I’m officially That Crazy Whole30 Lady

I had to travel into London this week to go to the US embassy to apply for a new passport because, like the genius I am, I lost my last one. Going from Bath to London is kind of a pain in the ass. You either have to cough up an unreasonable amount of money for a train ticket, or get on a coach that takes 3+ hours each way. But I was determined to make a good trip out of it. 

The universe had slightly different ideas. Starting with the fact that the aircon on my bus from Bath to London on Monday night was broken AND the radiators were on full blast because of an engine fault. 

But turns out that was to be the least of this Whole30-er’s issues. 

I love living in Bath, but one thing I find myself seriously deprived of here is decent sushi. I’d never ask for ‘great’ or even ‘good’ sushi in this country outside Nobu because that’s just unrealistic. But I got used to having constant access to Itsu in Brighton, so I now go out of my way to find an Itsu whenever I’m in London or Brighton. Luckily, I knew that there are two Itsus close to the US embassy in London, so I planned to have lunch at one after I’d sorted my passport out. Only problem is I can’t eat soy sauce. 

But I have had a savior this month in the form of Coconut Aminos; a sauce made from the sap of coconut trees that is a surprisingly OK Whole30-friendly soy sauce substitute. I bought a bottle off Amazon for a whopping £9 when my Whole30 first started, but it’s been a worthwhile investment. 

  
 
So by now you probably know where this is heading. I brought my whole bottle of Coconut Aminos with me into London so I could bring it to Itsu and have it with my sashimi. I cannot tell you how how much I was looking forward to this meal after 3 long weeks of god damn salmon and sweet potato fish cakes and protein salads. 

But, as it turns out, the US embassy really didn’t care how excited I was to have sashimi with my precious Coconut Aminos because, as they informed me when I was going through security, it doesn’t matter how much money I spent on the stuff on Amazon. 

“Large bottles of liquid aren’t allowed in the building, madam.” Well, at least he called me “madam” as opposed to “ma’am” like they do in the States. I hate that. 

Now, I could break here to go on a rant about how the US embassy (and the US in general) takes itself so cripplingly seriously it’s almost comic. But I won’t, because I haven’t received my passport yet and I really need it to go on honeymoon next month soooo…

Honestly, when Mr. Security Man told me I’d have to dump my whole lovely bottle of aminos, I very nearly had a panic attack. He was fucking with all my sushi plans. DIDN’T THIS TOOL KNOW HE WAS FUCKING WITH ALL MY SUSHI PLANS? But, using my mindfulness, I attempted to find a solution instead of having a – what would have been entirely justified – meltdown over a bottle of imitation soy sauce. Mr. Security Man told me that I could either ask a pharmacy a few roads away to store it for me for something like £10 (LOL no) or I could leave it precariously next to a bin outside and just pray that it would still be there when I finished up my passport appointment. 

I weighed up my options (few) and how much I valued my dignity (not very) and tried as subtly as possible to leave my Coconut Aminos next to the aforementioned bin, all the while maintaining eye contact with Mr. Security Guard hoping that he might back me up in case anyone accused me of attempting to plant a bomb. Who knew my Whole30 journey would find me at one point getting dangerously close to being accused of attempted terrorism? Life certainly does take unexpected turns. 

So I spent my 1 1/2 hours in the embassy asking the universe, without a hint of irony, to please protect my Coconut Aminos. It was stressful. 

Leaving the imposing concrete building once my appointment was over, I attempted to remain calm. After all, a crazy lady running out of the embassy towards a bin was bound to look even dodgier than leaving the bottle by the bin in the first place. 

I saw a grounds worker collecting rubbish from off the pavement. My heart began to thud. I was too late. 

But then there it was. My Coconut Aminos still tucked next to the same bin, mercilessly untouched. 

I speed-walked up to it. I picked it up. I hugged it. I saw a bunch of people queuing outside the embassy looking at me funny. I did not care. I had officially become a Crazy Whole30 Lady, but what the fuck ever. 

I got my sushi. All was well. 

   
(And don’t worry, Whole30 police, I didn’t eat the edamame.)

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Week 6 round-up: What doesn’t challenge you doesn’t change you

Note: Apologies for the horrible lateness of this post, but I spent this past weekend celebrating my birthday and have had veeeeery little free time since. Anyway…

Week 6. Goodness me. If week 5 was a roller coaster ride of emotions, then week 6 was akin to the Tower of Terror ride at Disney World. But we got through it, all in one piece, and it even seemed to go quite quickly.

What made the week quite so emotional completely eludes me. In a way, the pressure was actually taken off of us a bit, as it was re-certification week (in which teachers return in order to get re-certified, which you’re meant to do every three years). This meant that all the re-cert teachers were forced into the front row for every yoga class, and Bikram spent far more time yelling at them than he did at us. Honestly, there were times at which he gave the re-cert teachers a harder time than he’s ever given us… Which would make me completely petrified of the day I have to get re-certified, if it weren’t for the fact that you can also get re-certified at Rajashree’s annual women’s retreat. He spent most of the week ridiculing one (heavier) gentleman who had a consistently difficult time in the hot room, nicknaming him “Fat Ass” for the entirety of the week and forcing him to do third sets of a good portion of the postures, and he also spent a lot of time speaking Japanese to the five or so Japanese teachers who had come to re-certify. Of course, I have no idea what he said to them, but from the looks on all their faces I can only imagine that it wasn’t exactly complimentary.

As for his lectures last week? They were mercifully kept to a minimum. He only really lectured on the Monday evening. Tuesday evening was spent watching more Mahabharata, and Thursday and Friday evenings were spent in our Posture Clinics, during which we finished up the standing series and got down to the floor. As for Wednesday evening… it was Diwali! And what does that mean at Bikram TT? It means a great big party on the lawns of the resort, followed by a dance party in the resort’s night club (which was apparently right next to the hot room this whole time and none of us even knew about it). And not only did Bikram attend this dance party. Oh no. HE ACTUALLY DANCED WITH US. Yep. I made some seriously shit attempts at Bollywood dance moves right next to Bikram, whilst his son, Anurag, blasted his favourite Bollywood tracks from the DJ booth. I know, I know – pics or it didn’t happen. But seeing as we weren’t allowed to take photos, you’ll all just have to take my word for it. It was probably one of the weirder experiences of my life. But I do have to give the man credit. For a 69 year-old with bad knees, dude can still bust out some moves.

But unfortunately all this alleviation of pressure and bits of fun didn’t stop week 6 from being an emotional hell hole for a lot of us. Maybe it was just something in the air, maybe it was just plain exhaustion, who knows. But it seemed like a switch had been flipped all of a sudden, and we all started to feel everything a little bit deeper. Physical pains seemed to become more intense, especially where my knees were concerned, and some people had to resort to merely lying down in the back during class just to get themselves through the whole thing. The psychological pains that people started to feel, though, were even worse. Issues that people thought they had dealt with and had put in their pasts began to boil up again, and seemed to come back even stronger. Some of us (including myself) started to burst into tears mid-class for no apparent reason.

I don’t necessarily think this was happening because any of us wanted to throw in the towel and give up, though. On the contrary, I truly believe that we are realising more and more every day how incredibly strong we all are, and how fully capable we are of making it through this. Rather, I think we’re all just getting to the point here at which we’re realising that we can’t hide from our previous injuries anymore – mental or physical – and that they need to be brought up again so that we can deal with them once and for all. Not that that’s a nice thing to be aware of. It sucks, to be honest. My brain is constantly pushing my most hurtful memories to the forefront of my consciousness here, just when I thought I had buried them for good. So of course it hurts. But I also really do believe that we will all be stronger for this experience, painful though it is at the moment.

If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you.

And oh boy, are we being challenged here. When you are this emotionally and physically exhausted, the littlest things seem capable of setting off a meltdown.

Here is a (shortened) list of things I came close to crying over in week 6:

-How badly the wifi sucks
-The fact that the food is the same thing every damn day
-How much I miss tea
-The fact that I’m missing the final series of “Downton Abbey”
-The dogs on the beach who look underfed
-I really miss drinking white wine
-How shit my Bow pose is because I think my hips are out of alignment

So, basically, week 6 was a glass box of emotions that all 126 of us were trapped in. The good news? It ended with my birthday and a trip to Moo Moo’s Cabaret in Khao Lak, where we watched a bunch of ladyboys lip sync to Mariah Carey songs. Every cloud, eh?

All stats here are relevant to week 6

Number of yoga classes completed: 65
Hours of the Mahablahblah watched (cumulatively): 6.5
Position in Posture Clinic: Wind Removing Pose
Latest bed time: Midnight

 

I spent my first night at TT eating peanut m&m’s

We arrived!

After two 7 hour long flights and a total of 24 hours in transit, Anna and I arrived at our resort for TT a couple of hours ago. I am shattered. Out of the 16 hours I spent sitting down during that 24 hour period (we also had a 2 hour bus ride from the airport to the resort – I promise I can do basic addition), I think I only slept for 3. Oh well, good practice for the exhaustion that lies ahead, I suppose.

Our journey was pretty drama-free. Flights ran on time, our baggage made it, the number of screaming babies was kept to a minimum, and Anna and I sat side-by-side watching “Inside Out” together and both teared up at the end. Sorry if you didn’t want me to share that, Anna, but it was a good moment. I do enjoy a good cry whilst watching a Disney/Pixar film.

And at long last, here I am in my hotel room watching silly videos on Youtube and eating peanut m&m’s because I’m very hungry and there’s nowhere to get food at this time of night. My roommate isn’t here yet, so I’m on my tod… Lonely, yes. A little bit. I must admit it doesn’t fill me with joy to think that Boyfriend is attending a family wedding this evening and will no doubt have a bloody good piss up with everyone whilst I’m sat in a hotel room by myself suffering from horrendous jet lag. But I am nonetheless looking forward to the nine weeks that lie ahead of me.

24 hours of sleepless travelling does afford a lot of time to meditate on things, and I went through quite the mental journey regarding my feelings about teacher training. I went from being excited to nervous to upset to angry and, finally, to being simply at peace with whatever may be about to happen. My thoughts wandered off in this arc because my brain started juggling around all the rumours I’ve heard about TT over the last few months. I started to worry how I would cope with it all; whether I would get ill or absurdly homesick or simply fed up. I went off on a whole train of thought for a while regarding Bikram’s ban on the colour green during training (you cannot wear ANYTHING green or that has bits of green in it). It made me angry because I started to realise that a lot of the yoga clothes I have happen to have bits of green in them here and there, and I came to the realisation that I’d probably have to buy more clothes here in order to avoid being called out by Boss or getting into trouble. Which, of course, set me off on thinking how ridiculous that was considering all the money that has already been poured into this whole thing.

I started dwelling on how sleep-deprived I would get and how ridiculous it is that we’re apparently going to be forced to stay awake until all hours of the morning watching Bollywood films, and how that might mean that I end up getting very ill. The injustice of it all (please note I use the word “injustice” ironically here) started pissing me off gradually through the first flight and into the first quarter of the second.

But then I had another realisation – and this is one that I sincerely hope those of you who find this blog when you’re considering whether to go to TT yourselves will pay attention to:

None of that matters.

At the end of the day, I’m here for nine weeks. This is what I’ve signed myself up for. Bikram runs this programme, so his rules are the rules, and if I let my – admittedly, dominant – rebellious side get the better of me, I will only get myself in trouble and land myself in extra Saturday classes. I don’t want that. i want to get through this alive, healthy, and, preferably, with a happy, smiling face. I want to fully take advantage of this time to focus on myself, my practice, and on making new friendships that I hope will reach far beyond December 6. You have to pick your battles, and this is not a smart one to pick. So I will put up and shut up. I will be over-tired, I will be homesick, I will have to spend more money on new yoga clothes. Fine. For nine weeks, I can do that.

I think.

X

We’re on the plane!!! 

So this is actually happening I guess? Fellow student, Anna, and I are in the plane to Dubai! And I gotta say, this Emirates plane is nice. British Airways, you have some catching up to do. They have USB hookups on all the seats! I mean come on!

But I digress. 

Here begins our journey. 14 hours, 2 flights, 1 car ride, and we’ll be there. It’s crazy. This is something I’ve wanted for three years and now I’m actually about to go do it. Saying goodbye to Boyfriend earlier today was painful… I cried a lot and am pretty sure I looked like Chris Crocker in his “LEAVE BRITNEY ALONE” video, but I know this is what I have to do. And I know this will be a life-changing experience that I will be forever grateful for. 

As my yoga mama, BA, likes to say, “How GOOD is this life?!” It is so good. I am so lucky. 

I’d like to give an Oscar-style thank you to everyone who has supported me on my way… My ultra-supportive mum and dad, my wonderful cousins and my aunt and uncle, Boyfriend, my best friend Vicky, my dopey ass dog Freddie, all my friends on either side of the Atlantic, and, of course, BA. I would not be here on this plane cramming Dialogue into my head without all of you. 

And with that, I should go. Because I’m pretty sure the stewardess is about to smack my phone out of my damn hand unless I put it on airplane mode. I’ll post when we get to Khao Lak!! 

Namaste, bitches! Xx 

P.S. Here is a very unattractive selfie of me and Anna about to board the plane. 


 

Begin again (Bikram TT kick-off)

It’s been 6 months since I wrote a post on here. Yeah, I know. Pretty piss poor. Soz, guys.

A lot of things happened in pretty quick succession that stopped me from wanting to write, or having the time to write. On 20 March, a member of my dad’s band suddenly passed away, which basically stopped me in my tracks and ripped my fucking heart out, to put it lightly. My dad’s band and crew are my family. I hadn’t expected to lose one of them for a long time. To say AJ dying messed me up would be an understatement. But I didn’t even get to dwell on it. I had to start work on my dissertation, then exam revision got stressful, dissertation writing got even more stressful, uni ended, a lot of drinking happened, I graduated, I moved, my boyfriend and I went on a month-long jaunt around Europe, and, finally, I went back to New York for what was *supposed* to be the run-up to my Bikram yoga teacher training.

“Supposed” being the key word there.

Boyfriend and I had a whole teary and dramatic goodbye at Heathrow airport on 15 August. I was meant to be gone for 13 1/2 weeks. I had psyched myself up for months to be gone for such a long time. Yes, TT is only 9 weeks, but I had signed on almost a year beforehand to work for the sleepaway camp my cousins run for the last two weeks of August, and I couldn’t go back on it. So off to New York I went, thinking that I’d be gone for a quarter of a year, sobbing for most of the 7 hour flight. Questions fired off in my head like, “Am I putting my relationship at risk?” and, “Am I really doing the right thing by becoming a yoga teacher?” But then my inner Beyonce was all “Bitch you are an independent-ass woman and you will be FINE.” And I was all, “YES, QUEEN BEY!” Which really I should have taken as a sign that I am deeply emotionally unstable, coming to think of it, but I was *not* going down the negativity route. No, ma’am.

Sleepaway camp went by undramatically enough. I was grateful for the time I got to spend with my two baby cousins, which definitely made up for the gross camp food. And just as I was starting to talk myself into thinking that maybe these 13 1/2 weeks would go by faster than I thought, Bikram dropped an atomic bomb on us. With 2 weeks’ warning, TT got moved from Atlantic City, New Jersey to Thailand.

Yes, you read that correctly. Thailand. Like that country in Asia. Y’know, the one that’s on the other side of the world from the northeast coast of the United States. No biggie.

The dates also got moved, making the new start date 4 October – 3 weeks later than the original one.

So what did I do? Well, I shall tell you. In the following order, I:
– Thought it was a joke
– Realised it wasn’t a joke
– Panicked
– Cried
– Tried to think of other jobs I wanted to do
– Failed to think of any
– Cried
– Called my mother
– Called my boyfriend (cried on the phone to both of them)
– Changed my flight back to London
– Bought a new ticket to Thailand
– Packed my bags
– Hugged my friends and family
– Got on a plane

And so it was that, on 7 September, – 3 weeks after I left and 10 1/2 weeks earlier than I’d expected – I ended up back home. Pissed off, admittedly, that I’d been messed around, but happy to be back with Boyfriend and eating a Sunday roast in the pub with him, my mum, and our dogs. I got 4 extra weeks at home, which meant more time to learn Dialogue and work on my practice, and a whole unexpected month with Boyfriend that, to be honest, I couldn’t have done without. My inner Beyonce aside, I need that doofus in order to function, and he needs me. We’re soppy and gross like that.

But now my grace period is swiftly coming to an end. I leave again on Friday evening. I’m starting to pack (again) and starting to freak out (again) and the feelings are a lot more intense this time. I’m excited, I’m nervous, I’m going to miss Boyfriend like crazy. I’m excited to go back to Thailand, a country I was so reluctant to leave last summer, and to escape this dreadful English weather, and I know I will be smug as fuck when I come back in December with a gorgeous tan when Boyfriend and all my family and friends are starting to get so pale they’re almost translucent.

I am, however, also starting to get a little worried. Rumours about what can happen to you health-wise during TT are rife throughout the Bikram community. Ear infections, vomiting during class, migraine headaches for days on end, being so exhausted you can’t eat, losing 2 stone, gaining 2 stone, collapsing mid-day… And everyone seems to think they know how to avoid it. People are considering bringing their blenders, packing 200 packets of electrolytes, only eating raw and organic in the run-up to their departure. And I have done absolutely none of that. I like my Nutribullet but I’m not bringing it. I like eating healthy but I’m enjoying having all of my favourites one last time before I go. (I’m a mac and cheese addict and the Thais ain’t so keen on cheese.) Am I doing it all wrong? Am I going to fail at this miserably? DO I NEED TO BUY 50 CONTAINERS OF MACA POWDER TO PUT IN ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING I EAT DURING TRAINING?

I’m already exhausted and I haven’t even bloody left yet. The best I can do is take a deep breath and begin again – in my own way, on my own terms, doing what feels right for me. If that doesn’t work, then I’m fucked.

So begins my Bikram Teacher Training journey. Buckle your seatbelts, y’all. We’re in for a bumpy ride. x