when it’s all ready to reveal itself. If you do your math right, your answers will be exactly what they are supposed to be.

Keep going.

B

image.png

 

Indigo30 DAY 11: The Stages of Change

Welcome to Day 11. I’ve armed you with tools, tips and tricks. We’ve talked recipes and ideas and hacks. I’ve stayed consistent with my message about balance, which can always be found on your mat and in your heart. For all practical purposes, you have what you need to keep going. The thing is, you are entering into a phase of the program that will push you in different realms, realms that can’t be soothed with some Magic Mushroom Powder or epsom salts. Your mood and emotions are one of the last-ditch efforts that your habits and your ego will call on when your will and determination are finally getting ahead. Social pressure will add to the dynamic, and it may only take once to hear, “Are you STILL doing that diet/yoga thing?” to make you cave to frustration, resentment, righteousness or dissolution.

Not everyone is going to love the Indigo30. Some of you are downright bummed out, disappointed and just plain irritated. It’s not what you expected and it’s not what you signed up for. Except that it is. But maybe the change that is occurring isn’t the change you had imagined.

Change is hard. No one likes it unless they choose it voluntarily. Let’s dissect change for a moment so you can see how it affects you, step by step.

The Stages of Change Model, also known as the Transtheoretical Model, was developed by James O. Prochaska of the University of Rhode Island, Carlo Di Clemente and colleagues  beginning in 1977. It is based on analysis and the use of different theories of psychotherapy. The basic idea is that behavior doesn’t happen in just one step. People tend to progress through specific stages on their way to change, and each of us moves at a different pace. Sometimes, we go backwards and have to repeat a step over and over. In fact, some people never totally progress because they get stuck in a certain step and aren’t willing to do the uncomfortable and demanding work it takes to step off the hamster wheel, so to speak. And, trying to give someone advice or consequences for one stage while they are still in another … well, it simply doesn’t work; they aren’t ready. You’ve all experienced this yourself. If you’ve ever said, “Why couldn’t I see it when it was happening?” you know what I’m talking about and how it feels. It’s a hindsight thing. You just weren’t ready.

In each stage of change, we have to wrangle and wrestle with different issues. Messages will be heard differently, advice will be heeded or ignored, and conversation can either be considered, threaten, or dismiss. Knowing what stage you are in with certain things will also help you more insightfully understand which stage those around you in; and when you know this piece of information, your communication can be tailored in a way that’s more effective.

The Five Stages of Change include:

  1. Precontemplation. This is the first stage, and it’s when people are not yet acknowledging that there is a problematic behavior that needs to be adjusted, modified, replaced or totally stopped. People in this stage tend to defend their current bad habit(s) and do not feel it is a problem (sometimes it’s even your problem). They may be defensive in the face of other people’s efforts to pressure them to quit or modify. They do not focus their attention on quitting and tend not to discuss their bad habit with others. In some addiction circles, this stage is also called denial.
  2. Contemplation. Okay, so, there’s a problem. And, the person is still not sure they are ready to change. Here is when people have a bit more awareness that there might, af8b174b4c3132bee8fb6cc65345d8cb.jpgjust, perhaps be some consequences and even might spend some time thinking about the problem… but still aren’t ready to do anything about it. They weigh pros and cons, they may even consider the long-term impact, but are still not totally on board to lay down the habit and take any action. Overall they do not see yet that any benefits associated with the quitting or reduction of the habit will outweigh the short-term costs.
  3. Action/Willpower. Change occurs. Often because something drastic, some dramatic consequence, a serious wake-up call, or some impactful incident occurs that shifts the dynamic overall. It doesn’t always have to be negative, in fact, sometimes people move into the third stage because of something inspirational or even a program like the Indigo30, where others are participating and there is a new level of accountability. Nonetheless, the person believes they have the ability to change their behavior and are actively involved in taking steps to change. This is a miraculous stage, because it is when people start depending on their own willpower, versus the power of the default behavior. Overt efforts are made to quit or change the old habit. This is also the time when there is the greatest risk of relapse, so it’s imperative that whatever steps have been taken and the support that has been built stay intact so the person can leverage them and stay motivated.
  4. Maintenance. Ongoing, daily maintenance of the new habit is the ritual of this stage. Not only are the rituals maintained, but so is the willpower to avoid temptation and return to old ways. The goal of the maintenance stages is to maintain the new status quo. Progress made is a constant reminder. What one is striving for has purpose and meaning. Patience is a strong thread in the fabric of maintenance, as the person in this stage knows that it takes time to let go of old behaviors and successfully maintain new ones. Thoughts of “how I used to be” and old habits will regularly occur, but at this point, temptation is resisted.

You can probably categorize yourself as well as the people around you, witnessing your stage. Some don’t want to hear one word about what you are doing (they are in a precontemplation stage). Others may be asking you questions, and at the same time, challenging your responses — they doubt the process, argue their position and defend their behaviors (contemplation). Others are carefully watching and taking notes, gathering information and probably even planning their own journey to change. This is important for them; just as our pre-program week of preparation was for you. Diving in head first to behavior change (“cold turkey”) works for a few, but not for most. These folks are in an action stage. And finally and most excitedly, you may have people in your life who are really interested and want you to teach them what you are learning. They are committed and motivated — by you! They are in a maintenance stage.

Now remember — this stuff doesn’t just happen on its own. The habits, the behaviors and all of the effects have had lots of time to simmer. And when you cook it all down to its base, what you are left with is simple but powerful and all-encompassing for many: fear. Think about it for a moment — why, if change is something (the Indigo30, for example) that will only benefit you, make your life better, help you achieve things you never thought possible, improve all aspects of your life — why would anyone be so incredibly stubborn and reluctant to give up old patterns? In a word, fear.

Fear of admission — If you admit you have a problem, then by default, you acknowledge that you need to do something about it. Change is uncomfortable, but for many, mediocrity, status quo and old ways of being, while unproductive, ineffective, painful and even depressing, still may feel easier.

Fear of failure — Some people have tried so many times to lose weight, fix their health issues and problems, and what we see most — exercise more and eat less (only to end up eating more and exercising less) — that they consider each attempt a bona fide failure, whether they actually made progress or not. Failure in its actuality sucks for sure. The proposition of repeating it over and over is terrifying.

Fear of success — Oh yes, this is such an interesting one. So… what happens if I actually succeed? What kind of new pressures does that put on me to maintain? Some people have assigned their illness, their weight, and their health issues as their identity. So imagine what kind of life shift not even knowing who you are anymore is for someone who has attached so completely and entirely to their weight as identity, or their illness as who they are as a person. What if you suddenly had to change your name? It would be as if the old you just vanished; and with it all the stories, all the history, all the reasons to behave how you do. So when you are no longer Overweight-Mark or Tired-Jenny or In-Pain-Jane, the prospect of losing the story and the payoffs of attention, sympathy, lack of responsibility you get from that story/identity — is a big trade-in.

Fear of responsibility — From the trade-in I just spoke of, also comes a new responsibility that some people simply aren’t wanting or willing to take on. To accept the idea that they could feel better by changing their diet and lifestyle is to accept the fact that their own actions in part could have contributed to their illness or health condition — and owning that is not only difficult, but takes a huge amount of bravery and vulnerability.

________

In yoga class, I often remind my students to remember that all of the stuff I teach them is, in fact, just information. Ultimately, they get to decide what to do or not to do with it. It’s the same with this. You will, undoubtedly, go through some of these stages, if you haven’t already. Knowing that there are actually stages at all will calibrate your dial, even if you do nothing at all to progress yourself through them.

In the end, you just get up each morning and give it your best shot. I imagine all of you, deep down, are aiming to just keep learning and be a better human overall. I am too. Today I had a wild moment of insight while talking to a friend about a pattern I have of rescuing. I said to her, “Do I attract it? Am I drawn to it for selfish purposes? Do I need it to feel needed? Do I want it? Or is it … (I sat there for several seconds) … is it just a default behavior?”  I walked away from that conversation feeling somewhat more consciously evolved because I took a moment to look at myself and question my own interpersonal pattern, and went a step further and verbalized it to a friend, which made it real, and made me own it. There was no solution or answer; but the acknowledgment of it was likely a step I needed. Now perhaps, with that aspect of my life, I will move into a new stage — the action stage — and not rescue the wounded (ooohhhhh it’s gonna be hard.)

So take this information and let it distill. Be gentle with yourself if you are still in stages 1 and 2, and call on your people if you need help. Lead by quiet example and be confident in your choices to the best of your ability. Seek socialization, not isolation, unless you can feel in your bones that you need to ground and restore on your own.

And, above all, keep going.

B

Indigo30 DAY 7: One week (almost) in the bag

Today when you wake up, you will think, “I’ve made it one week!” But hang on there, you still have today to complete before you have a whole week in the bag. But when the day ends, and you crushed your goals AGAIN, you will sleep like a baby.

A lot of information has been thrown at you in the last 2 weeks, really, so let’s use today as a good day to assess how things are going. The first thing you should do is high five yourself, because a week is a lot longer than the majority will endure. So here is a chance to reward yourself with something that is not food — because remember — what we are working to shift in perception and decades of thinking is that food is neither reward nor punishment. Think of something out of the box that would make you feel like you are celebrating a great success. A nap, a pedicure, a stroll with a friend you haven’t seen in months, maybe even a new yoga mat!

The second thing to do is put your food brain in time out for a few, and think about what’s going on in your life.

________

How is your family? Have you checked in with them this past week?

image.pngWhat core feelings do you notice coming up the most (joy, anger, fear, sadness, disappointment, acceptance)?

How do you feel in the middle of your yoga practice (Like it goes by fast? Like it’s dragging on? Like you’re hearing your teacher for the first time? Like you think your teacher will never shut the hell up? Like the people next to you seem to be doing it better? Like you’re feeling stronger? Like the guy in the corner is making weird noises? Like you notice you’re sweating like never before?)  — Have you ever really thought about these things this deeply? Or have you just slid on the surface of, “It was great!” or, “It was hot,” or, “It was hard.”

If you’ve taken a restorative class — how did that go? Were you surprisingly content and floating on air or were you agitated and counting all the reasons why you will never come again?

What are your conversations like right now?

The third thing to do, is seriously consider adding in meditation to your routine. I know it’s scary. I know that some people think that if you “meditate” that suddenly the dark forces will swallow you up and snakes will come out of baskets and Pink Floyd will suddenly be coming over speakers that magically appeared because after all, magic. Well, as cool as that actually might be if any of it were real, it’s not. Here is what meditation is, folks. It’s image.pngsitting quietly and still. Sorry to disappoint.

What is not disappointing are the volumes of scientific research that is currently being produced about the positive effects of mediation on stress and overall wellbeing. VOLUMES. Every single Psychology Today issue (I subscribe, I know) has some kind of article talking about what mindfulness is doing for … well … everyone everywhere. If you are stuck in the old, and pardon me, ignorant thinking that it has some kind of religious affiliation or leaning then I beg of you — beg — to consider that you have been wrong all along. All it is, is just getting still. Still enough to let your thoughts clear so that you have the capacity to discern fiction from reality and then face your day working with what’s real, and not the fantasy stories you’ve created about things. Five minutes a day. That’s all I ask.

And after those five minutes — you will be able to get flat with how you are showing up for the program. Like really. Take a look at the “common errors” below (after sitting quietly for a few minutes) and answer them honestly. And if you’ve derailed at all, let the moment you finish reading this blog be the moment you start fresh again.

________

On this day, Day 7, Whole30 will also ask us if we are making a few common errors. I call it  “clean up” coaching, and I do the same thing with my team of teachers when we all adopt some slightly lazy techniques or cues, and need some outside perspective to keep us sharp going in the direction we intended. Are you making any of these common errors?

  1. “It’s a technicality.” — Technically Paleo foods like Paleo pancakes, almond flour brownies and sweet potato fries don’t promote a healthy psychological response or maximize nutrition. They are satisfying your sweet or fried food tooth … still. So your habit is not changing. And we have learned a thing or two about habits. In order to change them, you have to identify the behavior. In this case, the behavior is eating a treat as a reward.
  2. The wrong fats — Too many nuts, seeds, <and nut butters> equals too many fragile polyunsaturated fats, which may promote inflammation in the body. I know they are easy to pack in your bag and stash in your car. But recall that we are working to not snack so much, and re-train ourselves to eat actual meals. Having nuts in all corners of your life can be as much of a mindless eating frenzy as chips or candy.
  3. Eat more — Energy dragging, but still afraid of fat or carbs? Eating enough of both sustains energy levels, healthy and athletic performance. On the Whole30, we are not trying to restrict; we are not counting macros or carbs or calories or grams of anything. If you are hungry — genuinely hungry — then please just eat. Those gram counting days need to be laid to rest for good. Which leads me to the next error…
  4. By-the-numbers — You’re so focused on your “numbers” — blocks, grams, calories, or the big one — body weight — that you override all of the messages your body is trying to send you. You know, this one is one of those that I feel very divided on. I know the struggle is real. I have never been really heavy, but I have definitely had times in my life when I had about 10-20 more pounds of weight on me than I needed and it didn’t feel good. So I know that it’s not another one of those “quit complaining and be grateful for your health” conversations, because when you’re really in it, it’s all you can think about. And, you are the only one who can decide to shift the mentality and thinking. The more you obsess over your weight, the more you won’t focus on anything else. Your friends and family and coworkers will start to tire of every conversation being about weight loss, and start tuning you out, and then you will feel like they don’t care, and probably start obsessing more. Friends, if you are really struggling, I highly encourage you to find a personal coach or therapist to help you get a handle on the thoughts and help you through this process. If you need to speak about it privately, please do not hesitate to contact me. And, if you are just mildly obsessing because it’s just old habit, then perhaps these 30 days can be a new chapter for you. You know the anatomy of a habit now; see if you can shift the routine from one of being dominated by the contained life of numbers to being dominated by creative, malleable, accepting healthy living and communicating. I promise you, it’s a lot more fun out here!
  5. Nature’s candy — Using the “natural” sugars found in fruit to satisfy your sugar cravings is recipe for more sugar cravings, and maybe too much sugar. It’s about Day 7-9 or so when the thrill of the program is wearing off a little, and the old habits are starting to crawl their way back … don’t be fooled just because you are discovering new, compliant sweet foods! Watch your patterns. Be mindful.
  6. You’re already starting to plan “off days” of yoga because, damn, you’re tired and deserve a break. Listen here yogis, I am not asking you to run a marathon every day. I am asking you to get on your mat every day. YOUR YOGA MAT FOR CRYING OUT LOUD. You know, the one that you keep at your swanky yoga studio, the one that, when you walk in, everyone treats you like Norm at Cheers, but instead of a beer you get hugs and high fives and a fluffy dog is running around wiggling, excited to see you. Oh! And then, you get to go into a super nice locker room and store all your things and then — here’s the torturous part, I know — you have to go into a lovely, peaceful yoga room that smells like eucalyptus and peppermint and move your body around, which, improves your circulation, strengthens your muscles, clears your skin, makes you happier, and lets you just be you and not worry about anything else for a solid hour. The teachers don’t even care if you just lay there the whole time. In fact, if you take a break, they might just pat your back or put a cool, lavender-scented towel on your forehead.  Listen, I know it’s rough. I hope you can survive it.

All right all right, no more sarcasm. I’m just trying to make you laugh. So do this: let today image.pngbe a check in or a pep talk or a self-coaching butt-kicking if you need one. Walk up to your mirror, like I taught you to do a few blogs ago, and say, “Self, you’ve (insert expletive if necessary) got this. Now get out there and make it happen.”

Keep going.

B