DAY 45: ValenTIMES.

Author: Heather Molina /

by Michasana
(aka Michelle H. Zimmer)

In honor of Valentines day (or rather "Valentimes", as they say here in the "boogie down Bronx") I decided to blog about a new romance I am having.

Today I celebrate loving me again.

On December 28th 2009 I celebrated the first anniversary of my 39th year, yes, I turned 40. I don't look a day over 30, but I was starting to feel like I was 90. I decided that it was time to get back in shape when I went to lift my boob in my bra and realized I mistakenly grabbed a newly acquired belly roll. I needed help mentally and physically. I was writing "to do" lists in invisible ink and it was time to make some changes.

Aside from some seasonal rollerblading, I had not worked out, exercised in any way (not even a stretch), for almost 5 years. I had lost my dad to lung cancer and my mind decided to go along for the ride. I got very lazy (and drunk), and then overwhelmed (and stoned), and then depressed. Apathy... Denial... You name it. I lost my core, with every meaning of the word. I was a former "femme fatale" who turned into a "femme fetal" (position). I went from a size 6 to a 16 and somehow did not notice, as I gained it kind of equally everywhere. I felt like I was carrying an extra Michelle on my back. Good thing about that is at least she counter-balanced the hugeness of my breasts and knocked off the monkey.

Somehow, I knew it had to be Bikram for me. All I had to do was get off my butt and go. I had not really been drinking much the past 2 years (thanks in part to having a non-drinking boyfriend), but even so I decided I needed to go on the wagon completely if I wanted to do the challenge correctly. I know what my triggers are. If I have some wine, I might have a lot of wine resulting in lots of whine and me missing class. All or nothing, it's always been that way with me.

On January 3, 2010 I attended my first class at Bikram Yoga Bronx and of course I delved straight into a challenge. "All or nothing", I told you. I was so nervous on my way in to class that I was dry heaving on the bus. I mean, I used to be a gymnast as a child, later a personal trainer and now I can't even touch my toes. I used to be able to put my legs behind my neck and now when I move my shoulder it makes...noise? Is that gravel in my rotator cuff?

I decided to start breathing through my nose early and calmed myself down with a Dr. Andrew Weil breathing exercise I recalled from a book a crunchy ex- boyfriend forgot at my apt. (Seems like a fair trade, he got all of my 20's and I finally learned how to breathe).

I get to class and I'm already teary-eyed. I don't know what's worse, the idea that my dad is gone or him being aware of what a mess I have become. I don't feel like myself. I certainly don't look like myself, but I keep telling myself, "you're here, you are here, the worst part is over..." And then I tried rabbit pose.

Don't even get me started on what it feels like to do rabbit with my DD's and with this gut that used to be a 6-pack. "Stop judging and breathe normal." Breathe normal? It sounds like I'm motor-boating myself! Which caused me to start laughing. This is a good thing because that means I'm breathing...and burping...but more importantly, breathing.

I am on day 43 now (wahoo) and I am a new person. Or rather, I feel like my young self again. I stopped weighing myself but last time I checked I had lost 25 lbs (35 to go), I am down three jeans sizes and my arms are getting ripped. My flexibility is back about 70% and I am very proud of my camel and bow poses... But don't you ask me to lock my knee. Darn hyper extension! (lol)

I can see my obliques... And what are those? MY COLLAR BONES ARE BACK! Aside from waking up a couple of times a night to pee the 120 ounces of water I have to consume, I am sleeping very well. (Except for that one stressed out night, but I counted asanas instead of sheep and crashed right out!) My skin looks like Edward's in the film Twilight. I am not craving melted cheese on everything anymore. My digestive system is, well let's say, things are good on that end (all puns intended).

I also usually have gruesome menstrual cramps for a full day prior to getting it. Nothing but a bath would ever help (and it barely did). I took a class at the start of my cramps and got it an hour and a half later!!!! If for nothing else Bikram is worth that! I have also learned not to stare at the moving subway during savasana, you make that mistake one time.

Here is the best part though. It seems I have inspired at least 7 friends to start practicing Bikram. One friend in particular (she knows who she is) her doctor has taken her OFF her blood pressure pills and her insulin. Diabetes...GONE! Another buddy told me how inspired she was by me, that I was her hero. It seems I am the "wind removing pose" beneath her "eagle pose" wings. Time to fly.

Michelle lives in New York City and originally hails from the Riverdale section of the Bronx. She is passionate about the food, drink and garden industries. She used to think she might be a "vegetarian with sausage tendencies," but recently realized she is more like a "carnivore with a conscience." She considers herself an "Urban Garden Hoe," as she invests a lot of time volunteering in her neighborhood's community garden. She loves the Yankees and constantly invites people to explore the "northern" part of NYC. "You won't get a nosebleed," she promises.


bikramyogachick said...

Michelle~ I can SO relate to so much of what you have been through! I loved reading your story. Also, I really did get a chuckle out of your "motor boating yourself" in rabbit. :)
Very very inspiring!

Judith said...

I just finished reading this and I am all choked up with joy, love and laughter. Happier for you than you can even imagine. Your way with words is extraordinary and I can't wait to read more.

Prodigal Yogini said...

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you for posting this! It's inspiring and funny and close to my mark as well. Same five years since a regular practice, also a large weight gain, also struggling through a dear friend's cancer hell.

I returned to Bikram as well and went right into a 60-day challenge. My first.

You are amazing!

L said...

Oddly, I too have been suddenly thinking about how long it has been since I did any kind of regular exercise. Depression and unemployment will do that to someone.

Last night I danced well into the wee hours with a bunch of roller derby girls and while it was delightful to feel my body move I was sorely reminded that I no longer do that.

I don't know if Bikram would be right for me - I have an off-again, on-again relationship with various forms of Yoga - but this did light a bit more of that fire that is reminding me I need to not let my body slip away from me while everything else is in stasis, as easy as that can be.


The Missus said...

LOL! This is AMAZING progress, Michasana!!!! Sounds like your body needed to let go of some "emotional weight" it was holding on to, to shield you.

Excellent progress. Keep up the great work!!!

Elise said...

Michelle, you do have a way with words. This is such an amazing story and I am so happy that you have found yourself again. Its hard to face yourself as you are the hardest critic but you´ve done it!!
Keep up the hard work, sounds like it is truly paying off.
Be well and Namaste

Johan said...

What an inspiring story. I hope you get the outer person you want to present, become happy with what's there, or even better both. I also agree with Judith, your way with words is just phenomenal. I was laughing to myself at too many points to count while reading your story. Especially the seems like a fair trade comment. I'd say it sounds like you got away with a bargain. :-)

Anonymous said...

I am impressed, inspired and totally moved!

isokoloff said...

Hi Michelle,
I love that you're blogging about Bikram and about your personal achievements, including the sacrifices and hurdles. I've never done Bikram yoga and I've always wanted to try. Your blog really inspires and allows me to experience vicariously. Way to go, by the way, with the incredible weight loss (winter months no less). It really is about loving yourself, and what could be a more perfect day to celebrate that than on Valentine's Day? Thank you for sharing :)

Lizzy said...

Great story, Michelle. It brought tears to my eyes. Thanks for sharing something so lovely.

lz said...

Michelle - fabulous post! Love your humorous way of portraying something that means so much to you. Congratulations on all of your marvelous progress - it will only get even better from here! Happy Valentine's Day!

hannahjustbreathe said...

By far, one of the very best posts yet.

Congratulations on the incredible progress you've already made---in your life and in your yoga practice!

ActionJoJo said...

Yeah!!! From one NYC homie to another...props to you Michelle for re-committing yourself to taking care of you! I love the "all-or-nothing" attitude. Happy Valentimes Day indeed...and go Yankees!!! ;)

Anonymous said...

i'm very happy you're doing something you're passionate about, motivated by and soothed from...thank you...i too, obviously love reading a true accounting of a fellow gal struggling to overcome a real life shit-show story...keep on and keep it coming beauty! xoxostacy

thedancingj said...

Gorgeous. You're a miracle.

Beckie K. said...

michelle, what a great post! you are awesome and one of the many inspirations we have in our yoga. i am so happy you found bikram and that you have found yourself!

Debby said...

Awesome post michelle. Your writing is wonderful and so expressive. Thanks for sharing your story!
-Deb McAloon

peaceloveyoga said...

I am in awe of you, Michelle.
Amazingly inspirational, wonderful post.

Anonymous said...

Michelle, you are an inspiration and I love you dearly for writing this post. It was honest, open and very emotional. Thanks for being my "lighthouse" and leading me to Bikram. Thanks for the secret friend shout out and thanks for helping me get back to good health.Yea no more blood pressure or diabetes medicine.

Keep up the progress and don't stop writing!

micheloquent said...

Not a day has gone by since I wrote this blog that I have not read your comments.
Whenever I feel a bit weak they are like my popeye spinach responses.THANK YOU!!My second guest blog post will be this Sunday 3/7^_^

nivedita said...

Thanks Michelle, Your story is inspiring. I will pursue Bikram with determination. I am not sick at all, but that has nothing to do with getting started with Bikram yoga! You have convinced me to go in every day!
Good luck and THANKS for your post.

micheloquent said...

Hey all I just wanted to give an update. I continued with Bikram after completing my 101 and unfortunately had to take a break this month because of $ issues. I will be back though! PS I am up to 45 lbs lost now ^_^

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