Hi. I'm Debbie Vinyard, "Type A" poster child. (or should I say "Type A" chick?) I have always been driven my whole life and have to be constantly busy. I have been going to a local yoga studio- Inner Peace Yoga in Tulsa, OK- for years, but not as often as I wanted to go. I decided to make 2012 my year to do yoga more than once a week. Then the Baron Baptiste "40 Days to Personal Revolution" sign up sheet went up at my studio in late 2011 and I immediately signed up. I saw it as my next workout challenge. I have always thrived on exercise goals. In 2010/2011 I ran 2 half marathons with Team in Training, raising money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. I am a Hodgkin's survivor and my clothing company, Happyfirst.com, gives to many cancer causes. Last summer I pulled a groin muscle and I could not run for 13 weeks, so that's when I started to see the benefits of yoga even more.I worked one on one with the owner, Meghan Donnelly, and also started going to classes more.
For those of you not familiar with the 40 Day Revolution, it is a 40 day adventure! It encompasses mind, body and soul. The first week we started out slowly, doing yoga 20 minutes a day 6 days a week, meditating 5 minutes morning and night, and being aware of what we eat. We met as a group once a week, led by Chelsea Paxton. What was said in the group, stayed in the group-total confidentiality. By the last week of the program we were doing an hour and a half of yoga a day 6 days a week and meditating 30 minutes twice a day. At first I wondered how I would do all that by the last week, but it was gradual. We didn't have to go to Inner Peace 6 days a week (but I preferred to be there), we could practice at home too and were given a yoga and meditation cd for home. We were also given our own copy of the 40 Day Revolution book-mine is now full of highlighting! We also became part of a private Facebook page so we could exchange ideas with each other.
I went into this thinking it was one more challenge I could tackle, checking off my tasks as I went. I was mainly going for the yoga component, to get that workout in. I also wanted more balance in my life but wasn't sure how this would all work. The first day we met as a group Chelsea asked us to write down the answer to the question "Why am I here?" I wrote down "I am here to get focus and balance in my life and fitness. I am hoping it will help me creatively." I got all that and so much more. I learned so much about myself-not all of it pretty!
I don't want to give away too much of the program because I think everyone should experience it. The reading in the book was so so insightful. Baptiste presented "12 Laws of Transformation". I won't list them all here but my favorite ones were- be willing to come apart, step out of your comfort zone, shift your vision, relax with what is, don't rush the process, and be still and know. (ok I listed a lot, I loved them all).
I would like to share with you the experiences I had. First of all, I didn't realize what a rules follower I am until this program. I kept asking Chelsea questions because I wanted to do this program perfectly right! (I am a former CPA and loved school and had to make straight A's). What I love about Chelsea is she is so relaxed and forgiving. For morning meditation, she said if we already had a morning devotional or prayer routine, that would "count". Oh good, I didn't have to give up my morning devotional! One thing I started doing differently when this program started (and this is not a 40 day thing, I actually read it somewhere else) was I started journaling 3 pages every morning as a part of my morning routine. That has been huge for me and I am still doing it. Having this time for myself in the morning has been incredible-it just sets my day right. It is best to do this first thing before checking email, etc. (oops my rules again!) Through this program I realized what a control freak I am! Not necessarily on others (oh maybe we should ask my husband…) but mostly with myself. Others in the group shared they learned this about themselves too. Had to give up trying to control situations they just couldn't control. One thing that Chelsea said that really struck me was this program was not about willpower but it is about willingness and NOT doing. Wow, not doing, I didn't know how to "not do"!
The huge area for me about the willingness was to trust the process on week 4. It was the dreaded Fruit Feast. I was really anxious about it from Day 1. And this was totally optional but since I had to check off doing everything right I had to do it! Basically, the fruit feast was eating nothing but fruits and veggies with seeds (like tomatoes, spaghetti squash, avocados) for 3 days, to cleanse your system. At first I thought it was ridiculous-too much sugar I said (I am a big believer in the South Beach Diet, low carbs, low sugar). I was literally dreaming about these upcoming 3 days and freaking out because I wouldn't have protein. Oh and did I mention no caffeine??? Chelsea eased my thoughts and talked me through it and I went to Whole Foods and got excited about it. I didn't ease into the no caffeine, just went cold turkey. Had a slight headache the first day but no big deal. I actually felt amazing those 3 days. Felt light and satisfied. I had baked apples and pears with cinnamon for breakfast, a tomato and avocado for lunch (something totally new for me) and homemade butternut squash soup for dinner. One day I had spaghetti squash at lunch. I felt energetic-we were up to an hour of yoga each day that week and I did great. The only negative is I was somewhat scattered in my thoughts, but wait, that's not unusual! I remember reading the beginning of week 4 and it said "the time it relax is when you don't have time for it". That was so true! I was so busy getting my books ready for taxes but the good food and yoga really helped. My very last meal-I was on my way home from yoga and my husband called and said his relatives invited us for dinner. I said yes and ate fruit while everyone else was drinking wine, eating bread, pasta and steak. But I wan't going to quit when I had gotten that far. And it was a good opportunity to tell others about the 40 days. Oh and what is weird, is after the 3 days I really didn't crave caffeine. (But I must admit, I am still drinking it, but now know I don't have to have it!) I did lose a few pounds, but that wasn't the focus of the fruit feast. Overall, this whole program was not a "diet"- we just became more aware of our body and what we needed. And I learned I didn't have to do or eat things a certain way.
Another thing I learned about myself is how I tended to view situations in black and white; I would be more reactive than I wanted to be. I am working on being more gray about things! I am learning how to slow down and be present. My two new favorite words from this are equanimity-the art of meeting life as it meets you-calmly, without drama or fuss-and synchronicity-the simultaneous occurrence of events that appear significantly related but have no discernible causal connection. The whole synchronocity thing is kinda weird, people and events falling into place. Another exciting thing is that my creativity is coming through. Just after the first week, I had a creative breakthrough in my business. I think when we slow down and reflect and make room for creativity, it comes!
I am kinda sad this program is over. I love the friends I have made and now I know so many more people at the studio. I loved being in the program and just learning and experiencing. I have carried over what I have learned- I may not be doing yoga 6 times a week, but I am doing it more and realizing how much I love it and can fit it in, and my morning devotionals are my favorite time (I still struggle with meditating at night, I tend to fall asleep!). I highly recommend this to everyone, you may be pleasantly surprised what you learn about yourself! It is quite the adventure!
Thanks so much Debbie for sharing this amazing experience. I've never done one of these, but after reading what your went through/learned I'd be willing to give it a go! Read below to learn a little more about Debbie and see a couple photos from her Happy First product line.
Health, Wellness & CURES!!
A little about Debbie:
A dreamer, a doer and a survivor, Debbie’s fun-loving approach to living is the spirit behind HappyFirst.com – a company devoted to inspiring people to pursue their passions and discover their infinite capacity for true happiness.