No one notices they are getting out of shape.
You don’t notice when you gradually add a pound every once and a while.
You wake up one day in your late thirties, maybe you catch your reflection in a mirror or maybe as with my case you see a photograph and you don’t recognise yourself anymore.
I’ve never been super fit, despite believe it or not being a European Kickboxing Champion in my teens I was built like a rake. All long gangly arms, stick legs with a giant melon of a head balanced on my toothpick neck.
Then I hit my mid twenties and I started to gradually gain weight. I guess growing up I had a super-fast metabolism and eventually it gave up and I couldn’t eat KFC’s every night or a multi-pack of crisps in one sitting like I used to without paying the toll.
I reached my limit when I saw a photograph of my self on a trip to the South of Ireland in 2017 my 39th year. I literally looked at the photograph and thought to myself “who is that fat bastard?”
I hate gyms.
I’ve tried a few times in the past and weight training just isn’t for me. I’m not a big fan of pain despite having quite a high threshold for it. Essentially I’m lazy.
When I had the realisation that I looked like two badly parked Fiat 500’s I bit the bullet and took up running.
For a month I got up at 5.30am and I ran a couch to 10k programme. In rain or literally snow – as I took this stroke of genius to try and lose weight in winter. When I could I ran at nights too. I ran like an asthmatic Sumo Wrestler with piles, but I ran. I was doing it. I was so proud of myself.
The result when I weighed myself after a month of no junk food, no chocolate or crisps, no sugar in tea an coffee and running at least once , sometimes twice every day?
I’d put on 8lb and wrecked my ankle.
I was absolutely devastated and I completely lost the will to get out of bed. I hurt, I was heavier than when I started.
Then I saw a facebook post about a Yoga class in my local town.
I’d wanted to try Yoga for ages. Something about it had always intrigued me but I couldn’t find a class anywhere near me timed, that I could get to after work.
I guessed I had nothing to loose so I messaged the page and booked in for a Tuesday night class @ The Yoga Loft in Carrickfergus.
I really didn’t know what to expect. The descriptions for Yoga classes are always so vague or sometimes just nonsensical words like Hatha, Vinyasa, Bikram, Ashtanga that mean nothing to someone who isn’t a practitioner of Yoga ( I still haven’t a clue what they mean. )
I went for one called Grounded. Mostly because of the sound of it I thought I’d spend most of my time lying down.
I can’t remember the last time I’d ever been so nervous for something. I literally got to the top of the steps to the Studio and considered just bolting down the stairs and running away, but there were a lot of stairs and like I said before I’m pretty lazy. I didn’t want to waste the ones I had just climbed up.
So I knock on the door to the studio gingerly, still considering walking away.
Hannah, one of my soon to be instructors opened the door and gave me one of the warmest, most welcoming smiles I’ve ever been given.
She must have sensed immediately that I was like a rabbit caught in the headlights, she calmly explained to me what was going to happen and asked If I had any existing medical conditions and invited me to take a place on the Yoga mat for my first class.
So I sit down the mat in my XXL t-shirt and Underarmour leggings I used to wear under my Giant Six Foot Sandwich Costume when I was the mascot for an ice hockey team ( that’s a whole other blog post. ) feeling like the fattest, oldest , most unflexible human being that ever lumbered across the earth.
That first class is just a blur to me. I can’t remember a single position we did. What I do remember is at the end of it I was absolutely stoned off my tits.
I’ve never been one for drugs but that’s the only way I can describe it. I was as high as a Kite. I think maybe a big part of it was at the end of every Yoga class at the Yoga Loft there’s a ten minute relaxation period and it may have been the first time that I’d ever truly completely relaxed when I wasn’t asleep. All I know is that if I could compress it into a pill form I’d be sitting on a chair made of gold in a drug lords mansion typing this. I’ve literally never felt better in my life when I glided down those stairs and walked home on a cloud of ecstasy.
No major aches or pains the next day and I’d expected to be crippled. I felt brilliant.
So I started to go to classes regularly. I tried when possible and still do to make three classes a week. Tuesday, Thursday and a class at the weekend.
A month went by and at £7 a class I decided that I was better off with a monthly direct debit which lets me attend any number of classes that I wanted.
Around the same time as I’d taken out the direct debit – so after a month or so of regular practice, I was running down the stairs after a class with Lisa, the owner of the Studio. I got half way down when the jeans I’d pulled on after class – (so the general residents of Carrick don’t have to exposed to the horror of my meat and two veg crammed into my leggings), slipped down over my hips and I almost fell to my death down two flights.
Why had my jeans fallen down?
I went home & measured my waist & I’d gone down from a 38″ waist when I started … to a 34″ waist.
Bullshit you’ve forgotten how to use a tape measure. So I went out and tried on a pair of jeans in a shop. Sure enough 34″ waist fitted me perfectly.
I continued with classes & I went down from a XXL t-shirt to a Large and from a starting point of 15.5 stone I dropped to 13 stone. I even practiced every day on the beach on holiday in Spain
Along with the weight loss I found Yoga classes gave me a ton of other benefits I wasn’t expecting:
- I am way more flexible than I ever was even in my twenties. I mean everyday flexible. Now I can put my socks on in the morning without grunting.
- I can put on shoes without any effort, something I had been finding more and more embarrassingly difficult.
- I can touch my toes, even rest my hands flat on the floor meaning I can pick shit up without having to get down on my hands and knees.
- I sleep way better than I ever did. I wasn’t exactly an insomniac, but I was waking up sometimes more tired than when I went to bed. Now I sleep like a baby.
- My metabolism has woken up again, I have more energy not less.
- I have muscle tone for the first time in my life. I have honest to god biceps. I’m not entering Mr Universe anytime soon and ain’t no one buying tickets to the gun show but I can see & feel them. Same with my legs.
- My posture has changed drastically, I don’t hunch or slouch as much as I did and and as a result I feel and seem taller. A full inch of difference when I measure my height now against when I started.
- I’ve had neck problems all my adult life. They have disappeared entirely. I don’t wake up anymore in pain.
- I had circulation problems with cold hands and feet. That has completely disappeared too.
- My confidence has sky rocketed. I’m not exactly Brad Pitt but I now longer squirm away from having my photograph taken and even post the odd selfie.
- My mental health is better than it’s ever been. Less mood swings, less depression, less feeling sorry for myself. I’m happier and more content in myself than I’ve ever been.
- I’m nowhere near as stressed in my everyday life than I was before I took up Yoga. In moments when I am stressed I’ve learned to breathe and tell myself that “This too shall pass.”
Now I’d love to tell you that I now have the body of Bruce Lee and a six pack you could grate cheese on but sadly that’s not the case. The only splits I’ll ever get close to are the banana kind. If you see me in real life from the side I still resemble Alfred Hitchcock’ silhouette – I still have a gut & I’d still like to lose another half a stone but after close to a year now the weight has stayed off and I’m still a size 34″ waist.
A few adjustments to my diet will hopefully help me shrink the gut & drop that half stone as I’m still fully embracing my increased metabolism and eating whatever the hell I like now, but I know that won’t last. It gives me something to work towards.
What I am though is a hell of a lot happier. I wish I’d found Yoga in my 20’s.
I can’t thank Lisa & Hannah my two wonderful Yoga instructors enough. They are both fantastic teachers, have the patience of saints and are generally two of the loveliest human beings you could ever hope to meet. They have made a real difference to my life.
You can follow them on Instagram at:
Classes are available seven days a week in the Yoga Loft In Carrickfergus.
You can find out more information on the Yoga Loft Facebook page HERE