From Weight Loss to a Bigger Heart: How Yoga & Meditation Transformed My Body, Mind & Spirit
A Reflection by LPS Yogi Crystal Lax
Four years ago I started on a journey that has taken me to lots of unexpected places. At 31 years old, my weight had climbed to 260 pounds on my 5'4" frame. Growing up, I was always a normal weight, but that changed as I started having kids and disregarding myself. I married and had my first daughter at the age of 20. My second daughter was born when I was 23 and my son when I was 27.
One huge mistake I made in my 20s, while mothering infants, juggling a full-time job, and even going back to school at 25, was completely neglecting myself. My health, appearance, well-being, self esteem, attitude and vitality was not a priority. Anything about me completely took a backseat to being one half of a young, struggling couple trying to find our way in the world. I made very poor choices when it came to what I put in my body. I would eat whatever was fast and easy out of convenience and very rarely opted for fruits or vegetables. If I wanted a bacon cheeseburger, I ate it.
By my mid-twenties I began experimenting with fad diets. Atkins, Weight Watchers, Dukan, Military, Calorie Counting... I think I've tried them all! I would have a tiny bit of success and then fail and gain back what I lost plus some. It was an endless cycle of frustration!
Admittedly, I am a control freak. I’m the oldest of four children, and anyone who knows me will tell you that I can be bossy and demanding. Not having control of my own body took a toll on my personality. I did not like my appearance, and my insecurities led to a really bad attitude and outlook on life. I was mean and bitter. I hated myself so much that it was affecting my life in so many ways!
It took a photograph to motivate me to change. My friend was getting married, and eight months before the wedding we went to try on bridesmaid dresses. When I saw a picture of myself in the dress I was completely appalled! How could I possibly have allowed myself to gain so much weight? I was NOT comfortable in my own skin! I had to gain control of myself and reclaim my body.
In January 2013, I began Weight Watchers (WW) for the second time. I followed that diet so strictly for six months and did not even reach 20 pounds lost! How could this be? I was so disheartened and defeated.
A few weeks after I had given up WW, I woke up one morning, June 13, 2013, and I knew it was time for REAL change. I decided that I wasn’t educated enough on how the body functions. Maybe I could benefit from actually doing some research and learning about food and how it is metabolized. I took to the Internet to see what I could find to help me bring about the change I so desperately needed. I started with clean eating and did some juice fasting, but the more I researched the more I kept coming back to a plant-based diet. I spent three months reading, researching and testing out a plant-based diet.
Once I began feeling so much better, I knew this was exactly what I had been seeking. On Feb. 9, 2014, I turned 32 years old. The next day, I said goodbye to animal proteins. I spent the first year and a half figuring out the best version of vegan eating for me and ultimately landed on the approach to nutrition by Dr. John McDougall as being the healthiest and most satiating.
I am now 90 pounds lighter than that version of me who was so completely unhappy. I’m thrilled to be in control again and headed toward my goal weight. I do not count calories, which is something I had done in the past with little success and a lot of misery. I eat as much as I want of the right kinds of foods that give me energy and keep me satisfied. After meals, I don’t feel sluggish. Rather, I feel energized and rejuvenated!
In addition to my whole foods, plant-based diet I credit exercise as being a vital part of my transformation. From the beginning, I would do cardio and even some weight training a few times a week. The more weight that I lost, the more I began to enjoy the exercising part of my routine, even upping my workout regimen to five or six days a week.
My best friend Sarah, who has practiced yoga for many years, constantly asked me to join her in a yoga class. At first, I was intimidated by the thought of doing it! One reason is that I have a problematic hip that sustained an injury during my first daughter’s birth and have babied it for years. I am always cautious to not aggravate it or knock it out of place.
But, finally, I broke down and decided to give yoga a shot with an at-home video. I was instantly hooked! Over the last year I have been committed to doing yoga twice a week in addition to my three to four days a week in the gym. And that bad hip is doing better than ever!
In addition to the physical transformation I have made, and continue to make, there has been a dramatic change in my emotional, mental and spiritual health. My attitude has changed tremendously. I am positive and optimistic, and I feel (and look!) younger than I have my entire adult life!
It's difficult for me to put into words how I began to "wake up." I used to be so miserable and temperamental. I hated myself so much that I projected that onto the people around me. Once I started becoming aware that the energy I was sending out into the universe was being returned to me and creating negative circumstances in my life, I started down the rabbit hole. I now use meditation and yoga to help me manifest everything that I want to attract to my life. Learning to connect to my Source, my higher consciousness, has completely turned everything around for me.
Also, I am learning to embrace being an empath. For as long as I can remember, I worked very hard at building a tough exterior, because I didn't know how to handle it. Now I embrace the energy of others and try to help them with mine. One of the most surprising side effects of my vegan diet is that I stopped feeling so negative and angry. I started to soften my sharp edges. I am more in tune with myself, my Source. I developed an insatiable thirst for knowledge and understanding. My mental clarity has improved by leaps and bounds! Meditation and yoga have become such an asset on this evolutionary journey. What started out because of negativity and self-loathing has turned into a surprising discovery of positivity, strength and love. My whole foods, plant-based diet, exercise, yoga and meditation all work together to help create my new harmonious existence.