We discuss in this podcast:
- How Erin was losing weight doing baseline foods
- Introducing new foods and monitoring the process
- Bikram Yoga and its benefits
- The effects of a more intense workout program
- How exercise helps to increase food diversity
- Bikram and next-day recovery
- How Bikram affects the wrists
- Bikram poses
- Developing a deeper and more helpful appreciation of our body
Clint Thanks for joining me today. I’ve got a guest who’s going to talk about exercise. Quite often, the answer is just to go harder on the exercise. And today we’re going to hear from Erin, and she lives in a little coastal town just outside of Melbourne in Australia. And she’s going to talk about her experience with massively ramping up her exercise. And the where she went from to where she is today in just a short period of time. So I’m really excited to welcome you, Erin, to chat with me today on this episode.
Erin Hi Clint, It is amazing to be here, I’m very excited. Thank you.
Clint Well, we’ve had great fun chatting online because I’ve seen your progress recently inside rheumatoid support where you’ve been a member for a while so we can communicate. And I can get your updates all the time and exchange ideas and so forth. And when you said, “Hey, I’ve started exercising more and I’m seeing massive results.” I thought this is the message that I want to get across. And so tell us where were you at before you started ramping up the exercise?
Erin Well, I was eating the absolute baseline, like I could not add in any food. So I was eating baseline for months and months and I was losing weight constantly. It was a steady decline, certainly slow. But every week I was losing more weight and I got down to fifty-one point eight kilos, which is absolutely nothing for someone who is my height and that was very scary. Actually, people all around were worried about me, and actually I had started to get pretty worried about my weight and how low I’d gotten as well. And every time I tried to introduce any kind of food to help bring my weight back up. I just woke up the next day with more inflammation, more pain, and it was a real struggle, I just could not introduce anything so buckwheat, quinoa every day, sweet potato every day. Lots and lots of spinach and leafy greens. And that was it for months. Yeah. So it’s really, really, really challenging.
Clint I see, and then I remember us having this particular moment in our discussion. I suggested, well look what I see with other people is when you increase exercise tremendously it tends to make you less sensitive to the food reintroduction. And you took that to heart and you decided to go for it.
Erin Yes. So I started Bikram at one studio and they only offered two classes a week and that was 90 minutes. But then they actually dropped them down to a 60 minutes classes, which I just felt were the same. And I was getting like some small amount of progress. And I’d also bought an exercise bike for home and I was using that. But again, it’s not really seeing any benefits from it, slight benefits on this. I could feel that maybe I was getting a bit better at the Bikram poses as I was going, but otherwise not right. I wouldn’t say great results from that. But at around about the same time, one of the teachers in the Bikram studio told me that an old teacher was opening up her own studio. And it was a dedicated Bikram studio, 90 minutes, only two classes a day. And I was so excited I couldn’t wait for that day. And I kept saying to my husband, “when she opens that studio, I’m gonna go every day for at least seven days. And I’m just going to do my own kind of Bikram retreat and just going to smash it”. And it was all on board for that, which is amazing. And so when she opened up her studio in December, it was the best day. And I went to the studio and had my first class. And I could notice the difference from halfway through the first class. I could tell that things were gonna be different. And it was awesome.
Clint To anyone who’s absolutely brand new to this podcast and has not heard me talk about Bikram yoga many times in the past. Could you just spend just one or two minutes explaining what it is? What are we talking about here?
Erin Okay. Well, it’s a series of, I think twenty-six postures, yoga postures. And they’re pretty intense. And it’s done in a hot room, very hot really. And they say 40 degrees Celsius and 40 percent humidity, so it’s hot. And you just work through the postures and each posture builds on the next. And by the end of it, you’ve pretty much worked every muscle and every joint in your body. And then it teachers that might become a studio always say it’s the only exercise in the world that you come out of it with more energy than you went in. So, yeah, that’s a little bit of a little bit 101 of Bikram.
Clint It has copped a lot of bad press over the last couple of years, and not just since the Netflix film has come out, which has really become mainstream. You know, anti-Bikram sort of sentiment. But prior to that, because there were certain allegations about its creator, the sequences brander of this of the postured series with lots of bad press. How has your studio handled that situation and have you felt that the studio has struggled accordingly? And do you feel any conflict personally with what you may sort of have been made aware of about the creator and the sequence itself?
Erin I’m sorry, there was a level of uncomfortableness for me when I first started, but I tried it with the studio owner and she called her studio. Bikram in little writing original hot yoga to long in big writing. And we talked about it and she said that she is not affiliated with him at all. And so no money from the studio goes to goes to the man himself. And that made me feel comfortable. It’s really unfortunate that he’s not a good person because Bikram is like the actual series that E-2. It’s amazing. I’ve seen it in my journal on the support program. It’s life-changing, it’s incredible and it’s absolutely for everybody. My studio owner was telling me a story about a woman in America who has Parkinson’s disease, she’s in her late 70s, could hardly move, and was excited to do her Bikram postures on the bed lying down. And recently, after few months of working really hard with her, with her become teacher one on one, she’s now standing up and starting to do the pose, the postures like as they’re intended to be. It’s just really exciting to hear that kind of change in people’s life, and it really is like a miraculous kind of thing. I can’t below about it more than I know it. Look, I just get so excited about it.
Clint I know when I share your same level of of of just feeling of misfortune and disappointment about this conflict. Because look, it saved me from having a knee replacement, possibly for 10 years. It got me out of the crippled state into a fairly functioning state. And the stories are endless with this sequence as to how it can transform, and reduce inflammation and improve your range of motion of your joints. And just make you feel back to normal as best as we can. So let’s hear about your transformation here. I know you know, you’re excited to share this. So how will you do this sort of. Well, first of all, tell us how often you went? What results you saw?
Erin Yeah. So, as I said, the first class halfway through the first class, I started to notice some changes. I was (inaudible) halfway through, and I could feel the stiffness and pain in my wrists just start to melt away. Now, this studio that I go to does have infra-red heating panels, which are absolutely incredible. And I think partly that’s why it’s been so good because of the infra-red heating panels. That literally it started to dissipate halfway through the first class, I couldn’t believe it. And I actually started crying a little bit on the mat and, pull myself together and finish the class. And then afterwards, I was talking to the teacher on the day and I said, explain to her that this happened and she is just going to give me a hug. She was so excited aside crying, and when I was talking with her and I’m not a hugger as well, that I was hugging everybody that day. It was amazing. And then the studio owner came out and she’d been practicing in that class. And the teacher told the studio owner and she was giving me a hug, everybody was so excited. And I just couldn’t believe it, I was just so grateful that she opened the studio and I had an opportunity to change my life by going. And that was just the first class. So I went again, I think I did six classes in a row. I don’t think I made seven, unfortunately, but I did six classes in a row. About three to four classes in, I started to notice that I was looking stronger, like these mirrors everywhere, of course. And I was looking at myself and I was looking at my stomach thinking, geez, I think I’m getting stronger. And then but the fifth class, I think I looked at my legs and I mean it. I’ve put on I’ve got like muscles in my leg. And because, I explained before I’d lost so much weight, so much more muscle tone. I just was a walking skeleton to say to see some of my muscle about coming back on. So incredible. But that could only happen because after my first class, I went home and I felt like I needed to eat something, I didn’t know what it was I was thinking. It’s not buckwheat and it’s not quinoa, certainly isn’t sweet potato. So maybe I can just try a couple of walnuts. And I did it and I wake up the next day with no ramifications whatsoever. No change. Wow. This is incredible. The next night I came home after Bikram and my husband said, “why don’t you try tofu?” I was like, “oh, I’m really scared of tofu.” And he’s like, nah, do it. I had tofu that night and it was the same. Woke up with no problems the next day. I thought, this is amazing. So since that day, I’ve pretty much had tofu every day, often twice a day. And that’s and I’ve also just slowly increase the variety of my diet so much. And that’s been what has enabled me to then build the muscle in Bikram. And it’s just like I really have to say. And so I probably put on about four kilos in a bit over a month just by going nearly every day.
Clint That’s nine pounds to our US folks.
Erin Yeah. I’m still not perfect I definitely do still have some pain in my wrist in particular. But in comparison to what I was like before I started Bikram, I am polar opposite. Yeah. I feel oh my gosh, I’ve just got way more energy and I generally sleeping better, although unfortunately not last night. Unfortunately, kids don’t really let you know they don’t help sometimes. But it’s just so much positivity to talk about as a result of going to bikram. And then I counted, I’ve done thirty-nine classes in seventy-nine days. So not quite every day, obviously life gets in the way. And I’ve been back to work, I went back to work after about 18 months off on parental leave and my husband also went away for a few weeks to London for work. So that makes it difficult to get to classes. I’m pretty proud of being of nearly doing once every two days. It’s really obvious the change.
Clint It’s a huge commitment of time. People sometimes throw up some reasons or justifications as to why they don’t do it. We’ve already addressed one, which is kind of like this putting the foot down and saying, no, I don’t want to support that sort of organization, that’s one. And I’ve had close friends challenged me on that. And I explained earlier that I separate the sequence from the person in my mind and that’s how I deal with that. So that’s one objection’s. Other objections that people make are they think I’m going to lose weight. Now, you’ve just pointed out that you gained weight. Now, I want to add something that was really, really surprising to me is that when you go to the gym, the advice is always, look, don’t work the same muscles every day because they need a few days to recover. Otherwise, you know, they’ve torn the micro taste, can’t repair themselves in a bigger fashion. So. What I was always afraid of in Bikram classes was if I went every day on overworking the muscle, it can’t grow. But I found, just as Bikram says, it is a daily practice. And sure enough, I like you notice that my legs were getting stronger and in the awkward postures which are towards the start. I noticed that I could. You can just tell you’re holding them a little longer. You’re shaking a little less The weak side, the weak leg, in my case, you know, is doing a little bit more work. And at times in the past, I was in a front row and smashing it. In good, strong, holding deep and stuff. So and that was that’s when you go the most you know, the people who go the most are the ones that are the strongest. And it’s not like the gym at all, is it?
Erin No, you don’t. You don’t get that kind of lactic acid build-up that you get from a big workout at the gym and you don’t get that next day recovery feeling that sore muscle feeling. You just, I don’t know, maybe it’s the heat or something, but you just don’t get that. And so it’s possible to go again the next day. Sometimes I go to 6:30 in the evening and then I’m back again at 6 o’clock in the morning to do the class the next day the only one I can get to. And I mean, there’s not even twelve hours between that is totally fine to do it again.
Clint I think part of it is that you’re only doing the muscle groups wise. Like, let’s say with the awkward that you’re holding quadriceps, holding quadriceps and then you’re onto the next thing. And yes, the quads get used multiple times in other postures of course as part of combinations. But you’re not basically trying to completely exhaust a muscle to the point of failure every day you’re you’re working within your own.
Erin And it only goes as far as you can go. You’re not killing yourself trying to reach a point in a posture. You just go as far as you can go. And that’s all you do today. Like if it’s less than yesterday, that’s okay. It’s more than yesterday, that’s awesome. But you don’t fight against your body to make it do something over and over again. And you just kind of roll with it. And it’s a lot easier than I think for me going to the gym. I hate going to the gym.
Clint Another objection that people throw up is that, oh, it’s gonna hurt my wrists. And the reason they say that is because a lot of people have been done downward dogs at other yoga studios and stuff. Tell us about if you’ve got bad wrists, how do you go?
Erin Well, I don’t do other yoga because I can’t do the downward dogs and things. But I think that Bikram works the wrists in mild ways. Like, for example, (inaudible) Breathing, which is at the start you slowly just working through the wrists. You know, you’re not really hurting them or pushing them or putting pressure on them or anything. So you kind of just giving them some flexibility. And I mean, this one pose is I think it’s locust? Half locust pose where you put your arms underneath you and you’re lying on your stomach. And at the start, there’s no way I could do that. It was absolutely impossible to put my arms underneath my wrist. Sometimes I couldn’t even have them have my arms turned down onto the mat like I had to lie with my hands facing my palms facing up. And that’s how I did the posture for the first little while. Now, like, I can get them right onto my body. And even when I’ve got an increased pain in my wrists, for whatever reason, I still do it. I still do that because afterwards, when the blood flows back into the wrist, it feels amazing. And I know that it’s being beneficial for my wrists to do that. But again, like I said before, you only go so far as you can go. And so if your wrists are hurting. Don’t do the things that are hurting them. You know, just take it easy on the questions that involve your wrists if you need to.
Clint Yeah. And it’s the same with you. It’s very, very wrist-friendly, isn’t it? The whole sequence. You’ve just described the only two points I can think of where risk become involved. The first breathing exercise. You’re not even loading them as you say. They’re just moving. They’re just moving on. You unloaded and then another one you’re not applying the weight directly into the risk if it’s highly inflamed. It just knows that it has bodyweight or round that sort of thing. And I can understand where you’ve slowly progressed to where you’re at now and avoiding earlier on. I’ve done all of these things, all different body parts have always needed corrections and stuff. But I just wanted to make sure people understand. Don’t be afraid if you’ve hurt your wrists in the past of this sequence. This sequence is risk-friendly. It’s blissful for the wrists.
Erin It is really good and it’s so helpful.
Clint Oh, yeah, absolutely. What were the hardest parts for you going through this?
Erin Well, that one that first year that I just described was one of the hardest things. Like I said, totally impossible. But when I first started, I like I said, I had no muscle tone whatsoever, particularly my legs. I didn’t very have very strong legs. And I had no muscles to support my knees when I was standing doing a standing series. So there was one or two classes that I literally had to kneel. To do Panama Breathing at the start, because I couldn’t even stand at that point. And so there were some challenges around that. But I think the standing series was the hardest for me to kind of build-up because of that problem. Because I couldn’t balance on one leg. It wasn’t just my knees, because my knees have actually been pretty good with my arthritis. They’re not usually affected, but my ankles and my feet are. And that was another problem with a standing series as well. My feet got very, very sore trying to China stand on one foot on it.
Clint So annoying when you’ve got pain in your ankle. When you try to balance on one leg because you become self competitive and self comparative to previous classes. And you think, “oh, I feel strong in this leg, I’m going to be able to do really well in this posture today as I stand on this one leg.” And then you put the why don’t you like? Damn, I can’t do it because of that stupid ankle. Yeah, exactly right.
Erin And I always sort of feel with Panama Breathing star and half-moon pose star. They are kind of a litmus test for how my joints are feeling. Just generally because it’s like when you’re going about your day and things, are you just. Especially when you’re at work or you’ve got your kids or you’re really busy. You tend to just carry on and you don’t always stop to think what’s actually saw today. You just make adjustments and keep going. When I first get into a Bikram and I start doing the breathing at the start and then that first pose. I can really tell I can feel my shoulders sore today. Oh, I have trouble with my wrists with my elbows and it’s kind of like a good reminder of how I’m feeling. And I can sort of assess whether it’s better or worse than it was yesterday or the day before or the day before that. And I find that really helpful. Yeah, but half-moon pose is another one that I just can’t get right. I don’t know what it is about it, but I just it’s not my favourite.
Clint I don’t enjoy one posture and the whole thing, it’s all challenging, right? But It’s all beneficial. The whole kind of you get it, you get back what you put in sort of any one of those cliches, you could apply to this perfectly. It’s super hard. Let me take that back. It challenges you in all the right ways, regardless of your physical ability. And then you get out of it a lot. So can you tell me what’s improved the most since you’ve adopted?
Erin And what’s improved the most, life in general. Life has changed so much since that day that I first went to Bikram and my wrists started to improve. I often have days where I just don’t even think about the fact that I have rheumatoid arthritis anymore. I am eating so much more variety of food. I’m eating the same things as my children ate, which is amazing because now I don’t have to do two meals for every meal anymore. You know, I’ve gone back to work and I feel it becomes totally enabled that because my energy levels are up so much. Like I said before, I’m sleeping a bit better. I just feel so much better in myself as well. I am not necessarily related to arthritis, but my R.A. is definitely better than it was. And so much more under control, which is fantastic.
Erin If you’re talking about within Bikram, well, my backbend has always been pretty good. So my bow and camel there. They’ve improved the most. And yeah, and they’re ones that I really enjoy doing. And I actually believe it or not. I love the hate. And I really, really enjoy being in the home studio. I know you always say that you got results from it, but you hate it. I love it. I actually love it. And I’m one of those people out there that loves that. I don’t know. But, yeah, I really enjoy myself the poses. I really enjoy seeing the progress that you make. Like last night, I did a great standing bow and wow, I didn’t actually fall out of it for the first time. Yeah, I nailed that. Unfortunately, then I had to lie down for the next. The rest of the standing series I was so tired. But it wasn’t my best. But I did a great day.
Clint That’s right, that is so common. My of my also I can relate to that. If you push yourself a little bit too much in one posture, you then suffer. That’s a good message for those people who are still listening to this, who was thinking to myself, I don’t know anything about this, but I may check this out. You can sit down, lie down at any time in this class. The only thing they don’t like is if you get up and walk out. Because it just really disrupts the energy and it just sets the wrong kind of precedent for the rest of the class because everyone’s struggling. And so you want to stick with it together. So the only thing they wanted is to stay, continue and complete it, which just means that just take it easy, first class. Just sit down. I’ve heard all sorts of stories like people coming in wheelchairs and all sorts of stuff. The hardest part is showing up if you can get into that class, you can do it. There’s nothing that can’t be attempted at some infinitesimally small level that can be built upon each day. Well done, really good to talk to you about this. It’s been really great to hear how much it’s improved. Not just your body, but your life. And that’s it, isn’t it? When we have a disease that’s just so frustratingly difficult to shift, that’s persistent. That’s so deeply aggravating to us, annoying, affects our mind and thoughts all the time. When we have a tool or a daily habit like this that we can use to interrupt that and to turn this into a positive lifestyle change. It’s uplifting and you can see it in your face and your eyes. You have found your solution and you’re rolling it out.
Erin Absolutely, one other thing that I wanted to mention, is it an improvement that I’ve seen is actually my appreciation for my body and for what it can do. And prior to that, in starting Bikram. I got to be honest, I pretty well hated my body. I was like, all it does is give me pain and suffering. Yeah, it might get me through the day sort of, but I can’t pick up my son and I can’t do anything else. And so I just didn’t love it. I. I really hated it. I was like, this is the shittiest body. Excuse my language though. But starting to go to Bikram and being able to do certain things even right at the start. I’ve been able to do some cases really well and I was like, wow, I can do this. And then as I got better and as I started to build muscle, I started to realize, like, how amazing my body is. And then when, you are noticing the changes with your arthritis as well and with the ability to introduce more foods for my body is actually pretty incredible. It’s healing itself and it is actually doing what it’s supposed to do. And so my appreciation for my body has just changed so much. And I just wanted to add that in as well. That’s been like a really big thing for me that suddenly I feel positive about the body that I’m living in instead of negative and that’s really good.
Clint When we send our body signals of negativity and hatred. That’s a body that withers and cripples. So how wonderful that is as well. The profound impact of this intervention, this getting up and going and doing the daily exercise. And I wanted us to talk about it. Just to wrap it up. It doesn’t have to be the Bikram yoga sequence now. It’s my preference for people. I think it’s the sort of highest level of results that you’re going to get if you do that daily, as you’ve seen. But if people don’t have access to Bikram yoga studio, I think that doing it at home, listening to an audio recording or watching a class, there’s a free version on YouTube that you can watch the whole sequence. And there’s also the iTunes version. I think it’s $20 or something to buy Bikram speaking it out loud and you can follow along at home. But it’s good to see the postures because you can’t if you’re a beginner in really need to see how to do it.
Clint So that’s one option is to do it yourself at home doesn’t even have to be heated. The hate just standing on the carpet and following along is all he needs an internet connection or an iTunes or (Inaudible). And then other than that, any kind of exercise that doesn’t irritate the joints is a positive exercise. Go to the gym, get on your pushbike, get on an elliptical bike, go for a really fast walk, and ideally up a hill in summer to get a sweat on. Do a little bit more than you feel that you want to, because if it doesn’t hurt the joints, then everything is a bit beneficial from that. And so whilst we’ve spent this time chatting about Bikram yoga. We can achieve wonderful outcomes as well just by applying ourselves daily exercise routine. That gives us this. Increase in heart rate, hopefully. A little bit of sweat and also builds muscle. This is all wonderful.
Erin Yeah, for me, having a class to go to really helps. Because if I was at home trying to do exercise with my children around it’s hard to get the time. So having a class helps doesn’t necessarily have to be a Bikram class. Going to say a bunk class or something like that would be, I think, a good thing, too. Sometimes team sports as well are really good because you commit to a team and say it’s a lot harder to say. I just don’t feel like going today because it’s not just you. You have a team. You’re letting down the whole team if you don’t go. So it sounds over the years that team sports and things are really good in that respect. If you can do them I mean, I used to play netball all the time I can’t play netball right now. But, you know, you can do something that’s team related or at least with a group like a running group or something that’s really good because then there’s like the impetus to go. I think.
Clint Yeah, I love it. I know that whole I know that sort of social expectation. You’ve got that accountability of showing. Another great idea. Well, thank you I wanted to get you on and to have you tell this till this experience that you’ve had. And it’s been even better than I thought because of all the extra things, not just improvements to the arthritis. I mean, that’s why we go. But it’s the life improvements, the self-appreciation, the body love, and the improved happiness. It’s everything, isn’t it? So well done. Erin, thank you for coming on and sharing this.
Erin Thank you. It’s been a pleasure. I really enjoyed it.