July 5, 2012 by rapoulson
I don’t know a lot of things. I’ve never really had a blog because I don’t know a lot of things and it seems pretty silly to expect people to read the things you write on the Internet when you know you don’t know a lot of things. But this February, I came to the realization that I do know one thing, and if it’s the only thing I’ve learned in a quarter century on the planet, it’s okay, because it’s a big one:
I am happier and healthier than I’ve been in my entire life, and it’s because I’ve given myself permission to lighten up.
I’ve never been overweight, aside from being a personal trainer, that seems to be the main credential of many of the people who run the fitness blogs I love. I don’t have any inspirational story, I don’t have before and after pictures. But my relationship to food and my body has changed dramatically in the past year or so and I want to celebrate it.
I’m lucky, I’ve got good genes. My craziness has never really stemmed from body image (okay maybe a tiny bit occasionally, I’m human. Moreso, I’m female and American) but when my life feels out of control, that definitely manifests itself in the way I treat my body—which of course, turns into that quest for control which strips you of all control.
There was that year of my life where I’d be wracked with guilt if I didn’t spend 3 hours on the eliptical every night. There were the many times I’d decide to be Atkins and vegan simultaneously. There There was the time I had to lie down on the kitchen floor because I hadn’t eaten in many, many days, and even though I knew it was completely illogical, I couldn’t shake the feeling that the sky was pressing down on me. I thought everyone was like that, and I thought I’d be like that for always…yeah…that shit cray.
And then life happened, got a job, got friends, got a new apartment, got drunk, got really angry at forces much larger than me, quit a job, lost friends, got more drunk, got fired by lesbian space aliens, found a passion, went on a date with a guy who wouldn’t eat ice cream…
And that was a moment for me. When my date mentioned that he wasn’t eating ice cream in an effort to be healthy, I realized that I hadn’t thought about dietary restrictions, my own or anyone else’s in probably 18 months. And that was a huge deal. I had just gone through this really hectic time of growing pains and becoming really immersed in the New York food and beverage scene, and somehow, I’d started eating intuitively. Almost by accident.
I care about my health. I work out 4-6 days/week. I like to cook. I’ve been vegetarian since I was six years old for no apparent reason. I’m kind of a snot about food that comes in boxes or cans, maybe because both of my parents have lived on farms at some point in their lives. On my mother’s side, cooking is a competitive sport.
But I also like to go out. I can drink a bottle of champagne by myself (if you insist). I appreciate good whiskey, I really appreciate good cheese. On occasion, I enjoy a large order of cheese fries from Crif Dogs with a giant iced coffee. My current meal plan is pretty much DO NOT PUT ANYTHING IN YOUR MOUTH WHICH YOU’RE NOT REALLY FUCKING EXCITED ABOUT. Which, clearly, is excellent advice on many levels.
I’ve done yoga off and on for almost ten years, but in the past year, I’ve really gotten to an awesome place with my practice. I still love the fast, kick your ass, power yoga classes that I was so into when I was 19, but I’ve started taking an Anusara class that feels the way that church feels for people who go to church. I’m also really into running while watching Hardball with Chris Matthews. Basically, listening to my body and doing what I love has turned into a healthy life style which keeps me sane and can be summed up as, “Work hard and treat yo’ self.”
I believe in leaving it all on the mat, the treadmill, the bike—wherever (Note: I do not believe in leaving it all in the Zumba studio. Zumba is ridiculous. Stop trying to make me like Zumba) but I also believe in forgiving yourself. And I also believe in occasionally staying out late, getting really drunk and eating fancy cheese. This blog will celebrate all of those things. Running six miles on the treadmill during a Sex and the City marathon and drinking a truly spectacular bottle of wine are both fantastic ways to spend an evening.
That’s why this is Yoga for Hooligans. Because I’ve found that for me, at least, there’s no virtue in asceticism, no peace in trying to achieve perfection. Balance is comprised of equal parts temperance and indulgence.