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Nancy M. Alterman
I am a 58 year old woman who is considered to be obese- I have lost 80 pounds twice in my life time- once when I was 25 and kept if off until I was 36. … which I did only through dietary changes- very low calorie. The 2 nd time, when I was 40, I also did low calorie but I also went to the gym and did weights and treadmill 3 times a week. By the time I was 42 I was at my ideal weight and very pleased- which I kept off another 10 years. My upper body had definition but I never could really break a sweat when doing a cardio work out.
Each and every time I needed to lose weight- I did it by “white knuckling” it through deprivation convincing myself that I could get though each and every day by eating as little as possible and when special occasions would arise, I would plan ahead and save my calories- soon I stopped working out and just watched what I ate very very carefully.
Then I feel off the wagon after several emotional upsets in my life and regained the 80 pounds. I tried my old and proven method of giving up food and going into deprivation but I kept failing, over and over again. I finally let go and just let myself live for awhile and found ways to accept myself and forgive myself for not being able to do better- When I was ready to try again, I tried Zumba- but could not keep up with the coordination of dance steps-then I went back to the gym but hated every minute being there..… then I started doing some dance movement programs like 5 Rhythms at yoga studios and I learned that I like to move freely without judgment. Soon I heard about “Hot Yoga”.
It sounded very appealing to me because I like being warm and I find it hard to work up a sweat otherwise. I had begun to make small changes in my eating- eating less processed foods and more whole foods, giving up fast food and starting to prepare healthier meals but my weight did not budge downward, in fact, I gained some weight. My cholesterol began to rise, my blood pressure did also. I started to feel completely hopeless that I would just have to follow in my father’s footsteps and die before I reach 70 and suffer with chronic illnesses like diabetes, high cholesterol which would lead to heart failure and strokes. I was so sad that I would not be there to see all the ups and downs of my daughter’s life and would fail her by exiting life too soon.
I learned that one of my friends had been to your Bikram hot yoga studio in Gibbsboro and she offered for me to try it some time with her and I agreed. Although I liked the experience, I did not go back for quite some time for financial reasons until I saw a Groupon. I started off very slowly, only going twice a week. By that time I was going to Happy Hours twice a week to relieve stress from my job as a medical social worker, working with the elderly and their families who are in crisis. All the way driving to yoga, I would have to talk myself into going there rather than go have a martini. I soon realized that when I was done with a 90 minute class, I no longer had any desire for a martini. In fact, each and every time I went to class, I saw my body change-I could do a little bit more than I could do the last time I had been in class. That was very encouraging. I began to think maybe it is not too late for me after all.
Seeing my body respond to the healing poses and method of Bikram allowed me to let hope back into my life- too risk another possible failure. And what I have gained, in addition, is the strength to change my eating habits without suffering and deprivation. To develop a desire to stay hydrated, to care for my skin and body in a way I never did the other times I lost the weight. I had spent an entire childhood and adolescence feeling poorly about myself for my inability to be like others- to eat well and take care of my body. I suffered emotionally from being FAT. It blocked out everything else that was good about me for all of my early years.
I am now certain that it is not too late for me to become healthy and live a longer life. I am strong. I am flexible. I am developing good balance. I do not have to give up and become disabled. All that happened not just because of the poses and the method of hot yoga. It happened because I was accepted just the way I was when I arrived scared, helpless and out of shape. Each and every teacher was encouraging. I held on to every supportive word. I responded each time my improvement was noticed. I was comforted each time I was told to hang in there. A simple sentence of “Nancy that looks good “was a gift beyond measure. All of you are deeply appreciated by me for your kindness and faith in me. You are now part of my journey in becoming who God intended me to be. And I thank you.
Nancy M. Alterman, LCSW
Ten years ago (tomorrow) I finished three years of chemotherapy, ten years ago I was in a wheelchair. I've had knee surgeries, elbow surgeries, bilateral hip replacements and years of gruesome physical therapy to undo the damage that chemo had on my joints and bones. I had a scan done in 2006 showing my skeleton as frail and translucent, I had the bone density of someone in their seventies at the age of 18. I was diagnosed with advanced osteoporosis and osteonecrosis in which every joint in my body either deteriorated at a rapid rate or actually collapsed on me. My tendons and ligaments were so jagged that they cut my nerves causing damage, I had dead pieces of bone floating around each joint letting off a gas that was extremely painful.
At the age of 15 I was told I would never enjoy the active lifestyle I had led before my diagnosis, and I've never felt so helpless in my life. I spent six years down on the fact that if this is how my body felt at such a young age, what was it going to be like into my adulthood? I couldn't see my life past the age of fifty just for thinking of the sheer agony I would be in; what would my life be if I was so frail and sick? I spent six years of trying every drug I could find that might help, with horrible side effects and dependency, years of sleepless nights and crawling instead of walking up stairs.
I felt absolutely hopeless until I found acupuncture, and on my first day they suggested I start yoga as a low impact way of strengthening my muscles to support my joints. I worked across the street from a Bikram studio and figured it might be a good idea to try. My first class was horrible, I could hardly stay in the room, let alone attempt a third of the postures. Something told me to keep going back, even if only for the calming benefit of slowing my breathing. It took only a few months before I was able to move my elbows under my body in the floor series, or actually lift my leg for tree. I felt strong for the first time in years! I no longer fear getting older, my bone density has increased to my doctor's surprise, my heart is eons better than it should look after all my treatments, and I actually feel healthy (I've literally shocked my Oncologist with all of this). My sleep has improved, I haven't taken a pain killer in years and even my digestion has gotten better. I'm at the point of no return, when I don't come for a few weeks my asthma acts up, as does every other system in my body.
I don't need the shoulder or knee replacements that I was expected to have by the age of 25. Since starting Bikram and changing my lifestyle I've been able to hike, surf, backpack through Europe and do so many things I was told I would never have the chance to do. I don't know where my life might have wound up if the last four years I hadn't found this practice, but I can only imagine where it is going since every time I come I get stronger.
When I first learned of Bikram Yoga I thought it sounded extreme and crazy. Who would want to sit in a hot room and strike a pose and hold it for a minute? I have always been a cyclist and weight lifter and believed the only way to work your body was to really work and go faster and lift more. Those hard years have made me a regular at Physical Therapy and Sports Medicine Doctors.
Over the past two years I have struggled with Disc Degeneration in my spine. Particulary in my cervical and Lumbar areas. There is not a Disc in those two zones that is not bulging or herniated. My cervical disc problems include pressure on nerves which lead to pain, numbness, tingling, and loss of mobility in my arm and neck. Beyond these aches and pains the muscle weakness has lead to other injuries in my shoulder. I have been in therapy for a year and a half and have made progress but the Doctors say I will always struggle with these unless I want to undergo surgery, which they suggest as a last resort.
With all my old workouts and sports put on hold as I heal my wife suggested I start Bikram Yoga and see how that would help my spine and give me a general workout. Each class was hard. Holding a pose and locking your leg is much harder than it seemed. All of the postures though were taking me back to various physical therapy things and I realized this was a way to start healing all of my various injuries from the years.
Many days I can enter the studio in pain and unable to turn my head completely. After a class I can rotate my neck, the pain has decreased or is gone, and my arm no longer tingles! When I increased my practice to 3-4 days per week I felt a tremendous difference. With the frequency I felt NO Pain, NO tingling, and I could turn my head completely! My physical therapist asked what I was doing so I explained some of the postures and demonstrated, I was told those were things I should have been doing all along and to do 10 of them in the office before leaving.
I have done many workouts and many many sports to keep my body and mind healthy over the years. All have caused stress and irritated old injuries. My Cervical Disc issue caused me to find something that will heal and restore while working my mind and Body. Bikram Yoga Vorhees with their caring instructors, wonderful family of students, and welcoming community has given me a way to heal myself. So instead of me being a consumer of various medical tests, therapies, and pills, I am now a producer of my own healing and well being. Thanks Jess and Bikram Yoga Vorhees the "Old Man" as my students call me is back in action.
Lisa A Post
Feb 8, 2011 I slipped on black ice dislocating my right foot and breaking both bones in the ankle. 3 plates, 9 pins and 2 wires later I was fortunate to save the foot. I was informed that probably would never walk without a limp, wear high heels or participate in physical activities like I had previously. I did everything the physician and physical therapist instructed me to do for rehabilitation. After 6 months my insurance ran out and I was left to help myself. I am fortunate. My daughter introduced me to bikram yoga. My first experience was humiliating. I could barely do any of the standing postures and then going to the ground was torture. I kept attending and within 6 months I was back to wearing heels and walking tall without a limp. I have been able to do some limited jogging but that is still way beyond what I was expected to do.
A body needs the expression of movement to heal. If it were not for bikram yoga I would not be in such good condition along with the benefit of toning my body and overall health improvements. Blood pressure is back to normal, cholesterol is back to normal and I feel great. Thank you for all the support and encouragement. It is a journey and I will make it a good one!
Lisa A Post
Waking up in the recovery room after my fifth knee surgery at age 46 I knew something was wrong. This surgery was to be quite invasive with the goal of accomplishing some significant repair work. What should have taken many hours was done in under 45 minutes. When the surgeon came in he explained that my knee was too far gone to perform this work and all they could do was some light housekeeping. He then told me my next surgery would be a total knee replacement. The only relief I could get was a series of shots every 6 months to fool my knee into thinking there was some cartilage left.
I took the first series of injections 2+ years ago with the hope of getting some relief. After that first round of shots I discovered Bikram Yoga of Voorhees. As soon as I walked in the door I was welcomed and reassured that this was a beginners series and to “just do what I can do”. 90 minutes later I was quite I happy I survived and was hooked. After only a month my knee felt better than it had in many years, after 6 months there was no need to go for round two of the injections, and after two years I had completely forgotten why I had first tried Bikram Yoga and it is now just a part of my life.
Physically my body has never felt better, sports and activities I had given up have crept back into my life and more important than any of this is what I have gained mentally. There is a calmness and balance that I never expected or looked for but truly appreciate, and I now realize that is more important than any of the physical beneifts.
Why Bikram Voorhees? Every studio will tell you they have the “best” teachers and how wonderful they are, some are right, some not so much. As someone who travels I have had the opportunity to try different Bikram studios and other styles when Bikram was not available in the area. What sets Bikram Voorhees apart is the atmosphere created by the ownership and staff which filters down to the customers creating a sense of community, another benefit I was not looking for or expecting. From a smile hello, to moving their mat so someone could get a better view in the mirror, to welcoming and reassuring a newbie, the customers follow the lead of the staff to create a great sanctuary to lose and find yourself.