A case study: From sofa to yoga
Well hello and welcome to my shiny new Yoga Squirrel blog which will be filled with all things yoga and anything else relatable that inspires me and I feel is worth sharing. Probably lots of stuff about being vegan. Maybe a handful of pictures of me in poses. A chunk of stuff on yoga philosophy. Bits and bobs about chakras, crystals and being ‘spiritual’. Teaching successes… and fails. A little bit tongue-in-cheek... I don’t take myself too seriously. Come along for the ride, it’ll be fun (that’s my second chakra talking. It knows what it’s talking about)!
So, how to kick off my first yoga blog post? How about an actual yoga case study? I hope you agree, because that’s what I’ll be talking about, and it will be a lot more interesting and engaging than me talking about myself and these great yoga pants I just found or this awesome yoga book I’m reading (it just so happens that I AM reading an awesome yoga book right now, but I’ll save that for next time. ‘The Tree of Yoga’ by B.K.S. Iyengar. Go get it and we can do a book review together next time. I’m looking forward to it already!).
I digress. Let’s get back to the part about fat_man_versus_yoga, the bit you’ve mostly been wanting to read about, otherwise it would be a pretty misleading title and your tea will be getting cold by now.
Meet Adrian. Adrian is the man behind fat_man_versus_yoga and Adrian approached me to help him on his way back to health and wellbeing with yoga. Which I was obviously delighted about and of course accepted …what kind of rubbish yoga teacher would I be otherwise? Adrian has set himself the goal of six weeks to kick-start the process of a six-month campaign, to get himself back on track.
Adrian is honest and frank about the fact that his health isn’t in great shape at the moment. But all power to him, he’s on a mission and who am I to stand in his way? I am delighted to be a part of Adrian’s journey towards his goal (and secretly impressed) that Adrian has chosen yoga to be part of his development towards a healthier lifestyle. I think his inspiration has come from seeing the positive benefits yoga has brought to his grandmother’s life and to her health, who is still practicing in her 80's, and quite rightly would like a piece of that for himself. Wouldn’t we all? And how inspiring that he’s reached out to the people around him to help him achieve his goal. That takes some strength to do and shows we should never be afraid to ask for help. If you’ve good people around you, they will want to support you.
So why yoga? Well, being healthy isn’t just about what you look like on the outside, it’s about what’s happening on the inside too. It’s so easy to get caught up about the way our physical body appears, because we see that in the mirror every day. We rightly or wrongly relate to that image in our minds as being what we presume to be healthy or unhealthy.
Being overweight or underweight can put different strains and stresses on the body that can become unhealthy long-term. We all go through periods in our lives where external situations and stresses may make us gain or lose weight and we shouldn’t beat ourselves up about this, accept yourself for who you are and be happy in your own skin. Take your time to take small steps towards being a healthier ‘you’.
Now you may be thinking I’m leading towards telling you that yoga can be used for weight loss. I will stress that it is not, and I would never imply that it is. Yoga will help to tone and lengthen your muscles, keep your joints strong and mobile, increase your blood flow and will release our feel-good hormones. A prolonged practice may make you begin to think more mindfully, which will impact on your daily life and the choices you make. Becoming more self-aware, perhaps thinking about the food you eat and how you take care of your physical body, bringing you towards a healthier lifestyle. It is not to be considered as a quick-fix towards weight loss and it’s not to say you’ll never eat a chocolate bar or three again or down that glass of wine after a heavy day at work either! But your awareness will change about the choices you are making, and so what if you choose to eat that second packet of crisps! We’ve all been there… and I for one still go there! It’s about accepting where we are on our journey and making positive steps towards the changes we want to see in our lives. It’s when we become unaware of our actions that we lose control. Yoga helps us to get our power back, to take control of our lives, reconnecting us with ourselves once more and not just on a physical level, but on a mental level too. The primary aim of yoga is stillness of mind and we use postures, breathing and meditation to try and get us there.
Phew! I got a little serious there didn’t I, here’s a photo of Adrian in Vriksasana (Tree Pose) to lighten things up...
So, back to our yoga case study and a little more information about the man behind @fat_man_versus_yoga:
Adrian’s stats: 24 January 2018
Weight: 21st 12lbs
Body Fat: 43.7%
Height: 6ft 1"
Blood Pressure: 139sys/96dia
Average Resting Heart Rate: 110 bpm
Favourite film: Superman 2 (original), Highlander and Scrooge (the musical) close joint second
Adrian, in his own words:
Greetings to you, my new lab coated experimental watchers... I am your test guinea pig to be observed, studied and be the instigator of minor amusement on this journey. :)
I am Adrian, a specialist in Personal Development and a professional Life Coach.
Life has a great way of throwing us curveballs when we least expect it which, is typically at the point we think we have gained control or when things are tough and we can't imagine it getting any worse. This is normal (you're not alone)!
A good few years back, I was in such a place when I was unexpectedly a victim of a car crash, which took over a year to recover to 90% health and even today, I still suffer from the consequences of the event. However, the forced change of lifestyle that followed resulted in being less mobile, often in pain and comfort eating to give me the psycho-chemical hit to feel good within. The result though, is to look and develop an unhealthy body due to the energy stores accumulating within and with-out... FAT!!!
Yes I said 'FAT', a new forbidden word apparently because it may hurt someone's feelings...
well I am the subject of this investigation and the substance accumulating within and around my body is called FAT and I look fat, because I am clinically and literally obese!
As the saying goes, "Facts DON'T care about feelings!".
So here are the personal facts:
• Achy joints
• Poor sleep
• Easily out of breath
• Sweating profusely (inconveniently)
• Inability to perform/function as you remember once doing
• Clothing limitations
• Confidence (primarily body confidence)
If you can identify with 50% or more of the above, this could be because you too are affected by fat, which honestly, doesn't prove you are lazy but implies your body is very efficient at storing calories (unused energy) as fat.
Over 12 years ago I lost weight through a combination of exercise and martial arts, and with the support of a well-known dieting company which worked, for which I was their 'Slimmer of the Year' (see the results below). This led me to go on to become one of their Slimming Consultants with two classes of my own.
Having a Degree with a strong science background, I recognised quite quickly that diet and exercise were clearly essential for losing weight (fat) and maintaining a healthy body but the biggest cause (the symptom) of their initial weight gain; was lifestyle, life balance and life stresses.
These life problem aspects could not be addressed through that company or any other slimming company for that matter, and so I went on to establish Focus Coaching and Training. As a Life Coach, I have helped many people with many life-related problems but in that process (especially after my accident), I lost focus on my own body and personal health...
As another saying goes, "Yourself as a client is a fools client!"
So now I am on my new mission, the 'Body Confidence Challenge' which will handle the nutrition and personal life balance aspects of my mission, and I have teamed up with Deb, my new Yoga Squirrel Guru, to handle the initial stages of the physical!
So why Yoga?
Most people attack losing weight with a passion and hit the gyms or start intense dieting or both. The problem with this is, rapid weight loss will typically lead to yo-yo weight results and often greater weight gain.
Don't believe me? Take a look at my previous pictures...
To clarify, I was 19.5st (6st above my personal target), I spectacularly lost weight, became a 'Marjorie Dawes Fat Club' instructor and years later... BOOM! I'm back to Jabba the Hutt (sorry, Star wars reference).
To keep weight off you need to change your lifestyle (easier said than done). Address the personal, social problems (symptoms), have a manageable and realistic goal, find a balanced nutrition programme that fits you and get active! Active in a way that will aid your 'body transformation' and not only focus on burning calories.
Yoga has the three prime physical ingredients that I require at this stage of my journey and these are:
1. Development of flexibility - it's essential that muscles and joints can by flexed, stretched and strengthened to allow for the greater motions and demands on the body for when more intensive activities are engaged with in the future.
2. Low Intensity - Yoga when done correctly, will raise your heart rate and allow you to get your sweat on, but it isn't a high impact sport or exercise and is less likely to cause injuries (that will inhibit other exercise training). Yoga alone will allow for natural strength building, improved coordination and balance, and is using your own body weight as the natural resistance means to improve your health.
3. Breathing - Yoga has a strong emphasis on breathing which is essential for efficient cardio (burning calories) but also helps to increase your lung capacity and efficiency. However, the greater benefit is that of controlled breathing to relieve anxiety, release stress and energise the body; again the linked causes of weight gain. You are also likely to develop better quality sleep which is a huge contributor to a person's daily performance (or lack of).
So, with Deb, we are going to put me to the test and see just what the impact of Yoga will have on my body and my life overall, through @fat_man_versus_yoga!
When you next take a walk and get short of breath, see a child's crayon portrait of yourself or look in the mirror; be honest with yourself as I have been and choose to do something about it now! Don't hide behind denial or your current sad feelings, as with time, you will slowly start to feel worse until the mountain you are required to overcome is simply insurmountable, and it's all too late to undo that time-prolonged damage to your body, your confidence, self-image and your life.
If you want to join me on my Body Confidence Challenge, drop us a line.
A few final words from Yoga Squirrel...
So, there we have it. One man. One mission. One yoga mat. One yoga teacher. Two mats are stronger than one.
An inspiring guy, hey? If you can’t wait until the next blog post to see how Adrian is getting on or if you want to find out even more, you can track his progress on Instagram by following @fat_man_versus_yoga.
To finish off, here’s some affirmations to help Adrian remain focused on his health and wellbeing goals. Why not take five quite minutes in your day to try them out for yourself too, sit quietly, bring your attention to the breath and the mind away from any other thoughts and distractions and repeat to yourself out-loud or silently in your mind:
I value my health
I deserve to be healthy
I am working towards a healthier me
I make the right choices for my health and wellbeing
I am growing healthier and stronger every day
Remember the most powerful voice you hear is your own. Keep it positive. If you wouldn’t say it to another human being, don’t say it to yourself. Lift yourself up, don’t bring yourself down.
Well that’s all for now folks. Until the next time, stay safe, healthy and happy.
Much love from the Yoga Squirrel. Namaste x
Photography by Adrian at Artisd www.artisd.co.uk
• Zen mountain composition by Deb, using original photography by Adrian and background image from Pixabay (2031539).
• Fitness progression and 'Facts don't care about feelings' created by Adrian.
• Adrian in tree pose composition by Deb, using original photography by Adrian and background image from Pixabay (3120483).
• Light Saber composition by Deb, using original photography by Adrian and background image from Pixabay (1721679).