40 Days with Paige Fussell
I’m a veteran of the 30-day challenge. 30 yoga classes in 30 days. No problem. I’ve done a couple. So what’s an extra 10 days? Piece. Of. Cake. Sure it is – if you don’t factor in increasing increments of meditation twice a day, dietary restrictions that made me doubt what I thought was my healthy relationship with food, and weekly meetings to discuss your thoughts on the previous and upcoming weeks.
At the time the 40-Day Challenge popped up in my Facebook event notifications, I had been looking for something – anything – to jump start my struggling mind-body. I had fallen out of a consistent yoga practice. As a result, I felt unconnected and out of balance with my internal self, I had veered so far off my “intended” path that even breadcrumbs wouldn’t help me find my way home, and I bought my first pair of Spanx. Add on the lack of motivation to change any of this, and you’ve got one unhappy, floundering lump of humanity just trying to make it to the next quick meal-on-the-couch-in-front-of-the television. I felt unhealthy both physically and mentally.
But I did it. One call later and I committed to the guidelines of the program that would govern my life for the next 40 days. I figured the yoga part would be easy. Being a 30-day vet and everything, the one day of rest per week was like asking a 3-star Michelin chef to make toast. I was worried about the meditation. Could I sit that long? Could I carve out time every day for just sitting? Then came the dietary restrictions. No caffeine. No problem. No alcohol. No problem. No sugar? What did you say? Do you mean like no sweets/desserts? I can still have white bread, right? I found out at our first meeting that no sugar meant no sugar. That was it. I was in full-on panic mode now. I’ll admit that the hardest part of my program was cutting out sugar in my diet and eating healthier, whole foods. I had no idea that my nutritional health was in such peril and how badly I was shortchanging myself with pre-packaged and unhealthy foods that comforted and soothed me like a drug. I now had to plan my meals and actually think about what was going into my body instead of mindlessly shoving in whatever was convenient. I didn’t think I had missed the alcohol and the caffeine until I had my first post-program real cup of coffee and could drink a glass wine of with no guilt. Yes, I cheated one time … ok, maybe twice. And I owned up to it. But in the end, I wish I had denied myself during those times. Just stuck to my guns and said no. Looking back, I cheated … I cheated myself by not just sticking with the commitment I made. I am a chronic rule-breaker and rebel of authority. Tell me I cannot do something, and I’ll try to convince you why I can. This was never more apparent to me after this program.
Lesson learned. Throughout the program I had a nagging back ache. No big deal, I thought, I’ve had constant low-back pain since a car accident in 1984. I would just push through, take it easy, listen to my body. As the program continued my back pain continued as well, and by the fifth week became so intense I went to an orthopedist. A herniated disk was my diagnosis – an old injury that had been aggravated probably by my gross inactivity pre-40-day challenge. My treatment was physical therapy and to discontinue yoga, especially flexion which included seated forward bends (paschimottanasana), definitely forward folds (uttanasana) and even child’s pose. Child’s pose? What? That was a restful pose! I was disappointed and felt like the worst yogini ever. Certainly, I had done something to cause this. Why couldn’t I just take it easy and everything would work itself out. But it was not going to get any better. The last week’s theme was triumph. I had nothing to be triumphant about. I was in such pain I couldn’t even make our group’s celebratory party. My sixth week’s lesson didn’t come in the sixth week; it came about three weeks later when I could step off a sidewalk and not feel a jarring pain in my spine and down my legs. I was, slowly but surely, triumphing over the injury.
I learned many lessons about myself during this challenge. If anything, my 40-day experience has taught me acceptance — acceptance in many areas of life, including surrendering to my recovery of this injury. I also had to accept that white bread and rice and the foods of my youth no longer have a place in my diet. I continue to work on my meditation. But I will always be a work in progress. I have many things to learn and to teach.
More Paige please…
Check Paige out on her blog! www.sideoftheleaf.wordpress.com
More info on the 40 Day Program starting Monday, May 20 Click Here!
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