Swimsuit season is here, and I still need to lose 30 pounds. Oy. There was a time when I enjoyed the hunt for a cute bikini; however, that was 20 years ago when I was 100 pounds and stretch-mark free. In my late 20s, I started having babies and gained 85, 80, and 65 pounds per child, respectively.
My pregnant body simply adored food (and a lot of it) while pregnant, and historically, the women in my family pack on the pounds during the time of baby creation. The result of this fluctuation in weight gain and loss left me with some impressive stretch marks (think a tribal sun tattoo around the belly button, only the size of the actual sun) and I said goodbye to the 100-pound me and bikinis forever.
I can hear women supporters saying: “Wear the bikini!” and “Stretch marks are a badge of honor!” But there’s no amount of confidence in me that can strut about a beach in a two-piece now.
Turning 40 last month had me to reminiscing about time gone by. Most of my recollections were positive, and I wrote down when I journaled about the times I felt my “best” physically, mentally and spiritually. Physically, in terms of my health, I was the perkiest in college, but abused that pep by draining myself of quality rest and consuming an abundance of calories in the form of fast food and alcohol. Yet, as I dug a little deeper into my past, I realized I truly felt the most confident and strong when I was daily doing yoga in my 30s.
Outwardly, I loved my appearance when I had red hair. (I’m a hair color changer, dabbling in all colors of the rainbow.) There’s something that happens to you when you go red, a spunkiness that one cannot define.
Mentally and spiritually, I feel the most at peace right now. Years of therapy, conscious breathing, a sprinkling of meds for anxiety, and a big dose of Jesus helped considerably.
Reviewing the list I titled “The Very Best Me,” had me contemplating how I could take all of these “best of” moments in my own history and mold them together now at 40. How do I cut out all of the junk of the last 20 years of experimenting to find the perfect me and piece together all my very best parts?
I decided my first step was to revive a yoga practice as the busy-ness of life had whisked me away for a while. Not a newbie, I feel confident weaving in some Tara Stiles via YouTube in my living room to jump start my day. Yet it’s so important to step out of your home and experience yoga with a teacher, live and in person. Blessedly, the Kane County area has an abundance of options to try out yoga, and I’ve had the pleasure of taking classes at three studios, thoroughly enjoying each practice.
Tranquility Spa and Wellness Center in St. Charles is one of my favorites, as wellness extends way beyond the studio floor. The ambiance and overall focus on restoring the entire “you” via spa and wellness support is what always brings me back to the team at Tranquility. At the core of their message “is that the nature of every human being is balanced and whole” and the mindset that “when physical and mental conflicts are reduced, the mind is freed for deeper spiritual concentration, personal reflection and joyful living.”
Shine in Batavia is another favorite and pays an intentional focus on individuals who have specific concerns like those battling illnesses, people who have suffered trauma and patients recovering from surgery. I especially love the Plus Size Yoga offering a positive body experience to students of all shapes. The Shine studio is also a gorgeous space aesthetically, and provides a knockout selection of yogic goodies when you are in need of a little retail therapy.
Prana Yoga Center in Geneva boasts an environment that is the “healing balm of our frenzied lifestyles.” I love that Prana has a variety of drop-in classes, over 35 each week, and a three-track curriculum fostering beginner to advanced students. Prana’s blog offers an impressive lineup of articles that will enhance your knowledge of yoga practice when you are off the mat.
All three of these studios offer a variety of classes, and finding a good fit shouldn’t be that difficult. I’m anticipating gathering all the best parts of me to create the kick butt woman I know lives within me. It’s letting her out that is often the challenge, but I am up to taking that adventure – are you with me?
This article was originally published on June 15, 2017, in the Kane County Chronicle.