When you give up the grilling of pork ribs in exchange for the steaming of kale, there are a lot of other changes that accompany the transition. Personally, I find myself spending less time around an oak cooking fire and WAY more time loitering at farmer’s markets.
I also spend much more time reading about food than I used to. My proficiency in the kitchen took a temporary dive. I went from having a black belt in meat preparation to starting over at the kindergarten level of food identification. Before the big change, I still thought a parsnip was a carburetor part and a persimmon was a general from WW1.
Exercise is another long forgotten acquaintance that this new lifestyle is leading me back to. If you adhere to a strict Atkins diet or a strict plant-based diet, you will lose weight without exercise. This is why they appealed to me so much in the beginning. However, I have outgrown the belief that exercise is a fad that can be sidestepped on the way to good health. Instead, I have been reacquainting myself with this old chum, because it is essential to reaching maximum health, not just less body mass.
Today, I’d like to stretch out of my comfort zone and post an open letter to a fellow exercise novice that I saw during my first yoga session. I got the idea from reading an Open Letter to the Fat Girl I Saw at Hot Yoga in New York by Joshilyn Jackson.
Dear Fat Guy I Saw at Hot Yoga in Orlando,
Let me start by saying thank you. I was the OTHER fat guy at hot yoga. When I pulled into the parking lot outside of the Full Circle Yoga Studio, I saw droves of perfectly filled, very feminine yoga pants gliding to the entrance. I, on the other hand, struggled to pry my own exercise pants out of my colon. I felt very reluctant to actually walk into the studio. Lucky for me, my very persuasive spouse was there to take me by the forearm and guide me into the very hot lobby.
Were you also amazed by the heat? I was under the impression that hot yoga was a variation of pole dancing and strip tease style exercises. Walking through the front door was a bit of a letdown, because the heat made me realize I was not there learning how to get my sexy on.
Did you also think the lobby temperature was the same as the studio temperature? I did. When I walked through the second door, my lungs caved in on themselves because of the Sahara like hot air mass that engulfed me. It is hard to breath air that has obviously had all of the oxygen burned out of it.
Did you notice me when I dropped to one knee and grasped my suddenly non-functioning windpipe? I saw you, and I think you were looking at me. The sheets of sweat made it hard to focus, but it looked like you might have been having a hard time acclimating to the furnace-like temperatures as well.
When it seemed like I would be maintaining consciousness and I decided I was physically fit enough to unroll my brand new yoga mat, I followed my spouse to a open space near the back. I saw you looking my way, from across the studio, as you fumbled with the shrink wrapping on your own new mat. Did your wife also think mauve was the manliest color available? I would have preferred teal myself.
It was nice having someone else in the room that seemed to struggle with the many different forms. I saw you lose balance when you stole a glance my way. We both flopped around a lot during that attempted recovery. Do you remember? It was during that one legged pose where we are suppose to put our hands together in front of us instead of held out parallel to the ground for balance as nature intended. The pose we created that day could be called Flamingo in an Ant Bed.
It was my goal to focus my energy, control my body, and master my mind. Was it hard for you to achieve these things with a Girl Scout as the instructor? Was she even old enough to be a Girl Scout? Campfire Girl, Brownie, or Girl Scout, she is obviously on her way to becoming a drill instructor for the Peace Corps in several years when she is old enough to join. She had the whole room popping through poses so quickly I felt like we were in a mid-90’s boy band.
I think I saw you having the same problem I was having with the mat. When dry, the surface has a sticky, tackiness that gives us something for our hands and feet to grip to. However, when buckets of sweat drench the surface of the mauve mat it becomes a frictionless plane. The experienced students had towels and mat covers to prevent this from effecting them while we all attempted Downward Facing Dog. I peeked in your direction and it looked like we were both a couple of newborn foals trying out our new wobbly legs for the first time.
When the 50 minutes was over, did you also pat yourself on the back for not being carried out on a stretcher? I saw you turn some ghastly colors while gasping for breath during the session, and I think you were able to see me do the same. I was proud of both of us for making it, which is why I am so concerned about the uncomfortable moment we had at the end of the class.
I saw the shock in your eyes when you glanced my way during the mat rolling portion of our class. Then I felt my own eyes widen. Perhaps it was the extreme heat during the class, but it suddenly became apparent that you were just my reflection in the giant mirror against the far wall. Were you also amazed to realize that you were only a reflection? Were you hallucinating from possible oxygen deprivation too?
I hope this doesn’t change things between us my friend. I felt a real connection with you and I hope that you will continue to attend these sessions so I don’t feel like the only fat guy at hot yoga.
Namaste you glorious bastard,
The Only Fat Guy at Hot Yoga in Orlando