People consider me to be an adventurous person. And, that is true! I live life to the fullest and I look forward to experience all that I can in this lifetime. That enthusiasm for life has led me to say yes to a lot of the ideas that have popped into my head, whether they were good for me or not.
For most of my life, I have operated in high gear; high intensity workouts, high intensity job, always on the go. Which, ultimately, led to chronic fatigue. Go figure! As it turns out, I am not alone. Millions of people in this country have a diagnosis of adrenal or chronic fatigue. Why? Why are we pushing ourselves so hard that we literally run out of energy?
I struggled for a couple of years, trying to figure out how to get my energy back. I quit coffee and went back to drinking chai and then, cut my chai consumption in half. I cut out a number of things, including my high intensity workouts. I was still feeling drained so I finally sought help from a nutritionist.
I met Natalie Robertello, of Fit for You Nutrition, through a friend. Natalie is a Registered Dietician with a specialty in sports nutrition. In just a couple of meetings, Natalie helped me figure out what I was missing in my nutrition (healthy carbs and calories!) and I started to make some much-needed changes.
One thing that Natalie wrote on my assessment was that I needed to consider “protecting my yesses”. Protect my yesses! The very idea intrigued me. Believe me, there is PLENTY that I say no too! But, I suddenly found myself considering all that I say yes to. In my yoga practice and training, I have leaned that not all of the things that we are drawn to are necessarily good for us. Even if those things are “healthy”, they may not be right for us, as an individual.
For example, I love salsa. But, as a fiery person (Pitta) too much salsa leads to acne breakouts and emotional upset. Combine that with high-octane coffee, kickboxing, intense interval training, two jobs, three kids, two dogs and one husband and BAM! Chronic fatigue!
I was saying yes to all of these good things but too much of a good thing is still too much. I began to look at all that I was doing, to see where I could ease up on my efforts. The idea of protecting my yesses encouraged me to reflect on my choices so I could more clearly see what I was actually benefitting from compared to what I was doing strictly out of habit. Some habits may start out as tools that we use to get us through certain stages of life but then we just keep doing it, even after that stage of life has passed.
Balancing effort with ease is a major concept in yoga that may not get the attention that it deserves. That, as a practice, begins with the breath. Our effort is in becoming the witness to how the body breathes, our ease in in letting the body breathe. Don’t try to control it, just become the witness. Then, we move the body, following the natural flow of the breath, again, putting effort into each posture, while balancing that effort with ease. The more we practice on the mat, the easier it becomes to bring those lessons into our daily lives. These lessons will clarify where we are putting in too much effort into different areas of life so we can find ease in those spaces as well.
This practice of balancing effort with ease has been transformative for me. It has softened my approach to fitness so I can more fully dedicate myself to wellness.
Like the breath, the work of “protecting my yesses” is continuous as old habits are deeply embedded in the mind/body. I am now seven weeks into my first workout routine in almost four years! While I am excited about the changes that I have made, I am mindful of that enthusiasm so as to not get carried away.
Balance is the key to all that we say, “yes” to!