Tuesday, January 10, 2012

You Don't Have to Get A Koi Tattoo

Image by SOMMAI

I once read this article about Michelle Obama, and she said something like, “I love to get up at 5:30 and exercise. That’s my ‘me’ time.” I read that and rolled my eyes. “Yeah, five-thirty is my me time, too, Michelle,” I thought. “And I like to spend my me time asleep in my comfy bed.”
I liked this thought so much that I started repeating it to people. They always laughed and agreed with me. “You’re so clever,” my demon whispered. “People like you. And they secretly hate people who exercise, like Michelle Obama.”
There was only problem with this thought--it left me feeling tired and out of shape, because I never exercised. 
I recently went to a Bikram yoga class. For those of you who don’t know Bikram, it’s an intense form of yoga performed in a classroom heated to one hundred and four degrees. Yes, I know. That’s hot. 
As I was doing this class, I was sweating in places that I didn’t even realize had sweat glands--like my knees. It was hard. And my demon was having a ball. “Just look at these people around you!” it screeched. “If you want to do this, you’ll have to get a koi tattoo! You’re too fat to do this. Everyone else is flexible and wearing teeny bikini wear. What do you think you’re doing? Why don’t you just sip some green tea and start a wind chime collection? You’re becoming the kind of hippie that people despise!” And on and on. It did not help that the back wall featured a poster of Bikram himself--the guru--near-naked and sitting on a tiger skin rug. Oy, you should have heard what the demon thought of that.
And it was hot. Like, super-hot. Like, “This is why I moved away from Houston,” hot. The class was an hour and a half long, and it was hard. The teacher kept saying things like, “Extend your back fully. It’s supposed to hurt. Keep going.” 
The door was unlocked. I could have gotten up and left at any time, but I didn’t. And, at the end, I felt amazing. Not just because my muscles felt fluid and elastic and my pores felt like they’d been squeegeed clean...but because I did something really, really difficult. More difficult than getting up at five-thirty and going for a run. I powered through the absurdity, and the pain, and the humiliation, and I felt good. 
And do you know what I did the next day? I got up at six in the morning and went for a run. Seriously. It was my me time.
Because I decided, frankly, that I wanted to feel good more than I wanted people to think that I’m funny for dissing Michele Obama. I wanted to be healthy. 
As I ran down the tree-lined bicycle path near our house, I kept thinking how much easier it was to run for two miles than to do hot yoga. This was a breeze! So what if it was 25 degrees out? (It was.) I was warm; I felt good. I got home and put on some Madonna, then made breakfast for my dog. Then for myself. Then for my husband and daughter. Then I took the dog for a walk and emptied the dishwasher. Then I made lunch for my daughter. I was wide-awake and energetic, and nobody else in the house was even awake yet--except for our cocker spaniel. 
And what did my demon have to say about it? Nothing. Not one blessed thing. Because it was seven fifteen in the morning and I was Vogue-ing and I didn’t have a wind chime collection or a koi tattoo. 
Demons disappear in the face of power. That’s the thing--they’re bullies. They can’t stand up to you once you shout them down. 


  1. I love this. I totally relate to the morning me-time and the dilemma around whether it's kinder to *me* to sleep in or get up and exercise. Mostly I compromise and get up and take some quiet time and save the exercise for 9am. But when I get up and do my little spiritual disciplines (sorry, demon, I can see you snorting) I do feel empowered and clear about how to manage (if you can call it that) my day.

  2. Yes, the devil snorts at spirituality! I just heard "It's Your Thing" by the Isley Brothers this morning. They suggested that I do what I want to do, but couldn't tell me who to sock it to. However, I socked it to the devil by working out. ;-)