I have often talked about my love for yoga and how it has changed the way I view my body. There was a time in my life before I stepped onto a yoga mat where I thought that the only thing that mattered was being skinny. It didn't matter if I was putting chemicals in my body or not getting the right nutrition. I was focused on taking in as few calories as possible and then burning as much as I could on top of that. You know what happens after years of doing this? You get tired, exhausted, you name it, you just tucker out.
So at my point of exhaustion I was lucky to have found yoga. This gave me the kick start to something unlike anything I had ever experienced. Suddenly, I cared about what I put in my body. I wanted to feed and nurture myself physically. This was so brand new to me. All my mind was programmed to do was to eat as little as possible. I had lived so long thinking that food was the enemy and had a terrible relationship with it. Things between me, my body and food just never got along. So yoga took me for a new ride.
Skip forward several years to the present and I can't believe the recent twist in the plot called my life. Over the past 6 months or so, I have started to strength train several times a week. Yep, me, lifting weights, I really can't believe it. A lifelong dancer turned yogi turned bodybuilder? Okay, not quite that dramatic, but it's something I never saw myself doing. I bounce between a trainer in town, Jimmy Carter of Carter Fitness and a strength class taught by Susie Crossland-Dwyer at her studio called studio s. For so long, I was always the one who was just fine slinging around 4 or 5 lb. weights and never felt the need to push myself to build strength. But there is something that continues to bring me back week after week, rep after rep, squat after squat.
Now don't get me wrong, Susie and Jimmy both know that I am the first to moan and complain when something is hard or challenging. One too many squats or pull-up can often bring a mumble under my breath, but then I get right back up and do it again. Walking planks? More like walking complaints! I can't even tell you how many times I have shouted, "No mas!" at the end of my last rep. But for some reason I come back for more.
So why? What is it that brings me back? Well, there are a few reasons actually.
1. Strong feels good. I never really put much energy into getting strong, but now as I watch myself grow and change, I can't believe what I am able to do. Like I said, I started out slinging around the light weights and now I am amazed when I am handed a heavier weight and can lift or squat with ease. My body is doing this! I am getting stronger! It just feels good to think about being strong and not so much about being skinny.
2. I eat more, not less! This one really freaked me out at first. I was not used to having such a crazy appetite. However, muscle obviously burns more calories than fat so if you are building muscle then your body needs more fuel. It certainly took a bit of time for me to get accustomed to this but it's the same thing with strength training as it is with yoga. I want to feed my body and give it what it needs to have the energy to keep going.
3. Strong is MY new skinny. The corner in my mind that was always so obsessed with being thin has been replaced. I feel confident. I feel strong. I feel good. I put on a pair of jeans and started to freak out because they were so tight. Well, I had never really had these things called quads to fill the jeans. So this was new. And surprisingly, in the end, I was okay with it. Years ago, this would have sent me into a frenzy and I would be consumed by making my body shrink no matter what it took. But now I am strong, physically and mentally. I don't need to cower or wither. I can stand firm and tall. So look out!
4. I can't believe how far I have come. I have changed so much over this new journey. There are times I want to throw in the towel, or think of every excuse why I don't want to go, but then I see how far I have come. It's unbelievable. Things I couldn't do two weeks ago are easy today. My legs are stronger, my arms are stronger, I am stronger.
5. I have a support system. Not only do I go each week to do walking lunges and pull ups; I also have people who are invested in me. The high fives and constant words of encouragement are another part of this amazing ride. The people I take class with or lift with have become an integral part of my life and they push me to be the best version of myself. They care about my well being and are right there with me through the ups and the downs. If they didn't believe I could, then they wouldn't put me up to the challenge. And so I continue to go back, week after week, and it feels good!
So, there it is. These are the reasons that I show up. This is what has changed my perception of myself physically and mentally. When I look in the mirror, I am not so obsessed these days with being the thinnest. I do not put so much time and effort into eating less or trying to shrink. Each day, I will get stronger. I will push harder. I will gain confidence and who I see in the mirror will be the powerful person that I am. It's taken a while to learn it, but it is true, strong really IS the new skinny.
Getting stronger means getting protein into your diet and plenty of it! These Banana Nut Oatmeal Breakfast Cookies will give you lots of protein! The "nut" is actually nut butter. I used peanut butter, but almond butter or any other should work just fine. Also, if you have nut allergies, sunflower seed butter should be just fine. This is a great recipe for when you have a few bananas hanging around that are just about to be too ripe for anything. They are just what you need! Rolled oats also add the protein and they bring the fiber as well.
This recipe is really a great base and then you can play around with any sort of add ins that you would like. You could add coconut, dried cranberries, dark chocolate chips, chopped nuts and more. The sky is really the limit. Make a batch of these so you are ready in the morning when the alarm goes off and you are in a hurry. Enjoy!
- 1 1/4 c rolled oats regular or gluten free
- 1 very ripe banana
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 2-4 T maple syrup depending on desired sweetness
- 1/2 cup natural peanut butter
- 1 T ground flax
Optional add ins
- dark chocolate chips
- chopped nuts
- dried cranberries
- Preheat oven to 350°
- In a mixing bowl, mash banana until smooth.
- Add in all other ingredients and stir until completely combined.
- Spoon onto parchment lined cookie sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes.