You don’t have to hate who you are to want to change

You can want to be stronger, more fit, slimmer, heavier (yes, those women exist) without telling yourself that you hate the woman you are now.

I don’t think you have to shame the body you have to want to change it in some way.

But for some of us it’s very hard. The weekly weigh-ins that inspire some, trigger anxiety and stress in others.  The “Fitspiration” images that cover Pinterest walls (including mine) motivate some while indicting others. The carbs that fuel runners before a race can send those with gluten sensitivity and other issues into a downward spiral.

And if you’ve ever struggled with an eating disorder, the simplest news story, blog post or image can trigger a cascade of negative emotions and self flagellation. But it doesn’t have to be like this. It shouldn’t be like this. Our bodies are our blessings and we should treat them that way regardless of their shape or size. It takes practice to be kind to ourselves – to replace negative thought with positive, shame with appreciation.

I found this great infographic, from The National Eating Disorder Association, that helps us practice. I printed it out, laminated it, and stuck it to my wall. If you struggle with an eating disorder (or even if you don’t), you should too…

Kalin’s Chronicles: Limo Wine Tours

Editor’s Note: In preparation for my trip to Europe I’m taking my very first wine tasting class next week. This week Kalin shares a post on great wine touring adventures during California’s Wine Month.

I wouldn’t call myself a wine connoisseur, but I do enjoy wine tasting.  I’ve toured wine country in the Tuscany region of Italy; the wine region of Cape Town, South Africa; and of course Napa and Sonoma Valleys in California.

Every September the golden state celebrates “California Wine Month,” where wineries offer special events and tasting throughout the month.

Napa Valley is the jewel of California Wine Country with more than 300 wineries.  It’s also where I found a great way to go wine-tasting without needing a designated driver – I toured by limousine.

Elegant Wine Tours  offers custom limousine tours, with knowledgeable drivers/guides, of Napa and Sonoma Valleys for six to 10 passengers.

A six-hour tour usually includes four wineries that the guide can choose for you, or you can choose yourself.  Lunch is not included in the cost, so guides suggest a picnic lunch from a winery or one of the restaurants in town.

I like the Calistoga Inn Restaurant and Brewery in Napa.  But if you want to work off your calories, visit Bistro Sabor which hosts Salsa dancing on Saturday nights.

Right now, Elegant Wine Tours has a special internet rate of $299, but be prepared for 13% tax and 20% gratuity.  It’s not a bad deal for a group of six to 10 friends.

There are also six to 18 passenger SUV’s available, and you can even buy tour packages that include a hot air balloon ride or spa treatments.

But if limousines aren’t your thing, try a wine tour by horse & carriage with The Wine Carriage, or by shuttle with an added San Francisco Bay ferry cruise with Wine Country Tour Shuttle, or by the Napa Valley Wine Train.

 

Touring California Wine Country by limo, train or horse & carriage is a fun and safe way to celebrate your 40th birthday or as a perfect girlfriend getaway.  Tell me about your wine tour experiences.  And remember:  “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness.” – Mark Twain.

Kalin Thomas is Women at Forty’s Travel & Leisure Editor. She is also Senior Writer/Photographer for SoulOfAmerica. Before starting her own multimedia company, Kalin spent 17 years at CNN where she won several awards for her work as producer/correspondent for CNN’s weekly travel program, CNN TravelNow. She is currently writing a book about her travels. For more information on Kalin, visit www.seetheworldproductions.com.

 

Drunken Wipeout Asana and other things I’m learning from practicing yoga

I once thought yoga was the domain of lanky, toned women with hipster yoga pants and tiny yoga tops. It was a practice for the incredibly calm and fit, not for women in their 40s and beyond, and certainly not for women like me who sweat like the men in those World Strongest Men competitions who pull aircraft across fields. And, if you did yoga in a hot room, you could lose weight. Or pass out. But you’d be smaller when you passed out.

That’s pretty much what I thought yoga was about. Oh, and a lot of weird chanting and finger poses.

Then I met Lisa and learned that yoga is so much more.

Lisa teaches yoga at her studio (among other locations) here in Atlanta. As the name of her studio proclaims, Yoga is For All Bodies. Lisa’s classes are a diverse, beautiful mix of women and men of all shapes, sizes, ages, spiritual beliefs and ethnic groups. She also has a wicked sense of humor. None of which I’d ever associated with yoga before.

After I injured my knee I was looking for something to do that would keep me moving without further aggravating the knee. And, as with so much of what I do in my life (somewhat unfortunately but I’m working on it), I wanted to do something that would help me lose a bunch weight (that day!) or at the very least, not gain any.

But instead of a practice that focused on weight loss, burning calories or out-yogaing (that is a word) fellow classmates, what I got was a practice and a teacher whose focus is on the whole self, the importance of breathing, and listening non-judgementally to our bodies – no matter our shape, size or age.

I had a chance to talk to Lisa after class one afternoon and several things she said resonated with me;

This practice is about surrender and acceptance.

It’s about viewing our bodies more compassionately.

As we get older, our fitness is less about appearance and more about practicality – for example, a strong core might look good, but more importantly it means a healthier back.

And through regular practice with someone who gets the mind-body connection…

I’m learning that in the pause between the inhale and the exhale there’s a stillness and quietness that gives me strength.

I’m learning not to refer to my “bad” knee or “wonky” back, but instead be grateful for the knee that challenges me to listen more carefully to my body and as a result treat it better.

And I’m learning that even when you wipe-out so badly while attempting a pose, that you bounce off a wall and crumple to the floor (heretofore known as Drunken Wipeout Asana), it’s all good.

Initially I thought I’d just take yoga classes until my knee got better, but I’m so enamored with it now I’m thinking Na-ma-ste :-).  I couldn’t resist.

 

Lisa Cohen has been teaching Hot Style yoga for nearly 7 years with 100 hour certifications in both Hot Core Power Yoga and Hot Vinyasa yoga. She has recently finished her 200 hour yoga teacher training to become certified to teach Pranakriya yoga, a kripalu based hatha yoga lineage. You can learn more about Lisa, her very  affordable yoga classes, and Decatur Atlanta Yoga for All Bodies here.